The Best Beer from All 50 States

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With more than 4000 breweries in the U.S. alone, picking an absolute favorite beer can be an impossible challenge. In honor of National Drink Beer Day, we’re raising our glasses to them all—and sharing some of the country’s best brews.

1. ALABAMA // GOOD PEOPLE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Birmingham, Alabama

The good people at Good People sold their first keg of beer on July 4, 2008—and haven’t slowed down since. Their lineup, which include five year-round and four seasonal brews, leans heavily toward the IPA side, though fans of the brand tend to treat their Coffee Oatmeal Stout (a.k.a. C-O-S) like a dessert.

2. ALASKA // MIDNIGHT SUN BREWING COMPANY

Location: Anchorage, Alaska

You don’t have to travel to Anchorage to get a taste of what the city’s oldest brewery has to offer. Midnight Sun ships its beer—including its popular Deadly Sins series, which includes a Gluttony Triple IPA and a Belgian-style Pride Strong Ale—as far east as New York City.

3. ARIZONA // FOUR PEAKS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Tempe, Arizona

Trading in cows for hops, Four Peaks lives on what used to be the site of Tempe’s historic Borden Creamery. Though it’s an all-American kind of company, they’ve got a talent for perfecting international beer styles; Kilt Lifter, a malty, Scottish-style ale, is a particular standout.

4. ARKANSAS // OZARK BEER COMPANY

Location: Rogers, Arkansas

Officially founded in 2013, Ozark promotes itself as making “honest beer” for honest people—and they deliver on that statement. The brewery’s small but eclectic lineup is a reflection of its surroundings, with a session-brewed American Pale Ale that boasts notes of grapefruit and cut grass.

5. CALIFORNIA // RUSSIAN RIVER BREWING COMPANY

Location: Santa Rosa, California

When it comes to local beer, Californians are truly spoiled for choice. And the stuff they’re brewing up is some of America’s best, with brands like Arrogant Bastard, Firestone Walker, and AleSmith calling The Golden State home. But Russian River is doing things just a little bit differently. Based in Sonoma County, an area better known for its vino (the brewery used to be owned by Korbel), the company is using traditional winemaking processes to brew its barrel-aged beers, including Temptation, a sour blonde ale that’s aged in chardonnay barrels.

6. COLORADO // OSKAR BLUES BREWERY

Location: Longmont, Colorado


Oskar Blues Brewery

If beer were a popularity contest, Coors Light would take down most of its competition. But just because it’s the second most popular beer in America doesn’t mean that it’s the best Colorado has to offer. In Longmont, Colorado (about 35 miles north of Coors' home in Golden), Oskar Blues has been leading the craft-beer-in-a-can game since the early aughts—so much so that they recently opened satellite breweries in Brevard, North Carolina and Austin, Texas. And it all started with their signature beer, Dale’s Pale Ale, a strong pale ale that goes anywhere a can can.

7. CONNECTICUT // NEW ENGLAND BREWING CO.

Location: Woodbridge, Connecticut

New England Brewing Co. favors simplicity above all else, as evidenced by their slogan: “Drink it. It’s good.” They take a similarly straightforward approach with their menu of canned craft beers, with their G-Bot, an intense Double IPA, being one of their most sought-after brews.

8. DELAWARE // DOGFISH HEAD CRAFT BREWED ALES

Location: Milton, Delaware

Like the little brewery that could, Dogfish Head has parlayed what it calls its “off-centered ales for off-centered people” into a nationwide obsession. While their 90 Minute IPA is a go-to choice for heavy hops lovers, it’s the brand’s frequent pop culture collaborations—like Bitches Brew, the iconic Imperial Stout they created in honor of the 40th anniversary of Miles Davis’ album of the same name—that have gained Dogfish an obsessive following.

9. FLORIDA // FUNKY BUDDHA BREWERY

Location: Oakland Park, Florida


Funky Buddha

Founded in 2010, Funky Buddha is still a relative newcomer. But they’re changing the craft beer game in South Florida by taking a culinary approach to beer-making, as evidenced by seasonal varietals like Blueberry Cobbler Ale, More Moro Blood Orange IPA, and Sweet Potato Casserole Strong Ale.

10. GEORGIA // CREATURE COMFORTS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Athens, Georgia

The Creature Comforts brand is “driven by the promise that a curious mind leads to better living.” Which also leads to better beer. According to BeerAdvocate, four of Georgia’s five best beers are coming out of the Athens-based brewery.

