5 amazing Miami beaches where you can enjoy a little bit of everything

At this stage in 2020, we all deserve a getaway–or five!

With its palm-fringed beaches, art deco architecture, and sumptuous hotels, Greater Miami is the perfect getaway any time of year. The winter and spring months offer tropical warmth: the perfect, balmy respite to other parts of the frigid U.S.

Miami also offers choice, whether you’re looking for arts and culture, queer family-friendly outdoor adventures, high-end shopping or somewhere to frolic with your pooch.

Miami is also famed for its vibrant LGBTQ scene. Its LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach’s historic City Hall building is one of the very best in the country, and the destination’s festivals and parties draw visitors from around the world (pre-and post-pandemic).

Now is a particularly great time to plan a visit, as it offers special deals to lure back travelers as the world begins to open back up.

Check out some of our favorite beaches, beach walks, and parks in Miami.

1. Bark Beach at North Beach Oceanside Park

North Beach, Miami
North Beach (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

North Beach Oceanside Park is in the northern part of Miami Beach, from 79th to 87th Street.

It offers a chilled-out, low-key vibe, with the only sound being surf, seagulls, and pelicans. The park also offers plenty of picnic tables for you to safely enjoy takeout food from the local street vendors, with fresh seafood in abundance.

2. Hobie Island Beach Park

Hobie Island Beach Park, Miami
Hobie Island Beach Park (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

This one is great for dogs and owners who love to play together in the surf. Hobie Island Beach Park – also known as Windsurfer Beach – lies on the Rickenbacker Causeway, running from Miami to Virginia Key and not far from the Miami Seaquarium, which also deserves a visit, especially with kids in tow.

Hobie Island Beach Park offers kayaking, windsurfing, and paddleboarding, all set against the panoramic (and Instagram-friendly) backdrop of downtown Miami on one side and the vast expanse of the Atlantic on the other. The water is shallow enough here to wade and play, yet another reason it’s popular with families.

3. 12th Street Beach

A rainbow flag over 12th Street Beach, Miami
12th Street Beach (Photo: Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau www.gmcvb.com)

12th Street Beach, in front of Lummus Park and Ocean Drive on South Beach, is loudly and proudly gay. Populated mostly by gay men, look for the rainbow flags by the lifeguard stations and you’ll know you have found your outdoor vacation home.

Traveling with kids? This part of South Beach has a reputation for those looking to party. If you want a quieter, LGBTQ family-friendly alternative, check out South Pointe Park Beach (with its play areas and dog park) or the beach at 20th Street.

4. Bal Harbour Beach

If the idea of designer living and upmarket shopping is your thing, head for Bal Harbour Village, at the northernmost end of Miami Beach island. The area is known for attracting the rich and famous with its luxury stores and five-star restaurants.

Bal Harbour Shops offers the likes of Versace, Chanel, Gucci, and Valentino, all spread around a restaurant-packed inner courtyard, with family favorites such as Bianco Gelato.

Bal Harbour’s pristine, white-sand beach is considerably quieter than South Beach and offers boardwalks for walkers and cyclists. The nearby Surfside Beach is another one popular with paddleboarders and kite surfers.

5. Beach Walk

This last recommendation is not a beach per se, but a paved walk that runs from South Pointe Park in Miami Beach’s southern tip, parallel to the ocean along South Beach, stretching north all the way through Bal Harbour and offers people-watching extravaganza.

Along the way, check out the outdoor muscle gym at Ninth Street. Take your pick from the restaurants along Ocean Drive like the Front Porch Café (a popular breakfast and brunch spot), and others such as Havana 1957, offering Cuban-inspired lunch boxes to enjoy outdoors on your journey through this urban beach paradise.

Kids will love the Willy Wonka-ish vibe of Ocean Drive’s Sugar Factory (while adults will appreciate its brasserie and candy-flavored cocktails).