No disrespect to the other magnificent parts of our city, but the best Miami beaches are probably the biggest reason so many folks travel all the way down to our distant corner of South Florida. Say the word Miami anywhere around the world, and most people will immediately picture a beach. The reason: we have some very beautiful ones. And they come in many different flavors too. Want to party after hitting up one of Miami’s best bottomless brunches? Head to South Beach. Looking for something more serene? Try Surfside. the truth is, regardless of the type of beachgoer you fancy yourself, Miami’s got the right beach for you. Plus, some are literal walking distance from the best tacos in Miami.
Best Miami beaches
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.