Whether your thing is paddleboarding, surfing, snorkeling, or any combination of cool ways to have fun at the beach, chilling with friends at a great bar right on the sand is always a perfect way to end the day. We’ve looked all around the U.S. and come up with a list of some of the best beach bars. We looked for places in different areas and tried to come up with a diverse collection, while prioritizing actually being on the beach, not just having a beach theme, or being in a beach town. Here’s what we came up with, starting in the northeast, coming around the country clockwise—with a couple of jaunts offshore.
New England: The Beachcomber – Wellfleet, Massachusetts
Wellfleet is on Cape Cod, which is pretty far north in the Atlantic, so the Beachcomber bar is only open from Memorial Day to Labor Day weekend. The thing that’s so cool about this bar is the location. It’s right on Cahoon Hollow Beach in the midst of 100-foot sand dunes. This is such a popular destination on the Cape that they charge $20 for parking, which counts towards food and other purchases at the bar, but it deters non-customers from filling up the lot. Past visitors recommend getting there early to get a patio table.
East Coast: Seacrets – Ocean City, Maryland
Seacrets is really more than a bar, it’s more like an event center with bars, but the Pier Stage has a bar with tables out in the knee-deep water of the bay, with wraparound bench seats, stools, and umbrellas to provide a little shade. Then a bit further out, they’ve got a bunch of inflatable rafts where guests can soak up some sun and relax with a drink.
Southeast: Bongo’s Beach Bar and Grille – St. Petersburg, Florida
Bongo’s sits right on the white sand beach in St. Pete, and is a terrific place to catch a sunset. There’s a stage with nightly music, and the bar is open 7 days a week all year round. It’s in a big swanky hotel with a lot happening, but one thing that sets it apart for visitors is being able to sit at a table and have a fancy drink with their toes in the sand.
W-a-ay Down South: Sloppy Joe’s Bar – Key West, Florida
When we’re looking for the best beach bars in the country, we want to see a bar on the beach. There are so many great spots where you can walk right out of the bar onto the sand and into the water, that we can get what we want in that department—but we felt obligated to give a nod to Sloppy Joe's Bar on Key West. It’s just a little over a mile from the beach, and it’s been a local landmark for over 80 years, since it was founded in 1933. Sloppy Joe’s is a casual place with live music starting around noon and a fun crowd. Besides, being out anywhere in town when you are on Key West is pretty close to being at the beach, no matter what you are doing.
Hopping Out to the Middle of the Pacific: Duke's Waikiki – Honolulu, Hawaii
Touristy and an island tradition—Duke’s is both. It’s named after Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian Olympic Gold medalist in the 1930s, who also introduced surfing to the Atlantic coast, Australia and New Zealand. Duke’s has historical info and displays honoring him, as well as an updated modern décor—and tables right on the beach in Waikiki.
California: Moonshadows – Malibu, California
Seriously, we could do a Top 100 California Beach Bars and have some tough eliminations to trim the list down that far. Beach culture pops up all along the coast, so we really can’t say there’s one bar that’s better than the rest, but Moonshadows gets noticed for its DJs and its deck right on the ocean in Malibu. There isn’t a sandy beach there, but the place is up on stilts, safely getting guests to the water’s edge, and it’s hard to find a better spot for enjoying Southern California’s outstanding sunsets.
Far from the Ocean
You may not think of an inland state when pondering where to find the best beach bar, but Oak Street Beach in Chicago, Illinois gets high marks for its beach-life style. It sits right on the shore of Lake Michigan and as you can imagine, with its outdoor location, it’s only open part of the year. With its Tahitian theme, it brings a bit of the South Pacific right into the city.
Most Surprising - Talon Lodge
The most unexpected—and unusual—member of the best beach bar club is certainly Talon Lodge. It’s on an island off of Sitka Alaska. The location is a very exclusive fishing lodge (they only take 500 guests a year), but the bar welcomes many more. It sits just 30 feet from one of the few white-sand beaches in Alaska. Oh, and there’s an open-air pavilion where you can get a hot stone massage, too.
Do you have a favorite beach bar? It doesn’t have to be right on the beach, but we’d love to hear where you like to hang out!