Ryan and Sarah Conroy know a thing or two about Florida beach bars. They’ve visited more than 225 of them and operate a website called FloridaBeachBar.com. Here, you’ll find a comprehensive directory of beach bars plus recommendations sorted by region and city.
After graduating from college, Sarah and Ryan had job opportunities that moved them from the Midwest (Sarah from Wisconsin and Ryan from Ohio) to Orlando in 2006. They were looking to explore more areas of Florida and stop by some beach bars along the way. A Google search led them to FloridaBeachBar.com, a website highlighting hundreds of beach bars around the state. It quickly became their tool to identify the beach bars they wanted to visit.
“Going to beach bars was a way to escape on the weekends and take in the unique atmosphere of the coastal beach towns across Florida,” said Sarah.
At the time, FloridaBeachBar.com was run by John and Chris Sancin, a couple from the Midwest who started the website as something fun to do in their retirement. John also authored the book Traveling to Florida Beach Bars in 2013. Ryan reached out to John and Chris, telling them how much they loved their website and their plans to visit them all (or at least try). “John and Chris loved our plan so much that they decided to put our goal on the website for others to follow our progress,” Ryan said.
Thus, the Florida Beach Bar Challenge was born. It was a friendly competition between Sarah and Ryan and their friends to see who could visit the most beach bars. “We plotted out our course before each trip and had an Excel spreadsheet that included a place for notes on each bar. We listed them in the order we planned on visiting them,” Sarah said. By the end of their challenge, they had visited more than 225 Florida beach bars, and Sarah and Ryan became experts in their own right.
Fast forward to 2015, and Ryan and Sarah officially became owners of FloridaBeachBar.com, as founders John and Chris decided to turn their attention to other endeavors. When it came to deciding who would take over the website, the answer was obvious: no one but Ryan and Sarah had visited as many bars as John and Chris. Ryan and Sarah redesigned the website, making it more mobile-friendly, and they added new listings for beach bars they had visited during the Beach Bar Challenge. They also added a blog to share stories from other Florida beach bar enthusiasts and continued John and Chris’s tradition of hosting an annual Best Florida Beach Bar competition where fans vote on their favorites. “The top 10 winners throw a party and we present them with an award,” Ryan said. “It’s a fun and friendly competition that gets our website’s visitors to show their love for their favorite beach bars.”
For Sarah and Ryan, the appeal of a beach bar is that it feels like an escape. “Whether it’s the food, the drinks, the smell of the ocean, the sound of the waves, or the live music, Florida beach bars have a way of making you feel relaxed and help to slow down the pace of life,” Ryan said. If they’re visiting a beach bar for the first time, they like to ask the bartender what it’s known for before deciding what to eat and drink. “There are so many Florida beach bars that have unique tropical drinks or food items, and we’re always looking for something different,” Sarah said. “We also love asking the bartender to make us their favorite drink that is not on the menu.”
The answer they received to the latter question at The Golden Lion Cafe has become a go-to cocktail that Sarah and Ryan make at home. The Suntanned Surfer Girl is made with just three ingredients: pineapple juice, coconut rum, and a splash of cola.
“We don’t have favorite Florida beach bars. Chris Sancin would always say her favorite is the one she’s currently at, and we agree! Get out there and try a new one—there are so many to visit,” said Ryan and Sarah Conroy.
The bars listed below (in no particular order) are a sampling of the types of places you’ll find on their website.
We love sitting on the upper deck and looking out at the Atlantic Ocean. The owners are always looking to enhance the guest experience, and they have a great stage for live music.
St. Petersburg Beach
Often placing as a top Florida beach bar in our competition, Jimmy B’s has it all: a great Gulf view and multiple bar areas and stages. Stick around for a free Sunset Shooter, and there’s a hotel attached in case you have one too many.
You can’t miss the beautiful pagodas as you drive by this beach bar. They have an inside bar where you can have a drink while dipping your toes in the sand. They also have a volleyball court and offer water activities like paddleboarding. You can tell which of the additions to the bar are newer as they become more elevated based on updated hurricane codes, which is why the bar is built at multiple levels.
This might be one of the largest Florida beach bars we’ve been to. Sitting right at the Florida-Alabama line, this beach bar has a lot of history and is never in short supply of great live music. Kenny Chesney’s song “Flora-Bama” paints a great picture of what it’s like to sit at this legendary spot. Don’t miss the license plate mural displayed at this beach bar featuring the lyrics to his song.
Located in the shark tooth capital of the world and next to Venice’s fishing pier, this Florida beach bar has beautiful sunset views and a fun atmosphere. Sharky’s on the Pier has also been rated a top beach bar multiple years.