It doesn’t get much better than savoring a glass of wine or a mug of suds while you watch the surf. Raise your glass to these five fabulous Florida beach bars.
Flora-Bama Lounge / Perdido Key
Millionaires, bikers and bikini-clad beach goers: anyone who loves down-home fun fits in at the Flora-Bama Lounge. Located on Perdido Key, on the Florida and Alabama line, the Gulf-front roadhouse is legendary for its outstanding, original live music. Kick back with a cold bushwhaker (yes, that’s the way they spell it on the menu) and savor Oysters Perdido, burgers or shrimp po-boys from the Oyster Bar. Or escape the action with a splash in the emerald waters of the Gulf. Enjoy a steady stream of high-spirited events, including a Polar Bear Dip, a Miss Firecracker Bikini Contest, and the whopper of them all, a fish-flinging contest dubbed the Interstate Mullet Toss and Gulf Coast Greatest Beach Party, held the last full weekend of each April. www.florabama.com
Coconuts / Cocoa Beach
Flip-flops will do for footwear at Coconuts, nestled smack-dab against the Atlantic on the golden sands of Cocoa Beach. Sip a daiquiri or a chilly brew while you relax on the generous party deck and admire the scenery -- ships cruising past, surfers playing on the waves, and an array of beachgoers. Tap your toes or dance to the rhythms of the area’s best live performers, indulge in fresh, locally caught seafood or Bahamian lobster and make sure to dip a spoon into a steaming bowl of Coconut’s award-winning chowder, thick with corn and crawfish. www.coconutsonthebeach.com
Lido Key Tiki Bar / Lido Key
For the quintessential open-air tropical experience – complete with a glistening white-sand beach, thatched roof, and specialty drinks – escape to the Lido Key Tiki Bar. Located directly on the beach behind The Ritz-Carlton Beach Club, this friendly local favorite features beer, wine and spirited concoctions such as the Category 4 Hurricane. Enjoy live music on the weekends, fabulous food like Crispy Coconut Shrimp and grouper sandwiches as well as spectacular sunsets over the Gulf. Be prepared; no parking is available so you’ll need to park on Ben Franklin Drive and walk a little. www.ritzcarlton.com/sarasota
Shephard's Beach Resort Backyard Tiki Bar / Clearwater Beach
Chill out and savor a cool tropical concoction at the hottest spot on the Gulf, Shephard's Beach Resort Backyard Tiki Bar and Margarita Grill. The Bar is notorious for shaking the sugar-sands of Clearwater Beach with live reggae and rock ‘n roll music, bikini contests, and sizeable crowds of fun-loving people. Put on your dancing flip-flops and sway to the tunes on a dance floor that extends over the water, relax in the beach area, or just relish the music and people-watching. Nosh on fare like fish tacos adorned with mango salsa and lime cream. Treat yourself to valet parking, or anchor your boat and paddle-board in to join the party. http://www.shephards.com
Boston’s on the Beach / Delray Beach
Whatever your mood, Boston's on the Beach promises to please. Located in Delray Beach, it boasts three unique restaurants in one great location, all with sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. If you’re yearning for a tiki hut where you can sample frozen concoctions and dance on the beach, the Sandbar has your toes written all over it. For a casually elegant respite, climb the stairs to 50cean, where you can relish a crafted cocktail by a quartz bar. And if you’re a sports fan, Boston’s can provide you with a two-handed crab cake sandwich, an icy brew, and your own private flat screen TV to tune into your favorite team. Boston’s offers daily live entertainment, plentiful parking, and even treats for your dog. http://www.bostonsonthebeach.com/
Whatever locale you choose, remember: a celebration is always better by the seashore.