Top Beaches in South Florida

Miami South Beach Florida
Photo by Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

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Florida’s Gold Coast

South east Florida’s barrier islands, connected by State Road A1A, make-up a vibrant chain of southeast Florida’s top beaches with something for every visitor.

From Palm Beach south to Key Biscayne, the area is as diverse as the Floridians who call it home. Join us as we explore the Gold Coast, so named for the area’s historic wealth and lifestyle.

Northern Gold Coast Beaches

Jupiter Beach Park

1375 Jupiter Beach Road, Jupiter

Start your Gold Coast adventures at this northern Palm Beach County beach park. Enjoy the wide sandy beach, with 1,700 feet of guarded coastline perfect for a day in the surf, or on the shore.

Snorkelers and swimmers will love the relaxing Atlantic waters of this southeast Florida top beach. Kiddos can enjoy their own natural saltwater pool that offers them a safe place to swim and explore!

Anglers will love the option of fishing from the jetty (open 24 hours) or casting from the shore, where permitted. Catch, or bring your lunch and use one of the picnic areas and grills.

Beach wheelchairs are available upon request from a lifeguard. Insider Tip: Parking is free and limited so arrive early.

Lake Worth Beach

10 South Ocean Boulevard at Lake Avenue, Lake Worth

Visitors to Lake Worth Beach enjoy this bustling spot for all the options it offers. Sun worshippers will appreciate the wide, sandy beach.

Snack-seekers can grab a bite at one of the several restaurants and shops at the historic casino complex. Built in in the 1920s, there is no gambling at this building, but it is home to a variety of shops and restaurants, and public facilities.

Stroll the promenade that runs above the beach for beautiful views of the area, and surfers catching waves.

If you’d rather try to catch fish, head out on the Lake Worth Pier. Anglers can access the pier for just $3. You can bring your own gear, or rent from the bait shack. Sightseers are welcome to the pier for just $1.  The pier is also home to a bar and restaurant for relaxing and talking about “the one that got away.”

Lake Worth Beach is accessible to visitors using mobility devices, via the ADA compliant wheelchair ramp to the north of the pier.

Insider Tip: This large beach has ample metered parking but does get crowded, particularly on weekends.

For more on Lake Worth Beach visit here.

Delray Beach

South Ocean Boulevard at Atlantic Avenue, Delray

Head east on Atlantic Avenue, past the vibrant restaurant and upscale shops, to experience one of southeast Florida’s top beaches.

The charm and energy of this hidden gem of a beach make it seem as if Miami’s South Beach and Key West had a baby! Relaxation-minded visitors can rent a cabana for a day of sun and people-watching. Activity seekers can try kiteboarding or even surfing from one of the beachfront concessions

In addition to the shore itself, there are a number of nearby beachfront parks and natural areas to explore. All year long Delray hosts a variety of festivals, and events, offering something for visitors with diverse interests from arts to seafood.

After sundown, head west, on “America’s Longest Main Street” and check out the many eateries or entertainment venues on the Avenue.

Learn more about this fun and interesting part of the Atlantic Coast, voted “Most Fun Small Town” by USA Today here.

Metered parking is available along State Road A1A and in five designated lots. Insider Tip: Some hotels will offer free parking for visitors who dine in their restaurants before hitting the beach. Check with individual establishments on their policies.

Red Reef Park

1400 North Ocean Boulevard, Boca Raton

Get back to nature at one of Southeast Florida’s top beaches, and one of its most unique.

With no tall buildings in sight, this oceanfront park is a true natural oasis. What truly makes this one of southeast Florida’s top beaches is its snorkeling. Bring your mask and snorkel to explore the reef. Or, walk right out on the red rocks to view the tidal pools at low tide!

Looking to relax on shore? Rent a beach chair and umbrella for daily rent (prices vary but can be as high as $15 per hour). Pack a lunch and enjoy one of the picnic pavilions and grills.

