May 2019: Monty’s Sunset is great and all, but for those who’d rather not trek to South Beach, we’ve added in the Monty’s Raw Bar mainland location in Coconut Grove, where university students congregate for Friday happy hour and families frolic on weekends. On Biscayne Bay, two new waterfront spots also deserve your attention: Michael Schwartz’s gorgeous, Latin-inspired gem Amara at Paraiso, and the more casual Catch Bar & Grill offering marina views and prime people-watching.
When you’ve found a favorite watering hole—like one of these 20 best bars in Miami—it’s tough to stray. If a killer Miami happy hour deal won’t sway you to try something new, perhaps a round of drinks while you watch the sun setting over South Beach will. In that spirit, here are the best waterfront bars around town for drinking in the view…and a few cocktails. Mega-yachts, optional.
Best waterfront bars in Miami
What is it? The Wharf is among the first wave of businesses to invest in what will soon no doubt be a very crowded Miami River. That investment has certainly paid off. The Wharf is rarely not packed with well-dressed Miamians. In addition to booze, the outdoor bar is dotted with a selection of food trucks—the focal point being the beloved Garcia’s Seafood.
Why go? It’s a casual atmosphere: astroturf and picnic benches encourage mingling. There’s boat parking available for nautical folk too but anyone is welcome to enjoy some champagne during the day or liquor and dancing at night.
What is it? A complete renovation of the sea wall and deck in 2014 gave this 25-year-old North Bay Village standby a new lease on life. Patrons here can kick back with a pitcher of beer, wings and oysters while taking in unobstructed views of the Miami sunset over the water.
Why go? Umbrellas and palms provide a fair amount of shade for sports fans taking in the latest match on one of the flatscreen TVs. Plus, unlike many spots on this list, the onsite marina offers boat docking free of charge.
What is it? The bayside deck of The Standard Spa, Miami Beach plays host to a hippie-chic bar scene with unrivaled views of the water. The bar menu here is as light as the vibe, with Mediterranean-influenced dishes like char-grilled octopus and a mezze plate filled with hummus, eggplant pahi and olives.
Why go? It isn’t rare to spot of school of dolphins frolicking in the bay while downing a few glasses of sangria and frosé—that is, if you’re not too distracted people-watching at this enclave for the ultra-hip.
What is it? This Greek dream makes its home along the Miami River in a 100-year-old converted fish market. A partially covered deck with tied-back white curtains and ivy-wrapped columns sets the scene for the simple, yet rustic Mediterranean fare that’ll accompany date night rounds of ouzo tinged with fresh-pressed juices.
Why go? While the main bar is tucked inside the charming rustic environs of the restaurant, the view from the outside bar makes the decision to take your cocktail al fresco a no-brainer.
What is it? The WetLab has been one of the best-kept secrets in Miami—and for good reason. It takes a bit of maneuvering to find (it’s located behind the University of Miami’s RSMAS campus on Key Biscayne), but the views and prices are more than worth it.
Why go? A wide-open terrace looks out over the turquoise waters of the bay, with string lights gently illuminating the view after the sun sets. Wine is a mere $4 and beer—including an exceptional craft selection—will put you out anywhere between $4 to $7, max. It’s a bargain beer drinker’s paradise.
What is it? Nestled in Edgewater, Amara boasts spectacular bayfront views and a sprawling deck dotted with tables, sofas and low-slung lounge chairs. The beachy, mid-century setting is secondary only to chef Michael Schwartz’s menu of hyperlocal, Latin-inspired fare.
Why go? On weekdays, warm up your evening with Amara’s Bar & Beach happy hour from 5:30 to 7:30pm. The Paloma made with El Tesoro Reposado “Amara Barrel” lime and grapefruit tonic will run you $8 and might just have you kicking off your sandals and dipping a toe in the sand as you take the sunset.
