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4 College Sophomore

Nightlife: I have a blast while I'm in college. I'm not old enough to go to the bar but there is still other things that I do.

College Sophomore

Nightlife: I'm not able to review because I'm not old enough to be in bars.

4 College Freshman

Nightlife: There is enough to do to have a great time with friends.

1 person found this useful Report
3 College Sophomore

Nightlife: Some nights a lot is going on and everything is great, and other nights it's drier than the dessert because everyone went home for the weekend &/or the frats are being party poopers

5 College Sophomore

Nightlife: The convo parties are always the biggest and best.


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Rankings View more rankings . . .

  • 112nd
    Biggest Party Schools
  • 203rd
    Best Drink Prices
  • 1261st
    Tamest Party Scenes

Student Author OverviewWhat's This?

There are 10 or so decent bars in the area, most of which are within reasonable walking distance if you live anywhere near the school. Starbusters is probably the best of the bunch because of its capacity, frequent live music, and beer garden. Molly's, Fatty's, and Lord Stanley's are also popular. Local bar owners have been hit hard with citations and fines in recent years for allowing underage drinking, so fake IDs aren't effective or recommended. If you're under 21 and unwilling to commit fraud, your options are pretty sparse, with the House Café serving as DeKalb's haven for minors. Bottom line: If you are looking for an exotic club-going lifestyle, don't come to NIU-or else be prepared to make the hour-and-a-half trek down I-88 to Chicago every weekend. Otherwise, there are a variety of bars and on-campus parties to fill up your Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights with. Sunday through Wednesday? That's probably asking too much out of this quiet farm town.

Facts & Statistics

Primary Areas with Nightlife
  • Greek Row
  • Lincoln Highway
  • Pappas Drive
Student Favorites
  • Fatty's Bar & Grill
  • Molly's
  • Starbusters Bar & Grill
Other Places to Check Out
Local Specialties
The Barbwire:
Favorite Drinking Games
  • Beer pong
  • Card games (A$$hole)
  • Circle of Death
  • Flippy Cup
  • The OC Drinking Game
  • Power Hour
  • Quarters
Useful Resources for Nightlife
  • The Northern Star
Closing Time
1 a.m. Sunday–Wednesday 2 a.m. Thursday–Saturday
Cheapest Place to Get a Drink
Organization Parties
Many clubs at NIU will often rent out restaurants or facilities at NIU and throw private parties. These parties are usually a lot of fun and are thrown by cultural groups interested in touting their way of life via food and spirits.

Club ListingsWhat's This?

Otto's Niteclub & Underground

Since 1985, Otto's has been the definitive place to watch live music in DeKalb at an affordable price. Bands such as Wilco, George Clinton & P-Funk, the Violent Femmes, and Ted Nugent have played the expansive venue, which has a solid sound system and an excellent ambiance. Music geeks flock to it, but it doesn't get overtly crowded. The downstairs area has pool tables that see a lot of use.

118 N. Lincoln Hwy.

(815) 758-2715

Bar ListingsWhat's This?


Simply put, Molly's is a hell of a good time. It has a very festive atmosphere and nice décor. It really makes an effort to pack in the students even on slow days with theme nights and good specials. The waitresses are usually friendly and attractive, as well. Molly's also has the distinction of throwing the definitive end of the year tent party.

1022 W. Lincoln Hwy.

(815) 758-2120

Starbusters Bar & Grill

A large capacity, expansive seating area and wide stage with an excellent sound system are just some of the reasons that many consider this DeKalb's best bar. Almost every Saturday, some notable regional act or cover band plays to a packed house. It also has the best beer garden in DeKalb with full bar and comfortable lawn chairs. Cover can get pricey and the crowds can be suffocating, but the atmosphere is worth it.

930 Pappas Dr.

(815) 756-3438

Lord Stanley's

Lord Stanley's is the consummate townie bar. It draws older patrons than most bars and doesn't make an effort to be flashy. Nothing is better here than a pitcher of beer and a large sausage pizza to soak it up.

142 E. Lincoln Hwy.

(815) 756-8718

Andy's Lounge

Andy's is nothing special, but therein lies its charm. It's just a nice, quaint little place to get a drink at a reasonable price. It's farther away from campus than most bars, but worth the trip on Wednesdays, which is a karaoke night.

317 E. Lincoln Hwy.

(815) 748-3314

Fatty's Bar & Grill

Most bars attempt to assault your senses with loud, blaring music and end up silencing conversation and fun. Not Fatty's. It has a rather subdued atmosphere that makes for a comfortable gathering spot for friends after a tough day or week. Fatty's also has the best bar food in the city, which might be the reason that it often draws large crowds after events at the Convocation Center.

1312 W. Lincoln Hwy.

(412) 681-5656

What to Do if You're Not 21What's This?

The House

The House had been home to some wild shows over the years, but it looked like it was curtains for this haven for minors and alcohol-phobes after it shut down for several months. That is, until an NIU music professor purchased and reopened the quaint, cozy establishment. The House now rocks once again with multiple acts visiting it every week. It serves as an excellent showcase for local talent.

263 E. Lincoln Hwy.

(815) 787-9547

Student Polls

Rate the off-campus bar and club scene on the following topics    Based on 82 responses

Very poor
  • Convenience to get to
  • Cover charges
  • Distance from campus
  • Drink prices
  • Fun
  • Variety/number of options

What's the best way to get to the popular nightlife spots?    Based on 78 responses

  • 4% There are no good options.
  • 15% Use a designated driver.
  • 35% School-provided shuttles/buses.
  • 4% Public transportation.
  • 0% Taxis.
  • 42% Walk.

What is the party scene like on campus?    Based on 82 responses

  • 2% Parties? What parties?
  • 10% Good parties are few and far between.
  • 34% Some decent frat/house parties, weekends only.
  • 48% Lots of options Wednesday-Saturday.
  • 6% Tons of raging parties almost any night of the week.

What is the biggest party event of the year?    Based on 27 responses

  • 41% Homecoming
  • 22% Convo party
  • 19% Football Games
  • 19% Homecoming Football Games

Where can you find the best parties?    Based on 22 responses

  • 69% Greek Row
  • 31% Off campus-College Ave, Augusta Ave, etc.
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