Insider Tip: Parking here is $18 per vehicle for the day. There are a few lower-priced parking options at street meters, or at the nearby golf course.

Stroll across A1A to Gumbo Limbo Nature Center (1801 North Ocean Boulevard).  This environmental center offers visitors of all ages a glimpse into marine animal rehabilitation and research. Explore the local ecosystem along the Center’s boardwalk trails, observe rescued turtles and speak with researchers, or sit and enjoy the butterfly garden.

Get the details of Boca Raton Beaches here.

Central Gold Coast Beaches

Deerfield Beach

200 Northeast 21st Avenue, Deerfield Beach

Stroll along this bustling, walkable beachside community’s paved mile-plus boardwalk with wide ocean views.

You can spend the day enjoying the view from your beach chair and umbrella (bring your own or rentals are available). Active beachgoers can join a game of volleyball or go for a swim in the beautiful blue waters. Check out the view from on top of the waves with a surf lesson, or other water sports, available from local shops and experts.

Get closer to the water, without getting wet, with a walk out over the Atlantic on the world-class International Fishing Pier. Sightseers can head out on to the nearly 1,000-foot long pier for just $1 and anglers for $4. Equipment is available for rent.  check out the beautiful Atlantic.

After your day of fun in the sun and surf enjoy a relaxing meal or beverage at one of the many family friendly restaurants or bars along the main strip, North Ocean Drive.

Plan your visit to this slice of the Gold Coast by clicking here.

Fort Lauderdale Beach

Fort Lauderdale Beach Boulevard, from Sunrise Boulevard to Las Olas Boulevard

Fabulous Fort Lauderdale Beach, once known for its wild spring break scene, and the classic film “Where the Boys Are” is now an upscale, laid-back destination. Just 15 minutes east of Wilton Manors, you can still find the boys, and girls, in this town that is now popular for its high-end hotels, boutiques, and restaurants.

Sun worhsippers will appreciate the many cabana and lounge chair rentals along the seven miles of clean blue Atlantic waters. Enjoy the view from the waves by hopping on a rental jet ski or paddleboard.

Fort Lauderdale Beach hosts the annual Pride Fort Lauderdale Beach Festival and Parade each winter, and the Stonewall Summer Pride event in June. However, all year-long beachgoers will enjoy the laid-back LGBT friendly vibe of Sebastian Street Beach. This subdued, un-official gay beach is popular with visitors of all ages. Set up your relaxation station for the day on a rental lounge chairs. With something for everyone, your kiddos can even enjoy the nearby playground.

This beach town is just as entertaining after the sun goes down with free live music offered on weekends at the newly revamped Las Olas Park (Las Olas Boulevard and A1A). Stroll along the beachfront promenade to one of the many restaurants or resort hotels for an evening beverage.

Learn more about all Fort Lauderdale Beach has to offer, here.

South Gold Coast Beaches

Haulover Beach Park

10800 Collins Avenue, Miami

Get in touch with nature at Haulover Beach Park. This park complex offers access to the beautiful Atlantic and surrounding waterways. Bring your own boat, or join a charter excursion to explore the Intracoastal Waterway or embark on a deep-water fishing trip.

Comb the wide sandy beaches for shells, or buy a kite from a local vendor and make the most of a windy day along the shore.

Feel the sun on  your buns! For a clothing-optional experience visit the northern third of the beach (between lifeguard towers #12 and #16). This family-friendly beach is staffed by welcoming volunteer beach ambassadors providing information and beach etiquette. Rent a chair and umbrella, or purchase a snack from one of the concession stands along this stretch.

Insider Tip: The entire beach is gay-friendly, however, LGBT beachgoers usually enjoy gathering north of the lifeguard tower.

Haulover Bark Park

Canine companions can enjoy their day at the beach from 8:00a.m. to 4:00p.m. in the designated section between lifeguard towers #2 and #3. This is directly opposite the fenced Bark Park on the west side of Collins Avenue which you can access through pedestrian tunnel #4. There is a $2 fee for access at the Bark Park which is open from 8:00 a.m. to sunset daily. Access the park  via the North Parking Lot through the Haulover Marine Center’s boat ramp entrance.

