Florida Family Beach Vacations; The Gold Coast
Florida’s Gold Coast glimmers with sophisticated glamor and charm. From Miami Beach (a.k.a. “the American Rivera”) to Ft. Lauderdale, Hollywood, West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, your family will find beauty AND the beach on this gorgeous golden coast. If you are looking for a beautiful Florida family beach vacation, then Florida’s Gold Coast is where you will find some of the most popular family activities in the state. The Gold Coast has lots to offer families for their Florida beach vacation, including; the awesome beaches, attractions and kid-friendly activities, as well as snorkeling, diving, surfing, swimming, boating, fishing, polo, and even golf for the older ones.
The Gold Coast is the region of the southeastern coast of the U.S. state of Florida between Tequesta and Florida City. The region consists of the long urban cluster that runs along the eastern shores of Palm Beach, Broward, and Miami-Dade County; also called the South Florida metropolitan area. It includes the cities of Miami and Fort Lauderdale as well as West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, Pompano Beach and Hollywood, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, and Lake Worth.
The name Gold Coast comes from the coins that occasionally wash up on the shore in the area. This is due to a large number of Spanish Galleons that sank off the coast carrying large amounts of gold and silver coins. However, the Gold Coast also has a double meaning, not only the Spanish gold that has washed up on shore, but the tremendous wealth that lives there; especially near the coast (such as Miami Beach, Palm Beach, etc), including Donald Trump’s $125 million estate.
Kid Friendly Activities on the Gold Coast:
Palm Beach Zoo;
Palm Beach Zoo is a fully accredited zoo located in Dreher Park, West Palm Beach, Florida. It is a non-profit zoological organization, housing over 1700 animals within 23 acre of lush tropical habitat. It also contains an aquarium. So much to see! the zoo is awesome! It’s a smaller zoo so you could walk thru it in a few hours & then the kids can cool off in the fountains. Very educational The habitats are well designed so you can see the animals. They have several animals that I have never seen in any other zoos. Nice for walking,
1301 Summit Boulevard, West Palm Beach, FL 33405 (561) 547-9453 palmbeachzoo.org
Lion Country Safari
Lion Country Safari is a drive-through safari park located in Loxahatchee (near West Palm Beach), in Palm Beach County, Florida. Founded in 1967, it claims to be the first ‘cageless zoo’ in the United States. In 2009, USA Travel Guide named Lion Country the 3rd best zoo in the nation. Four-mile drive through safari, with 1,000 animals roaming within inches of your vehicle, included is Safari World Amusement Park with animal encounters, rides, games, shopping, food and thrills. Lion Country Safari is part zoo, part drive through safari. The drive through portion is really neat. You are given a CD to explain what you see as you drive and pass through various portions of habitat. You literally pass inches from zebra, wildebeest, antelope, gazelles and most impressively, White Rhinos! Some animals are separated from the vehicles by water or fences like the lions, chimps, giraffes and camels. 2003 Lion Country Safari Road, Loxahatchee, FL 33470 (561) 793-1084 lioncountrysafari.com\
JOHN U. LLOYD STATE RECREATIONAL AREA- North to Dania Beach Boulevard
Space, restrooms, parking, shade aplenty. Condo-free seascape. Canoe trail in mangroves. Parking: $3.25 all day. Food: Amply stocked general store; concession stands. Facilities: Numerous, nice and well-ventilated bathrooms-skylights even! Lifeguards: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily. At the Loggerhead Café, visitors can have a leisurely lunch or grab a quick snack. A variety of items are available for rental: canoes, kayaks, paddleboats, sailboats, pontoon boats, gazebos, barbecue grills, and volleyballs. Located off A1A in the City of Hollywood.
Other Attractions & Kid Friendly Activities on the Gold Coast
Amusement & Recreation(more info. above)
9067 Southern Boulevard, West Palm Beach, FL
21940 Griffin Road, Southwest Rnchs, FL
3600 W Sample Rd, Pompano Beach, Florida
1451 South Olive Avenue, West Palm Beach, FL
559 N Military Trail, West Palm Beach, FL
1801 North Ocean Boulevard, Boca Raton, FL
401 Southwest 2nd Street, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Beaches on Florida’s Gold Coast:
- listed from south (Key Biscayne) to north (Deerfield Beach)-
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area
Southern tip of Key Biscayne
This sandy shoreline remains one of Southeast Florida’s most pristeen with only a lighthouse as a sign of civilization. Quiet during the week.
