Santa Stumble — the annual bar crawl that benefits the Lancaster City Police Department’s K9 and mounted division — kicks off on Saturday, December 14 from 8:00 to midnight.
(Officially. Bars pretty much celebrate all day.)
If you’re a regular at Santa Stumble every year, you probably already have a route planned for hitting as many bars as possible.
(We do, anyway.)
If you’re brand new to the Stumble, these are the 18 bars and restaurants that’re participating in 2019:
- 551 West
- Alley Kat
- Annie Bailey’s
- Belvedere Inn
- Characters Gastropub
- Cork & Cap Restaurant
- Federal Taphouse
- Friendly Greek
- The Fridge
- Lancaster Cigar
- Isaac’s Downtown
- Marion Court Room
- Max’s Eatery
- The Village
In addition to the bars and restaurants, Lyft, Uber, and Lancaster Cab are all available so that you can enjoy as much hooch and booze as you want without driving home drunk.
We can’t stress that enough — don’t drive drunk. You getting somewhere quickly is not worth the cost of your life and someone else’s (or more).
Don’t drive drunk.
On a lighter note, here’s how we picked the criteria for this list.
How We Picked Our Bars
We here at Gents o’ Lancaster grew up in and around the city all our lives.
As a result, we — like everyone — have some favorite dining and drinking spots.
We made this list because:
- We like every place
- They’re close enough to hop from one to the next
- You can have one or two drinks before you have to leave each
All in all, solid criteria for a bar crawl itinerary.
Because who doesn’t like the pressure and stress of logistics on a local drinking holiday?
Anyway, here’s the route we’re taking for Santa Stumble 2018.
Bar #1: Tellus360 (30 minutes)
Tellus360 is kicking everything off for Santa Stumble.
They have all the registration information (in this case — buttons) that you need to get your evening started on the right foot.
Stop off and have a drink, too. Tellus360 is owned and operated by Joe Devoy, whom the Irish Echo recognized as one of the top 50 Irish-American entrepreneurs in the United States.
If you’ve never been to Tellus360, it’s much more of an experience than it is a bar. Its double-stage setup allows for two shows to happen simultaneously, and second floor features loads of bar games and a few privacy booths depending on what you want.
The best part of Tellus360 is the roof. It’s unclear whether the roof will be open, considering it’s December and all. But it never hurts to ask.
After you’re done at Tellus360, head out to the sidewalk and right in the front door the bar next door.
Bar #2: Altana (30 minutes)
No, seriously, Altana is right next to Tellus360.
Altana is one of the more recent bars in Lancaster City’s booming restaurant scene.
The main attraction is the roof, which sits a full story (“storey,” if you’re from across the pond) above Tellus360.
It gives an awesome view of the city that’s hard to beat, considering it’s on the northern fringes of “downtown.”
You’d have to be in the top floors of the Griest building or Marriott to find a better vantage point.
Now that you’ve been on two rooftops, you can head somewhere a little warmer — like Annie Bailey’s.
Bar #3: Annie Bailey’s (30 minutes)
Annie Bailey’s is a long-time staple of the Lancaster City restaurant and bar scene.
It’s also right next to Altana.
Did the city need three bars back-to-back-to-back? Maybe not.
But Annie Bailey’s been here the longest, so you can’t fault them.
You also can’t fault them for being one of the best-known late-night hotspots in Lancaster.
With three full-service bars, self-serve seating, and one of the biggest decks in town, it’s no wonder diners and drinkers flock to Annie’s in droves during Santa Stumble.
Of all the places on our list, this may be the hardest one to get an actual drink. But if you find a sweet spot, we can’t recommend stopping by Annie’s enough.
Also, this is a weird thing to discuss in print, but Annie Bailey’s has one of the most generous bathrooms of any restaurant in Lancaster City.
In the near-decade I’ve had drinks at Annie’s, I’ve never once stood in line for a bathroom. I’ve never even seen someone.
I’m pretty sure they’re bigger than my old apartment.
Anyway, once you’ve experienced the bars (and bathrooms) of Annie Bailey’s, your next stop is just a block away — Marion Court.
Bar #4: Marion Court (30 minutes)
Marion Court is another veteran of the Lancaster City bar scene, even before the city started its revitalization.
It’s gone through renovations over the years to ensure it has something for everyone — including one of the few remaining smoking bars in town.
Not a smoker? No problem. Marion has four other fully-staffed bars that they keep open.
They’ll probably all be in service, too — Marion Court now covers part of their outdoor patio to keep it warm in the winter.
If you’ve Santa-Stumbled before, you may recognize Marion Court as the starting point for the bar tour a few years back.