For tips on how to best protect your fur baby from the Florida sun check out our article.

South Beach

Ocean Drive, Miami Beach

Experience the glitz and glamour of Miami Beach, without ever leaving the sand. Beautiful people, stunning Art Deco architecture, and great restaurants have made South Beach one of south east Florida’s top beaches for over 25 years.

See for yourself what makes Miami Beach the Travel Channel’s Sexiest Beach! Stroll along the beach to South Point Park where the island ends, and cargo and cruise ships sail past. On weekends pedestrians stroll along the promenade to wave to passengers heading out from the Port of Miami.

Walk along the shore or beach boardwalk until you spot the rainbow flags among the colorful lifeguard stations. You’ll know without even reading the sign that you’ve reached the gay beach at 12th Street. A long-time hangout for LGBT visitors from around the world, there is always something happening at this bustling spot.

March brings the annual Winter Party, one of the biggest gay beach parties in the world. However, on any given weekend, tea dances and parties have been known to spontaneously start-up. Check out the Miami Beach LGBT Visitor Center for more information.

When the sun goes down, the neon lights up. Ocean Drive and the Beach become one of the hottest-spots in all of south east Florida for music, dining, and entertainment. Get ready for your Miami Beach adventures here.

Key Biscayne

For amazing views and a memorable beach experience, hop on a bike or rent a car to head east over the Rickenbacker Causeway (toll for vehicles, free for bicycles and pedestrians).

Take in breathtaking views of Biscayne Bay as you escape the hustle and bustle of the mainland to some of southeast Florida’s top beaches.

Virginia Key Beach Park

4020 Virginia Beach Drive, Miami

Ease into relaxing at Virginia Key Beach Park. During segregation, Virginia Key was the only beach African American residents of Miami-Dade County could access.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this beautiful beach offers 15 acres of restored natural hammock. Visitors can enjoy a quiet walk or bike ride along the paths, or stroll the shoreline to collect sea glass.

Popular with families, due to its laid-back vibe, kiddos will love the playground. Bring your lunch, or purchase a bite from the food truck vendors that often set up here. Enjoy the bay and bridge views from one of the picnic tables or covered pavilions.

Insider Tip: Pay attention to the tides, low tide brings seaweed and organic odors from the mangroves.  In addition to sunscreen bug spray can come in handy. Parking is available for a fee.

Map out your Virginia Key escape here.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

1200 South Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne

Soak up Florida’s sunshine and history at this beautiful beachfront park. Located at the south end of Key Biscayne, known as “The Key” to locals, is Cape Florida.

Bring the family, but not your pets, to this state park which offers a glimpse into America’s history. Learn the Cape’s role as a meeting place for runaway slaves using the Underground Railroad to escape the United States.  Meet your fitness goals by climbing the 109 steps to the top of the 1846 Cape Florida Lighthouse for panoramic views of the City and surrounding waterways (contact the park for tour times).

Keep on moving! Rent bikes, kayaks, and paddleboards from park concessions and cruise the trails and waters around the park.

Have relaxation in mind? Sunbathe along the small beach by the lighthouse. Enjoy the shade under one of  18 picnic pavilions along the Atlantic and Bay shores. Bring your own lunch and use one of the park’s grills or purchase food at the Lighthouse Cafe, or have a meal at Boaters Grill along No Name Harbor.

Insider Tip: Raccoons love the beach too. They will also enjoy your lunch if given a chance. Keep food securely stored. Mosquitos can be fierce, bring insect repellant.

Find everything you need to know about this state park here.

Make New Memories

From the Palm Beaches to Biscayne Bay, southeast Florida’s Gold Coast is a unique and diverse region. Home to southeast Florida’s top beaches, you will find everything you need to create memories that you’ll always treasure. Click here to explore more of the area.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida and beyond, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

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june, 2024

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