11. HAWAII // MAUI BREWING CO.

Location:  Lahaina, Hawaii

Founded in 2005, Maui Brewing Co. takes much of its inspiration—and some of its ingredients—from its enviable surroundings, resulting in smooth brews like the floral Bikini Blonde Lager and the toasty CoCoNut PorTeR.

12. IDAHO // GRAND TETON BREWING COMPANY

Location: Victor, Idaho

At the base of the Tetons, Grand Teton has been welcoming thirsty travelers to its brewery for nearly 30 years. Whether you’re prone to a signature brew like Old Faithful Ale, a seasonal Trout Hop Black IPA, or a cellar reserve like Double Vision Doppelbock, the company swears its difference is in the glacial run-off water it uses in its brewing process.

13. ILLINOIS // GOOSE ISLAND BEER COMPANY

Goose Island's India Pale Ale
Scott Olson, Getty Images

Location: Chicago, Illinois

It says something about Goose Island that, nearly a quarter-century after pioneering the concept of bourbon-aged beer, their annual Black Friday release of (very limited) Bourbon County Brand Stouts is still one of the beer world’s most exciting events, with imbibers standing in line for hours to get their hands on a single four-pack.

14. INDIANA // 3 FLOYDS BREWING CO.

Location: Munster, Indiana

Leaving “normal” to its fellow brewers, 3 Floyds’ focus is on crafting unique, artisanal-minded beers like the well-rounded, Scottish-style Robert the Bruce ale—or its barrel-aged, star anise-tinged version of that, Spazzerack! 

15. IOWA // TOPPLING GOLIATH BREWING COMPANY

Location: Decorah, Iowa

In 2009, Toppling Goliath founders Clark and Barb Lewey made the leap from experimental home brewers to official ones. Their beers—including their flagship Dorothy’s New World Lager, a California Common lager—are distributed throughout northeast Iowa and southwestern Wisconsin.

16. KANSAS // FREE STATE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Lawrence, Kansas

When Free State opened in 1989, it became the first legal brewery to open in Kansas in more than a century. They’ve taken that distinction seriously, crafting a unique lineup of draft and bottled beers, like the Old Backus Barleywine Ale, which only gets better with age.

17. KENTUCKY // AGAINST THE GRAIN BREWERY & SMOKEHOUSE

Location: Louisville, Kentucky

Against the Grain isn’t kidding about its name. In the less than five years they’ve been in business, the beloved brewpub and smokehouse has concocted hundreds of beers that are as unique in name as they are in flavor: In addition to three varietals of 5 Roses: A Rick Astley Joint, there’s Wilford Whimley, Instant Placation Libation, Sho’nuff, and Marty McFly P.A.

18. LOUISIANA // PARISH BREWING COMPANY

Location: Broussard, Louisiana

Embracing its roots, Parish Brewing mixes old-school brewing techniques with local ingredients to produce small batches of Cajun Country ales, like Canebrake, its golden Louisiana wheat ale brewed with Steen’s sugarcane syrup.

19. MAINE // MAINE BEER COMPANY

Location: Freeport, Maine

Beer. It’s what’s for dinner at Maine Beer Company. After finding great success with Lunch, a pine-tinged IPA in 2011, the company launched Dinner, its first Double IPA, in 2014. The beer, which garnered a perfect 100 score with BeerAdvocate, isn’t easy to get your hands on; subsequent brewery-only releases of the ale have sold out in hours.

20. MARYLAND // UNION CRAFT BREWING COMPANY

Location: Baltimore, Maryland

The best way to get your Union Craft fix is straight from the tap room, where the brewery makes a community event out of beer-tasting. And they’ve succeeded in making their brews approachable, with a year-round supply of Baltimore-focused canned brews, like the hop-heavy Duckpin Pale Ale.

21. MASSACHUSETTS // TREE HOUSE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Monson, Massachusetts

In a small red barn in the tiny town of Monson, Massachusetts, there’s a huge beer thing happening. In just five short years, Tree House Brewing has managed to take the craft beer world by storm with its small-batch, well water-crafted ales, like the chocolate-covered maple candy-like Good Morning and the That’s What She Said Milk Stout.

22. MICHIGAN // FOUNDERS BREWING CO.

Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan

“We don’t brew beer for the masses” is the mandate at Founders, winners of six World Beer Cup, four European Beer Star, and three Great American Beer Festival medals. Let that sink in over a cold bottle of Founders Imperial Stout.

