American alcohol laws are always tricky. Nothing underscores these laws’ nature more than the legal drinking age, which is set at 21 but has specific loopholes depending on the given state, a quagmire previously discussed here. Alcohol laws in America seem to always have loopholes and exceptions of some sort, and it is no different when it comes to drinking alcohol on public beaches. In most of America it is 100% illegal to consume alcohol on a beach but the are some exceptions:
Carmel Beach, California
Not only is this beach booze-friendly, but also dog-friendly, even sans a leash. Also, fires no larger than 3’ x 3’ x 3’ are permitted on the beach, but only Monday through Thursday. So, you can have a bonfire with your dog while drinking your favorite alcoholic beverage. Pro tip: about two or three blocks from the beach on Ocean Avenue is free two-hour parking!
Kehoe Beach, California
Alcohol is allowed on this beautiful beach, but there are two major things to keep in mind if you plan on drinking and relaxing at Kehoe: no kegs are allowed and all beach goers have to be off the beach by 11 p.m. This means if you visit Kehoe you must remember to give yourself enough time to hike the small trail back to your car.
Don't Miss A DropGet the latest in beer, wine, and cocktail culture sent straight to your inbox.
Paradise Cove, Malibu, California
As the displayed picture demonstrates, this beach can get crowded, so arrive early or be ready to expect some hectic parking. Alcohol is allowed but the beach patrol is strict about no hard alcohol, so obviously this means only wine and beer. Regardless, this place got its name for a reason.
Cocoa Beach, Florida
Alcohol is allowed here, that is in anything but a glass container, and the beach patrol is quite strict on other policy. It bans dogs, camping, fires, climbing the dunes, digging large holes, feeding the birds, and harassing sea turtles. If you can’t follow rules while tipsy, then this may not be your spot. Otherwise, it is absolutely gorgeous and worth the visit.
Haulover Beach, Miami, Florida
This beach is the only clothing optional one on this list. All types of alcohol are allowed, but using glass to drink from will get you a fat $105 ticket. The beach is quite popular and can get extremely crowded at times, but then again, it’s clothing optional and in Miami, so this makes sense.
Panama City Beach, Florida
It is true that alcohol was banned on Panama City Beach this year, but it was only for the month of March to avoid wild spring breakers abusing the beach. During the remaining months of the year, persons 21 or older are free to consume boozy beverages as long as they aren’t in glass containers. But, because of the beach’s notoriety, its beach patrol makes sure consumers of alcohol are being responsible, and they will intervene if they think any behavior is out of hand.
Playalinda Beach, Florida
Alcohol is allowed, but like most beaches glass containers are prohibited. Playa linda is Spanish for “beautiful beach,” which is hard to argue based on the provided photo. According to the locals it is also a great location for surfing
Cumberland Island, Georgia
Cumberland Island constitutes the westernmost point of shoreline on the Atlantic Ocean in the United States. The horses that roam the island are unmanaged feral horses and should be treated with caution, considering they’re wild animals. Alcohol is allowed on the beach, but it must be consumed responsibly.
Tybee Island, Georgia
Beer kegs, glass bottles and other breakable containers are a no-go, but everything else is permitted to relax and party with. This is no surprise however, since the beach is located just outside of Savannah, where it is legal to drink in the streets.
National Lakeshore, Indiana
Central Beach is the more well known beach to consume alcohol at in Indiana, however it is unfortunately closed until further notice due to erosion. But, alcohol is allowed along the stretch of beach from Kemil to Mount Baldy. So, if you live in or near Indiana, or are just traveling by, and plan to get some sun in the sands along Lake Michigan, you can bring some booze with you, as long as there’s no glass involved, as per usual.
Assateague Island, Maryland
The slim island is so long (37 miles) that it actually stretches between two states, Maryland and Virginia. Only the northern two-thirds (the Maryland portion) allow alcohol consumption. Fun fact: wild horses and ponies are native to the island and can be spotted daily around sunrise and sunset. As you can see from the photo, they easily coexist with beach goers.
Cape Cod National Seashore, Massachusetts
In the 400 miles of Massachusetts shoreline, drinking is only permitted on beaches that lie in the Cape Cod National Seashore (the easternmost section of Massachusetts), so take your pick out of any one of its beaches to post-up and enjoy yourself. The specific beach featured in this picture is Sandy Neck Beach.
Fire Island, New York
Fire Island used to be a paradise for consuming alcohol on the beach, but things have changed a bit. Recently the policy has changed for some parts of this beach haven. The Town of Islip, Brookhaven, and the Villages of Ocean Beach and Saltaire prohibit the possession of open containers or the consumption of alcoholic beverages in places open to the general public, except where licensed or specially permitted. These new regulation have been put in place to curb beach littering and help our environment. Everywhere else in Fire Island, however, it is still legal to drink whatever alcoholic beverage you please.
Outer Banks, North Carolina
The Outer Banks has its fair share of attractions for vacationers, including the Wright Brothers Memorial, lighthouses, an aquarium, and enough shopping and dining to keep any family entertained for a week-long vacation. But the biggest attraction that draws seasoned Outer Banks vacationers back every year are the miles and miles of pristine beaches and the alcohol allowed on them. Just no glass! Also, it’s quite common to see kite surfers in action during the nicer parts of the years.
Lake Erie, Ohio
According to Ohio state laws regarding boozing on the lake Erie, a passenger can have an open container but the operator can’t be or have been drinking and be past the limit. This means that on the Lake Erie premises it is completely legal to drink whatever alcohol you please. You just might want to do it on a boat in the lake, as the beaches are the real draw here, the water is.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
Situated on the northern Oregon coast about 80 miles west of Portland, the four-mile stretch of sand known as Cannon Beach attracts 750,000 annual visitors, all of whom (provided they are of age) can drink alcohol on the beach. A random fun fact: films The Goonies, Twilight, and Point Break all had scenes filmed here. Wonder if the crews got a little loose on set…
Lincoln City, Oregon
In August, the warmest month of the year, the average high temperature in Lincoln City is 72 °F (22 °C), which makes it relatively cold. However it’s a great place to sit and try to view one of the 400 resident whales, which can typically be seen when the water is flat, but you might want to have a beer or two while you wait.
Seaside beach allows the consumption of alcohol all year with the exception of Spring Break season (which should be quite obvious). The beach is also home to an abundance of razor clams, so if drinking and clamming is your style, Seaside beach is the perfect spot.
East Beach, Galveston Island, Texas
Located at the far eastern tip of the island, East Beach is the only part of Galveston Island that allows the consumption of alcohol. Also, it is less crowded than the other beaches mentioned on this list, so that is a plus if privacy is highly valued.
South Padre Island, Texas
Alcohol of any kind is permitted within the 113 mile long Padre Island National Seashore (just not in moving vehicles), and the same goes for the city beaches. South Padre Island in Texas is a notoriously popular and often rowdy spring break destination. This however is for good reason, considering it is one of the only places on this list that allows the use of kegs. If you want to throw a raging party, this is the right beach.
Surfside Beach, Texas
Situated on the Gulf of Mexico near the city of Freeport, the population of this small community was only 482 at the 2010 census. Thus, it doesn’t get too crowded. Perfect for drinking a nice bottle of wine in peace.