20 best miami beaches

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When you think of Cuban food, the first thing that comes to mind is usually Cuban sandwiches. But there’s so much more to Cuban cuisine than just sandwiches! If you’re looking for some delicious Cuban cuisine, Miami is the place to be! With so many amazing Cuban restaurants to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to eat. That’s why we’ve put together a list of the 16 best Cuban restaurants in Miami. From classic favorites like Versailles and La Carreta, to newer spots like Sergio’s Restaurant, there’s something for everyone on this list. So what are you waiting for?

Start planning your next Cuban food adventure!  So put on your guayabera shirt and get ready to eat like a local!


If You have any suggestions for places we may have overlooked? Drop us a line at [email protected]

Check out the full list of the best Cuban restaurants in Miami below:

Keep checking back as we update our list of best Miami CUBAN restaurants regularly with new discoveries and local favorites.

1. Lummus park beach

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Nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and Ocean Drive, between 5 Street and 14 Place, Lummus Park has been the backdrop for many television and film scenes.  The beachfront park features a playground, public restrooms, paved paths for walking or biking and the 9 Street fitness area, Muscle Beach South Beach. The park also serves as a host to various special events every year, ranging from concerts to marathons and is one of the most popular destinations in Miami Beach.

A popular attraction for fitness enthusiasts, Muscle Beach South Beach serves as an outdoor area for exercise, weight lifting and gymnastics, and features two nature-inspired installations: MyEquilibria’s Leopard Tree and MyBeast. These functional structures collectively feature over 30 workout components. The first of its kind to be featured in a public park in the United States, the installation of this high-end fitness equipment brings art and functionality to the beach and is accessible to visitors and residents alike. With the help of a free mobile phone application, fitness enthusiasts of all skill levels may engage in workouts through a series of available trainings and tutorials.

Other improvements at Lummus Park include 114 new dimmable LED lighting, which provide direct light to improve visibility while reducing the amount of light visible from the beach. The lighting retrofits serve as a long-term strategy for better protecting our native sea turtle population by substantially reducing light pollution in the areas with the highest disorientation incidents during the sea turtle season. As the city continues planning, designing and constructing projects along the beachfront, sea turtle friendly fixtures will replace existing lights on public property.

2. Surfside Beach

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Known as Miami’s uptown beach community, Surfside is a tightknit town spanning just one square mile, nestled between Miami Beach and Bal Harbour. The Atlantic Ocean laps against its eastern shore, and the Intracoastal Waterway is its western border. This charming oasis has a decidedly retro, small-town appeal. Harding Avenue, lined with old-timey facades, Jewish delicatessens and synagogues, is its main thoroughfare.

 

This quaint seaside town is also home to one of the area’s most lavish resorts. The Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club, housed inside a 1930s-era club, once hosted the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Frank Sinatra and Winston Churchill. Today, the historic clubhouse has been transformed into Lido Restaurant and Champagne Bar, while Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller presides over The Surf Club Restaurant.

 

For a more down-to-earth experience in Surfside, look no further than Josh’s Deli, a new twist on the typical Jewish delicatessen. The hearty menu highlights house-cured, roasted and smoked meats with items like the classic corned beef sandwich on rye. You’ll find traditional dishes such as matzo ball soup and latkes alongside more playful interpretations like the “jewchacho,” a lobster breakfast made with eggs, avocado and cheese in a molé sauce.

 

With its white, sandy beaches offering plenty of space to spread out, Surfside is a favorite destination for families and those looking for a relaxing day in the sun. It’s anchored by the beachfront Surfside Community Center, which provides access to local hotel guests. The facility boasts a swimming pool and waterslide, locker rooms, fitness classes and a walk-up cafe counter.

 

While walking around town, keep your eyes peeled for the colorful Surfside sea turtle sculptures, created by local artists to draw awareness to sea turtle-nesting season, which runs from May through October.

3. South Pointe Park Pier

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South Pointe Park
South Pointe Park is a beautiful green space at the southern tip of Miami Beach. It offers stunning panoramic views of the South Beach shoreline, PortMiami’s cruise ships, Downtown Miami’s skyline and Fisher Island. The park has direct access to the beach as well as walking trails, picnic and barbecue areas, benches, a cafe and an off-leash bark park. There is also a mini water playground perfect for cooling off on a warm day, along with a jungle gym and lush landscaping. And best yet, Smith & Wollensky steakhouse is located in the park, with delicious dine-in and carry-out options.

Park Facilities
Sit and read a book while relaxing on one of the park benches, or rest your eyes under the many shady palm trees. For photo-worthy views, take a stroll along the 20-foot wide promenade and see Fisher Island across the water as yachts pass by, then continue on to South Pointe Pier. The motion-activated mini splash zone for kids, with water cannons, is located at the picnic and barbecue areas. There are several winding paths to take if you want to run, bike, rollerblade or skateboard. Keep in mind that bikes, rollerblades and skateboards are not allowed on the grass. Take your dog to the bark park on the western side of South Pointe Park for some off-leash fun (four-legged friends must be leashed in all other areas of the park).

South Pointe Pier
The 450-foot pier is a popular gathering spot for visitors and locals to fish and watch kayakers, surfers and Jet Skiers. It has viewing stations, turtle-safe lighting, recycling bins for fishing lines, and places to cut bait and wash freshly caught fish.