23. MINNESOTA // SURLY BREWING COMPANY

Location: Minneapolis, Minnesota

In 2011, Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed what came to be known as the “Surly bill” into law, which essentially made it possible for Surly to serve its beer on site. Beer lovers everywhere rejoiced. And the brand has continued to expand its offerings—and distribution chain—with brews like CynicAle, Abrasive, Hell, and Overrated!

24. MISSISSIPPI // SOUTHERN PROHIBITION BREWING

Location: Hattiesburg, Mississippi

With beers like Jack the Sipper, Mississippi Fire Ant, and Pow! Rye in the Kisser, Southern Prohibition is upping the craft can game by mixing cool art, fun names, and easily drinkable brews.

25. MISSOURI // PERENNIAL ARTISAN ALES

Location: St. Louis, Missouri

Founded in 2011, Perennial is a microbrewery created with the “adventurous craft beer drinker in mind.” The company sources local, seasonal, and organic ingredients to create its menu of handcrafted, small-batch beers, including its barrel-aged Abraxas Imperial Stout, with hints of cacao nibs, vanilla beans, ancho chiles, and cinnamon.

26. MONTANA // BIG SKY BREWING CO.

Location: Missoula, Montana

Big Sky Brewing began life, at least conceptually, as a public access TV show called Beer Talk. From there, the idea morphed into a draft-only brewery, and now a full-scale brewery that produces about 50,000 barrels of the sudsy stuff per year, each name (like Pygmy Owl Itty Bitty IPA and Moose Drool Brown Ale) a nod to the nature that surrounds the brewery.

27. NEBRASKA // NEBRASKA BREWING COMPANY

Location: La Vista, Nebraska

After years of experimental home-brewing, Paul and Kim Kavulak opened the doors to the Nebraska Brewing Company brewpub in 2007. In the years since, they’ve set the standard for brewing in the Cornhusker State, with more than a dozen canned craft, reserve bottle, limited-edition barrel-aged, and seasonal brews, including 311 Amber Ale, which they created in collaboration with the Omaha-founded rockers of 311. 

28. NEVADA // BIG DOG’S BREWING CO.

Location: Las Vegas, Nevada

In the midst of Sin City, Big Dog has been brewing up some truly creative, small-batch beers—like the bold War Dog Imperial IPA and rich Black Lab Stout—for nearly 25 years.

29. NEW HAMPSHIRE // SMUTTYNOSE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Hampton, New Hampshire

Named for Smuttynose Island, Smuttynose Brewing is bringing a taste of The Granite State to seemingly every corner of the world. Their more than two dozen varieties of year-round, seasonal, and large-format bottled beers—including the award-winning Baltic Porter and Wheat Wine Ale—are available in more than two dozen states across the country, plus parts of Europe and Asia.

30. NEW JERSEY // KANE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Ocean, New Jersey

On the coast of New Jersey, Kane is a relative newcomer, but they’ve made a pretty big impact in their five years in business. Particularly with their Corked & Caged beers, a complex collection of small-batch beers in large format bottles, like the local wildflower honey-brewed Apiary saison.

31. NEW MEXICO // LA CUMBRE BREWING COMPANY

Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico

La Cumbre doesn’t have the unlimited advertising budget of its mass-produced colleagues—and they’re OK with that. They’d much rather devote their resources to finding the best ingredients, and giving their brewers the time they need to perfect each drop of beer produced. La Cumbre’s penchant for classic beer styles shows in its Elevated IPA, A Slice of Hefen Bavarian-style wheat beer, and Red Ryeot.

32. NEW YORK // EVIL TWIN BREWING

Location: Brooklyn, New York

Evil Twin Brewing

With nearly 250 breweries statewide, the competition to be one of New York’s finest isn’t easy. But Evil Twin has been making a quick run for that title since first launching in 2010. Originating in Denmark, the brand made the jump across the pond to a spot in Brooklyn a few years back and has been amping up production ever since. In 2012, they launched more than 40 different beers. And today, you can find them in more than 40 different countries (not to mention top restaurants around the world like Momofuku Ko and Eleven Madison). And if you believe what BeerAdvocate says, three of New York’s 10 best beers come from Evil Twin—including the first and second spots, which belong to Imperial Biscotti Break Bourbon Barrel Aged and Evil Twin Double Barrel Jesus, respectively.

33. NORTH CAROLINA // FOOTHILLS BREWING

Location: Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Because freshness matters, Foothills does much of its business in the Southeast. It’s here that you’ll find a major demand for the brewer’s creative handcrafted concoctions, especially its seasonal brews like Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout. (Its year-round Jade IPA is also a popular choice for its peppery finish.)

