Ocean Grill & Tiki Bar, Carolina Beach
Credit: Harry Taylor

Hurricane Fran destroyed most of Center Pier in Carolina Beach back in 1994. But the North Carolina spot still surges with life during the summer months, when this lime-hued tiki bar atop the weather pilings pours cold drinks and pumps live surf punk music. Snag a bar stool and look for dolphins breaching off shore. "It can be a wonderfully sunny, sweaty time, but the drinks are incredible and go down easily," says local Melody Granger. "It's the best place to be in the summer." 

Feet from water: 10
The regulars: UNCW students, surfers and wealthy southerners who own beach homes nearby
What to order: Singapore Sling