The Beach
Enjoy some quality time with your toes in the sand. The park’s beach has colorful lifeguard towers, and umbrella and beach chair rentals are available. This is a popular spot for locals to surf, play volleyball and paddle board. Pets are not allowed on the beach. Restrooms, outdoor showers and the South Pointe Cafe are located near the kids' splash pad. The cafe serves juice, hot coffee, chips, ice cream, granola bars and other refreshments.

Smith & Wollensky
Once you’ve worked up an appetite, head over to Smith & Wollensky steakhouse. Besides serving mouth-watering steak and amazing views, Smith & Wollensky offers shrimp, lobster, yellowfin tuna and salmon, to name a few. Enjoy with wine or a tropical cocktail. Online ordering, dine-in, delivery and takeout options are available. Outside and indoor seating are available. It’s a fine dining restaurant, so if you’re visiting after going to the beach you’ll need a change of clothes.

4. Bal Harbour Beach

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Home to the Bal Harbour Shops, luxury resorts and white sand beaches, Bal Harbour is a tranquil and luxurious enclave.

 

From high-end shopping to luxury resorts, Bal Harbour is a little slice of paradise.

 

A tranquil and luxurious enclave at the northern tip of Miami Beach, Bal Harbour is famous for the upscale Bal Harbour Shops and lavish oceanfront resorts with white sand beaches. It’s also home to several beloved fine dining restaurants. With Haulover Inlet as its northern border, Biscayne Bay to the west and the endless Atlantic Ocean to the east, the views are picturesque from any vantage point.

 

For many, Bal Harbour Shops serves as introduction to the area. The upscale, al fresco mall opened in 1965, and its mid-century modern cool is retained today through landscaped breezeways with lush palm trees, tropical flowers, koi ponds and limestone fountains. Anchored by Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, the mall boasts luxury flagship boutiques such as Chanel, Prada and Gucci, drawing both power shoppers and those who love to browse.

 

Bal Harbour Shops is also a fabulous destination for a lunchtime shopping break or a sophisticated dinner out. Onsite restaurant options include Carpaccio Restaurant for luxury italian dining in the center of Bal Harbour Shops, Makoto for inventive sushi and Japanese fare, and the playful French brasserie Le Zoo, both created by notable restaurateur Stephen Starr. These dining spots are popular among Miami’s fashion set.

 

When it comes to resorts, take your pick from well-known luxury brands such as The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbour or The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, where hospitality meets high design and opulent amenities. Each boasts luxurious spas and multiple restaurants along with over-the-top oceanfront pools. Another great option is the Sea View Hotel. This property with newly renovated rooms is renowned for its personalized service. Whether you’re relaxing on a lounge chair at one of these resorts or simply taking a stroll along the beach path and jetty, the beauty and serenity of Bal Harbour is all around for everyone to enjoy.

5. South Beach

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See the Miami Beach you know from the movies in the iconic South Beach neighborhood.

Miami Beach, a slender, nine-mile-long barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean, is divided into three distinct neighborhoods. South Beach – from South Pointe Park north to 23rd Street – is the most famous of the trio, home to sandy strands, swaying palms and the pastel-colored Art Deco buildings that have become synonymous with this iconic destination and render it so undeniably photogenic.

If you’re not staying in South Beach, the Venetian Causeway and the MacArthur Causeway are scenic routes connecting to the mainland, offering stunning views of palatial waterfront homes. Already in South Beach? Slip on your sneakers or rent a CitiBike and join locals at sunrise or sunset for a run or ride on the waterfront path.

Most visitors make a beeline for Lincoln Road, and rightly so. The mile-long pedestrian thoroughfare boasts brand-name stores and independent boutiques, an array of restaurants, street entertainment and superb people-watching. A few blocks south, you’ll find similar diversions at charming Española Way, another pedestrian-only street with Mediterranean Revival architecture evoking quaint villages in Spain and France.

Right next to Española Way is Washington Avenue. Art and design buffs will find inspiration in the world-class collection at the Wolfsonian–FIU museum. From here, it’s just a few minutes’ walk to Ocean Drive, where hotels and restaurants in iconic Art Deco buildings preside over a broad, palm-fringed beach. Guided architectural walking tours start at the Art Deco Welcome Center at Ocean Drive and 10th Street.

The beach is, of course, the neighborhood’s biggest draw, so spread a towel on the sand and enjoy ocean breezes and sun, year-round. Beachfront green spaces like Lummus Park and South Pointe Park (at the island’s tip) deliver the best of both worlds – land and sea – and the opportunity to enjoy this quintessential Miami Beach scene.

6. Crandon Park

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Crandon Park Beach

Located on the idyllic barrier island of Key Biscayne, right on Biscayne Bay, Crandon Park is popular for its beautiful beach, rich coastal environment, unique fossilized mangrove reef, protected wetlands, birding sites and extensive range of sports and outdoor activities.

In 1908, a wealthy businessman by the name of Commodore William John Matheson purchased 1,700 acres of northern Key Biscayne property and turned it into a coconut plantation. In 1940, the heirs of Commodore Matheson donated the plantation to Miami-Dade County with the condition that it be used as a public park. To thank the Matheson family for the donation, Charles H. Crandon, Chairman of the County Commission, offered to have the county build a causeway – now Rickenbacker Causeway – connecting Key Biscayne to mainland Miami. The park was eventually named after Charles H. Crandon, and today it is visited by locals and tourists from across the globe.

