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The 10 best beaches in Fort Lauderdale

For some memorable fun in the sun, check out the best beaches in Fort Lauderdale. Talk about beach bliss.

By Angela Caraway-Carlton |
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Sebastian Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution

Fort Lauderdale, once synonymous with spring break revelry, has shed its boozy reputation and matured into a chic beach destination, prized for its proximity to top Miami restaurants and hotels and, of course, treasured for its own outstanding beaches.

With its shimmering blue-green waters, towering palm trees, a beachside promenade that's great for strolling and an onslaught of restaurants and things to do, you’ll find yourself somewhere between laid-back island time and the fast-pace of a thriving city. Depending on how you define beach bliss, each section of Fort Lauderdale offers its own unique personality. Here, we list the best places to sink your toes in the sands of Broward County. Ladies and gentlemen, enjoy the best beaches in Fort Lauderdale.

Best beaches in Fort Lauderdale

1
Central Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/M L.

Central Beach

Where: Las Olas and A1A

Nicknamed “the hub” given its central location, beachgoers flock to this high-energy shore that’s dotted with rows of shops, restaurants and salty bars like the historic Elbow Room where there’s always a rowdy party. After a day of frolicking in the clear, turquoise water, stroll or jog the wavy promenade and then settle into the sand for Friday Night Soundwaves, a free concert series on the beach that happens every Friday night from March to November. While finding parking here can often kill your beach buzz, a new garage is in the works and the main parking area will be converted to a park with restrooms, water play areas for kids and a sprawling lawn.

2
South Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Bridget W.

South Beach

Where: Fort Lauderdale Beach Park

If your ideal beach day involves more than just basking in the sun, this stretch of sand with a picturesque oceanfront park always bursting with activity is your ideal destination. Located just south of the Bahia Mar hotel, the palm-lined park boasts sand volleyball courts, basketball courts and a full gym—perfect for a sweat-sesh with ocean views. Families also love it for the picnic tables, grills and children’s playground on the sand. Plus, you can walk across the street for a fishing charter or scenic boat tour.

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3
Sebastian Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Steam Pipe Trunk Distribution

Sebastian Beach

Where: ​Sebastian Street and A1A  

Fort Lauderdale is loud and proud about welcoming its LGBT visitors and this stunning beach is the most popular destination for gay locals and tourists. Located near many of the gay resorts and across the street from the Casablanca Cafe, a restored historic home boasting an airy Mediterranean vibe, the white sands here are fringed with sea grapes and towering palm trees for shade. Expect to always find a welcoming party and you can also rent chairs and umbrellas, or jet-off on a personal watercraft to explore the azure water.

4
North Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Jordan T.

North Beach

Where: Sunrise Boulevard & A1A

The best way to enjoy this piece of heaven is to park inside Hugh Taylor Birch State Park and walk through the tunnel under the highway to the beach, where you’ll often have the soft sand and clear water to yourself. End your day at Park & Ocean, where, just like the name implies, you can kick-back in the tropical park with a cold one while enjoying live music and the ocean breeze. North Beach is full of new trendy hotels like the Conrad and W Fort Lauderdale (with more to come), and you’ll want to browse the ‘hood’s beachy-chic boutiques as well.

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5
Lauderdale-by-the-Sea
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Kailey G.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

Where: Broward County

Most beach days here are spent underwater, and for good reason. It’s a stand-out dive site, where you can swim a hundred yards from shore to discover a magnificent coral reef that’s alive with tropical fish, turtles and lobsters. In terms of personality, this vibrant seaside village has plenty of it: walk the streets for your pick of lively restaurants and shops; venture out on the Anglins Fishing Pier to reel-in a pompano or a snapper; or relax on the colorful promenade and play oversized games with family and friends.

6
Pompano Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Greg B.

Pompano Beach

Where: Broward County

Just north of Fort Lauderdale, Pompano is poppin’ with activity and boasts one of the most stress-free beaches in the area. The turquoise-hued water is clear, the beach is clean and there’s tons of beachside parking up for grabs. The crown jewel is the Grand Lawn, an artificial lawn lined with grills, picnic tables and a fun splash pad for kids. The staff also hosts weekend yoga classes! Locals flock to newcomer Beach House Pompano for fresh seafood and striking ocean views. Oh, the restaurant partners with Hang Loose Surf School to offer surf or paddle boarding lessons on Saturday mornings once a month.

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7
Lighthouse Point
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Bruce K.

Lighthouse Point

Where: Broward County

While small in size, this northern Broward stunner has a lot to offer in terms of beauty and relaxation. With a laid-back mix of locals and visitors, a day on this slice of paradise will feel as if you’ve jetted-off to the Florida Keys for the day. The centerpieces are the Hillsboro Inlet and the lighthouse, which you can climb to enjoy the epic views of the shimmering water and local marine life. Make sure you’re on the bridge at sunset for Instagram-worthy photos of the lighthouse, then head over to Nauti Dawg, a local favorite for casual food, live music and watching the boats cruise in and out of the marina.

8
Hollywood Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Marina A.

Hollywood Beach

Where: Broward County

When locals think of this well-manicured, wide beach with calm waters, they immediately conjure up an image of the Hollywood Broadwalk, an expansive beachside promenade that’s always packed with runners, avid cyclists and rollerbladers. While its bordering restaurants, bars and local artwork are main draws, the beach also offers plenty of nooks and crannies for picnics and shade from the sun. Plus, Hollywood is upping its cool factor with new and renovated hotels like The Diplomat and Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort, where you’ll see tourists living their best Jimmy Buffet-style lives.

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9
Dania Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Spencer M.

Dania Beach

Where: Broward County

As Hollywood’s much quieter neighbor, this is where you’ll find ultimate beach nirvana. Why? Parking is easy, the area is tranquil enough to read a book, there’s plenty of room for sunbathing and the turquoise water is perfect for floating. Take a cue from the families who congregate around tiki huts, picnic tables and grills well into the evening or walk the lengthy Dania Beach Fishing Pier to revel in the views or join other anglers hoping to reel-in dinner. If you don’t catch anything, drown your sorrows at the pier’s on-site sports bar and restaurant, Quarterdeck.

10
Hallandale Beach
Photograph: Courtesy Yelp/Lissette C.

Hallandale Beach

Where: Broward County

Head toward the famous beach-ball water tower, where you’ll discover a postcard-worthy stretch of beach that doesn’t get enough recognition for its beauty. Here, behind all the towering condos, you’ll join locals for a day of relaxing, reading and napping in the soft sand. Dinner means a stop at Etaru, an inventive Japanese restaurant which hovers over the ocean and offers breathtaking views. Bonus points: you’re not too far from Gulfstream Park, where you can bet on the horse races.

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Photograph: Courtesy Pelican Grand Beach Resort
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Whether at a great coffee or eclectic restaurant, while sipping locally brewed beer, splashing waterside, exploring niche museums or relaxing at one of the area's best hotels, this city holds its own. 

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