Food & Drink

The Best “Beach” Bar in Every Landlocked State

We might all want a beach vacation, but most of us can’t just pack up and escape to the coast. And it’s especially difficult for people in the 26 landlocked states. Sure, some of those states have the Great Lakes and others have somewhat impressive bodies of water, but they lack a true coast with an ocean or sea. Luckily, the bar community is there to help with genuine beach bars far, far away from any real beach. Sometimes a beach bar is a great tiki bar, other times it’s a wood-paneled, palm frond and plastic chair-filled environment. Sometimes there’s even real sand. These are the beach bars in landlocked states that will help you escape.

Arizona: The Monastery Bar & Grill in Mesa

Catch some rays on one of the two sand volleyball courts or take it easy with ping pong and horseshoes. The Monastery Bar has more than 50 beer choices to quench your thirst between the inside and outside bars. The sun averse will find plenty of shade cast by trees and palm thatched umbrellas. If games and year-round outdoor lounging isn’t your thing, Monastery also has frequent live music performances and karaoke nights. Mesa’s average summertime temperatures reach over 100 and there’s no water to cool off your burning feet after running through the sand. The rest of the year is ideal, though, making it the type of bar you can turn into your beach away from beach.

Arkansas: Bentley’s Beach Bar in Bentonville

Bentley’s delivers on that coveted beach shack vibe with wood-paneled walls, a partial tin roof and beach umbrellas (some of which are not actually doing anything except bringing you into a beachy state of mind). There are multi-colored plastic beach chairs and a fishing net that hangs over the outside bar. During the colder months, bar activity moves indoors, which is just as coastal with surfboards and games like corn hole. All that’s missing is the sand.

Colorado: BooDad’s Beach House in Colorado Springs

This place is, admittedly, more of a sandy volleyball mecca than a bar. But if a beach bar is more about location and activities than drinks, does that make it any less of a beach bar? The two-story beer bar is surrounded by 12 volleyball courts filled with nearly 4,000 tons of sand, basically creating a 2-acre beachfront to sip drinks on while the more active folks bump, set and spike. Fans of doing both can join a Friday beer league, which includes pitchers of beer for all with more beer pitcher prizes.

Idaho: The Yardarm in Garden City

Idaho is the fastest-growing state in the U.S., and it’s doing it without an idyllic coastline. What it does have, though, are rivers and bars that can recreate all the beach feels. Located along the Boise River right next to the capital city, Yardarm feels like a California beach that was taken from the west coast and put on the other side of the Rocky Mountains. There’s sand (obvious plus), a food truck and paddle boards. Added bonus: You can actually use a paddle board on the river nearby before retreating to the sandy floored Yardarm for some refreshments.

Illinois: Caffè Oliva in Chicago

The closest thing to an actual ocean or sea beach is a lake beach, and you can find great examples on the Great Lakes. In Chicago, tucked into a little corner and surrounded by large streets and skyscrapers, is Ohio Street Beach, a perfect in-city oasis. Caffè Oliva easily takes the cake for being the most beachy bar in any of the landlocked states. Cocktails, cold ones and Mediterranean dishes like calamari are served up in private cabanas with views of the water. It’s also dog friendly, and if there’s anything better than a beach bar, it’s a beach bar with dogs.

Indiana: Revolucion in Indianapolis

The first thing you’ll notice about Revolucion is the requisite surfboard hanging on the wall behind the bar, under the palm frond roof. Venture outside during nicer weather and you’ll find more of the same. Menu-wise, prepare for drinks made with all the best warm-weather spirits. You’ll find rum-based tiki classics (Scorpion Bowls with flaming centers, Mai Tais, assorted pineapple-cup libations and the like) as well as tequila drinks. It’s part cantina, part tiki bar and 100 percent the beach escape Indiana residents need at all times of the year.

Iowa: The Barefoot Bar in Okoboji

The sprawling Barefoot Bar is a beach in the midst of a marina. Swaying palm trees shipped from Florida, multiple tiki bars, and a no shoes, no shirt, no problem attitude are less Hawkeye State vibes, more Key West vibes. There are Full Moon Parties and a blowout Oct-Tiki-Fest at the end of the season before the trees go away and the snow piles up. The bar has earned a worldwide reputation over the years thanks to people plastering Barefoot Bar stickers from China to Australia and back. It’s time you see what all the fuss is about.