It has some of the fastest service in town (again, five active bars at a time), and their recent introductions of cornhole, giant JENGA, and Connect Four give everyone something to do when they’re drinking.
Altogether, Marion Court is a must-see on any Santa Stumble list. This is especially true if you used to go to Marion before its renovations.
The changes have made it an entirely new restaurant and bar.
And speaking of renovations, you’re now half a block away from one of the biggest renovation success stories in Lancaster City.
I’m talkin’ Yorgos.
Bar #5: Yorgos (30 minutes)
Yorgos is the third bar on our list that’s been in Lancaster City for years and years.
It’s also the second bar on our list that improved with a substantial renovation.
Yorgos actually closed its doors for several months in 2018 so that it could completely change its appearance.
The first floor is now a sleek and modern sports bar. The second floor is Kefi, a new fine dining establishment with a 1950s Sinatra vibe. Last, the third floor is now roof access for fair weather.
No word on the basement — I’m not sure if you can go down there anymore.
I also didn’t ask because I never wanted to go down there when it was open.
Anyway, sounds pretty good, right?
The renovations to Yorgos alone shows the restaurant’s dedication to keeping up with Lancaster City trends and setting some of their own.
The staff is friendly and approachable, and you’ll even see some familiar faces if the pre-renovation Yorgos was one of your old haunts.
But even if you’re just experiencing Yorgos for the first time, it’s a good first time.
Swing by, get a drink, and enjoy yourself.
Next, get yourself a block down Queen Street and check out Federal Taphouse.
Bar #6: Federal Taphouse (30 minutes)
Relative to some of the previous bars on this list, Federal Taphouse is a newcomer to the Lancaster City bar scene.
It’s also one of the biggest freaking restaurants you’ll find in Lancaster County, period.
If you haven’t been there before, Federal Taphouse constantly has 100+ beers on tap at any time.
Combine that with a full liquor menu, an open floor plan, full window exposure to Chestnut St., and a cool lounge area on the second floor, and you have a great place to grab a drink.
Federal Taphouse also has some great pizza. So if you get the drunk-munchies (drunchies?), this is the place to fuel up.
So you’re six bars and three hours into your Santa Stumble. You only have an hour left, and you have to make it count.
What can you do, where can you go, and how do you enjoy your hour?
By getting drinks in an old mansion.
Bar #7: Belvedere Inn (30 minutes)
The Belvedere Inn opened its doors in 1998 in a renovated mansion owned by a Lancaster tobacco magnate.
It has nothing to do with tobacco anymore, but you can definitely tell that it used to be a mansion.
Belvedere Inn has a stellar reputation for good food and drinks. With multiple operating bars on any given night, they’re the “old reliable” for anyone who’s been a part of the Lancaster restaurant scene since before 2000 — back when the city was slightly different than it is now.
There’s not much to say about Belvedere aside from the food and drinks. The only piece of advice I have is to check out as much of the mansion as you can.
You probably can’t go everywhere. But it’s worth a look around, especially if you like history.
So with all of that done, what’s next? How can you wrap up a night where you just visited seven bars all within the same half-mile(ish) radius of one another?
You top it off with a trip to Alley Kat.
Bar #8: Alley Kat (30 minutes)
I’m always blown away by the number of people I meet who have no idea what or where the Alley Kat is.
But as you can see from the photo, the Alley Kat doesn’t really do much when it comes to storefront advertising.
It’s hard to blame them. This unassuming and down-to-earth bar feels a lot like you’ve already been there, even when it’s your first time walking through the doors.
It’s packed with a friendly staff and an accessible bar that takes up a good third of the entire restaurant.
But better than that, it’s just a nice place to go to wrap up an eight-bar crawl around Lancaster City.
If you’re looking for a place where you can go, hang out, have a drink, and not feel like anyone’s judging you (or even aware of you, actually), then this is the place.
Chill out and enjoy — you just marathon’d eight bars in four hours.
I’d say you’ve earned it.
Technically, Santa Stumble is over now.
But that doesn’t mean your tour has to stop!
If you’re not stumbling, you can still find a bar to have a nightcap (or hang out until 2:00 when the bars close).
We recommend trekking out to the Cheers of Lancaster — Stubby’s.
It’s not downtown. In fact, it’s one hell of a walk from downtown.
But we here at Gents of Lancaster love Stubby’s. Everyone knows your name, but not in the creepy-ex-who-found-you-on-Facebook kind of way.
I think I told the bartender, Chip, my name once a couple years back. For the few times I’ve been able to make it out to Stubby’s since, he’s remembered me flawlessly.
Anyway, that wraps it up for our Santa Stumble bar tour itinerary.
Did you find what you were hoping to find? Do you think we missed any bars that you love?
Drop me a line in the comments and let me know!