Fees: $1 toll at Rickenbacker Causeway, plus $4 to park all day.
Food: Nice concession stand.
Facilities: Nice, well-kept restrooms.
Lifeguards: 8 a.m.-8 p.m. daily.
Village of Key Biscayne-Between Cape Florida and Crandon Park
Only available if you stay at one of the fine hotels or walk in from parks at either end on the part legally accessible to the public — the strip between the high-tide line and the ocean’s edge.
Fees: $1 toll at Rickenbacker. No public parking.
Food: Fine but expensive cuisine.
Facilities: Hotels, but intended for use of guests.
Crandon Park-Off Rickenbacker Causeway on Key Biscayne
A great expanse of soft sand, picnic spots under the palms and lots of room for the sport of your choice. A family paradise. Shallow waters perfect for wading or building sand castles. Fees: $1 toll at Rickenbacker Causeway, plus $3.50 to park all day.
Food: Some concessions but best as a picnic place.
Facilities: Some bathrooms.
Lifeguards: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
Virginia Key-Rocky, not worth the effort.
Fees: $1 toll at Rickenbacker Causeway, plus $3 per car to park if you are a Miami resident, $5 for nonresidents, $1 for bicyclists.
Facilities: Decent bathrooms.
Lifeguards: 8 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
Fisher Island-Seven minutes by ferry from MacArthur Causeway
The only shoreline in South Florida built of white sand imported from Bahamas. It’s soft, almost sugary stuff — closer to marvelous Panhandle beaches. But you can’t get there without a boat — and then you’d be trespassing. Residents and their guests get to the island on Ferry. The downside: Fisher’s million-dollar condos share the island with large oil storage tanks and sit upwind from the sewage treatment plant on Virginia Key.
Food: Not on the beach.
Lifeguards: Not on the beach.
South Beach-Miami Beach from Government Cut to 22nd Street
Lots of cool, well-built, good-looking people along with the rest of us gawking at them. Even without the several football fields of sand — rather coarse stuff slurped from the ocean floor — it’d be a great place to go. Great food served in 27 languages. Art Deco District. Tons of room to play or skate or people-watch. Funkiest lifeguard shacks on the globe. Topless sun bathers.
Parking: Tough to find; beachside, $1 per hour; off-beach, 50 cents an hour.
Food: You name it. Hot dogs at beach stands, frijoles negros y cerveza at walk-up counters, mineral water and mango quiche at sidewalk cafes, snapper and Chardonnay at trendy bistros.
Facilities: Public restrooms OK, but far too few.
Lifeguards: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
Miami Beach Central-22nd Street to 46th Street
A wide open beach with a nice boardwalk lined by hotels.
Parking: Outside of hotels, there are several lots along State Road A1A; beachside, $1 per hour; off-beach 50 cents an hour.
Food: Hot dogs at beach bar cost $3-plus.
Facilities: Public restrooms at some parking areas, but it’s a far stroll between them.
Lifeguards: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
Miami Beach North-46th Street to 87th Street
A fast-evolving, eclectic string of neighborhood bars, shops, restaurants and hotels.
Parking: Several lots along State Road A1A; beachside, $1 per hour; off-beach, 50 cents an hour.
Food: Abundant in some places, like in the merchant district between 66th and 75th streets, available only in hotels elsewhere.
Facilities: Restrooms and showers — but pretty dirty.
Lifeguards: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
North Shore Park-State Road A1A at 74th to 87th Street, Miami Beach
Thick sea grape forest, healthy dunes, nice sand — what more could a beachgoer want? Park has plenty of picnic tables and covered areas. There’s space to play on grass and sand. Exercise trail, playground. Just stroll the walkways and enjoy the scenery. Everything is immaculate. Great place for kids or a picnic.
Fees: $1.75 to enter; parking: $1 per hour at limited on-street meters, more plentiful in lots a short walk across State Road A1A at 50 cents per hour.
