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The Best of the Beaches

Our Beach Guide is packed with the best of the best. From food and drinks to kid-friendly spots and parks with beach access, we’ve got you covered.

It’s just a walk in the park...

Each park on this list has beach access and a number of activities so you can do more than just take a stroll in the park.

 

Hugh Taylor Birch State Park: $6 (per vehicle); Drive through the beautiful canopied park road and experience stunning views from every spot. Park your car in various locations throughout the park and take a walk through the tunnel for direct beach access. Don’t forget to try out the ElliptiGO at the Terramar Visitor Center for a fun and challenging touring vehicle! 3109 E. Sunrise Blvd., Fort Lauderdale

John U. Lloyd Beach State Park: $2 (pedestrians or cyclists), $4 (1 person in a car), $6 (2-8 people in a car); Find a mangrove-lined waterway for a scenic afternoon canoe ride and bird life observation. The Loggerhead Café is a nice place to grab a nice bite to eat after a paddleboating ride with some friends; Off North Ocean Drive, Hollywood, north of Sheridan Street

Hillsboro Inlet Park

Hillsboro Inlet Park (1): free parking for up to 4 hours; Get a stellar view of the Hillsboro Lighthouse, go fishing on the tranquil dock, entertain your kids with the playground and picnic area and grab a bagel at Sunshine Bagel right next door. 2700 N. Ocean Blvd., Pompano Beach

South Inlet Park: $2 (vehicles, per hour, Monday through Friday), $3 (vehicles, per hour, Saturday and Sunday); With picnic tables, grills and a playground, this beach and park is perfect for a Sunday afternoon family gathering and feels like a well-manicured yet natural hideaway! 1100 S. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton

South Beach Park: free parking on street or $15/vehicle when entering the park; Visit for a beach day with moderate action and a beautiful big bench-lined deck overlooking the ocean; 400 N. State Road A1A, Boca Raton

Red Reef Park

Red Reef Park (2 & 3): $16 vehicle entry fee, or park across the street for metered parking; This is our idea of a date destination, perfect for long strolls along the partially canopied bridge and snorkeling options for the more adventurous daters! 1400 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton

Spanish River Park: $16 vehicle entry fee or park across the street on Spanish River Boulevard for metered parking; Across the street from the Boca Beach but without a direct entrance, this park feels like less of a beach day activity but is definitely worth the visit; 3001 State Road A1A, Boca Raton

Parks Atlantic Dunes Delray

Atlantic Dunes Park (4): metered parking across the street on South Ocean Boulevard and Rhodes Villa Avenue; Suitable for a placid beach experience, with a pavilion, picnic tables, a boardwalk and a nature trail. Can you say another date destination? NOTE: This destination has lounge chairs available on the beach; 1605 S. Ocean Blvd., Delray Beach


What a Sport!

Your own indoor gym has many things, but what it doesn’t have is a white sandy beach, rolling waves and the smell of fresh air blowing.

What a Sport

GYM! Try the outdoor basketball court or Fit-Trail on the south end of Fort Lauderdale beach (700 Seabreeze Blvd.). Nearly 15 Fit-Trail stations give you a full-body workout based on strength, cardio and stretch training. Not to be outdone is the HealthBeat Outdoor Fitness System at Pompano Beach’s sandy shorelines. The bright blue equipment calls out for you to get your exercise on for that svelte beach body.

BIKE! There’s no comparison to an early morning bike ride along the beach. Shared bike paths line A1A in Broward and Palm Beach counties. Don’t have a bike? No problem. Broward County offers a shared bike program, Broward B-cycle, with several stations for pickup and drop off along A1A.

ALTERNATIVES! Is biking too mundane for you? Hollywood’s Broadwalk offers the canvas for loads of other alternatives. Stop in The Bike Shack (101 N. Ocean Drive, No. 135), where you can rent two- or four-seater surreys, and banana bikes or choppers.

