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Florida Beach Bar Places and Beach Cities

 
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Florida Beach Bar Places
It was in the winter of 2003, during a snow storm, that my wife and I decided to leave Cleveland, Ohio and head to Florida. One year and six months later we moved into our beach condominium and immediately encountered four hurricanes named Charley, Frances, Ivan and Jeanne. But, hey, it didn't snow. We entertained ourselves on non-hurricane alert weekends by hopping into our convertible and visiting local beach bars. We had certain criteria even back then. It was great fun and once we started, we never stopped.

Six years later we got the crazy idea to visit all the beach bars in Florida, review each one, and put the results on a web site named FloridaBeachBar.com. Within six months, we visited over 200 beach bars. The list now tops 250 beach bars, and we add new bars regularly. We've met a ton of fun and interesting people and learned that there was more to Florida beach bars than having drinks and listening to live music. It's about making new friends, too.

Mention Florida beach bars and it may conjure up visions of college students on the beach for spring break or a local entertainer playing Buffett music in the neighborhood bar serving margaritas while the waves wash ashore. While these things make up some of the characteristics that describe Florida beach bars, they are only a small part of what these eating and drinking establishments are all about. Florida beach bars are typically by the water, usually the ocean or Gulf of Mexico, with live "trop rock" music. They offer all kinds of food raging from great seafood to fried everything. Beyond that they are often tied to history, have survived hurricanes, and draw crowds that rally around a lifestyle that is frequently described in the songs of beach bar entertainers. Many of these songs are written by the artists that sing them. There are plenty of very good Jimmy Buffett type entertainers.

It's easy to assume that Florida beach bars are just another way to suck up tourist's dollars. But there are numerous stories of owners who were chasing their dreams in Florida. Florida, you see, is unlike most of the states. Sure the weather is almost always warm and the sun shines more often than not. But Florida isn't just about the weather and its 1,197 miles of coastline. It's about a lifestyle that is laid back, all about enjoying life, and living in paradise. Beach bars are the perfect place to pull it all together. They are as much for locals as they are for tourists with crowds that range from college kids to retirees.


It was "Where the Boys Are", a movie released in 1960 starring Connie Francis, which introduced the country to the concept of spring break. The movie was filmed in Ft. Lauderdale and featured a local beach bar called the Elbo Room. This now famous Fort Lauderdale beach bar still stands in its original location and has maintained much of its 1950's look. In the movie four college girls drive to Fort Lauderdale for spring break and do what spring breakers do at the Elbo Room. Fort Lauderdale has since discouraged spring breakers from heading to this beach town. But both the city and the bar had a great deal to do with today's Florida beach bars.


  Elbo Room  
  Elbo Room | Fort Lauderdale – The Elbo Room and Ft. Lauderdale gained popularity in 1961 with the release of the movie "Where the Boys Are ", with Connie Frances and George Hamilton. It motivated thousands of additional college students to head to Fort Lauderdale for spring break.  


Key West is a one of a kind place that embodies the tropical Florida lifestyle. It has a long an interesting past ranging from salvaging ship wrecks to being the home of Ernest Hemingway in the latter part of his life. But it was in the 1970's that a then unknown singer arrived in Key West playing music to tourists for tips. His name was Jimmy Buffett. From that time forward, Key West would never be the same. The locals will tell you that it was Jimmy Buffett who made Key West the tourist destination that it is today.

While the tropical atmosphere, beaches, and waterways create the atmosphere that makes a great beach bar, it is live music that generates the fun and entertainment. Some beach bars offer weekend entertainment. Others, the really special bars, have music every day of the week, sometimes three times a day. Most entertainers play trop rock (tropical rock). Wikipedia defines trop rock as "music that incorporates elements and influences of rock and roll, reggae, country music, Caribbean and zydeco." Most often the lyrics are inspired by an island lifestyle.

