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.
Old Tony's On the Pier, Redondo Beach
For a classic California experience, head to this pelican and seagull-surrounded bar on the Redondo Beach Pier that's crowned with an iconic hexagon-shapped crowsnest for 360-degree ocean views. Old Tony's has been around since 1952, with hundreds of autographed celebrity photos and cushy retro booths attesting to that fact. Snag a stool at the circular bar to watch sea otters frolic and ogle views that stretch along the coast from Santa Monica in the north to the Palos Verdes Peninsula down south. Sunset goes well with cocktails and perhaps an appetizer or two, but you'll want to stick to the drinks menu.
Feet from the water: 10 (straight down)
Credit: Lee Pettet / Getty Images
The regulars: Off-duty flight attendants, Latino families, and salty dog beach bums.
What to order: A Mai Tai served in a kitschy souvenir glass