You might call it a bar crawl or a pub crawl—they are essentially the same thing and the terms are used interchangeably. This event is a fun night out partying, allowing you to experience a good slice of the city’s nightlife.

Bar crawls are often found in larger cities, as their size and dynamism call for a dense and diverse bar scene. What to expect from a bar crawl will vary greatly from city to city, and from organizer to organizer, as there are so many different aesthetics a modern city has to offer, and each organizer will in turn have their own unique take on all of this—rather like a curator of sensibilities.

Some might be closer to nightclub crawls, hitting up dance venues.

Others might feature small cocktail bars where you can imbibe premium drinks.

While others will just be down-to-earth, casual drinking spots.

You might even have some that are more of a college/frat house drinking party rampage.

And then there are crawls centered around a theme—such as Onsie Crawl, Zombie Crawl, Santa Crawl, Banana Crawl, 90’s, 80’s, Harry Potter, etc.

So it is important to read the event description carefully, perhaps even looking at previous event photos, sometimes even reading in between the lines to prepare yourself for the type of experience you should expect. If you are still unsure what sort of a vibe to expect, be sure to reach out to the organizer with your questions. They’d much rather you ask them than see you disappointed later on in the crawl.

Now, beyond the exact type of bar crawl, the biggest value of any social event is not what you might expect. Sure, you might get free drinks, complimentary entrance to popular places, free swag, drink specials, or any number of other perks. But, if you think about it, the most important value of a good bar crawl is the people they have managed to attract—drinking in and as a group.

It is not about the free stuff or even about the actual bars that you go to so much as it is about the interactions you have with the other bar crawl members. The party group and its dynamic is the real magic of a bar crawl. To put this into perspective, imagine a bar crawl with only 2 people that offers many perks while another that has 10 people with no perks. It’s always nice to get free stuff, but you will have more fun by catching a buzz with a larger group of drinking buddies.

Extra perks and specials help with the value and helps you feel great about the cost of the crawl, however they are not the only indicator of your experience. The real value comes in what you cannot quantify, but in what you can qualify—your experience. You have a sensibility, and the right bar crawl will provide a whole group with positive energy for that sensibility to do its thing.

Another thing to keep in mind before you join a bar crawl is how different bar crawls tend to attract different age groups. For example Toronto Bar Crawl is a genuinely down-to-earth bar crawl that gets a wider range of guests. A Club Crawl, on the other hand, gets a narrower age group, skewing toward the younger crowd. You can usually get a good idea of the demographics from photos of previous events posted on their website or social media accounts.

Knowing the type of vibe to expect will put you in the right mindset to have a great time at any style of bar crawl. After all, even if the experience is not your usual style, it is certainly interesting to be exposed to new experiences with a friendly group of drinking buddies.

So, whether you are a tourist or a local, hunt down the right bar bar crawl that matches your expectations and give it a try.