Food: None, but you want to picnic here anyway.
Facilities: Neat and numerous restrooms.
Lifeguards: 9 a.m.-6 p.m. daily.
Surfside-87th Terrace to 96th Street
Low key but not low rent. There are no models, no noisy cafes. There’s a comfortable walking path along the sand dunes and plenty of room to put down a blanket. For a small area, lots of parking spaces but you compete with shoppers in merchant district. For $3, nonresidents can use community center at 93rd Street and its good-sized pool, shower, bathrooms and concessions.
Parking: 75 cents per hour on meters.
Food: Beachside Community Center has concession operation.
Facilities: Restrooms and showers in community center.
Lifeguards: At community center, 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Bal Harbour-96th Street to Haulover Inlet
Forbiddingly concrete from the road but almost tropical from beach. Towers don’t dominate the vista but hunker way back, buffered by dunes and a winding hard sand path amid lush palms. No beach lover likes condominiums, but this is a delightful little stretch, perhaps the cleanest in South Florida.
Parking: Limited, just five dozen spaces under Haulover Inlet bridge at $1 an hour.
Food: Restaurants for hotel guests, but you can pretend. Or bring your own.
Facilities: For hotel guests only.
Haulover Beach Park (Nude sun bathing at the north end)-Haulover Inlet to Bayview Court
From nudists to high schoolers to tiny shore birds, there’s room for everyone and everything on this gigantic strand. There’s also room for about 5,000 cars. Walk through tunnels designed for beach access.
Vendor at north end and marina on north end west side of State Road A1A.
Facilities: Could be cleaner, but plentiful.
Lifeguards: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
Sunny Isles-Bayview Court to 194th Street
Public beach at 163 rd street with a small parking lot. Fishing pier.
Parking: Limited $5.
Food: Newport Pier has concessions.
Facilities: Bathrooms on the pier.
Lifeguards: 9 a.m.-7 p.m. daily at pier.
Golden Beach-194th Street to Haulover Park. Retirees from Hallandale use the soggy strip of sand at the watery edge as a walking path, but this wide, sandy beach is private — as the signs quickly remind you. Still, a nice stroll and fine shelling — at least on this day. Nonresidents can buy a parking pass — for $1,000 a year.
HALLANDALE-Dade County line to Hallandale Beach Boulevard. Concrete walls, armed guards and security cameras hog an eroding beach where the sun sets in mid afternoon behind mountainous condos. There’s relief about 300 yards short of the northern limit of this mile long stretch, where concrete yields to picnic tables, volleyball and what must be South Florida’s only beachside bocce court. Parking: Meters. Food: Behind the condos, pack it; north of condos, you can buy it. Facilities: One bathroom at north end; none south by condos. Get the feeling they don’t want you by the condos. Lifeguards: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
HOLLYWOOD BEACH-Hallandale Beach Boulevard to Sheridan Street. A relatively un-crowded beach with a small sand dune buffer from the highway. This is a great place for kids to play, but picnic areas are sparse. Parking: 75 cents an hour; south area, 25 cents for 20 minutes. Food: Smorgasbord of ethnic offerings along Broad walk; south, bring a, cooler wide, beautiful sandy beach. South of Ocean walk. Facilities: Lots of them. Lifeguards: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
NORTH HOLLYWOOD-Sheridan Street to Dania Beach Boulevard. Sea grape, sea oats, sand dunes, sea birds-a slice of surprisingly unspoiled sand. At North Beach Park, you find concessions and bathrooms. North of the county park, side streets of A1A lead to an even more isolated beach. The natural atmosphere vanishes at far north, where homes and apartments jut onto beach.Parking: $3 weekdays, $5 weekends park; meters 75 cents per hour. Food: Concession stands. Facilities: Nice bawd showers at the south end. Lifeguards: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
DANIA BEACH-Dania Beach Boulevard to North of Dania Pier . Ample parking and a concession stand serve this tiny beach, which seems haunted by the ghost of failed SeaFair mall. Get out on the super soft sand and the mall’s corroded skeleton vanishes behind a curtain of sea grapes. Fee: $1 an hour at meter is way too much. Food: Concessions and SeaFair restaurant. Facilities: Yes. Lifeguards: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
*one of the best* JOHN U. LLOYD STATE RECREATIONAL AREA-North to Dania Beach Boulevard
Space, restrooms, parking, shade aplenty. Condo-free seascape. Canoe trail in mangroves. Parking: $3.25 all day. Food: Amply stocked general store; concession stands. Facilities: Numerous, nice and well-ventilated bathrooms-skylights even! Lifeguards: 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily.
