1. They're something to make the big kids cheer. Being a famous amusement park for families means accommodating the parents as well, so this summer Steel Pier debuted two new bars featuring adult beverages, entertainment and some of the city's best views. "We wanted to add another option for adults while their kids are on the rides," park owner Anthony Catanoso says. At the same time, they draw new guests without children who are just looking to enjoy themselves outdoors.
2. You don't need a ticket to imbibe. No admission fees are necessary to enter either bar, which are on opposite sides of the pier. Right by the entrance is Steel Pier Pub, featuring tables with umbrellas, live entertainment on weekends and a drink menu with a dozen beer varieties and mixed drinks - all the essentials for hanging outside on a nice day. There is enough room for about 150 people in the area, and people pour in after noticing it as they walk past.
3. Its view is far and away the best. At the distant end of the pier is the second venue, Ocean Reef Bar and Grill, located adjacent to the helipad where helicopter tours are offered. With a carnival-style tent, a stage and tables and chairs, it's a place to simply sit back, relax and enjoy a perspective of the city and ocean that's unparallelled. Literally no other place in the city is located as far out in the water. "Sitting out there at night, it's just a fantastic view," Catanoso says.
4. Rock 'n' roll isn't just one of the rides. To complete the atmosphere, Steel Pier started bringing in musicians two to four days a week, with a varying schedule of shows from Thursdays through Sundays in both the afternoon and night. Usually, the acts consist of solo artists and duos covering a mix of popular music, and they perform at both venues, sometimes at the same time, since they're more than far enough apart so their sounds don't overlap.
5. They are part of big plans on the horizon. After Labor Day, the pier will begin a 31,500-square-foot expansion to the south where a 200-foot-tall observation wheel will be assembled by sometime early next year. Together, the project is expected to cost about $13 million, and is part of the ongoing renovation to the pier. Eventually, Catanoso wants Steel Pier to be a year-round attraction, and its two waterfront bars may be one day as well.