The beach is clearly an ideal place to drink—there’s sun, the relaxing sound of the waves, plenty of room for activities and minimal clothing requirements. The only drawback: the beach buggy-riding police who could roll up any minute to ruin your fun with a ticket for an open container. But thankfully, some pro-fun seaside cities legalized public drinking on their beaches. Get your surf-washed drinking on like the standup, law-abiding citizen you are by heading to one of these booze-friendly beaches.
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Carmel Beach, California
We found heaven, and it’s outside Monterey. This beach allows everything one could need for a boozy night on the beach: open containers, dogs and controlled fires. That’s right, feel free to bring your pup along to this dog-friendly hangout, start up a small bonfire and drink all the while.
Paradise Cove, Malibu, California
The name “Paradise Cove” was conceived by no accident. This Malibu hotspot is downright gorgeous—and everyone seems to know it. The sand can get pretty crowded here, so if you’d like to sip on your favorite sippy cup of wine or beer (as there’s no hard booze allowed) in peace, you’d best roll up during off-peak hours.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks may be known as a family-friendly getaway, with raucous beach house rentals spilling over with younguns, but if you can stomach the youthful chaos (or if that’s the very reason you need a drink), rest assured that the beach is totally OK with you breaking open a brewski, assuming it’s not in a glass bottle.
Panama City Beach, Florida
One of many spring break haunts along the Florida coastline, Panama City has a bit of a well-earned reputation as a frat party scene. Collegiate shindigs have gotten so out of hand, in fact, that drinking is banned here during the month of March. But during any other month, you’re free to imbibe all you like. Honestly, avoiding the hordes of revelers is probably for the best. If you get bored of the standard shore experience, hop on a ferry out to Shell Island peninsula for even more secluded sipping.
Haulover Beach, Miami, Florida
If booze has a tendency to make you take off all your clothes, this just the beach for you. Tipsy nudity at Haulover Beach isn’t just allowed; it’s encouraged. This booze and nude-friendly beach does ban one thing, though: glass bottles. No one wants sharp broken glass around defenseless naked revelers, after all.
Gunnison Beach, New Jersey
Northeasterners don’t need to take a four-hour flight just to bare all on a beach with a bottle in hand. Gunnison Beach has the tri-state area covered on drunken dips above the Mason Dixon. If you’re doubtful about the Jersey beach scene, let us remind you it’s one of the best places to drink up North.
Madeira Beach, Florida
Any beach that shares its name with the famed fortified wine is deserving of praise, but Madeira Beach goes above and beyond by actually allowing said beverage along its shore. Take a stroll on the boardwalk for some seaside entertainment, before heading down to the sand for a few drinks in privacy.
National Lakeshore, Indiana
Coastal beaches get all the attention, but some landlocked states have plenty of waterfront to offer as well. National Lakeshore along Lake Michigan is definitely the most attractive shore in the Midwest thanks to its relaxed policy toward open containers. While some stretches of the beach ban booze and not all are accessible all the time, Kemil, Central, and Dunbar Beaches are all solid bets for some fresh-water boozing.
South Padre Island, Texas
Another infamous spring break destination, South Padre Island provides the perfect escape to Southern college students deep in the heart of Texas. Things can get a bit rowdy during the boozy tourist season, so head north to Padre Island National Seashore if you want a chiller atmosphere and the same alcohol-friendly laws.
Assateague Island, Maryland
Be careful with Google Maps—if you end up in the Virginia section of Assateague Island or in the Assateague State Park with a beverage in hand, you’ll quickly find out the hard way that the three locations don’t have comparable liquor laws. On the Maryland side of the state line, though, officials at Assateague Island are totally cool with you sipping your favorite beverage by the water. Oh, and after a few rounds, if you think you see a herd of wild horses galloping toward you, that’s not a drunken mirage—Assateague Island is known for its wild horses.
Fire Island, New York
A longtime favorite secluded spot for New Yorkers fleeing the urban grind, Fire Island separates itself from other East Coast boozy beaches with its balance between accessibility and inaccessibility: It’s near the city, but you have to take a ferry to get there. Without cars to worry about (they’re banned on the island for most of the year), most of Fire Island is a stress-free drinker’s paradise—save for the areas where booze has recently been banned due to litter. Stick to Ocean Bay Park, Kismet, and Fire Island Pines, and you shouldn’t run afoul of the law (or any responsibilities whatsoever).
Cannon Beach, Oregon
California isn’t the only “best coast” state to pair breathtaking views of the Pacific with a Pacifico. The weather may not be quite as nice up in Oregon, but the whale-watching is primo and makes for a great excuse to sit looking out at the surf with a beverage in hand. Cannon Beach is one of the best of the boozy spots along the Oregon shore, if not only because The Goonies filmed there. Get a little tipsy, and do the truffle shuffle for all your friends.
Pawleys Island, South Carolina
Boozing on the beach is nothing new. Pawleys Island has been attracting East Coast crowds since the 1700s. Enjoy the image of colonials drinking on the sand in their old timey clothing while you partake in one of the era’s classic beverages.
Pretty Much Anywhere in Puerto Rico
Since you don’t even need a passport to board a flight, getting away to Puerto Rico feels like cheating. You won’t feel like you’re totally out of America, but the island is definitely removed enough to qualify as an island vacation—especially when you’ve got a fresh Piña Colada resting beside you in the sand.