HARBOR BEACH-North of Port Everglades Inlet to 7th Street Causeway
Sprawling desert studded with “no trespassing” signs and cabanas. So huge is this beach that people trudge across boardwalks as long as football fields just so they can get a glimpse of the surf. This paradise is controlled by condos and private beach clubs, but bathers in the know get here through a marked gate on Southeast 20th Street. Parking: Free, but scarce. (Take 1 7th St. Causeway to SE 23rd Avenue, left on Barbara Drive then right on South Ocean. Park at end of road on west side, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. only.) Food: Ask the condo dwellers for some Grey Poupon to go with the ham sandwich you’ll have to pack. Facilities: No. Lifeguards: No.
FORT LAUDERDALE SOUTH-17th Street Causeway to Sunrise Boulevard
Bury that seedy spring break image-this beach is back. Skaters dodge pink tourists. New bistros brim in the evening. Extensive face lift-a tad theme-parkish, sort of yuppified South Beach-gives open, inviting feel to hotel row. South end boasts beachside basketball court endless picnic tables and barbecue pits, volleyball areas. Superb sand everywhere: deep, soft. Parking: $5 in beachside lot but just $1 at huge lot west of A1A; 25 cents buys 30 minutes at meters. Food: Fast-food on tourist row; cook your own at south end. Facilities: South end has plenty of public bathrooms; elsewhere, it’s bars or hotels. Lifeguards: 10 a.m. to 5:15 p.m.
FORT LAUDERDALE NORTH-Sunrise Boulevard to Oakland Park Boulevard
North of hotel strip, locals rule. The beach is narrow and without frills such as restrooms and concessions, but you can surf here in section just north of Sunrise. Parking: Free along A1A, 25 cents an hour in tiny beach front parks north of 19th Street. Pay $3.25 to park all day at Hugh Taylor Birch State Rec. Area on Sunrise Boulevard and you can also use the park’s restrooms across A1A from the beach. Food: Use tunnel to Birch park or walk south to hotels, pizza joints. Farther north, some hotels boast beach bars, restaurants. Facilities: No-unless you use tunnel to Birch ,. Lifeguards: Nada.
GALT OCEAN MILE-Oakland Park Boulevard to Flamingo Drive
Sand is fine. Concrete completely overwhelms. Hotels rent wave runners and sailboards, but it’s meant for guests. Parking: None existent. Food: Visit a hotel or bring your own. Facilities: It’s hotel it or hold it. Lifeguards: None.
LAUDERDALE-BY-THE-SEA-Flamingo Drive to Pine Avenue
Amid line of oceanfront concrete, though mostly the low-rise kind, is a funky fishing pier and assortment of seafood restaurants and shops peddling T-shirts and seashell. This is Florida from the 1950s. Great hand-packed milkshakes at Anglin’s Pier cafe. Parking: $1 per hour at meters close to beach; 50 cents per hour off-beach. Food: Restaurants and concessions. Facilities: In places to eat. Lifeguards: None.
SEA RANCH LAKES-Pine Avenue to Atlantic Boulevard
This street includes small, exclusive town of Sea Ranch Lakes, as well as Broward County beach front. There is a marked public access off A1A-nearest parking spots are more than a mile in either direction. Sand is decent and beach uncrowded but otherwise not much. Parking: No fee nor parking either. Food: None. Facilities: None. Lifeguards: None.