34. NORTH DAKOTA // FARGO BREWING COMPANY

Location: Fargo, North Dakota

The good news: As one might hope, the folks at Fargo Brewing couldn’t resist a small nod to the Coen brothers’ movie. They swear that they’d “give our left foot for another pint” of their Wood Chipper IPA. The bad news: You’ll have to make your way to the Great Plains to taste it.

35. OHIO // FAT HEAD’S BREWERY

Location: North Olmsted, Ohio

Before becoming one of Ohio’s most acclaimed breweries, Fat Head’s got its start on the South Side of Pittsburgh. In 2009, the brand teamed up with brewer Matt Cole and made the move to Ohio. Early acclaim for their uniquely crafted collection of formats—from German-style lagers to fruit beers—led to a quick expansion and the brand now boasts locations in Pittsburgh, Portland, Oregon, and North Olmsted and Cleveland, Ohio.

36. OKLAHOMA //  PRAIRIE ARTISAN ALES

Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma

The brainchild of two suds-loving brothers, Prairie Ales was founded as a self-funded endeavor in 2012. Since then, the duo has experimented with all sorts of amazing ingredients and types of beers, and has received unprecedented acclaim for what they’re doing. All but one of BeerAdvocate’s picks for the 10 best Oklahoma brews belong to Prairie Ales, with four of their BOMB! Imperial Stouts topping the list.

37. OREGON // DESCHUTES BREWERY

Location: Bend, Oregon

Founded as a brewpub in 1988, Deschutes’ main focus has always been on quality over quantity, but they’ve been fortunate enough to find both. More than a quarter-century later, the brand is still evolving. Their beers, including a Black Butte Porter and Mirror Pond Pale Ale, can be purchased in most cities across the country. And Deschutes isn’t done yet: They recently announced that they’ll be opening an east coast brewery in Roanoke, Virginia.

38. PENNSYLVANIA // VOODOO BREWERY

Location: Meadville, Pennsylvania

Voodoo Brewery has been producing some of the country’s quirkiest microbrews for than a decade, and the beer world has taken notice. Their Big Black Voodoo Daddy Imperial Stout took home a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival.

39. RHODE ISLAND // PROCLAMATION ALE COMPANY

Location: West Kingston, Rhode Island

The smallest state is packing some big beer flavor with Proclamation Ale, which was founded by Dave Witham in 2014. And his impact was felt pretty much immediately, with a lot of love being shown for his unique brews, including Derivative: Galaxy.

40. SOUTH CAROLINA // WESTBROOK BREWING COMPANY

Location: Mt. Pleasant, South Carolina

Westbrook defines its mission this way: “to make the most interesting, drinkable, and generally awesome beer possible.” Always game to experiment with new ingredients and brewing techniques, it’s clear from their lineup of beers—like Poppin’ Pils, Weisse Weisse Baby, and Shane’s Big DIPA—that these brewers are having fun.

41. SOUTH DAKOTA // CROW PEAK BREWING

Location: Spearfish, South Dakota

Founded in 2007, Crow Peak says that it’s been “crafting South Dakota’s beer culture” with its rich brews, including a Pile O’ Dirt Porter and Canyon Cream Ale.

42. TENNESSEE // WISEACRE BREWING CO.

Location: Memphis, Tennessee

Wiseacre is the product of brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch’s longtime fascination with great beer (they count the time they stole their parents’ rental car and drove to Boston’s Sam Adams Brewery in 1997 as a formative part of their journey to Wiseacre). Their fun-loving attitude carries over to their cans of beers, which boast creative names and packaging, like the Gotta Get Up to Get Down Coffee Milk Stout.

43. TEXAS // JESTER KING BREWERY

Location: Austin, Texas

Fans of Jester King have learned to expect the unexpected from this farmhouse brewery that uses well water, local grains, and native wild yeast in their brewing process.

44. UTAH / UINTA BREWING CO.

Location: Salt Lake City, Utah

Founded in a former mechanic’s garage in 1993, it didn’t take long for Uinta’s reputation within the industry to grow. By 2001, they had outgrown their space, and were able to customize a 26,000 square foot brewery that allowed them to maximize production of their Utah-inspired brews, like their flagship Cutthroat Pale Ale, which is named after the official state fish (the Bonneville cutthroat trout).

45. VERMONT // THE ALCHEMIST

Location: Waterbury, Vermont

One of the smallest operations on this list, The Alchemist is a tiny, family-run brewery that specializes in one beer: Heady Topper, an unfiltered, American Double IPA.