Nature

The eco-friendly Marjory Stoneman Douglas Biscayne Nature Center can be found in the northern end of the park. This solar-powered building has a reception area, nature exhibits, a gift shop, an audio-visual presentation room and lab classroom facilities. Outside, there are covered porches and a central amphitheater courtyard that hosts public shows and events year-round.

Crandon Park is home to various ecosystems, from dunes and mangroves to coastal hammock and seagrass beds and rare plants like the Biscayne prickly ash and beach peanut. Underwater, fossilized reefs and colorful sea life give divers and snorkelers plenty to explore. With its bird communities of herons, ospreys, songbirds, hawks and more, this park is considered a top spot in Miami for bird watching.

This park is also home to the Bear Cut Preserve, a designated natural Environment Study Area. Here, visitors can go on a naturalist-guided hammock hike through the preserve, take guided tours and get a peek at some of the area’s original natural landscapes. Nature enthusiasts can also take advantage of three guided EcoAdventure programs: “Bike and Hike,” “Expedition South Florida” and the “Sea Turtle Awareness Program.”

Activities and Amenities

Crandon Park offers plenty of outdoor fun for all ages. There are biking and walking paths, skateboarding areas and the Crandon Park Tennis Center, which has 27 courts, including 13 that are lighted. You can sign up for tennis lessons by calling (305) 365-2300.

If you want to go out on the water, you can choose from activities like canoeing, kayaking, kiteboarding, paddleboarding, sailing, snorkeling, wakeboarding and even windsurfing. There is an accessible, two-mile beach with pristine sand, calm waters, a popular sandbar, a waterfront promenade and concession stands. Beach cabanas, kiteboards and kayaks can be reserved on a first come, first served basis at the North Concession.

Avid boaters will love the onsite Crandon Marina, which has wet slips, boating ramps and docks that can accommodate boats up to 80 feet in length. Here, guests will find the Bait and Tackle Shop, Dive Shop, Marina Store, boat fuel pumps and outdoor showers. Perfect for adventurers, Crandon Marina also operates a public dive boat.

Young children will love the Crandon Park Amusement Center, which has a historic carousel that operates on weekends and holidays only, an old-fashioned outdoor roller rink and a playground with sculptures of different marine animals.

Snacks and drinks can be purchased onsite at park concessions booths. Throughout the park, picnic shelters and pavilions can be reserved on a first come, first served basis.

Plan Your Visit

Crandon Park is located directly next to Crandon Golf Course Key Biscayne. No floatation devices are allowed on park premises. Contact the park ahead of your visit to confirm normal operating hours and amenity availability.

7.Mid-Beach 21st to 45th Street

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21st Street Beach marks the beginning of a lively wooden pedestrian walkway that runs north all the way to 46th Street Beach. A cute art deco snack shack (where you can buy fruity popsicles) stands at the entrance to the beach, as well as showers for washing off. There is a large parking lot that makes this beach much easier to visit than other sections of Miami Beach. You pay at machines with your credit card and the price is very reasonable: $1.50 an hour. The water is just gorgeous here- crystal clear up close and a vibrant blue-green from a distance. Tiny waves break and it stays shallow for a long while. What a lovely swim!
Tons of people come here on the weekend with colorful beach umbrellas and sand toys. The wide, soft sandy beach allows plenty of room for everyone. Tall high-rises form the backdrop. Impressive cruise ships move in and out the harbor. Not all the beachgoers are uber-fashionable as expected- there are some families just enjoying a casual day at the beach. There are some ritzy girls walking around the cafes south of the beach though.
Enjoy some food at Free Spirits Sports Cafe, next to the beach beside the parking lot. You can soak up the beach vibe, sitting outside at the red picnic tables.
Afterwards, stroll along the boardwalk or sidewalk on Ocean Drive near 7th Street to take in a wild scene! The beach at 7th Street is even more exciting than 21st Street Beach, with the gay beach just steps away at 12th Street and the many tourists who walk over after strolling along Ocean Drive. Collins Ave, parallel to Ocean Drive, has wonderful Art Deco architecture. Across Collins Ave from the beach is a large grassy area and the Bass Museum of Art, a very small stylish gallery with a very small collection and some interesting temporary exhibits. Spend half an hour inside enjoying the AC! There is also the Miami-Dade Library, which unfortunately has a very smelly crowd of homeless people. This building is built in Art Deco-style, as is the lovely Miami City Ballet building next door.
21st Beach is where the cement boardwalk to the south turns into a raised wooden pedestrian-only walkway that leads all the way to 46th Street Beach! It's super fun to rent a bike from one of the Deco Bike stations and ride along the boardwalk south all the way to South Pointe Park.