Kansas: The Sandbar in Lawrence

The “Home of the indoor Hurricane,” Sandbar has been bringing the beach—a very breezy beach—to Kansas since 1989. Every night around 10 p.m., a mermaid is selected from the bar crowd and reads a poem. Then, simulated wind and rain blows through the bar. Finally, the storm ends and everyone jumps on tables and sings and dances. It’s not just unlike any landlocked beach bar you’ve been to; it’s unlike any beach bar you’ve been to, period.

Kentucky: The Limbo in Louisville

The Limbo is Louisville’s only tiki bar, and it’s like someone put a beach in the middle of bourbon country. It opened within the last year, encouraging Kentuckians to swap horses for seahorses. The name is no joke (expect random limbo competitions aided by a bamboo pole), and neither are the drinks. Many of the classic tiki drinks come with the option to swap bourbon for rum, because you can escape the bourbon country atmosphere, but you can’t escape the bourbon.

Michigan: The Deck in Muskegonx

Michigan has miles of lake shoreline and plenty of places to drink on the dock like Kid Rock, but not enough beach bars. It does have The Deck, however. Located on the Pere Marquette Park beach, The Deck boasts “cold beer, authentic barbecue and no dress code.” Live music and sunsets on the water fill the daily schedule, as does plenty of smoked barbecue.

Minnesota: Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge in Minneapolis

The decor in Psycho Suzi’s is like that of Disney’s Tiki Room, but you’ll be having way more fun than you do with singing parrots. The menu ranks the cocktails by strength, using a skull and crossbones number system from one to three. Three different themed bars and an outdoor space will take you out of the uber cold city and make you feel like you’ve been dropped onto a tropical island on the equator. Plus, there’s an indoor waterfall.

Missouri: Franky & Louie’s in Sunrise Beach

It’s easy to get lost in the Lake of the Ozarks. It’s a winding, wandering maze. But beach lovers will feel right at home at Franky & Louie’s. Real palm trees shipped over from warmer climates sit in tons of white sand, and the bar even offers boat rentals. Think spring break, Florida Gulf Coast style.

Montana: The Sip ‘n Dip Lounge in Great Falls

“Tropical atmosphere at the O’Haire Motor Inn” probably sounds like a Mad Lib-esque mashup. It’s not, thanks to the Sip ‘n Dip. One of our favorite bars with live mermaid shows (yes, there are multiple), the Montana mainstay has a tiki theme with nightly mermaid entertainment alongside rum drinks. If you’re like Sebastian and your ideal beach is under the sea with a view of all that goes on beneath the waves, this is the place to be.

Nebraska: Lake Lono Rum Club in Omaha

Nebraska is as far away from a coastline as you can get in America. The Nebraska plains are in the dead center of the country, and you’d have to travel through at least three states to see the ocean. No worries, though, because there’s the Lake Lono Rum Club. The Omaha bar is filled with plastic plants and exotic cocktails. Escape to the beach of Lake Lono, which the bar describes as a tiki mash-up from “Polynesia, the Caribbean, Africa, Southeast Asia, rockabilly, Hollywood, funk, and surfer culture,” with drinks like the Puddle Jumper (cachaça, dry curaçao, mango, lime, coconut milk, tiki bitters).

Nevada: Mandalay Bay Beach in Las Vegas

There are plenty of pools in Vegas, and more than a few tiki bars where you can catch some coastal ambiance. Sand is a major factor here, though, and not that desert sand you’ll find everywhere else. The Mandalay Bay Beach has 2,700 tons of real sand, a 1.6 million gallon wave pool, a lazy river and 100 rentable cabanas (with ceiling fans), day beds, bungalows and villas. It’s Vegas meets beach in all the best ways, somehow making sand in your drink a luxurious experience.

New Mexico: Sandbar Brewery and Grill in Albuquerque

Like Arizona, New Mexico has some face meltingly hot summer months. The key to cooling down in the middle of a scorching summer (or a hot winter) is sand volleyball courts and fresh beer. Other than volleyball, which is great in its own right, the sand is used for beach games like giant trashcan beer pong and corn hole. There’s no ocean, but the back patio calls for bathing suits, drinks in fresh fruit and live music. Spring break forever.

