Best Beach - 2000
Fort Lauderdale beach
So what if some steel-and-glass-happy developer plopped a Goliath-size condo just outside the southern end of this beach? Don't look over there. Instead shuffle over the always clean and gold sand and stretch your terry towel under a chickee hut, or for a measly buck, stroll 920 feet due east into the Atlantic Ocean courtesy of the Dania Beach pier. A bait shop sells chum, pilchard, and sand fleas -- also cheese and crackers, gum, smokes, and soda pop. Watch the marble-eyed pelicans watching you as you flick your rented fishing pole over the pier's railing. Cast your lures and lines into jade waters, or maybe pop a quarter into one of a few stereoscopes stationed on the pier, and check out the cargo ships sliding across the horizon. If you're lucky you might spot a school of manta rays or, more often, manatees. For those who like to picnic, coolers and drinks on the pier and beach are allowed. If you prefer to eat out, a modest snack grill dishes out hot dogs and cold beer. Extra bonus: The pier's open 24 hours. This beach's unspoken credos remind us of Key West's: Say hello to strangers, pick up after yourself, and always carry a Koozie.