8. 46th–63rd Street (Mid-Beach)

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46th Street Beach, or Indian Beach, is a wonderful find! Here you can have a perfect swim in shallow, warm water and bouncy waves. All the beaches on this stretch of Miami Beach are so sheltered and lovely. They seem to have less currents and less creatures like jellies in the water than a lot of the Southeast Florida beaches! The sand is also very nice, just the right softness and pale beige color. Kids enjoy heaping the sand into big sand castles, and watching the huge cruise ships head out to sea. On weekends, there are small planes that drag ads behind them, delighting kids. There is a snack stand near the showers where you can get a good selection of drinks. This is where we found Honest Ade, a much less sweet drink that we love! A wonderful feature of this beach is the large, new space-age playground under a huge shade canopy. The play area is covered entirely in rubber turf- makes for a clean and lovely playground! Kids enjoy the challenge of the large structure, plus the slide and many swings. I wish there was a playground like this in our town!
From 46th Street Beach, a raised wooden pedestrian walkway runs south all the way to 21st Street Beach. Then the walkway changes to a cement boardwalk where you can rent bikes from the Deco Bike stations and ride all the way down to South Pointe Park. It's a blast! Around 7th Street Beach, the action really picks up with tons of tourists and a lively gay scene.

9. North Beach (63rd–87th Street)

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Located between the hustle and bustle of South Beach and the upscale Bal Harbour (63rd to 87th, to be exact), North Beach is a slice of paradise. This tranquil hub includes the neighborhoods of Isle of Normandy, Normandy Shores, Biscayne Point, and La Gorce, historic places that bring to life Miami Beach’s past. It is a neighborhood kept alive by its residents, on the whole, working class, humble, and proud of a culturally rich yet low-key home that features secret gardens, impressive architecture, a dog park, a boardwalk, uncrowded beaches, plenty of free parking, and the North Beach Bandshell.

“We love working in North Beach, because it is such a nice mix of chill neighborhoods and lively street life, some great mama-y-papa restaurants, interesting people, and of course, an amazing beach. It feels like a little piece of South America,” said Laura Quinlan, executive director of The Rhythm Foundation.

A dive into history

Although the area dates back to the late 1800s, things didn’t kick into high gear until July 1924, when Miami Beach’s city limits were extended to include North Beach. The area was already home to one of Miami Beach’s five Biscayne Houses of Refuge, constructed by the U.S. Life-Saving Service in an effort to help with shipwrecks along the coast. But it had also been home to places far more scandalous than heroic. According to a 2003 report from the City of Miami Beach Planning Department, “During the early 1920s, the Jungle Inn was one of the most notorious buildings in what is now northern Miami Beach. The two-story log structure was a reputed speakeasy and gambling joint. It was situated at the southeast corner of 69th Street and Abbot Avenue in the Atlantic Heights Subdivision. The Jungle Inn’s remote location in the wilderness outside the then city limits made it difficult for Dade County to enforce Prohibition.”

Early developers of the area include William Burbridge, Henri Levy, and the Tatum Brothers, along with Carl Fisher, who dredged and filled land to create La Gorce and Allison Island in the years 1923 and 1924. Alison Island was later donated to Fisher’s friend Jim Alison for the construction of Miami Beach’s first hospital and sanitarium (patients ate food made by a French chef from the Waldorf Astoria in New York!). This later became St. Francis Hospital, which now sits on the land of Aqua Residences. Normandy Shores and the Isle of Normandy are also man-made islands.

10. 12th Street Beach

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The gay beach is located at 12th Street and Ocean Drive. It is not too difficult to find, with the rainbow flags marking the territory between two chair rental spots. The gay beach is mostly a hangout for men, but you will also find lesbians and straights camping out here too. Rent a chair or umbrella from Boucher Brothers or lay a towel in the sand like the locals do.

Haulover Beach is Clothing Optional
If you prefer to sunbathe au natural, Haulover Beach Park offers one of the best nude beaches in the United States. The nude beach is located 11 miles north of South Beach, so you need consider transportation to and from the beach. A taxi ride will be expensive, but Route 120 Beach MAX on Miami-Dade public bus service from South Beach gives you a very inexpensive option. Check out this excellent resource for more detailed information.

12th Street gay beach along side of Ocean Drive right across the street from the Palace Disco and bar on Ocean Drive in South Beach Miami Florida.

The beach is free and open to the public with no beach or day pass needed. The rainbow flags are displayed on the beach as well as on the 12th street beach signs

11. Haulover Beach Park

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This 1.5 mile beach is located north of Miami Beach, between the Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean. Haulover Beach Park is noted for blue waters, soft sand and plenty of picnic areas. The park regularly hosts kite-making workshops and sells kites to fly in a big grassy area facing Biscayne Bay. There's a tennis center, golf course and dog park, too.

Haulover Beach is also the host of a stretch of clothing optional beach. So, if you forgot to pack a suit- no problem! Or, if you're looking to get some sun without any tan lines, well, this is the place for you.

There are beach wheelchairs for rent at Haulover Beach Park. Pedestrian tunnels link to the park and marina on Biscayne Bay. Nine-hole golf course, tennis courts, kite flying area and kite shop.

Parking fee.

12. Matheson Hammock Park

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Plan a Relaxing Day at Matheson Hammock Park

One of Miami-Dade’s most treasured county parks, Matheson Hammock Park, sits on a peninsula that extends into Biscayne Bay. The park spans 630 acres of coastal Miami just south of Coral Gables, surrounding parts of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. It first opened to the public in 1930, after William J. Matheson donated prime waterfront property to Miami-Dade County.

Nature By Design

The park includes vast stretches of Florida mangroves and hardwood forests, as well as planned green spaces designed by landscape architect William Lyman Phillips. Along with Matheson Hammock Park, Phillips designed Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in 1938.