46. VIRGINIA // HARDYWOOD PARK CRAFT BREWERY

Location: Richmond, Virginia

Founded in 2011, Hardywood’s dedication to crafting truly unique beverages didn’t go unnoticed by beer lovers. Five years after the company’s founding, Hardywood has already won a slew of awards for its naturally conditioned, unpasteurized, and unfiltered lineup of beers, including a few more experimental beverages, like its top-rated, bourbon barrel-aged Hardywood Foolery Milk Stout. Hardywood was also recently named Virginia’s Top Brewer by RateBeer.

47. WASHINGTON // FREMONT BREWING COMPANY

Location: Seattle, Washington

“Sustainability” is the key word at Fremont, Seattle’s seven-year-old, small-batch brewery that promotes “activism through beer.” Which means that they conserve energy as much as possible in the brewing process and implement various zero-waste production processes. They also source a variety of local ingredients, both toward that cause and as a way to give back to the community. All of which makes for a collection of award-winning beers, like the Cowiche Canyon Fresh Hop Ale, which Men’s Journal recently named one of the 101 Best Beers in America.

48. WEST VIRGINIA // MOUNTAIN STATE BREWING CO.

Location: Thomas, West Virginia

Mountain State is “West Virginia born and brewed”—and proud of it! As one of West Virginia's oldest microbreweries and tap rooms, the company is doing its part to make a name for the state on the beer scene, and they’re succeeding. Brews like Cold Trail Blonde Ale, Almost Heaven Amber Ale, and Miner’s Daughter Stout are complex yet approachable for even newbie microbrew drinkers.

49. WISCONSIN // CENTRAL WATERS BREWING COMPANY

Location: Amherst, Wisconsin

Central Waters may not be the only brewery to hop on the barrel-aging bandwagon, but they're clearly doing something right. Special, brewery-only releases have resulted in long lines and quick sellouts—and even an uptick in the local tourism industry. In January, the Stevens Point Journal wrote that “Like any rock star worth its froth, these beers attract dedicated fans with some making seven-hour drives, others booking flights and reserving so many hotel rooms that folks at the nearby Stevens Point Area Convention and Visitors Bureau have noticed a coinciding spike in occupancy rates.” Who knew beer could be good for business?

50. WYOMING // SNAKE RIVER BREWING

Location: Jackson, Wyoming

Snake River may be Wyoming’s oldest brewery, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not open to change. In 2011, after nearly 20 years of bottling their beer, they made the (eco)conscious decision to switch to cans. Their dedication to the environment goes even beyond that; in 2006, they received USDA Organic Certification for their OB-1 (Organic Beer Number 1), a brown ale made from all-organic malt and hops. That’s what we call responsible consumption.

8 Things You Might Not Know About James A. Garfield

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Owing to his untimely demise at the hands of assassin Charles Guiteau in 1881, 20th U.S. president James Garfield served only seven months in office, the second-shortest tenure after William Henry Harrison. (The equally unfortunate Harrison famously succumbed to pneumonia—though it might have been typhoid—one month into his term.) Not quite 50 at the time of his passing, Garfield nonetheless managed to pack a lot of experience into his short but eventful life. Read on for some facts about his childhood, his election non-campaign, and why Alexander Graham Bell thought he could help save Garfield's life. (Spoiler: He couldn't.)

1. He originally wanted to sail the open seas.

Garfield was born in Orange, Ohio on November 19, 1831. He never had a chance to know his father, Abram, who died before James turned 2 years old. As a child, Garfield was enamored with adventure novels and imagined a career as a sailor. "Nautical novels did it," he once said. "My mother tried to turn my attention in other directions, but the books were considered bad and from that very fact were fascinating." As a teenager, he got a job towing barges, but that was about as far as his seafaring would get. He attended the Western Reserve Eclectic Institute (now called Hiram College) in Hiram, Ohio and Williams College in Massachusetts before settling in as a Greek and Latin teacher at Hiram, where he would later become president.

2. He was a Civil War veteran.

James Garfield in his military uniform
Mathew Brady/Hulton Archive, Getty Images

If Garfield longed for adventure, he eventually found it, though perhaps not quite in the way he anticipated as a child. After being elected to the Ohio senate in 1859, Garfield joined the Union army at age 29 during the outbreak of war against the Confederates in 1861. Garfield saw combat in several skirmishes, including the Battle of Shiloh and the Battle of Chickamauga, before then-president Abraham Lincoln convinced him to resign his military post so he could devote his time to advocating for Ohio in the House of Representatives in 1863. He became the leading Republican in the House before being elected to the Senate for the 1881 term.

