Your Beach Is the Best will be a recurring post seen here at New Times. Leading up to and throughout this summer. we will highlight the main reasons why your local beach is undeniably Broward's best.
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who believe Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is home to the best beach in Broward and those who are wrong — it's that simple. You might not even know it yet, but the best beach in Broward County rests where Commercial Boulevard meets North Ocean Drive.
By the end of this list, you too should be a believer.
10. Parking and accessibility
Let's start with the basics: Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is definitely one of Broward's easiest beaches to visit. Ample parking lots surround the areas that matter, unlike other beaches that for some reason have lots tucked away down some side street, far away from the busiest parts of the beaches. This area has almost fully transitioned to parking lots that take debit cards, unlike some of the older beaches. It's incredibly easy to drive straight down Commercial Boulevard and step onto the beach.
Nobody wants to waste good beach time worrying about where they park their car. Luckily, that's not much of a worry at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It leaves a good taste in your mouth and gets you where you are trying to go faster: the beach!
9. Basilic Vietnamese Grill
Every great beach needs at least one or two solid restaurants, but it's even better when said awesome restaurants are quiet, quaint, and somewhat secretive. That's exactly what Basilic Vietnamese Grill (218 Commercial Blvd., Fort Lauderdale) is. Basilic has hands down the best pho within a 50-mile radius and lots of window seating that enables you to people watch while you eat.
The best part about Lauderdale-by-the-Sea (as mentioned above) is you can easily park and walk around to wherever you want to go, including Basilic and every other location on this list. This can't be overlooked because it creates a Key West type of atmosphere many other beaches can't claim. Basilic would be a fantastic restaurant anywhere, but the fact that it's steps from the beach is what makes it even more special.
Check out: Seven Best Bowls of Pho in Broward and Palm Beach Counties
8. The Lauderdale-by-the-Sea pier
It's just a pier, right? Nah, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea has a quality pier (2 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea), one that you can actually feel good about lounging on with your date. Some piers are strictly useful for plastic-pants-wearing fishermen who smell like bait, but this pier actually has lots of picnic benches and beautiful places to take that ocean breeze sun-kissed selfie you're dying to post on Instagram. Again.
Not only is this pier a great place for sightseeing and picture-taking, but it has a restaurant built into it that actually is pretty damn good. The Beach Café is the sort of place where you just want to read a paper, drink some coffee, and sit for a good long while. It's a place that feels like it was plucked out of a Jaws movie, but before anyone was attacked, when things were still chill and people were just enjoying a good breakfast by the beach.
7. Aruba Café
We aren't going to sit here and pretend Aruba Café (1 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea) is something it's not. Including Aruba on the list of reasons why Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is the best beach has less to do with anything on the menu and more to do with the fact that it exists at all. Aruba should be considered a Broward historical landmark. Its distinct tropical island look has splashed a spring break-type vibe across this area for decades.
There are precious few things we can point to in South Florida these days and say, Hey, I remember seeing that as a kid, and Aruba is one of those things. The place just smells like your childhood — not the seafood, but the ocean breezes. The views at Aruba can't be topped, nor can the memories we have there.
6. The courtyard
By far one of the top features that makes Lauderdale-by-the-Sea the best beach in Broward is its beautiful and peaceful courtyard. Just off the beach, you can sit here and enjoy everything that comes with the beach, but without the hot sand and noise. Here you can kick back in a lounge chair and sip on a drink you just bought at the neighboring Aruba, then play a few games of cornhole or read a book in the more secluded covered area.
Best of all? The courtyard is free. There isn't a guy taking a buck from you to get in. There isn't some sort of obligation to buy a drink or snack to use it. It's just there, and you can use it for as long as you like.
5. 101 Ocean
Every beautiful topnotch beach needs an upscale, VIP-style restaurant. For Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. 101 Ocean (101 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea) is that place. Every beach has a stretch of bars and restaurants, but few have an establishment right on the beach that checks all the boxes like 101 Ocean does. Classy decor mixed with a menu that will have you wondering why you ever make the trip to South Beach is the biggest draw, but in the end everyone wants to be at 101 Ocean due to its central location to everything at Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. It's the perfect place to grab a seat at the bar, drink a beer, and move on.
4. Prime real estate leading up to the beach isn't wasted on parking spaces.
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What do most beaches have in common? Your view is being blocked by seven Kia SUVs. At Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, you don't need to be on the beach or elevated above the beach to see the beach. Traffic is blocked off well before the beach starts, creating a sort of festival like feeling every day of the week. People hang around, talk, snack, drink, or read. Basically, you can see people doing things here we all did before we became a slave to our smartphones. It's refreshing to see an atmosphere where people aren't packed onto the beach, fighting for the next great parking space, and pissing each other off.
There are only a precious few Laspadas (233 Commercial Blvd., Lauderdale-by-the-Sea) on this planet, and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is home to one of them. This alone should catapult it to the top of any beach list. Finding the perfect food to munch on at the beach isn't always the easiest thing. You need to factor in the elements when picking the perfect beach food; some just don't stand up in 40 mph winds. A solid Laspadas sub that comes wrapped in your standard ten feet of art paper is not one of those weak foods. There is one thing better than a Laspadas sub on the beach, and they named a drink after it.
2. The chill areas are super chill.
A common theme is starting to arise here: Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is the chillest beach ever. Littered throughout this beach are areas that beg you to sit down with your Laspadas sub and read a book. What sets this beach apart is that there are so many covered areas where you can chill. Most beaches lack this feature or try to sell you umbrellas by-the-hour to achieve it.
We don't ask for much. What we really want out of a great beach is to enjoy the beach. Whoever designed Lauderdale-by-the-Sea gets that and built accordingly.
1. The uncrowded beach.
If there is one thing that can ruin a great beach, it's other people. People are the worst. The above picture was taken on a Friday at 4 p.m. Otherwise known as a primetime, the beach should be populated with people coming and going. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea somehow stays small-town busy — just enough people to keep it from being weird, but few enough that you don't have to elbow a boogie-boarding kid off the area of beach you've claimed for the afternoon.
A beach can be totally flawed in every area up to the point when you hit the beach; that's where it can totally redeem itself. Lauderdale-by-the-Sea needs no redeeming. Its got the Best Beach title locked up well before you step a toe into the sand.