The park is thoughtfully laid out. Phillips worked closely with the Civilian Conservation Corps to design a park that would feature South Florida’s beautiful water views and offer a welcoming atmosphere for visitors. Its winding road was designed to take visitors through three important Florida landscapes, starting with swamp and dense mangrove forests and ending at an open cove overlooking Biscayne Bay.

Matheson Hammock Park’s natural backdrop also makes it perfectly suited for special occasions, such as outdoor weddings.

The Atoll Pool at Matheson Hammock Park

Spend a day at Matheson Hammock Park to enjoy the natural beauty of Miami. Relax by the manmade “atoll pool,” a bayfront pool naturally filled by the tides of Biscayne Bay, surrounded by limestone, coral and a circular sandy beach with swaying palms and perfect views of the Florida coast. Because of the atoll pool’s calm waters, it has become a safe, popular place for young children to swim.

Matheson Hammock Marina

If you love being on the water, the north end of Matheson Hammock Park also has the full-service Matheson Hammock Marina with a dock, wet slips, powerboat lessons and the Castle Harbor Boating School. There are opportunities for kiteboarding, a fishing pier and even a concession stand where you can rent stand-up paddle boards (SUP), canoes and kayaks to spend hours paddling across Biscayne Bay. Just want to relax? Grab your beach chair and join the visitors lounging on the white sands of Matheson Beach.

Dining at Matheson Hammock Park

Visitors to the park can dine at Coral Gables’ only waterfront restaurant—Redfish by Chef Adrianne, which opened in 2019, replacing the iconic Red Fish Grill which closed after being damaged by Hurricane Irma two years earlier. Stop in for New American-style seafood dishes in this casual restaurant that offers an outdoor terrace with a beautiful view. The restaurant is helmed by Miami celebrity chef Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bar.

Park Amenities

Coral rock pavilions and picnic areas with charcoal grills and benches can be found throughout Matheson Hammock Park, including by one of its scenic lakes—the perfect place for a picnic lunch with family, friends or that special someone.

As you explore the park, hop on one of its nature or bike trails, or go birdwatching for rare birds such as sulphur-bellied flycatchers, black-throated gray warblers and Townsend’s warblers.

In the middle of the park, there is a playground where young children can burn off some energy.

When You Go

Matheson Hammock Park is located at 9610 Old Cutler Road, Miami, FL 33156. The park is open from sunrise to sunset daily, and both the office and Matheson Hammock Marina are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is charged.

13. Historic Virginia Key Beach Park

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Year-round sunshine makes Greater Miami & Miami Beach a beach-lover’s paradise. Whether you enjoy a quiet, palm-shaded oasis or the energy of popular see-and-be-seen sands, Miami serves up a variety of beaches for all interests. But perhaps none offer the rich history of Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, a beautiful stretch of surf and sand with a story that dates back to 1896.

August 1st is the official Historic Virginia Key Beach Park Day.

About the Park

Located in beautiful Biscayne Bay, less than a mile from the shores of Downtown Miami, it’s easily one of the area’s most scenic beaches – a hidden retreat full of nature and sweeping views of the bay and the Atlantic. It’s also an ideal location for those who enjoy swimming, relaxing in the sun and rich cultural history.

Visitors to this hideaway can stroll a mile-long shoreline, ride an antique carousel with views of the ocean, be transported around the area by a miniature train and explore coastal hammock trails on a nature boardwalk.

The Story Begins in 1896

Miami was founded in 1896, at a time where segregation was a reality throughout the South. The black community had played a predominant role in the early building and development of the city, which resulted in one-third of the signatures on the city charter being black men. Nevertheless, the reality of segregation at that time systematically excluded all people of color from Miami’s most famous attraction – its miles of beaches.

Some beach areas were “unofficial exceptions,” which by mutual understanding were exclusive to the African American community. Virginia Key – at the time only accessible by boat from Miami – was one of these areas. But it wasn’t until 1945 that Virginia Key became an “official colored only” site as a result of a protest led by the late Judge Thomas.

A Protest Brings Action

With the intention of being arrested to bring attention to their cause, Thomas and a group of black men daringly entered the water at exclusively white Haulover Beach. Rather than facing embarrassment, county officials did not take legal action but instead agreed to the protesters’ demands and opened an official swimming area for African Americans at “Miami’s Colored Only Beach” at Virginia Key on Aug. 1, 1945.

From that point on, Virginia Key Beach quickly became a popular gathering place for Greater Miami’s African American community and was an often-used site for religious services. Although the beach remained segregated throughout the 1950s, that didn’t keep it from being the preferred go-to beach for many new immigrants coming from Cuba, the Caribbean and South America.

Due to high operation and maintenance costs, the City of Miami closed Virginia Key Beach Park to the public in 1982. In 1999, a group of citizens established the Virginia Key Beach Park Civil Rights Task Force after plans were announced for a private development to be built on the site. In response, the Miami City Commission established Virginia Key Beach Park Trust to oversee the development of the historic property, and in 2002 the park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

A New Beginning in 2008

Historic Virginia Key Beach Park reopened to the public on Feb. 8, 2008, featuring many of the amenities of its past. Still a beautiful stretch of sand and surf known for its natural landscape, swaying palms and mangroves, it became the only replenished, mile-long stretch of shoreline within the City of Miami at the time.

