Hop a ferry and make way to the barrier island for a day-night escape at a host of open-air bars.
Cherry's on the Bay
Cherry's on the Bay, Cherry Grove (Ferry from Sayville): Returning for another season with its large, red-glowing barroom tree in place, summer fun at this spot is based around events powered by engaging drag emcees. Tuesdays are the most notable nights, with celebrity host Hedda Lettuce slated for the summer.
Le Dock, Fair Harbor (Ferry from Bay Shore): It's the only game in its hamlet, as Fair Harbor is a quiet community, but this spot still serves a solid bit of lively social fun aside from its dining service. Featuring bands and DJs late nights on weekends, it also hosts live musicians around 6 p.m. -- and these artists set up and play across from the venue on the town dock. It's not uncommon to see the wharf filled with locals and their guests as the sun sets.
Flynn's, Ocean Bay Park (Ferry from Bay Shore): A restaurant, bar and marina, Flynn's often draws tremendous crowds. Its weekend bashes are driven by DJs and cover bands, with its "Sunday Funday" shindig the premiere event, featuring live reggae from King Wellington and beats by resident DJ Epic. Anticipate parties you can see and hear from the ferry docks, hundreds of feet away.
Casino Bar, Davis Park (Ferry from Patchogue): The view is hard to beat, as the deck looks out over the Atlantic Ocean. A lock for bustling summer weekend parties, the regular entertainment consists of DJs and live music. Bands booked for 2015 appearances include 20 Highview (May 24, July 3), Drop Dead Sexy (July 5, Aug. 23, Sept. 13) and Strecker (July 12, Aug. 2).
Surf's Out, Kismet (Ferry from Bay Shore): Although dining is the basic business, the bar sees plenty of action. No need to stand indoors by the taps -- a large courtyard equipped with lounge furniture is set in a sandpit, plus a bean-bag throwing game keeps patrons entertained. Parties tend to pop up throughout the season, so be sure to check out the Surf's Out website for upcoming theme nights.
Maguire's, Ocean Beach (Ferry from Bay Shore): Ocean Beach is home to a number of restaurants with bar scenes -- Maguire's stands out with its selection of craft beers including LI-born options such as Montauk Brewing Company's Driftwood Ale. Specialty cocktails also are available, such as the "Coco-Tini": (pineapple rum, coconut rum, pineapple juice, toasted coconut on the rim) and the "Frozen John Daly" (citrus vodka, sweet tea vodka), as well as the Fire Island favorite, Rocket Fuel. On weekends, there's a special edition of happy hour from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
CJ's Restaurant and Bar
CJs Restaurant & Bar, Ocean Beach (Ferry from Bay Shore): Not many Fire Island spots can brag about Super Bowl and St. Patrick's Day parties, but this Ocean Beach pub and grill stays open all year. It also stakes claim to being the "Home of the Rocket Fuel," a powerful cocktail (pina coladas infused with vodka, tequila and 151-proof rum). During the summer, CJ's is an annual cog in the Ocean Beach party scene. Watch for occasional live music sessions Memorial Day through Labor Day.
Sandbar, Ocean Beach (Ferry from Bay Shore): Another annual summer draw, Sandbar is known for its Saturday night staged shows with wild bands and bouncing crowds -- the scene is all easily visible from the (carless) street. The usual Sandbar event calendar is cemented by live bands and DJs on weekends, backed by frequent drink specials.