Just because the fair gates close well before a normal last call doesn't mean you have to head home while the night is still young. The east side of Des Moines plays host to an array of bars — from sports bars and food-filled dives to a place that opens at 6 a.m. and doesn't close until last call at 2 a.m.
There's a little something for everyone on the infamous east side of 235. Think about these five options to keep the party going long after the fair gates close.
Just north of the fairgrounds, across University Ave., is a loveable dive named after an animal no one ever wants to find in their drink. Hop the Toad's way on Wednesday night to cash in on the $3 mixed drink special. It sure beats $7 for a Budweiser at the fair.
Find it: 3002 State Ave.
Hours: 10-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Sunday
Johnny Mac's Bar and Grill
Johnny's is a bit of a walk from the fairgrounds — Google Maps claims it's 1.6 miles from the center of the grounds — but it's not totally unbearable. Go on Tuesday for the $2 domestic special and stay because it's one of the most colorful bars in Des Moines you've probably never tried before.
Find it: 2279 Hubbell Ave.
Hours: 10-2 a.m. daily
Cheapseats Sports Bar
Need a better reason to make that mile-and-a-half walk? Cheapseats Sports Bar is right across the street from Johnny Mac's, giving another solid late-night option. There's no need to go all the way back to Court Ave. with these two options next to each other. Plus, Cheapseats has karaoke on Friday and Saturday.
Find it: 2301 Hubbell Ave.
Hours: 3 p.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Thursday, 12 p.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Sunday
Gerri's Bar and Grill
Gerri's is the place to go if you didn't get your fill of fair food. Buy a platter of wings — typically 25 to 30 wings — and get a pitcher of beer for free. It's also one of the closest bars to the fairgrounds, on East 30th across from the west side of the grounds.
Find it: 232 E. 30th Street
Hours: 10-1:30 a.m. daily
The four other options are great to try after the fair — but Sunrise is the place to be before. It opens at 6 a.m. every day but Sunday, making it the perfect "pre-fair" stop. With a $3 Fireball shot special all month, it's probably a good bet after the fair, too.
Find it: 4155 Easton Blvd
Hours: 6-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 8-2 a.m. Sunday