St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach, Florida

Beach-adjacent dive bar drinking is one of life's great pleasures, let alone along a string of islands west of Tampa.
Beck Tavern - Columbus Dive Bar - Interior
One of the great traits of the human race is the relentless desire to pair the ocean with alcohol, and St. Pete Beach lives up to every bit of that tradition, a network of ocean-adjacent islands housing no shortage of bars, bars and also bars. As far as dives go, it’s hard to find something truly divey on expensive beachfront property, though there are a few tiki huts up and down the St. Pete Beach shore. Swigwam Beach Bar, below, started its life as one such hut before being forced to relocate inward due to escalating real estate costs.

For those reasons, for something squarely on the beach, those options are largely similar and well dispersed throughout the area. A few noteworthy examples include Woody’s Waterfront and Chris’s Beachside (the extra apostrophe s belongs to Chris, not us). But this is Scoundrel’s Field Guide and our goal is to get a little bit off the beaten path, which largely means moving toward the interior of the islands that string St. Pete Beach together.

Those familiar with Tampa and St. Pete will know that it’s pretty difficult to draw lines between batches of bars, as there’s always another intriguing place to try a block or so away, but the goal here is to stay semi-concentrated in a way that means less rideshare trips between bars and more time soaking in some of Florida’s best dive bars.

The Stops

1. Smugglers Tavern & Liquor Store

1120 Pinellas Bayway S, St. Petersburg, FL 33715
Google Map
(727) 866-7020
Web Site Link

The drive to Smugglers Tavern is half the allure of the southernmost St. Pete Beach dive bar on this list, a tiny outpost at the edge of the ocean that conveniently addresses both in-the-moment and to-go liquor needs. Nothing says Tampa area dive bar like a tiny patio in a strip mall flanked by cushioned chairs slowly absorbing ocean-adjacent air.

2. Billy's Stone Crab

1 Collany Rd, Tierra Verde, FL 33715
Google Map
(727) 866-2115
Web Site Link

Just across the parking lot from Smugglers Tavern, Billy’s Stone Crab gives off a very tourist-friendly aura at first glance, but the move is the upstairs, open air patio rather than the indoor dining room. Everything seems a little more authentic when exposed to the elements and a rooftop wooden dining ledge with a view feels like the right place to crack open a crab.

3. Shadrack's

114 8th Ave, St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Google Map
(727) 360-8279

The effect is a bit hard to explain, but Shadracks feels like a dive bar turned inside out, a collection of shingles, pillars and time-worn family signage that creates the illusion of drinking outside. The attached patio provides the option to do exactly that, but the vibe inside is much more comfortable, a ringed bar connecting a multi-room layout connected by impressive indoor neon.

4. The Drunken Clam

46 46th Ave, St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Google Map
(727) 360-1800
Web Site Link

Though the star might be the mural along the parking lot depicting, you guessed it, a drunken clam, the bar itself feels like an outpost for locals, the kind of place that would be swarmed if it was on the beach but survives the bright light of tourists due to a location just a block or so away. A good dive bar doesn’t necessarily need to be quirky to be compelling, and The Drunken Clam is nothing if not inviting, the right kind of spot to day drink a bucket of High Lifes in the best possible way.

5. Willy's Burgers And Booze

645 Corey Ave, St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Google Map
(727) 241-0223
Web Site Link

Choosing to include the word ‘booze’ in a bar’s title is a commendable decision, the space feeling like one big wrap-around porch conveniently flush with alcohol and grilled meat. There’s also something vaguely Western to the presentation, a carved ‘Willys’ sign swaying in the Florida breeze (or Florida heat, more likely) accentuating the almost entirely wooden structure. This is the place to fuel up with a beef-layered foundation.

6. Riptides

7618 Blind Pass Rd, St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Google Map
(727) 827-2834

If novelty signs and strip malls are your thing, riptides might just be the Tampa dive bar for you, a location off the beach-beaten path kept alive by locals. This is the kind of bar that hosts potlucks for regulars and has a Google photo collection dominated by people, not glamor food shots. Big bar, open windows, pool table, riptides is as classic a dive bar as it gets.

7. Swigwam Beach Bar

336 Corey Ave, St Pete Beach, FL 33706
Google Map
(727) 363-7944
Web Site Link

Swigwam started life as a beachside tiki hut, creating a community around its location so strong that most of the regulars followed the bar to its relocated home a couple of blocks inland. This is another classic dive bar, the signage on the walls and the collection of locals inside creating a sum that is more than Swigwam’s strip mall parts.

8. The Blue Parrott

85 Corey Cir, St Pete Beach, FL 33707
Google Map
(727) 368-9619
Web Site Link

And finally, The Blue Parrott, the bar under the overpass offering not only a place to drink as cars rip across the bridge above but also see live music among that intoxicating ambiance. As with many beach-adjacent dive bars, the move here is the outside patio rather than the more stark interior bar.

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Downtown Tampa

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