VOLLEYBALL! You’re going to really dig these beach volleyball spots. Fort Lauderdale beach has 10 courts, and the beach even plays host to some pro tournaments. A little further north is Deerfield Beach’s courts, where an occasional Brazilian-based footvolley game will break out amidst the bumps, sets and spikes.

RACQUETBALL! Ball out at the multi-court racquetball center in Hollywood (300 Connecticut St.).

Kitesurfing: A combination of paragliding, wakeboarding and windsurfing, kitesurfing is a thrill-seeking sport that can launch you up to 60 feet in the air. But this sport isn’t for the grab and go. Make sure you receive proper instruction from professionals, like those from the Fort Lauderdale Kite Surfing Co.


What You Need to Know

  • Metered Parking Fees by City (sorted from cheapest to most expensive)
  • Lauderdale-by-the-Sea: $0.25 to $1.25/hour
  • Fort Lauderdale: $1 to $1.75/hour
  • Pompano Beach: $1.25/hour
  • Delray Beach: $1.50/hour
  • Dania Beach: $1.50/hour
  • Hollywood: $1.50 to $2/hour
  • Boca Raton: $2 to $3/hour
  • Deerfield Beach: $2.50 to $3.50/hour

Or, pay for a full day at one of the below parks:

  • John U. Lloyd in Dania: $4 to $6/vehicle; $2/pedestrian
  • Hugh Taylor Birch in Fort Lauderdale: $6/vehicle; $2/pedestrian
  • North Beach Park in Hollywood: $8/vehicle
  • South Beach Park in Boca: $15/vehicle
  • Red Reef Park in Boca: $16/vehicle (Tip: walk across the street to the metered lot with prices of $2 to $3/hour. Pedestrians can enter the park for free.)
  • Spanish River in Boca: $16 to $18/vehicle

6 South Florida beach essentials

 

Music

The Jawbone Jambox has reinvented portable music playing with its hi-fi, wireless system. Bonus: You can even customize your own Jambox design online. $179.99, jawbone.com

Scuba Snorkel

Never have to worry about water getting in your snorkel again with the Oceanic Ultra Dry Snorkel. The valve shuts with a hint of water touching it, eliminating water entry. $49.95, 

Beach Chair

Renetto’s Canopy chair makes any beachgoer feel like he’s sitting on a throne. The waterproof chair even has padded straps for you to transport the chair like a backpack. $49.95

Waterproof Camera

Always capture those memorable beach moments with the Olympus Tough TG-2. Highlights include the ability to go up to 50 feet under water as well as a built-in GPS with landmark tagging and a compass. $379.99, 

Scuba Mask

Oceanic Shadow’s frameless mask allows for large fields of vision and can fold up for easy carrying and storage. $83.95, 

Sunscreen

The organic brand Coola has a motto of farm to face, making sun protection not just a necessary beach application, but also a feel-good one. $32, sunscreen spray, 

Alcohol on the Beach: The Law

Want to pack some Coronas in your cooler? Don’t bother. Currently, alcohol is prohibited in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Hollywood, Deerfield, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Dania and Pompano city beaches.

There was talk in January about a possible lift on the ban in Fort Lauderdale to boost tourism, but an official vote on the proposal was postponed. “The matter is still under consideration and there is no specific time when it will return to the Commission for consideration,” says Fort Lauderdale City Manager Lee Feldman.

However, a few cities – Deerfield Beach, Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale – made a rare exception this year on the Fourth of July, when alcohol was allowed during the holiday festivities in plastic containers. “We lift the ban for certain city events,” Feldman explains. “These events have sufficient law enforcement personnel scheduled to work in order to police unlawful activities associated with the use of alcohol.”

There’s an app for that

Pay for beach parking by downloading a mobile app to your phone in these cities.
Hollywood: Parkmobile; available on iPhone, Android, Windows Phone and BlackBerry
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea: PayByPhone; available on iPhone, Android and BlackBerry

Alternative Transportation

Don’t want to deal with finding parking, but not interested in getting on a public bus? Try one of these other wheeled forms of public transportation. “The immediate benefit is a smaller carbon footprint, minimizing traffic and avoiding the search for expensive parking, which is often tough to find,” says Jason Bagley, co-founder of Way2go eco-shuttle.

