When it was built in 1962, the O’Haire Motor Inn was considered one of the finest motels anywhere. Travelers were impressed with the modern amenities included in each room (coffee pot, iron, ironing board), but what was most impressive was the tiki bar that was built with the motel. People didn't expect to see one right in the middle of Montana.
The most magical feature of the Sip ‘n Dip is the mermaids. A glass wall, original to the building, allows patrons to see underwater swimmers in an indoor pool. However, mermaids didn’t start appearing until 1997. Now, you can see mermaids at the bar five nights a week.
Live music is provided by “Piano Pat” Spoonheim. As a single mother, she took on what started as a temporary piano job at the Sip ‘n Dip to support her family. More than 50 years later, she continues to entertain, playing old favorites in a unique style. Piano Pat has been performing here since 1963, a year after the bar was founded, and has been called “the Heart of the Sip ‘n Dip.”
The Sip ‘n Dip Lounge is young compared to other historic bars we’ve discovered. Even so, this unique dive has changed very little over the past 50 years. The concrete structure remains untouched. It also retains much of its original tiki decor, including its bamboo and netted ceiling. For decades, the Sip 'n Dip has attracted a diverse crowd, with visitors and regulars of all ages, looking for a paradise in the Last Best Place.
Location: O’Haire Motor Inn, 17 Seventh Street South, Great Falls, Montana 59404
Hours: Mon.–Sat. 11 a.m.–2 a.m., Sun. 1–10 p.m.
Don’t Miss: The mermaids, Tuesday through Saturday evenings, or Piano Pat, Wednesday through Friday evenings.
You’re Having: The Fishbowl, a blue mixture of juices and alcohol in a large, 64-ounce cocktail glass.
Best Yelp Review: "Imagine crawling through a desert, desperately hoping for someone to release you from your pain no matter how -- and all of a sudden hitting this oasis of joy. That's the Sip 'n Dip … Try the "fish bowl", a giant glass full of blue-colored alcohol. I don't know what it was, but it was delicious and a rather elegant way to enter the magic kingdom of befuddlement. Their choice of beer is great and their appetizers are good."
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