North Dakota: Beach Bar in Stanley

Beach Bar is hard to find even if you’re looking for it. Tucked in the back of a massive parking lot is an unassuming green-roofed building with the word “bar” on top. Inside, there are neon signs, surfboards, waterfront images and mannequins wearing bikinis. That last bit is a little weird, but cut the place some slack. Nebraska may be literally the state farthest away from a beach, but North Dakota is the farthest away in state of mind.

Ohio: The Sand Bar at Put-in-Bay

Put-in-Bay is an island on Lake Erie with a population of 130 people. It’s also home to one of the best beach bars in the Northern Midwest. The Sand Bar has a 9,000-square-foot pool with a swim-up bar, sand imported from Florida and pool volleyball. The tiki bar serves up tropical hits, and, if you squint hard enough, the live palms might convince you that you’re on the Gulf Coast instead of the Great Lakes.

Oklahoma: Saturn Room in Tulsa

Saturn Room sets the mood right with one simple declaration on its website: “Our expertly trained staff is ready to take you on an island hopping flight through the Caribbean experiencing the different styles and flavors of rum.” That’s an escape we all could use, especially those of us unable to take a flight down to the actual Caribbean. Stick to the tried-and-true tiki classics or venture off and try a Saturn Room original, like the Boulevardier of Broken Dreams made with pineapple rum, Campari, sweet vermouth and bitters.

Pennsylvania: The Tiki Bar in Berks County

More than any other state, Pennsylvania was robbed of any semblance of a coastline. The state line gets oh so close to the Atlantic, but then New Jersey swoops in and takes the shore. At least they have The Tiki Bar. Located in a hard-to-find bit of woods next to the Manatawny River, it’s the beach that Pennsylvania never had. It has cook-your-own fire pits, drinks, drinking games and bonfires. Jimmy Buffett plays inside when the temperature drops and there are Hurricanes all around.

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South Dakota: Hurley’s Motorboat Beach Bar in Arlington

This spot has a porch filled with sand and brightly colored plastic lawn chairs. The view looks off at the lake, and bright drinks help your beach-hungry imagination. Hurley’s Motorboat Beach Bar is proof that all you need to bring the beach to you is to fill a spot up with sand, set up some outdoor drinking games, hang a couple fake parrots from the ceiling and let the good times roll.

Tennessee: Railgarten in Memphis

Railgarten is more than just bar; it’s an entire community that feels like it was lifted straight off Venice Beach. Live music plays from a stage below a “Roller Skate For Health” sign, and a sand volleyball court is wedged between old metal rail containers. There’s also a place for ping pong, bars and a restaurant. It’s like a miniature beach city within Memphis, complete with hearty food, light beers and cocktails.

Vermont: Captain Tom’s Tiki Bar at Ken’s Pizza in Burlington

During the winter, Captain Tom’s Tiki Bar is just an empty alley behind Ken’s Pizza. Come summer, though, that alley becomes the most tropical spot in the Green Mountain State. Paintings of beach scenes, colorful birds and papier-mâché fish set the mood while Coronas and rum drinks let your tastebuds know you’re in vacation mode—until you vacate the premise.

West Virginia: Mario’s Fishbowl in Morgantown

Mario’s has two locations in Morgantown, one on Richwood Avenue and one on Suncrest. Both work if you’re looking for a sense of the beach and you’re willing to stretch your definition of beach a little bit, but the Richwood location’s seasonal backyard makes that a lot easier. The large, family friendly patio serves up drinks in namesake fishbowl-sized glasses that’ll quickly make you forget “take me home, country road.”

Wisconsin: Tiki Beach Bar & Grill in Mosinee

The Tiki Beach Bar & Grill has 500 feet of sandy beachfront on Lake Du Bay, which, incidentally, is more than enough to make it the best beach bar in Wisconsin. Whether you get there by boat or car, the Tiki Beach Bar provides all the cold drinks, food and entertainment a beach lover could ask for.

Wyoming: Good Luck.

Wyoming isn’t much for theme bars. And it’s much more country western than coastal cool. You’ll have to make your beach bar in the Cowboy State—or make do with what you can find. Might we suggest a beer decorated with a paper umbrella at Tusker’s?