Way2Go Eco-Shuttle:
Routes along Fort Lauderdale beach, downtown and Las Olas; 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; $3/person; www.way2goshuttle.com; 954.495.4300

Delray Downtowner:
Routes along Atlantic Avenue, Delray Municipal Beach and downtown; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; free; www.delraydowntowner.com; 561.702.8519

Trolleys: Both Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale have trolleys that run along downtown and the beaches, and Delray Beach just added a free trolley system in June. For one ride, Fort Lauderdale’s trolley will set you back 50 cents per person and Hollywood $1.

Beach Bites

You could pack your lunch to the beach, but why do that when so many delicious spots are steps away from the beach?

One of the best ways to chill during a hot beach day is with a couple scoops of ice cream from the quaint and appropriately named Ice Cream Shop in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Get instantly cool with fresh flavors like blue raspberry and Special Praline, and classics like chocolate.

But for some, a day at the beach isn’t quite a good day unless there’s a few burgers to choose from. Thank goodness our area has some memorable burger spots that’ll help with your bun fix. For a modern-day burger joint, check out BurgerFi, with beach stops located steps from the water in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea and Delray Beach. Its all-natural, grass-fed beef gets major competition in the taste category with its Kobe beef hot dogs, and wine and craft beers are served at each location.

Le Tub is perhaps one of the most famous burger hangouts. The 39-year-old Hollywood-based burger spot is perched on a quiet strip of the Intracoastal, and is full of chachki character, but most importantly full of flavor. Its burgers come as 13-ounce patties on a seeded bun.

Fort Lauderdale beach’s S3 is the perfect blend of beachy-casual with higher-class appeal, serving small-plate dishes. S3 has great indoor and outdoor seating that allows for views of the Atlantic Ocean no matter where you are in the restaurant.

If you’re looking for a beach spot with equally good views but with an even more upscale appeal, look no further than W Fort Lauderdale’s Steak 954. A posh breakfast, lunch and dinner establishment, Steak 954 is impressive with its presentation (and huge jellyfish tank that will leave you mesmerized) as it is with its taste.

Not to be overshadowed is Via Luna, The Ritz-Carlton, Fort Lauderdale’s restaurant. The brunch there is easily one of the best on the beach, and you can opt for unlimited mimosas and bloody marys.

And who can deny how romantic beach dining can be? And one of the best belongs to Ocean2000 (6), which has near-panoramic views of the beach, with illuminated waters glistening when the moon shines.

You can’t dine much closer on the beach than at Deerfield, where two restaurants reign supreme here. JB’s on the Beach brings much levity to the already fun beach, with live music planned for most every day of the year. Ocean 234 is a beach bistro that celebrates the gifted hands of Chef Victor Franco, serving brilliant dishes from sushi to shrimp fra diavolo.

With so many restaurants on Hollywood’s Broadwalk, it’s refreshing to know two have risen above the rest. The Taco Spot (7) serves – you guessed it – tacos. But not just any. The special sauces give unique kick and elevate the ordinary taco to another stratosphere. Josh’s Organic Juice Bar has a monopoly on fresh fruit and vegetable drinks, borrowing from its nearby organic market. Located on the southern end of the Hollywood Broadwalk, the juice bar is the perfect spot for a refreshing yet healthy quencher.

And if frozen yogurt is your thing, do take a swig at CocoYogurt II, located steps from the waters of Deerfield Beach. With low-fat, gluten-free and non-dairy options, Cocoyogurt II (and its original store in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea) makes for a guilt-free beach stop.

Boynton Beach’s Hidden Gem

Ocean Ridge Hammock Park: This hidden gem of a beach has a free, 20- to 30-spot parking lot that allows it to fly under the radar. Because of the small lot, the beach is never crowded, making the quiet spot great to take a date or to fall asleep in the sand. 6620 N. Ocean Blvd., Ocean Ridge

Note: There is no lifeguard on duty and there are no rest rooms, making this beach less family-friendly – which, depending on how you look at it, could be a bad thing or a very, very good thing.


