When one of your favorite places on earth to park it is on a stool at a beach bar, the definition of such can be as broad as the ocean itself. Surrounded by good live music, a cold one placed in front of you by your smiling server, convivial fellow imbibers just happy to be; if the beach is in smack in front of you or a block away, you’re at a beach bar.
In our opinion.
If your opinion differs, please leave a comment below. We’d love to hear from you, but don’t bother to join us at any of the following iconic, fabled, best Florida beach bars that don’t overlook the ocean. For the rest of you, the first round is on us.
Also known as SKOB
5238 Ocean Blvd.
Siesta Key, FL 34242
Open Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-midnight, Friday Saturday 11 a.m.-2 a.m., Sunday 9-11:45 a.m. for breakfast, 12 noon-12 midnight
0.3 miles to the beach
As you begin to read SKOB’s “about” page you may be surprised (from the look of the ramshackle-ish building) that it dates back to just 2003! Originally from Illinois, owner Jill Pedigo and her dad couldn’t find a decent bar to watch the Bears play. Necessity being the mother of invention and all that, Jill and her husband Geno, along with Jill’s sister and husband, Beth and Keith, bought the building and SKOB came to life and fame.
- VIBE: A favorite of the locals is always a telling sign. “Like you’re hanging out with good friends on your back patio,” says SKOB, and they’re spot on.
- ARRIVE: By car or by foot. Walk up from the beach, park in the free public parking lot within walking distance, or take advantage of free ride services Johnny’s Original Free Ride and Siesta Key Free Ride. Make sure you tip your driver!
- SIT: Inside, outside under the open porch or at outside tables with umbrellas for shade.
- SIP: 21 beers on tap, along with specialty bottled beers, wine, and innovative cocktails. “Happy Hour” is for food: 3-6 pm every day, a dozen oysters on the half shell or Louisiana crawfish for $7.
- NOSH: Shellfish of course, but much more to choose from including burgers, Skobwiches, classics like mac and cheese and NY strip, creative chef specials including Caribbean Mariscada (hints of coconut Siesta Key spiced rum!) and much more. Click their name above for the full menu.
- LISTEN: Live music almost every day (open mic on Tuesdays), twice on Friday and Saturday, three times a day on Sunday! Check their music calendar by clicking on their name above.
- WE LOVE: The illustrious people-watching from the front deck, the top-notch musicians, the amazing food (and how the hours pass by without our knowledge!)
70 Hotz Ave.
Grayton Beach, FL 32459
Open 11 a.m.-11 p.m., lunch is 11-3, dinner is 5-10.
Currently closed on Mondays and Tuesdays until March 1, 2017
Approx. 400 feet to the beach
Photo courtesy of Moon Creek Studios
Originally the Grayton General Store built in the 1930’s, The Red Bar’s owner Oli Petit refurbished the building and opened over 20 years ago. Modeling his bar after a place his father owned in Belgium, the decor is delightfully unconventional; more funky than what typically comes to mind for a beach bar. “A tribute to pop culture” is what the owner calls it – go and decide for yourself the best way to describe it!
- VIBE: Super casual, The Red Bar has been called “legendary” and “one of the most popular restaurants along the gulf coast.” Prepare to be delighted, but also prepare for a crowd.
- ARRIVE: By foot or by car. Parking isn’t plentiful; we recommend you book a stay at nearby Hibiscus Coffee and Guesthouse and walk!
- SIT: All seating is inside, “South Walton’s most popular indoor destination” ~ The Red Bar.
- SIP: Happy Hour is 4-6 pm.
- NOSH: The menu varies daily, and is written on a chalkboard. Make note The Red Bar accepts cash or checks only, and there is an ATM on site.
- LISTEN: The Red Bar Jazz Band plays Tuesday through Saturday 6-11 pm, Dread Clampitt (bluegrass, rock and roll, blues, jazz) noon to 3, 7-11 on Sundays. “You never know who might take the stage at The Red Bar.”
- WE LOVE: How this place sets itself apart from the typical beach bar in its vibe, food and decor.
19201 Gulf Blvd.
Indian Shores, FL 33785
Open M-F 12 p.m.-2 a.m., Sat. Sun. 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
Approx. 300 feet to the beach
“Warm beer, Lousy Food, Sometimes Live Music, Sometimes Live Food, you never know what you’ll find at Mahuffer’s.” Perhaps one of the most unconventional (and so, top of our list of faves) beach bars ever, Mahuffer’s doesn’t always serve food and they are proud to say they never serve Budweiser! Mikey Rogacki took Mahuffer’s over about eight years ago from his grandfather John Susor, a packrat who founded the bar in 1972. John was quite a colorful character who often got into trouble with police and asked customers to leave if he didn’t like their outfits. We often see beach bar decor like buoys hanging from the ceiling, but here we also see underwear, bras, and the cremated remains of four regular bar patrons, stored in pill bottles. You just have to go and see for yourself.
- VIBE: Part biker bar, part locals bar, don’t be scared by the outside. Not a place for children.
- ARRIVE: By car or by foot.
- SIT: Inside in relative darkness, or out on the happily cluttered patio.
- SIP: They work out of coolers here; lots of beer choices, also mixed drinks.
- NOSH: A stack of delivery menus from places close by is available for hungry patrons! Got to love that.
- LISTEN: Live music on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- WE LOVE: We just love it all. A friend said “You either love it or hate it.” What’s to hate?
601 Whitehead St.
Key West, FL 33040
Open 7 days a week, 10 a.m. to 4 a.m.
0.8 miles to the beach (Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Park)
Okay yes, you might call this more of a dive bar than a beach bar, and Key West isn’t exactly known for their famous beaches. But we couldn’t leave this place off our list because of its coolness, its Key West-ness, and this:
“The Parrot is a jury of non-judging peers, a rugged and ragged council of friends. It is a place of hi-jinks and misadventures, of understated kindness, and everyday miracles. It has seen all manner of human exploits, from poetry slams to divorce celebrations, from memorial services to hurricane parties and pet birthday bashes, from tattoo contests to fundraising benefits.
The Green Parrot is more than a bar; it is a Key West icon; it is Key West. It has been so many things, to so many people, for so many years. And that spirit will never change.”
Besides making you cry, don’t those paragraphs describe your favorite beach bar? The place your mind drifts to when times are hard, when you need your heart rate to slow down so you picture yourself there, drink in hand, elbow to elbow with your very best friend?
- VIBE: Friendly, vibrant crowd, great staff. Locals (not located on touristy Duval) and visitors enjoying the hell out of themselves.
- ARRIVE: By foot or by car. Key West is such a walkable town, check into your hotel and walk!
- SIT: All seating is inside.
- SIP: Happy Hour is Monday through Thursday 4-7 p.m., Fridays 4-5:30 p.m.
- NOSH: The Green Parrot is a bar; no food service.
- LISTEN: Live music just about every day; check their events calendar by clicking their name above.
- WE LOVE: The come-one-come-all inclusiveness, and the outstanding writing talent of whoever publishes their blog and website! Go there just to read and enjoy by clicking on their name above. #writingenvy
We truly would love to hear your picks for the best fabled beach bars that don’t overlook the beach! And then we’ll make plans to meet up for that first round…