We can imagine doing without the beer-soaked bacchanalia of Fort Lauderdale beach in season. We can imagine doing without the annual dance of the white-bellied snowbird on Broadwalk along Hollywood beach. But somehow we can't imagine doing without the small-town charm of the short but sweet stretch of beach known as Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Drive along A1A from Sunrise Boulevard north. You'll know you're there when the high-rise hotels and condos fall behind and you begin to pass a multitude of small beachfront hotels with names like the Green Lantern and the Blue Dolphin. This beach has all sorts of small but pleasing touches, such as the diner sitting out over the water on the Commercial Boulevard pier where you can eat a down-home breakfast while watching the sun rise out of the ocean. Also, this beach boasts the best close-in reef in two counties for snorkeling or diving straight from the beach. Yes, the place has its share of tourists. Yes, traffic on the main drag can get a little crazy in season. But, it's not so well-known that you won't be able to throw down your towel on a nice quiet spot all your own.