Kids’ Korner

Because building sand castles shouldn’t be the only thing you take them there for. 
Who doesn’t love a splash fountain? Every kid we know does. Located between Michigan and Johnson streets in Hollywood, the public splash fountain keeps the kids cool when the sun gets too hot.


Shhh, we’re in a library...

Well, not quite, but it is the quiet side of the beach where things are serene and perfect for a romantic date or a day to pull out that beach read you’ve been dying to open.

North Beach in Hollywood: metered parking lot; this beach feels remote and serene, is away from the Broadwalk but still accessible if you want to take a nice stroll or a quick drive and the limited parking allows for a more secluded beach feel; Douglas Street up to Perry Street

South Beach Park: free parking nearby on Palmetto Park Road; for a beach with moderate action and a beautiful bench-lined deck overlooking the ocean; 400 N. State Road A1A, Boca Raton


4 Must-Try Beach Beverages

4 Must try beach beverages

Bummed that you aren’t allowed to booze on the beach? Cross the street to one of these beach bars for a quick refreshment. Or two.

Category Five Hurricane

at LuLu’s Bait Shack, Sharing is caring with this 84-ounce fish bowl mixture of rum, orange juice, pineapple, lime and grenadine.

Corona-rita

at Boston’s on the Beach, A margarita isn’t complete until you turn a bottle of Corona upside down in it.

Locally brewed beer

at Organic Brewery, Meet Hollywood’s first brewery with a variety of unfiltered beers on tap, from Belgian ales to German pilsners to British IPAs.

“World’s Best Frozen PiÑa Colada”

at Bahia Cabana, Enjoy the view of the Bahia Cabana Marina while sipping this mix of white rum, coconut cream, shaved coconut, and pineapple juice.


Piering through our beach lens

If you aren’t going to the beach for a long day of sun and sand, you must be going for an unforgettable view from one of the South Florida piers.

Pier Dania

Dania Beach Pier:

$2 (sightseeing fee), $2 (fishing fee); grab a bite at Quarterdeck right before you throw out the fishing line! 200 NE 21st Ave.

Pier Deerfield

International fishing pier, Deerfield Beach:

$1 (sightseeing fee), $4 (fishing fee); visit the bait shop on the pier for your convenience and the beach town around you. South Ocean Way

Pompano Beach pier:

free; walk up to Fishing Pier Concession that sells $4 bait and beach foods and snacks; NOTE: Enjoy the beautiful winding pier, one of our favorites and a standout fishing pier! 222 N. Pompano Beach Blvd.

Anglin’s fishing pier, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea:

$2 (sightseeing fee), $7 (fishing fee); a great pier surrounded by a beach village with lots of charm and so much to do and eat; 2 Commercial Blvd.


The Best Watersports in South Florida

Surfers wish we had bigger waves. But with so many other water-related activities out there, we don’t think we’re missing the boat.

Kitesurfing: A combination of paragliding, wakeboarding and windsurfing, kitesurfing is a thrill-seeking sport that can launch you up to 60 feet in the air. But this sport isn’t for the grab and go. Make sure you receive proper instruction from professionals, like those from the Fort Lauderdale Kite Surfing Co.

Stand-up Paddleboarding: “It’s standing up on what is essentially a large surf-style board and propelling yourself using an oar,” simplifies Josh Vajda, founder of Precision Paddleboards in Fort Lauderdale. Just about anyone can enjoy the sport, Vajda says, from those looking for a relaxing ride to those in need of an exhilarating new watersport.

Jet Ski: Feeling a little need for speed? That’s nothing a little Jet Ski or WaveRunner ride couldn’t fix. Feel the splash of the Atlantic Ocean on you as you cruise at 55 mph. Rentals are available at various locations, including at American Watersports, Inc. in Pompano Beach.