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