The best Miami beaches for every mood

An insider’s guide to the best Miami beaches, whether you want to swim, sunbathe, socialize or soak up the local vibe
miami beach
Photograph: Shutterstock/ventdusud
By Time Out contributors |
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The best Miami beaches are where locals and visitors go to socialize, sunbathe, surf, swim, see and be seen—or avoid all of that, and just relax. Getting your butt to the beach should be high on your list of things to do in Miami, and we're here to help. Our favorite bits of South Florida coastline extend as far north as Delray Beach, technically not Miami but still only a short drive away, to the southernmost tip of Key Biscayne. They’re as diverse as they are sprawling, so no matter which way you head you’ll find a spot to fit what you’re looking for—a fun thing to do with the kids, something free to do in Miami, a reason to head to South Beach for more than partying. 

 

Best Miami beaches

1
21st Street Beach, Beaches, Things to do, Miami
Photograph: Fintrvlr

21st–45th Street Beach

What is it? A locals beach that lies slightly north of the South Beach chaos.

Why go? When you need a break from the sand, you can stroll down the Miami Beach boardwalk, which runs through this strip of beach and makes for a great jogging or people-watching spot. This beach also overlaps with some of the area’s best hotels, such as the Miami Beach EDITION and the Faena Hotel.

2
Bird feeder South Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Anne Baekken

Lummus Park Beach

What is it? The Miami Beach you’ve seen in movies and TV. Expect bright colors and eye-popping sights all around.

Why go? This might not be for the person craving a laid-back beach day but it can be a blast—especially for the Spring Breaker looking to get into some fun. The LGBT beach at 12th Street is always poppin’ too.

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3
Haulover Beach
Photograph: Flickr cc/Roger Smith

Haulover Beach

What is it? Miles of perfect sand and surf make this a great family beach—or a perfect pick for someone looking to enjoy the actual beach, and not just be seen.
Why go? Other than the natural beauty, about 30 minutes north of Lincoln Road, Haulover has a nude beach (between the two northernmost parking lots), a gay nude beach (north of the lifeguard tower) and an always-adorable dog park/beach (between Lifeguard Towers two and three). Sounds fun, huh?

4
South Pointe Park Pier
Photograph: Shutterstock

South Pointe Park Pier

What is it? A verdant spot on the very tip of Miami Beach and part of a 17-acre park with picnic areas, a playground, a fishing pier (complete with cutting and washing stations, and recycling bins for fishing lines) and great views of cruise ships.

Why go? Surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and Government Cut channel, it makes for a wonderful respite from the urban madness. During stone crab season, you’ll find plenty of locals hoisting bags of claws and other goodies from nearby Joe’s Takeaway for a beachside picnic at the park.

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5
Surfside
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/01steven

Surfside

What is it? A sleepy residential enclave less than a mile, Surfside exudes a small beach town vibe. Everyone knows each other and there's a true neighborhood feeling to the town.

Why go? Every first Friday of the summer months there’s a communal beach picnic that happens on the sand near the lifeguard station on 93rd. It’s mostly residents who gather to listen to music, feast and participate in kid-friendly activities.

6
Sunny Isles Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/FlickrJaxStrong

Sunny Isles Beach

What is it? Two miles of public beaches, souvenir shops and hotels.
Why go? Architectural kitsch and older tourists once prevailed here, but an effort to change its reputation has seen a luxury beachside condo boom. So if you’re feeling fancy, this is the beach for you. 

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7
Mid-Beach Deauville; Miami Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/mamichan

46th–63rd Street Beach

What is it? Pleasant, not too crowded and very family-oriented, with a play area at 53rd. On the downside, the otherwise vibrant Collins Street morphs into a soulless backdrop of bland condos around here with a few big-name hotels from Miami Beach’s golden era sprinkled in-between.

Why go? Parking is easier to come by than in South Beach, and it makes for a decidedly less chaotic beach day.

8
Bill Baggs State Park
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

icon-location-pin Key Biscayne

What is it? What feels like an escape from Miami—even though it’s just a short ride over the Key Biscayne bridge. And Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park feels unlike anything you’ll find on Miami Beach.

Why go? The beach is wide and overlooked by a historic lighthouse (one of the oldest buildings in Miami). Fishing, kayaking, windsurfing and cycling are all encouraged at this active beach. Pavilions offer picnic shelter and the nearby Lighthouse Café is good for a solid lunch.

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9
Crandon Park, Wildlife and attractions, Miami
Photograph: Shutterstock
Things to do, Event spaces

Crandon Park

icon-location-pin Key Biscayne

What is it? Crandon Park is a classy beach with postcard views on Key Biscayne.

Why go? This beach is a favorite of families out for a beach barbecue. Parking tends to be a breeze and a winding boardwalk is great for those who get bored lying on a towel.

10
Fort Lauderdale Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phillip Pessar

Fort Lauderdale Beach

What is it? Our northern neighbor’s wide and handsome sandy strip with a brick promenade for skaters, joggers and cyclists.

Why go? Postcard-perfect, it comes complete with bronzed lifeguards and coconut palms, and draws an altogether more laidback crowd than the beaches in Miami (except during Spring Break). Just looking to cruise? Fort Lauderdale Beach offers direct water views from the street—like driving down the Pacific Coast Highway without all of the cliffs.

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11
Matheson Hammock Park
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Anish Patel
Things to do

Matheson Hammock Park Beach

icon-location-pin Miami

What is it? A man-made atoll pool flushed by the tidal action of Biscayne Bay.

Why go? The peaceful, circular swimming area is great for those who don’t have the energy or ability to trudge through beach surf. Boaters come and go from a nearby marina.

12
Bal Harbour
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Jimmy Baikovicius

Bal Harbour

What is it? A small beach with a Vita course, nestled inside this famously well-heeled town just north of Surfside.

Why go? There are said to be more millionaires per capita in Bal Harbour than in any other city in the U.S. Spend an afternoon seeing how the other half lives.

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13
Delray Beach, Beaches, Things to do, Fort Lauderdale, Miami
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Ebyabe

Delray Beach

What is it? An intimate town between Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach with wide beaches, trolley tours and an impressive cultural scene. The coast has always attracted visitors, from Spanish explorers in the 1500s to today’s retirees and sun-seekers.

Why go? The beach is picturesque, and not too populated. You’ll have no trouble planting an umbrella and beach chair and soaking up some rays for several uninterrupted hours.

14
Hobie Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/osseous

Hobie Beach

What is it? The beach of choice for practitioners of windsurfing.

Why go? Windsurf, jet-ski and sailboat rentals are all available onsite. It’s also one of Miami’s few dog-friendly beaches, so expect lots of canines splashing around in the shallow waters—which are often murky and a tad rocky, so maybe don’t come here if you want to lay out in soft sand.

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15
Hollywood Beach
Photograph: Courtesy CC/Flickr/Phillip Pessar

Hollywood Beach

What is it? The place to take your rum-loving uncle. He’ll love this pretty beach and boardwalk, catering to an older crowd.

Why go? Sandwiched between Broward and Miami, Hollywood Beach has always been famous for its wide, walkable boardwalk. More recently, it’s known as the home of Jimmy Buffett’s humongous Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort. Stop by for a few rum runners after the beach or—better yet—grab the best burger in town over at the famous Le Tub Saloon.

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