You can take a ride back through its history aboard the “Biscayne Virginia Rickenbacker Central,” a historic miniature train that transports you through a wetland excursion. And no matter your age, you’ll delight in riding the historic antique carousel by the sea. Other landmarks like the bathhouse and concession stand have also been renovated and are open to the public.

This stretch of paradise has picnic tables and shaded pavilions, but is also vast enough to offer secluded areas to beachgoers who enjoy privacy and sunshine. Among visitor favorites are six pastel-colored beachfront cabins that can be rented for the day. Each cabin includes Adirondack chairs, a grill and a picnic table to provide a perfect backdrop for that old-Miami beach experience.

Biking Trails Built by Cyclists

Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is also home to some of the most adrenaline-pumping bike trails in all of Miami. Built by enthusiasts from local bike clubs, these trails offer all levels of riding excitement for the family. The mountain trails on the north end of the key allow all levels of cyclists to enjoy the thrills of mountain biking while being surrounded by nature and water. Made for novice, intermediate and advanced riders, each trail has a qualifier area, so don’t worry. If you can maneuver your way through the first 20 feet of a trail, you shouldn’t have any problems navigating the rest of it.

The novice trail is flat and perfect for practice riding. The intermediate trail has climbs, drops and elevation changes with bermed corners, immaculately designed to test your skills. Or if you want a challenge, the advanced course offers technical climbs and fast descents where you’ll encounter bridges, exposed rocks and hairpin turns to satisfy your thirst for adventure. All trails are well-maintained with the help of dedicated bike club volunteers, so you know they’ll be ready when you are.

Historic Virginia Key Beach's Natural Ecosystems

Today, Virginia Key Beach Park is known as an ecological treasure containing one of the largest mangrove wetlands in the state. Rent a kayak or take a moonlight paddleboard tour of the area by water to enjoy a truly natural adventure just minutes away from the heart of Miami. Discover unique plant and endangered animal species among some of the oldest surviving varieties of flora and fauna in the region.

Along with its history, the park is a magical and invaluable treasure that is committed to preserving its environment. Working with the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the South Florida Water Management District, the Virginia Key Beach Park Trust's goal is to protect, conserve and manage its natural resources and enforce Florida’s environmental laws.

Experience Paradise Renewed

Historic Virginia Key Beach Park is located on a barrier island minutes from Downtown Miami, just north of Key Biscayne. The island is accessible via the Rickenbacker Causeway at 4020 Virginia Beach Dr. Barbeque grills are available throughout the park for picnics and vending machines are available on site.

Be sure to follow @virginiakeybeachpark on Instagram or @historicvirginiakeybeachpark on Facebook to stay up-to-date on the latest news, activities and more at the park.

14. Oleta River State Park

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When you enter through the gates of Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach, a feeling of tranquility will wash over you as you emerge into a quiet world of tangled, tidal mangroves inside this protected river estuary. Considered Florida’s largest urban park, Oleta encompasses more than 1,000 acres of greenery set against Biscayne Bay, ideal for kayaking, biking, hiking, swimming and camping. Originally known as the Big Snake River, the area was once a settlement of Tequesta Indians. Inside the park, an osprey may swoop into your sightline and the high-rise condo resorts of nearby Sunny Isles Beach will become a mere memory.

Kayaking

To experience what makes Miami’s environment so unique, opt for a kayaking adventure. Oleta offers kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard rentals – perfect vessels for exploring the flat, calm waters of the river estuary. Lined with mangrove trees, this ecosystem is an essential nesting and feeding habitat for most species of Florida’s juvenile fish and birds. Keep your eyes peeled for tiny black crabs scurrying along the mangrove roots; wading birds like herons, egrets or ibis; and mangrove snapper, manatees and other marine life.

Mountain Biking

Boasting ten miles of bike trails from novice to expert, Oleta is one of Miami’s most popular destinations for mountain bikers. With a wide variety of both paved and dirt trails, there are even a few courses designed for dirt bike-style riding with jumps for tricks. Bring your own bike or rent one from the onsite vendor, which offers everything from mountain bikes to cruisers and kids bikes for all levels.

Hiking, Picnicking, Fishing & Swimming

With three miles of nature trails, Oleta is an ideal park for a leisurely hike amid mangroves, gumbo limbo trees and colorful wildflowers. You’ll wind your way along the water toward the beach with beautiful views of Biscayne Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. Be on the lookout for native butterflies and migratory birds. This is also a prime area to spot manatees and dolphins. The sandy bayfront beach with sparkling, crystal clear water is perfect for taking a dip on a hot day. You’ll find a small fishing pier on the south side of the beach where you can cast a line and reel in snook, snapper, mullet or even a barracuda. Just be sure to bring your own fishing supplies.

Camping & Safety

For a truly outward bound experience, Oleta River State Park is home to 14 rustic, air-conditioned cabins, as well as a primitive youth campground. While the cabins don’t have bathrooms, there is a central restroom with heated water showers on the grounds. Cabins can be reserved online up to 11 months in advance.

Visitors are required to wear masks and maintain six feet of social distance while visiting the park, in accordance with COVID-19 safety measures. Before your visit, it’s a good idea to check the website and double check that all of the activities are open and available, as weather conditions and other factors sometimes impact operations.