3. He never pursued presidential office.

Garfield thought he was attending the 1880 Republican National Convention to stump for Treasury Secretary John Sherman as the party's presidential candidate. Instead, the convention came to an impasse over Sherman, James Blaine, and Ulysses S. Grant. To help unclog the stalemate, Wisconsin's delegation threw Garfield's name into the hat as a compromise candidate. Not only did he win the election (opposing Democrat Winfield Scott Hancock), but he became the only sitting House member elected president. The whole process took Garfield by surprise, as he once told friends that "this honor comes to me unsought. I have never had the presidential fever, not even for a day."

4. He got caught up in an immigration scandal.

Just weeks before the general presidential election in November 1880, Garfield's political opponents tried to deal a fatal blow to his campaign by circulating a letter Garfield had written to an associate named H.L. Morey addressing the matter of foreign workers. In it, Garfield supported the idea of Chinese laborers, a controversial point of view at a time the country was nervous about immigration affecting employment. Democrats handed out hundreds of thousands of copies of the letter in an effort to sour voters on his candidacy. In Denver, the prospect of foreign workers prompted a riot. At first, Garfield remained silent, but not because he was ashamed of the letter. He simply couldn't recall writing or signing it—it was dated just after he was elected to the Senate, and he had signed lots of letters that he and his friends wrote in reply to the congratulatory messages he had received. But after consulting with his friends he issued a denial, and after seeing a reproduction in a newspaper, Garfield announced it was a phony. Furthermore, "H.L. Morey" didn't seem to exist. Turns out, the letter was planted by the opposition to discredit Garfield's name. Journalist Kenward Philp, who published the letter, was put on trial for libel and forgery but acquitted. One witness who claimed they met Morey was jailed for eight years for perjury.

5. He defended civil rights.

Several presidents in or near Garfield's era—Andrew Johnson, Woodrow Wilson—had less than flattering views on Reconstruction and civil rights. But Garfield made his opinion abundantly clear. Speaking during his inauguration, Garfield celebrated the dissolution of slavery and called it "the most important political change" since the Constitution. Garfield also appointed four black men to his administration, including activist Frederick Douglass as recorder of deeds for the District of Columbia.

6. He didn't get particularly great medical care after being shot.

Illustration of Garfield's assassination.
Hulton Archive, Getty Images

A former Garfield supporter, Charles Guiteau, was erroneously convinced that Garfield owed him a European ambassadorship. After his letters and drop-ins were ignored by the administration for months, he shot Garfield twice at a train station in Washington, D.C. The president was quickly tended to by a number of physicians in the hopes he could survive the bullet stuck in his abdomen, but the doctors didn't bother washing their hands before sticking their fingers in his wound. (At the time, the idea of an antiseptic medical environment was being promoted but not widely used.) For two weeks, Garfield languished in bed as his caregivers attempted to remove the projectile but succeeded only in worsening both the incision in his stomach and the accompanying infection. A heart attack, blood infection, and splenic artery rupture followed. He hung on for roughly 80 days before dying on September 19, 1881. Guiteau was hanged for the crime in 1882.

7. Alexander Graham Bell tried to save his life.

During Garfield's bedridden final days, the public at large tried their best to lend sympathies and possible solutions. One letter writer suggested that doctors simply turn him upside-down so the bullet would fall out. A slightly more reasonable—but no more effective—tactic was offered by Alexander Graham Bell. Inviting a large measure of respect for his invention of the telephone, Bell was allowed to use a makeshift metal detector over Garfield's body to see if the electromagnetic fields would be disrupted by the presence of the bullet, revealing its location in Garfield's abdomen. Bell was unsuccessful, though he reportedly did manage to detect the metal in the president's mattress.

8. A classical statue was erected in his honor soon after his death.

Despite his short and somewhat uneventful tenure, Garfield quickly (as in, within six years) received an honor equal to more renowned American presidents. Sculptor John Quincy Adams Ward, who is probably best known for his oversized bronze of George Washington that stands on the grounds of his inauguration at Federal Hall in New York, unveiled his Garfield monument in 1887 at the foot of the Capitol building. The statue, which depicts Garfield giving a speech, also sports three figures along its granite pedestal base: a student (representing Garfield's stint as a teacher), a warrior (for his military service), and a toga-sporting elder statesman (to signify his political career).

