VIBE: Active, Busy Beach
South Pointe Park, 1 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
There's so much to write about our weekend visit to Miami Beach we couldn't fit it all in one blog post! Sizzling South Pointe Park is worth visiting. The sunset view is priceless.
South Beach is a whirlwind of activity. It was difficult to fit everything we wanted to do into one day, but we managed the beach, the pier, and dinner. After taking the free Collins Express trolley down from our hotel located mid-beach, we explored the beachfront, the South Pointe Pier and the restaurant scene. It's hard to ignore the spectacular hotels and condos that dominate the skyline in South Beach. It's part of the vibe: there is plenty of wealth here. However, Miami Beach is more than an upscale beach destination, it offers a variety of amenities for down to earth fun. You can read more about our two night stay here.
South Beach Sand
South Beach has thick, sugar sand that is soft and beautiful. It's even better than the mid-beach area. It does get hot on the feet though, unlike Siesta Key beach sand. There is a lot of beach to relax on but there has been some erosion. Miami Beach brings in sand regularly to help with the eroded shoreline. We saw sand piled up in several locations, including near our hotel the Holiday Inn Miami Beach Oceanside. Beach replenishment programs go on at almost every Florida beach, including Destin. It helps protect the wildlife and build up the coast to withstand storm surges.
South Beach Water
At the southernmost tip of Miami Beach, the water is stunning. In photos it almost looks too good to be true! It is warm because of the Gulf Stream which is located approximately 3 miles off the Miami Beach coastline. There was some seaweed and sea grass coming ashore but the city cleaned it up each morning.
During the summer months, the water is very warm; almost 90 degrees. We saw quite a few large jellyfish but this is not unusual during the summer season. It's just the size of jellyfish that was surprising. They were as big as a frisbee. In Daytona Beach Shores where we live, they are much smaller. Jellyfish season peaks in August or September. The strong currents and wind force them closer to the shore so keep your eyes open.
South Beach Parking and Amenities
Want to park in South Beach? We say forget about it and take the Miami Beach citywide free trolley. But if you must take your car, then you can use the South Beach parking lot at 424 Ocean Drive. It provides direct access to South Pointe Park but it is not free. It may cost you $40 or more, especially if you want valet parking. This is even more than Fort Myers Beach.
At Fifth and Alton there is a parking garage that many visitors recommend. For under 2 hours, you may park for free (please check this link for updates). However, you will be charged after that. It is a short walk from South Beach. A Publix grocery store is located there as well as Best Buy. Target is located across the street.
You can access South Beach parking using the ParkMobile app and use it to extend your parking time if needed. Like other beaches in Florida, finding a space can be a challenge. Be prepared to park away from the beach and walk if there are no spots.
South Pointe Park is so much more than just a beach, it is a destination. Downtown Miami and Fisher Island are visible from the park. When you're not gazing at the skyline, then you can use the walking trails, picnic and barbecue areas. There is even an off-leash dog park. This park has everything including a small water playground and jungle gym for kids. It really is a family friendly beach destination. Bathrooms can be found in the park and along the beach boardwalk, as well as water fountains. Plenty of shaded areas are available.
South Beach Activities
We did not see any cruise ships sail by South Beach that day, but we saw them in the port when driving into Miami from I-95. No shortage of yachts though! Jet Ski rentals and tours will take you by popular attractions. Due to the Gulf Stream fishing in Miami Beach waters can be amazing without going out very far. Don't forget to check out the South Beach pier.
There are also many land-based tours available via biking and Segway. Some are guided. Walking tours will help you enjoy the history of South Beach and see the Art Deco district. Espanola Way is another historic district in the heart of South Beach. The food, drink and fun are worth exploring. No vehicles are allowed. It is for walking only.
South Beach Restaurant
Smith & Wollensky is located in South Pointe Park and is known for its steak and dining with a water view. But we chose La Locanda Italian restaurant for dinner. We love dining outdoors wherever we go, no matter how hot it is. This small, rustic eatery met all our expectations for the South Beach vibe and food. The "vegetali" pizza was the real Italian deal right out of the brick oven. For South Beach, the prices are reasonable, but check your bill for any automatic gratuity before you leave a cash tip. La Locanda Restaurant-Bar-Pizzeria is located at 419 Washington Avenue.
Look Out! This Could Happen...
As mentioned before, tips may be added automatically to your food and drink bill. Check your bill carefully to make sure it is correct. It has been reported that servers can add an extra drink or appetizer when you're not paying attention, but this did not happen to us.
In South Beach, you may encounter club promoters handing out wristbands offering free entry or drinks. Unfortunately, this can be a scam as the clubs often have a cover charge. Buyer beware: if it seems to good to be true, it probably is. Check your bill before you leave to ensure it is correct, and for any added gratuities.
What We Really Think About South Beach
There is no place like South Beach. It's truly a magical place filled with spectacular, natural beauty everywhere you look. It's like being in another world! The buildings in South Beach are famous for their Art Deco style with pastel pinks and bright colors everywhere. Even the lifeguard huts are painted with tropical colors. If you have time, we recommend using a tour guide because there is a lot of history to see (about $40 per person). Some tours even include food tasting: bonus!
Our budget did not allow us to stay for more than a couple of nights in Miami Beach, but it was worth every penny. We are used to busy beaches, but Bruno thought this beach was too busy for him, even in June. We would recommend visitng South Beach in the off-season. Avoid January, February and Spring Break.
South Beach Summary
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.