Whether you spend the night or just an afternoon, Oleta River State Park is an outdoor oasis that feels miles away from the city without the need to leave town.

15. Hobie Beach

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Just off of the Rickenbacker Causeway, en route to the serene natural paradise of Key Biscayne, is the preeminent place for windsurfing in Miami. Hobie Beach (also called Windsurfer Beach) has earned its nickname by playing host to a locally run windsurfing rental concession for more than twenty years. Experienced vets and adventurous vacationers alike can spend the day experiencing this exhilarating activity. Sign up for a two-hour lesson, or an all-day group lesson and become a pro in no time.

Hobie Beach is also notable for being Miami's favorite dog friendly beach. Bring your doggie pal here for a nice romp on the sand. The water is shallow, so dogs can play in the surf a bit without any worries about strong currents.

Hobie Beach/Windsurfer Beach is located right in between Brickell, Downtown Miami and Key Biscayne, so beach goers will enjoy amazing skyline views from this calm off-road beach with concession stands and free parking.

16. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

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Just a 15-minute drive from Downtown Miami, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a natural paradise at the southern tip of Key Biscayne. Climb to the top of the lighthouse for fantastic views, walk along tree-lined trails and soak up the sun on the beach. The park is also part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom heritage preservation program, commemorating the journey of escaped slaves to the British Bahamas.

Cape Florida Lighthouse and Beach

Built in 1825, Cape Florida Lighthouse offers one-of-a-kind views from its wraparound balcony. Climb the 109 spiral steps and emerge to bird’s-eye views of the Atlantic Ocean, the floating homes of Stiltsville, Cape Florida, Key Biscayne and world-famous Miami Beach. It’s a gorgeous photo opportunity, especially at sunset. As the oldest structure in Miami-Dade County, the lighthouse has almost 200 years of history that you can learn about at the park. The lighthouse is currently unavailable for tours due to COVID-19 restrictions, but keep it on your list of places to come back and visit.

Though the lighthouse is the park's most prominent attraction, the beach is just as big a draw. Bill Baggs’ beach has been ranked as one of the country's top ten beaches and is a great place to relax and soak up the sun. Over a mile of the beach is open for swimming, but note that there are no lifeguards on duty.

Beach wheelchairs and a swimming wheelchair are available at the park on a first come, first served basis. The wheelchairs are free and located at the bicycle rental area.

While pavilion rentals are unavailable at this time, you can still enjoy the concessions and fishing platforms. Make sure to have all proper fishing licenses before casting your line and keep in mind that physical distancing and facial coverings are required both outdoors and indoors. Also, make sure to have exact change for any purchases made at the concessions. Leashed pets are allowed at the park but are limited to certain areas, with the exception of service animals.

Trails and Boating

The park’s 1.5-mile paved bike path is smooth and makes for an easy bike ride or hike. Rent a single, quad or large quad from the park concessions located a few steps from the Lighthouse Cafe. Or take a stroll on one of the unpaved service roads where you’ll likely spot colorful birds flitting in the trees or wading in the mangroves, especially during spring and fall migrations. Check the park map for trail locations.

You can visit the park by boat and anchor overnight in No Name Harbor for a fee. The harbor is a fantastic spot for sunset views and a great place for boat camping. You can also visit by boat without staying overnight; just make sure to pay the park entrance fee.

There are also several launches available for canoes and kayaks. The newest launch is available at Beach Access 1 at the north end of Area A. Head to the V-shaped set of safety floats to launch. The portage is several hundred feet from the parking lot, so you may need to bring a boat dolly or extra helper to move your equipment to the launch. There is also a spot in No Name Harbor to launch from by lowering your canoe or kayak off the sea wall. This is only recommended for experienced paddlers, as tidal conditions can make it difficult to launch.

Dining

Two dining options are available in the park. Start your day at Boater’s Grill with a fluffy omelette or a stack of pancakes. Lunch and dinner emphasize fresh seafood such as ceviche, conch fritters and fresh caught fish. Non-seafood options such as pasta and burgers are also on the menu. Located in No Name Harbor, the outdoor seating provides picture-perfect views of the harbor and sunset.

Lighthouse Cafe offers a chance to relax and enjoy a meal in a laid back environment with oceanfront views of the Atlantic. The menu includes fresh, whole fried fish, seafood paella, sandwiches, salads and grilled meats such as churrasco steak. There are also kid-friendly options including hot dogs and hamburgers.

17. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is a practically wild recreational park where you can spend the day cycling or kayaking, eating a picnic, climbing up to its historic lighthouse, or sunbathing on its beach, chosen as one of the ten best in the United States.

History of the Lighthouse

in 1821, when Florida became part of the United States, one of the first reforms that took place was the construction of a lighthouse on the Florida Keys.

In 1825 the lighthouse was lit for the first time, only later to be a victim of war, fire and hurricanes - yet today, despite so many trials, it remains at 95 feet (29 metres) tall to save the lives of hundreds of sailors with its light.

Wild and Mild

Bill Baggs is a great place to spend a day well away from civilization. The calm of its natural environment and the bird's eye views you can get from the lighthouse are just the tip of the iceberg - with the star attraction of the park being its practically virgin beaches.