What is it? Sure, they’ve got more than 20 TVs posted up around the joint—but none of them hold a candle to the view of the Intracoastal Waterway at this laid-back watering hole in North Miami Beach. Dive-bar delicacies like chicken wings and potato skins sidle up to beer and frozen adult beverages, making this a favorite spot to catch a Heat or Marlins game.
Why go? This isn’t just any sports bar—the 700 seats, fifty-space boat dock and a sunny pool deck (did we mention there’s a pool?) make sure of that.
What is it? Classic Americana on the water—that pretty much sums up the feeling at this lively Brickell joint. Red, white and blue adorn the outdoor patio that overlooks the Miami River.
Why go? Beer is the way to go here, with an impressive roster of craft brews on tap—and if you can tear yourself away from the waterfront view, there are self-serving beer tap tables inside and house-made soft pretzel bites once the munchies strike.
What is it? Situated on Brickell Key inside the upscale Mandarin Oriental, YAKU by La Mar offers mesmerizing views of the water and Brickell beyond.
Why go? Don’t let the hypnotic view of Brickell Bay distract you from the matter at hand: cheekily named cocktails like the Sexy Bombon Punch with bourbon also demand your undivided attention.
What is it? Floating on the waterfront docks of the Miami Beach Marina, this longtime favorite gets lively during happy hour and on the weekends. The straw-thatched tiki hut bordering the pool offers a stunning view of yachts docked on the Atlantic while their infamous frozen Pain Relievers and Miami Vice cocktails take the sting out of a tough day at work.
Why go? On weekdays from 4–8pm, happy hour kicks in with steep discounts on their raw bar (think peel-and-eat shrimp, oysters and clams), beer and wine.
What is it? Nestled within a post-industrial warehouse not too far from Kiki on the River, this waterfront enclave features an outdoor lounge on a wood-lined deck that juts out onto the Miami River. Here, a see-and-be-seen crowd watches the sun set on the Downtown skyline with glasses of champagne and white cranberry-peach Blossom Martinis in hand.
Why go? Live music echoes throughout the deck as boats cruise the river and plates of thinly sliced crudos accompany the cocktails coming out from behind the bar.
What is it? Perched on the waters of Biscayne Bay right off the Rickenbacker Causeway is a massive tiki hut that beckons thirsty locals with hurricane glasses filled with frosty rum runners, margaritas and Mai Tais. Looking for a nosh to soak up some of the boozy concoctions? The menu is replete with bar favorites—nachos, wings, quesadillas—with items like gator bites and fried avocado offering a twist to the usual fare.
Why go? A deck festooned with faux parrots, brightly painted wood and the odd carved coconut or two provides a breezy perch for enjoying the tipples while the bay ripples beyond.
What is it? This lively, bi-level spot in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach channels a sun-splashed, South of France vibe—crisp whites, vibrant teals and an ocean view that’s hard to beat.
Why go? The upper level overlooks both the pool and the ocean—the perfect spot for lounging back with a crisp glass of rosé (or a pitcher of their eponymous punch) and a plate of oysters while watching the bar scene light up with chic patrons chatting amidst DJ-spun tunes.
What it is? Located on a marina, this popular Grove hangout is a sweet spot for cold beers, stiff drinks and casual seafood. Thatch-roofed, open-walled miniature tiki huts surround a stage from which reggae and calypso bands do their damnedest to persuade the diners and drinkers to dance.
Why go? On Friday afternoons find a rowdy happy hour crowd (heavy with thirsty UM kids) eagerly slurping up strong frozen drinks. For a more family-friendly vibe, come on the weekends, order a basket of fried seafood and a pitcher of beer for yourself and send the kids off to dance to the live music.
What is it? This waterfront bar and seafood grill might be housed inside a Marriott Hotel, but its relaxed vibes and expansive views of Biscayne Bay and the Miami skyline will make you feel like you’ve made it to paradise.
Why go? Monday through Friday from 4 to 7pm, enjoy happy hour specials like $6 well cocktails and mango rum jerk chicken wings for $9. Your view from the waterfront deck also offers prime people-watching, as drunken passengers return from their boat days and attempt to regain their land legs.