The 20 Best Christmas Movies of All Time

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There’s a difference between a Christmas movie and a movie that happens to be set at Christmastime. One evokes the spirit of the holiday—the atmosphere, the charity, the awkward family meals—while the other shows snow falling and the occasional Santa hat to set the mood. This key difference is why the debate surrounding Die Hard being “a Christmas movie” is always so heated. Is it solely a matter of the calendar or does a true Christmas movie need to reflect the soul of the season?

It’s also a genre that’s oversaturated with new, harmless movies every year seeking to thaw icy hearts and let them grow three sizes after a tub of popcorn. Which makes the enduring legacies of the very best Christmas movies that much more impressive.

We all have our own lineup of movies, old and more recent, that instantly leaps to mind when you think of Christmas. Movies that you watch on repeat without fail this time of year. Movies that have achieved Christmas immortality.

Here are the 20 best movies that capture the heart of Christmas (in alphabetical order, as we love them all too much to play total favorites).

1. Babes In Toyland (1961)

There were more than a few adaptations of Victor Herbert’s operetta before this one, but the Disneyfication of the fairy tale mash-up created a Technicolor jolt of Christmas adventure. Mouseketeer Annette Funicello shines as the secret heir to a fortune, but the movie’s best weapon is Ed Wynn as the Toymaker, pouring pure delight on everything he touches. 

2. The Bishop’s Wife (1947)

This may be the only romantic comedy where a handsome young man helps a beautiful woman stay with her slightly cranky husband. Of course, Cary Grant is actually a handsome young angel whose mission is to help a Bishop (David Niven) in the midst of raising money for a new cathedral. Sometimes you pray for help and God sends the hottest actor in Hollywood to take your wife ice skating in order to remind you that kindness isn’t about funding a fancy new building.

3. A Charlie Brown Christmas (1965)

The shortest of the movies on this list, Charles M. Schulz’s holiday special left an indelible mark on pop culture in less than half an hour. The animated wonder simultaneously gave us the best Christmas monologue about the crappiest tree and a jazzy Christmas soundtrack courtesy of Vince Guaraldi.

4. A Christmas Story (1983)

There’s a reason TBS plays this on a loop for a full 24 hours heading into the big day. Endlessly quotable, the youthful memoir is stacked with iconic moments involving tongues on flagpoles, risqué leg lamps, a sadistic Santa, and a super safe BB gun. Go ahead and shout out all your favorite lines right now. Just don’t shoot your eye out.

5. The Christmas Toy (1986)

Long before Buzz and Woody, Jim Henson produced a movie about an overconfident toy tiger who puts a playroom full of toys at risk because he can’t handle being supplanted by a new favorite toy. They all come to life when people aren’t around, and flop down when the playroom door opens, but they get frozen forever if a human touches them out of their original place. It’s a funny, imaginative gem, and I wore out the VHS when I was a kid.

6. Christmas Vacation (1989)

The blessing! More outright embarrassing and less sardonic than A Christmas Story, the Griswold family’s suburban misadventures lovingly devolve into the kind of chaos that requires a SWAT team. If you’re hosting your whole family, a flaming, flying set of plastic reindeer may just be the best symbol for the season. Fun fact: Mae Questel (who stole scenes as Aunt Bethany) sounds familiar because she was the voice of Olive Oyl and Betty Boop.

7. Die Hard (1988)

Yup, it’s on the list. Not merely set during Christmastime, John McClane’s harrowing rescue of his wife’s office mates is a bit like an action version of Ebenezer Scrooge. He starts off cranky and hateful of the season but remembers the true value of love and kindness after being visited by multiple people with guns who teach him to share what he has with others and give selflessly to those in need.

8. Elf (2003)

There is no tamping down Buddy the Elf’s enthusiasm. Like a retelling of Big with yellow tights and a green, pointy hat, Will Ferrell navigates the big city world of cynics to help them locate their inner child and believe in Christmas again. The main gag is how ridiculous Ferrell is as a giant elf, but the movie turns to magic because of its refusal to be even slightly mean-spirited. It’s like taking a big bite out of spaghetti topped with M&Ms, marshmallows, sprinkles, and chocolate syrup.

9. Emmet Otter’s Jug-Band Christmas (1977)

It’s “The Gift of the Magi” with singing river otters. That’s an automatic win on the adorability scale, but Jim Henson’s tale of family togetherness glides by on sheer sweetness and joy, revealing that you don’t have to have expensive equipment (or even a good band name) to create beautiful harmonies.

