Your Vacation Guide To Miami’s Best Beaches
If you’re tired of being cooped up, a Miami vacation might be just the thing you need. And Miami has some of the nation’s best and most varied beaches, strung out along a stretch of coastline that extends from Palm Beach to Key Largo.
What can make a vacation to Miami’s beaches even better? Travel insurance. Get a quote today from Generali so you can relax even more on your sand-and-surf excursion.
Here’s a rundown of more than a dozen of the Miami area’s best beaches in more-or-less alphabetical order. The name of each beach is linked to their map location so it's easy to find when you're on vacation.
The Best Beaches for Miami Vacations:
If you feel like taking the low-rent route to rubbing shoulders with celebrities, this is the beach to visit. While not expansive by any means, it’s literally footsteps away from some of Miami’s hottest spots and most luxurious hotels.
Parking is easy, accessible, and cheap – and the best news of all: 21st-45th Street Beach isn’t crowded or touristy. It’s a great place to get some sun, hit the surf, maybe go for a run, and revel in everything that’s wonderful about Miami.
Another beach that’s popular with locals, but is almost unknown to tourists, 85th Street Beach showcases a less-developed side of Miami that’s best appreciated by people needing an antidote to the city’s hustle and glitz.
85th Street Beach is just a strip of sand with lifeguards and some restrooms, and that’s about it. But what more do you really need in a beach? Especially for the minimalist, 85th Street Beach has it all.
If you prefer your beaches a little more wild and a little less metro, the beaches (there are several) at Bill Baggs Park are for you.
Located on the southern side of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs beaches and the surrounding park offer South Florida’s oldest building, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, as well as great kayaking, swimming, and fishing.
The beach is also one of the area’s most photogenic, so be sure to bring along a camera or your phone.
A laid-back, family-oriented beach, Crandon Park offers carousel rides, playgrounds, cabanas and shelters, grills, a boardwalk, a nature center, and even a skating rink.
While Crandon Park’s beach is nice, it’s not the sole attraction, making it a great stop for parents with smaller children or anyone who loves the beach but doesn’t just want to lie in the sand all day.
Just a nice stretch of beach with a minimum of high-rise development and other obstructions, Fort Lauderdale Beach is an awesome place to park yourself for a day, watch the people go by, wade in the surf, and soak up the sun.
The beach is also accessible to a lot of Fort Lauderdale’s most luxurious developments and their residents – but when you’re all wearing bathing suits, it’s hard to tell who’s who … making this beach a great equalizer.
This beach is one of Miami’s most popular and diverse sand spots. In addition to offering one of the area’s few clothing optional beaches, the park also offers a “dog beach” specifically for four-legged surf lovers. Surfers also love it when the currents run strong.
And if that’s not enough, the park has a golf course!
The park’s strategic location on the north end of the isthmus of Miami Beach makes it a great jumping-off spot for the over-the-top luxury of Miami Beach and all the excitement of downtown Miami.
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Located on the extreme south end of the Miami metro area, Homestead Bayfront Park is a calm, placid getaway spot that’s a perfect stop for vacationers heading south from Miami towards the Florida Keys.
Palm trees and umbrellas provide plenty of shade, and the gently curving beach is cozy without being cramped.
Rent a boat or catch a shuttle at the nearby marina and head to Elliott Key for one of those classic Florida Keys sunsets.
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A lengthy stretch of beach on the south end of Miami Beach, the Lummus Park Beach and its adjacent green space is one of Miami’s greatest treasures. The greenspace surrounds Miami’s famous Art Deco district, and is a must-walk for the beach views, the architecture and the people.
With all this going on, the beach would seem like an afterthought – but it’s not. It’s one of Miami’s very best expanses of sand. It can be crowded, but it’s worth navigating the people to find a six-foot circle of sand you can call your own, and then just look around in wonder at everything around you.
And if you think you’ve seen this beach before, you have: It’s one of the most photographed stretches of sand in the world.
Are there hammocks in Matheson Hammock Park? Not really – but there are lots of great places to plunk down a towel and revel in the sun and sand.
Full of palms and surrounded by mangroves and oaks, the park is a perfect place to walk your dog, meet friends, or just hang out. There’s a small marina for boaters and a sheltered lagoon that’s perfect for paddleboarders or kayakers.
Nearby hiking trails give parents with school-age kids something else to do if the kids need a break from the beach – which seems highly unlikely.
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You might find it hard to believe that a park this wild and unspoiled can exist in the middle of Miami, but it’s true. The Oleta River State Recreational Area sits on Biscayne Bay just north of Haulover Beach, and offers locals a lot of what Central Park offers New Yorkers – a safety valve when the city gets to be too much.
No matter how you like to recreate, you’ll probably find it at Oleta River. There are hiking and biking trails, eddies and swamps to paddle through, swimming and fishing, and even camping.
If you like to lie on the beach, there’s ample opportunity to do that on beaches that make up for their relative narrowness with plenty of unspoiled beauty.
One note: The local raccoons, though shameless, are not tame. Watch your food supply and be wary.
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What would a rundown of Miami beaches be without South Beach? As much a lifestyle as a spit of sand, South Beach is the see-and-be-seen beach in Miami, iconic and crowded with a mix of sightseers, hedonists, and sun worshippers, with all of the city’s Art Deco splendor just across the street,
Is it worth it? It’s certainly worth a visit, though for many people who just want a place to kick back in the sand it can be a little too amped and show-offy. But to say you’ve been there, that you’ve experienced it once … oh, yeah.
A fairly narrow but long (two miles) strip of sand, Sunny Isles Beach backs up against some of the city’s most luxurious hotels and condos. While not as well-known as South Beach or even Haulover, Sunny Isles is close to some of Miami’s most famous shopping areas and sports arenas, making it easy to go from metro to sand in a matter of steps.
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Located on the south end of the Miami metro area, Surfside is a favorite of locals, who love its near-perfect mix of metropolitan amenities with broad, less crowded expanses of sand.
Can Surfside get busy on the weekends or holidays? Absolutely. But go there on a weekday morning and you’ll understand the real magic of Miami’s beaches.
If all your traipsing around Miami has left you wanting some relaxation and solitude, Virginia Key might be the answer. It’s located across a causeway from Miami, just south of South Beach, but sometimes it feels like it’s hundreds of miles away from the glitz and crowds.
An old-fashioned carousel adds to its wrinkle-in-time feel, and helps make it a great beach spot for families with younger children. The two large playgrounds don’t hurt in that regard, either.
As if you need another reason to visit, the views of downtown Miami across Biscayne Bay are spectacular.
Now, let’s hit the beach! And remember, travel insurance can help if your Miami vacation takes a turn for the worst.