America’s best beach bars
When someone says “go to your happy place,” we’d bet that 90 percent of people picture a beach. Warm sand between your toes, the soothing sound of the ocean waves crashing, some Bob Marley on a stereo and a cold beverage sweating in your hand? It’s a pretty tough scenario to top. With summer finally upon us, it’s time to salute those businesses that make it a point to provide you with your ultimate happy place.
America’s best beach bars come in all shapes and sizes, suiting all types of travelers. On the East Coast, there’s the lowbrow Flora-Bama, which only recently garnered a roof. The classy Beachcomber has been serving fresh New England lobster for decades, and the country’s western shores are not to be outdone. In Alaska, you are ensured your own deck chair and views of Bald Eagles and whales. Yes, whales.
The Flora-Bama Lounge & Package – Perdido Key, Fla.
The Flora-Bama Lounge actually straddles the state line between Florida and Alabama. When it was originally built, tarps were used as roofing, sand constituted what you might call a floor and bras were the main decoration on the ceiling – which was, again, a tarp. With one half facing the beach and the other facing the highway, serving up cold beer in plastic cups, oysters by the dozen and also offering a package store adjacent, the Flora-Bama became famous for being happily rough and tumble.
Sadly, Hurricane Ivan did so much damage, they were forced to get a proper roof in the remodel. But the bras scattered by the winds were recollected and rehung and all is still right with the world along the border of these two Southern states.
Highlight: You can also book a para-sailing trip from the Flora-Bama Watersports; $70 per person.
Sharkey’s – Venice Beach, Fla.
Named for the fact that professional shark fishermen regularly pull giant hammerheads and bull sharks off the pier in front of the building, Sharkey’s opened in 1987 and has been family owned ever since. Originally, it sat 72. Once they finish their current expansion – which will add a slightly more polished dining concept – they will seat 550. “It’s an incredible view of the sunset off Florida’s west coast overlooking the Gulf,” says co-owner Justin Pachota. Eat the grouper wrap - fried crackermeal grouper, Thousand Island dressing, lettuce, tomato and cheese on a sundried tomato tortilla.