18. Sunny Isles Beach

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Nestled between Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, Florida is known for its beautiful stretch of beach, perfect for a beach vacation. With oceanfront hotels and resorts, you will find the perfect accommodation for a weekend getaway or staycation. You can find unique shopping, beachfront restaurants and bars along Hollywood's Broadwalk, in addition to yearlong activities, water sports, and live music. 

The one-of-a-kind Hollywood Beach Broadwalk is a promenade that stretches nearly 2.5 miles along the Atlantic Ocean. Named one of America's Best Beach Boardwalks by Travel + Leisure magazine, this brick-paved thoroughfare hosts pedestrians, joggers, bicyclists, rollerbladers, and millions of visitors every year. The promenade also features the Hollywood Beach Theatre, a children’s water playground at Charnow Park, public art displays, and many other attractions. Hollywood Beach also offers dozens of luxury hotels and condominiums such as the Diplomat Resort & Spa Hollywood, Trump Hollywood, and Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort.

To make it easy for you to get out experience everything the city has to offer, the Hollywood Sun Shuttle is available to take you around the barrier island, and to and from the Beach to Downtown Hollywood. A ride on this on-demand shuttle service is $1 per person, per ride.

Many people enjoy a variety of water activities on Hollywood Beach and its easy to see why. Enjoying water activities on Hollywood Beach. 

The City encourages all to come and enjoy the sandy beach. Mobi-Mat Beach Access Points are located at the following streets and teh Broadwalk:

19. Hollywood Beach

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Situated on the northern end of Miami Beach, the paradise of Sunny Isles Beach awaits. Luxury hotel towers overlook golden shorelines and lush outdoor spaces such as the famed Heritage Park. Pamper yourself with a spa day at one of the many elegant resorts and enjoy an evening of world-class dining.

Guests can relax on ample swatches of pristine beach, unwind with midnight yoga, attend outdoor concerts, and even fish off the area’s first pier. If you’re itching to explore the surrounding environs, there are countless nearby attractions — from Downtown Miami to South Beach, Bal Harbour to the Everglades.

The luxurious but laid-back allure of Sunny Isles Beach includes practical conveniences: easy access to and from Miami and Fort Lauderdale’s airports and cruise terminals; a well-integrated network of regional public transportation; and the SIBshuttle, which offers free rides within its borders and to surrounding cities.

Sunny Isles Beach is the preeminent option for weekend getaways, pre- and post-cruise stays, and business meetings. Once you get a taste of the carefree, welcoming vibe, you won’t want to leave — and Sunny Isles Beach has a wide range of accommodations and amenities that will more than satisfy you!

20. Fort Lauderdale Beach

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When you enter through the gates of Oleta River State Park in North Miami Beach, a feeling of tranquility will wash over you as you emerge into a quiet world of tangled, tidal mangroves inside this protected river estuary. Considered Florida’s largest urban park, Oleta encompasses more than 1,000 acres of greenery set against Biscayne Bay, ideal for kayaking, biking, hiking, swimming and camping. Originally known as the Big Snake River, the area was once a settlement of Tequesta Indians. Inside the park, an osprey may swoop into your sightline and the high-rise condo resorts of nearby Sunny Isles Beach will become a mere memory.

Kayaking

To experience what makes Miami’s environment so unique, opt for a kayaking adventure. Oleta offers kayak, canoe and standup paddleboard rentals – perfect vessels for exploring the flat, calm waters of the river estuary. Lined with mangrove trees, this ecosystem is an essential nesting and feeding habitat for most species of Florida’s juvenile fish and birds. Keep your eyes peeled for tiny black crabs scurrying along the mangrove roots; wading birds like herons, egrets or ibis; and mangrove snapper, manatees and other marine life.

Mountain Biking

Boasting ten miles of bike trails from novice to expert, Oleta is one of Miami’s most popular destinations for mountain bikers. With a wide variety of both paved and dirt trails, there are even a few courses designed for dirt bike-style riding with jumps for tricks. Bring your own bike or rent one from the onsite vendor, which offers everything from mountain bikes to cruisers and kids bikes for all levels.

Hiking, Picnicking, Fishing & Swimming

With three miles of nature trails, Oleta is an ideal park for a leisurely hike amid mangroves, gumbo limbo trees and colorful wildflowers. You’ll wind your way along the water toward the beach with beautiful views of Biscayne Bay and the Intracoastal Waterway. Be on the lookout for native butterflies and migratory birds. This is also a prime area to spot manatees and dolphins. The sandy bayfront beach with sparkling, crystal clear water is perfect for taking a dip on a hot day. You’ll find a small fishing pier on the south side of the beach where you can cast a line and reel in snook, snapper, mullet or even a barracuda. Just be sure to bring your own fishing supplies.

Camping & Safety

For a truly outward bound experience, Oleta River State Park is home to 14 rustic, air-conditioned cabins, as well as a primitive youth campground. While the cabins don’t have bathrooms, there is a central restroom with heated water showers on the grounds. Cabins can be reserved online up to 11 months in advance.

Visitors are required to wear masks and maintain six feet of social distance while visiting the park, in accordance with COVID-19 safety measures. Before your visit, it’s a good idea to check the website and double check that all of the activities are open and available, as weather conditions and other factors sometimes impact operations.

Whether you spend the night or just an afternoon, Oleta River State Park is an outdoor oasis that feels miles away from the city without the need to leave town.

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