POMPANO BEACH-Atlantic Boulevard to Northeast 16th Street
Big beach with parking, picnic tables, barbecue grills and volleyball courts. Parking: Meters at 50 cents an hour. Quarters only. Food: Concessions and restaurants. Facilities: Creepy. Lifeguards: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
WAHOO LAGOON-Northeast 16th Street to Hillsboro Inlet
Enter on a wooden walkway over a clear mangrove lagoon and stroll wide, golden sand stretching toward rocky jetty watched over by Hillsboro lighthouse-the prettiest view in Broward. Despite nearby homes there’s an isolated feel, reminiscent of New England coast. Parking: Just 22 spaces at $1 an hour (It’s hard to find: them east o Marine Drive off A1A. If you cross the Hillsboro Inlet, you’ve gone too far). If full, drive south to North Ocean Park east of A1 A at Northeast 1 6th Street. Food: Bring your own. Lifeguards: None. Facilities: Lagoon entrance has shower only; North Ocean Park has showers and bathrooms.
HILLSBORO BEACH-Hillsboro Inlet to Southeast 10th Street
There is no public access. Parking: None. Food: None. Facilities: None. Lifeguards: None.
DEERFIELD BEACH-Southeast 10th Street to Palm Beach County line
Stroll wide pleasant seaside walkway. Sit under the palms on the cool grassy berm. Drop a hook off the well-scrubbed pier. Parking: $1 per hour at meters. Food: Concessions and restaurants. Facilities: Clean if not quite numerous enough. Lifeguards: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Beach info courtesy of ; floridagoldcoast.com.
Kid Friendly Restaurants on the Gold Coast
Listing all the kid friendly restaurants on the Gold Coast would be a big job. There are tons of great places, but of the family oriented or best for families on their Florida family beach vacation, here are a few:
One of the most popular casual family dining establishments right on the beach located in Hollywood in the Marriott hotel.
More of the best Kid Friendly Restaurants on Florida’s Gold Coast (click the links to take you to the urbanspoon.com where you can find out more about each one)
- Joe’s Stone Crab…
- Little Moir’s Food Shack
- Five Guys Burgers and…
- Falafel Bistro & Wine Bar
- POC American Fusion…
- Jersey John’s Pizzeria
- Dune Dog Cafe
- Zona Fresca
- Charm City Burger Company
- Houston’s (Boca Raton)
Click on any of these Gold Coast cities to see more kid friendly restaurants;
All Kid Friendly Restaurants on the Gold Coast
| Allapattah | Aventura/Golden Beach/Sunny Isles Beach | Bal Harbour/Bay Harbor Islands | Boca Raton | Boynton Beach | Coconut Creek | Coconut Grove | Cooper City | Coral Gables | Coral Springs | Coral Way | Cutler Bay | Dania Beach | Davie | Deerfield Beach | Delray Beach | Design District | Doral/Miami Springs | Downtown Miami | Flagami | Fort Lauderdale | Hialeah | Hollywood/Hallandale | Homestead/Florida City | Jupiter | Kendall/Pinecrest | Key Biscayne | Lake Worth | Lauderdale Lakes | Lauderdale-by-the-Sea | Lauderhill | Liberty City | Lighthouse Point | Little Haiti | Little Havana | Margate | Medley | Miami Beach | Miami Gardens | Miami Lakes | Miami Shores | Miramar | North Lauderdale | North Miami/North Miami Beach | Oakland Park/Wilton Manors | Opa-Locka | Palm Beach | Palm Beach Gardens | Palm Springs North | Palmetto Bay/Perrine | Parkland | Pembroke Pines | Plantation/Sunrise | Pompano Beach | South Beach | South Miami | Sweetwater/Tamiami/Westchester | Tamarac | Upper East Side | Wellington | West Palm Beach | Weston/Southwest Ranches | Wynwood/Edgewater
Kid Friendly Hotels, Kid-Friendly Resorts & Places to Stay while on your Florida family beach vacation on Florida’s Gold Coast
There are literally hundreds of family friendly and kid-friendly hotels & resorts on Florida’s Gold coast
If you’ve got the cash…Trump’s place is where it’s at;
Sunny Isles Beach, FL 33160 US Map It
Check our site for more information, and save a wad of cash on your travel costs so you have more to enjoy while on your visit.
And if you’ve already had a family beach vacation on Florida’s Gold Coast, leave me a comment about it, I’d love to hear about your Gold Coast beach family adventures
As always, thanks for reading, and all of us at Best Kid Friendly Travel would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!! *(|:>)///