Hammock-strung, rum-stocked, and only a lime's throw from the water, beach bars are to summer what roaring fires are to winter – the best places to have an unhurried drink. Unfortunately, finding a good one can be tough. For every authentic outpost, there are a dozen dives decked out in flotation devices, tiki torches, and pun-filled, wall-mounted menus. Avoid all that spring break nonsense. From an island in Lake Superior to the wilds of the Eastern Caribbean, we've unearthed North America's hidden gems, the 25 most memorable establishments around.
Beachcomber, Wellfleet, MA
Cape Cod's most beloved beach bar – locals call it the "Combah" – is a Wellfleet dune-topper housed in a former lifeguard station on the Atlantic side of the northern side of the peninsula. There's an indoor and outdoor bar, and while the parking lot mostly blocks the ocean views you're not far from the sand. Oysters and little neck clams are shucked for the hungry masses and the cod tacos and lobster rolls go down well with cold beers and live music. Bonfires on the beach are a near nightly occurrence in summer.
Feet from the water: 90 feet
Credit: John Burke / Getty Images
The regulars: Beach boys, summer people, and some guy from Waltham named Sully
What to order: Goombay Smash, a mix of rums, apricot brandy and tropical juices