Florida is a Mecca for trop rock bands. Crowd favorites include; James "Sunny Jim" White, Jim Morris, The Boat Drunks, Jimmy Parrish and the Ocean Waves, and many more. Key West may be the best known location for island style music, but it is an obscure beach bar in Lake Suzy that wins the awards for trop rock music. Located near the West Coast of Florida, the Nav-A-Gator Grill is continually ranked the top trop rock venue in the country. That's where you'll hear some of Florida's most popular beach bar entertainers.
When you travel the entire coastline of Florida you quickly learn that each beach city is different, the beaches are different, and so are the beach bars. Panhandle beach cities and bars take full advantage of the famous white sugar sand beaches and beautiful sunsets. St. Pete Beach just has the highest concentration of Florida beach bars; many of which are "old Florida" and located right on the beach. Fort Myers Beach also has quite a few beach bars, and like St. Pete Beach, many are within walking distance of each other.

The Keys have a wide variety of bars up and down US 1 all leading to Key West, Florida's number one party town. There you will find famous places like Sloppy Joe's, Captain Tony's, and the original Margaritaville retail store and restaurant founded in 1985. Florida's east coast features the high style night life of Miami's South Beach and the historic Cocoa Beach, TV home of "I dream of Jeannie" and neighbor to the Kennedy Space Center.

  Elbo Room  
  Captain Tony's | Key West – Captain Tony's is a Florida beach bar so famous that Jimmy Buffett sings about it in "Last Tango in Paris". It was the original location of Sloppy Joe's. And it is here, the bar owners point out, that Hemingway spent time during the most productive years of his life.  


Each city and their bars are presented based on our travel and experiences. Current information is available on FloridaBeachBar.com. Enjoy the trip. We did!


Florida's Top 10 Beach Bars
What makes a great beach bar? It's a fun bar on a beach with open air seating, a full bar, good food, and live music both day and night. You can go in your bathing suit and flip flops, no problem.

Each year FloridaBeachBar.com asks site visitors to vote on their favorite beach bars. The votes are tabulated and combined with FloridaBeachBar.com's bar ratings to produce the Top 10 Florida Beach Bar List. Results are posted on the web site and winning bars are presented with a Top 10 Florida Beach Bar plaque. Many of these bars are featured in this book.

 

 

Year and Rank
All Time Top 10 Florida beach Bars 2011 2012 2013 2014
 Jimmy B's Beach Bar  St. Pete Beach 1 1 2 1
 Bongos Beach Bar and Grille St. Pete Beach   5 3 3
 Golden Lion Café Flagler Beach 2 7 9 5
 Racing's North Turn  Ponce Inlet 4 4 7 8
 Paradise Bar and Grill  Pensacola Beach 9 3 5 7
 Shephard's Beach Resort  Clearwater Beach 3 2 8  
 Sharky's On the Pier Venice     1 2
 Harry's Beach Bar  St. Pete Beach   6 4 6
 Ocean Deck Daytona Beach 8     4
 Flora-Bama Lounge & Package Perdido Key   9 6  
 Inlet Harbor Restaurant  Ponce Inlet 5      
 Frenchy's Rockaway Grill Clearwater Beach 6      
 The Cottage Bar and Grill Fort Myers Beach 7      
 Boston's on the Beach Delray Beach   8    
 Sandshaker Lounge   Pensacola beach   10 10 10
 Toasted Monkey St. Pete Beach       9
 The Turtle Club Key Largo 10      

While the exact formula to calculate ratings is confidential, about half of the scoring is based on votes. We use a mathematical model to determine the rating of each bar. It's as serious as we get about the ratings, and our attempt to be consistent and objective. Points are awarded in four major categories: Proximity to the Beach or Water, Food and Drinks, Live Entertainment, and Beach Bar Factors and Features. Factors and features include Outside Seating, Ambiance, Parking, View, Sunset, Boat Access, Good Staff, and so on.

Our Pink Flamingo rating system is used to rank beach bars. Five pink flamingos designate the best overall rating. If a beach bar only meets the minimal requirements, they qualify for a single flamingo. While ratings are important, we encourage you look at all the bars we've listed. Fact is you'd be hard pressed not have a great time at any of them. Ratings and reviews for all Florida Beach Bars can be found at FloridaBeachBar.com.

Read More
References

About the Elbo Room, http://www.elboroom.com/page/about-the-elboroom
Wikipedia, Tropical Rock, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tropical_rock


 




 
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