Bahia Honda State Park
36850 Overseas Hwy
Big Pine Key, FL 33043-3517
This regularly ranks as one of the top ten beaches in the US published by Dr. Beach, and once you’ve visited here, you’ll know why. The beach is in a state park that features as a highlight one of the most unique bridges created for Henry Flagler’s Overseas Railroad. No longer used, it’s a fascinating piece of old Florida, at the south end of the state park. The beach itself is meticulously preserved, with mangroves, sea oats, and a huge, sandy area that parades into the bluest water imaginable. At times, the surf can be brisk, but those are the days para-sailers, surfers, and kite surfers come out. You can camp within feet of the beach, and the park has several beaches. Most have a wild, feel. The beach offers wading-birds galore, and if you camp here, make sure you get up for sunrise; it’s breathtaking. Campsites and cabins are available, and at Calusa beach in the center of the island, you can find a bathhouse with cold-water showers, though the water is never really cold at Bahia Honda.
Lummus Park Beach (South Beach)
10th St & Ocean Dr
Miami Beach, FL 33139
It’s the beach to the stars. Look to the right, and you might see a sunning supermodel. Turn to the left, and you could spot a commercial photo shoot. The wide, wide strip of sand, much of it imported from the Bahamas, stretches from South Pointe at the end of Miami Beach to the giant hotels 30 blocks to the north. If you’re early, you can find parking, but a lack of parking spaces is easily the most annoying thing about an otherwise beautiful beach. There are volleyball courts around the park before you enter the beach. You can rent beach chairs and an umbrella and use them until 5 p.m.. If you do this you stake out your spot, so around lunchtime you can walk across Ocean Drive to one of the open-air cafes or bars and recharge. Then, it’s back to the sand and your little oasis to catch some rays and people-watch. The best area is is between 5th and 15th along Ocean Drive. One note: the beach attracts a lot of Europeans who are not as hung-up about topless sunbathing as are Americans. If this bothers you, or if you bring kids, keep this in mind.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
1200 S. Crandon Boulevard
Key Biscayne, Florida 33149
If you like your beaches natural, this beautiful park and it’s friendly beach is for you. Located at the tip of Key Biscayne, stately pines march almost to the ocean, leaving an inviting strop of sand between. This gives you a place to find shade if the sun gets too much. “Dr. Beach” regularly ranks Cape Florida’s 1 and a half miles of pure white sand among the top 10 beaches in Florida. If you want to do more than sun, the park’s concession offers rental chairs and umbrellas as well as ocean kayaks and hydro bikes, and there are two restaurants in the park. You can also picnic under the trees. An offshore reef keeps the wave action down, and on the west side of the park, you can get a spectacular view of downtown Miami. Beyond the beach, the park is home to the Cape Florida lighthouse, a spectacular specimen of the seafaring past. The light is no longer active, but the lighthouse has been meticulously restored, and exploring it is lots of fun. The park was heavily damaged by Hurricane Andrew, but has returned better than ever. This beach is a true Florida treasure.
Virginia Key Beach
4020 Virginia Beach Drive
Miami, Florida 33149
Want to get away from the world? Try Virginia Key Beach. This is a secluded strip of sand that offers a view of where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay, and is definitely off the beaten path. The beach shares the key with municipal sewage treatment plant, but don’t let that stop you. You’d never know it was there, and the newly restored beach area is gorgeous, family friendly, and comes with a bit of history. In segregated Miami, this was the only beach black residents could enjoy. As segregation ended and black residents were allowed to sunbathe where they chose, the beach fell into disuse. It was recently restored to great fanfare, and now features a pavilion, a dance floor, a huge meadow, a carousel, and a miniature railroad. You you want to bake in the sun and then have more fun, this is the beach for you.
John U Lloyd State Park
6503 N. Ocean Drive
Dania Beach, Florida 33004
You can certainly sunbathe, but this state park beach offers so much more, especially if you’re planning to bring the family. Located near Port Everglades, it’s a great place to watch cruise ships come and go. The park also offers surf fishing, canoeing, swimming, nature study, boating, and picnicking. If your interest extends below the sun and waves, the beach has one of the easiest and most interesting shore dives in the area. For fun on land, you can rent canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, pontoon boats, gazebos, barbecue grills, and volleyballs. There’s a lot to do on a beach that still offers a less commercial feel.
Ft. Lauderdale Beach
7 Miles of beach starting at
State Rt. A1A and SW 17th Avenue
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
Frankie and Annette put this beach on the map, and Spring Break made it famous around the world. Those days are long gone, as the city decided to shoo away the hordes of college kids that turned the strip into one huge drunken party 2 months out of the year. Now, the Beach has been re-invented as a family destination, as marked by the hotels located across State Rt. A1A from the sand and the surf. The whole beach is available without hotels trying to segregate areas for their own guests, and it’s a long, glowing strand of white and azure blue. The city is proud of the Beach’s Blue Wave status including passing a monthly water quality test, having emergency care nearby and environment preservation. The City’s award-winning wavewall and signature beachfront promenade highlight Fort Lauderdale’s world famous coastline, which is punctuated by an array of shops, restaurants, sidewalk cafes and entertainment venues. The views are breathtaking, and offshore it’s easy to watch big cargo ships and cruise liners head up the coast. Arrive early for the best parking.