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.
Talon Lodge Beach Bar, Sitka
Alaska's only open-air beach bar sits on a particularly photogenic private island in a relentlessly attractive state. The island happens to boast one of the few natural sand beaches in all of Southeast Alaska and is accessed by a 15-minute boat ride or very brief hop in a seaplane. Chill on the outdoor deck overlooking the ocean and sip cocktails spiked with herbs grown in the onsite garden while keeping an eye trained on the Inside Passage. "Guests are often treated to whales swimming by, sea otters, sea lions, seals and a host of Bald Eagles who patrol the island," says Phil Younger, the lodge's owner.
Feet from the water: 30
Credit: Philip Younger
The regulars: Serious anglers and seaplane captains
What to order: Talon Tini made with raspberries fresh from the garden