10. Frosty The Snowman (1969)

The tip top of children’s Christmas movies is dominated by Walt Disney, Jim Henson, and Rankin/Bass, who stepped away from stop-motion animation for this story based on the wildly popular holiday tune. It’s wondrous, but it’s also more harrowing than you remember. As soon as Frosty is given life, he’s aware of his own melting mortality, and the entire plot of the story is about figuring out how he can survive. It’s also impressive for having a mediocre children’s party magician as the villain.

11. Home Alone (1990)

John Hughes must have suffered some kind of vacation-based trauma, because this and Christmas Vacation both focus on the hilarious worsts of time away from the office. For the Griswolds it’s living beyond their means and needing more lights. For Kevin McCallister, it’s about neglect that should demand a call to CPS. The lesson of every elementary schooler’s dream of independence is that it’s okay to order your own cheese pizza as long as you also buy more toothpaste and fight off violent robbers. And if you love seeing Home Alone on this list but bristle at Die Hard’s inclusion, think twice, because they’re essentially the same movie.

12. How The Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)

Why they keep trying to improve on perfection is beyond comprehension. Keep Jim Carrey. Keep Benedict Cumberbatch. Give me Chuck Jones’s animation team featuring Boris Karloff and the legendary voice talent June Foray. It’s a madcap comic masterpiece with a message of kindness served up piping hot next to the roast beast. Sadly, the sequel, Halloween is Grinch Night, never quite caught on.

13. It’s A Wonderful Life (1946)

Like most of you, I often fantasize about what It’s a Wonderful Life would be like starring The Grinch. I mean, who’s The Grinch’s guardian angel? Obviously, Frank Capra’s classic tale of redemption is in the eternal top five of Christmas films thanks to Jimmy Stewart’s mournfully enthusiastic performance and its overall message that one life matters. It, more than just about any other movie, has come to represent Christmastime itself—a ubiquitous presence on TV screens everywhere throughout December.

14. Miracle On 34th Street (1947)

Not just one of the best Christmas movies, but one of the very best films of its release year, Miracle on 34th Street soars with a charismatic performance from Maureen O’Hara and precocious side eye from a young Natalie Wood. Is Santa real? And is he the old gentleman you helped get a job at the department store? Cynicism is incinerated by this infectiously warm movie—one of the only films in history where the US Postal Service acts as Deus Ex Machina.

15. The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)

Undoubtedly controversial, everyone has their personal favorite version of Charles Dickens’s important treatise on humanity and self-inflicted loneliness. The 175-year-old story has been adapted more than 100 times counting movies, TV, radio, and graphic novels. Maybe 1951’s Scrooge is your favorite, maybe you like George C. Scott or Patrick Stewart best. The Muppets and Michael Caine, though, brought a fresh, playful flavor that allowed a rat to co-narrate.

16. The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)

What’s this? What’s this? It’s Henry Selick’s perfect stop-motion celebration of Christmas cheer through a Gothic lens. With so many Christmas movies, it’s hard to stand out from the crowd, but The Nightmare Before Christmas is defiantly different. Mostly because it has werewolves, a singing sack filled with bugs, and a ghost dog who saves the day. So many movies focus on Christmas getting canceled because Santa gets detained, so it’s nice to see a movie about the ghouls who detain him.

17. Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (1964)

The epic story of a misfit caribou who finds purpose because of what makes him unique, this Rankin/Bass tale is the longest continuously aired Christmas special of all time. It’s shown up on screens every year since 1964, thrilling young and young-at-heart viewers alike with vibrant animation, fun songs, and, for some awesome reason, an abominable snowman.

18. The Santa Clause (1994)

So many great Christmas movies follow Dickens’s blueprint of transforming someone skeptical into a true believer, and this Tim Allen comedy goes one step further by converting the crank into Kris Kringle. It’s ostensibly an argument against growing up too soon (or at all), and it established the Highlander-esque rule that, if Santa dies from falling off your roof, you become Santa.

19. Scrooged (1988)

Another stellar adaptation of Dickens, Richard Donner’s manic spree recasts Scrooge as a power-hungry television president played by a breathless Bill Murray. Beyond its intrinsic entertainment value and Carol Kane’s national treasure status, it also gives us all a break from a season of sentimental stories. It’s also a reminder that we should petition to make “Robert Goulet’s Cajun Christmas” a real thing.

20. White Christmas (1954)

There’s just nothing better than opening those big stage doors to discover the snow you’ve waited months for has finally arrived on Christmas Eve while Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney, Vera-Ellen, and Danny Kaye croon about our days being merry and bright. The songs and dance routines are fantastic, the story is nostalgic and goofy, and the charm is on full blast. Even growing up in a place where it never snowed, this was the ideal.

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