Instead of hosting a party, take your grill with you to the beach

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Just heading east until you hit the ocean highway will take anyvisitor to one of South Florida's famous beaches, but for a littlemore than just sand and surf try these spots.

1. Crandon Park Beach
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4000 Crandon Boulevard, Key Biscayne; 305-361-5421. Take theRickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne). Crandon Beach Park, aformer coconut plantation on Key Biscayne, is consistently namedamong the Top 10 beaches in the nation. There are more than twomiles of "lagoon-style" beach, with calm water protected by aconstantly shifting offshore sandbar. 2.
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10 Ocean Boulevard, Lake Worth, 561-533-7367; same number for beachconditions. Pier information: 561-582-9002. From Federal Highway,take Lake Avenue east over the Intracoastal Waterway. Lake WorthMunicipal Beach has more than 1,200 feet of sandy beach, plus aballroom and a 900-foot pier housing stores offering ice cream,jewelry, places to eat and more. 3.
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10900 State Road 703 (A1A), North Palm Beach, 2.8 miles south ofU.S. 1 and PGA Boulevard; 561-624-6950. MacArthur State Park is ona barrier island and encompasses a 317-acre coastal hammock as wellas a 120-acre mangrove swamp on Lake Worth Cove, and offersunguarded swimming on the two-mile, very private beach. This is aprime turtle nesting area, and organized walks are led by rangersin June and July. Offshore reefs are easily accessible forsnorkelers and divers. 4. BalHarbour Beach
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9701 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour; 305-866-4633. Public access tothe beach at 96th Street and Collins Avenue, and at 102nd Streetand Collins, next to the Haulover Inlet. You kind of have to sneakin, but Bal Harbour Beach stretches behind nearly a mile of resorthotels for a glimpse of how the beautiful people hit the sand. Thiswide, clean beach with dunes extends almost south from HauloverInlet. The beach is mostly private except for the two public accesspoints, and offers a scenic walking path and a jetty for fishingand sightseeing. The area near the jetty is a favorite of surfers.5. Red ReefPark
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1400 N. Ocean Boulevard (A1A), Boca Raton. Beach conditions: (561)393-7989 or www.ci.boca-raton.fl.us/oceanrescue/ocean.htm.Take Palmetto Park Road east from I-95 or Federal Highway, thenhead north on Ocean Boulevard about 1 mile. Red Reef Park in BocaRaton offers easy access to snorkeling for even the most timidbeginner, with plenty of fish to spot. There is a mile ofbeachfront in this 39-acre park, which includes the 15-acre GumboLimbo Nature Center on the Intracoastal side. One of the fewbeaches open after dark (until 10 p.m.), Red Reef offers swimming,sunbathing, surf casting, and strolling over the dunes along aboardwalk. There's a designated surfing area on south end. Thenatural reef is about 10 feet off shore, where even beginningsnorkelers can catch sight of tropical fish, turtles, eels andstingrays, as well as the man-made reef about 100 feet offshore.6. Haulover ParkBeach
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10800 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-947-3525. Call 305-944-3040for the beach safety patrol and beach conditions. Take I-95 to exit13, then head east for six miles to Collins Avenue. Turn left onCollins and go over the bridge to the park. Haulover Park Beach inMiami Beach "draws people for all walks of life... and a variety ofother countries," according to the park Web site. Why? Probablybecause the north end is the only legal nude beach in Miami-DadeCounty, and maybe even South Florida. The beach itself encompases amile-and-a-half of white sand, nestled between the IntracoastalWaterway and the Atlantic Ocean with dunes, shade and picnicfacilities. 7. MathesonHammocks Park Beach
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9610 Old Cutler Road, Miami, 305-665-5475. While there are plentyof places to dine overlooking the beach, the Red Fish Grille atMatheson Hammocks Park is one of a kind -- and it's right ON thebeach. The white sand beach is less than one-third of a mile andsurrounds tidal lagoon, with 120 yards of beach at the widestpoint. 8. South Inlet ParkBeach
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1298 S. Ocean Boulevard, Boca Raton; 561-966-6600. Beachconditions: 561-276-3990. North on Federal Highway from HillsboroBoulevard or south from Palmetto Park Road, then head east onCamino Real and south on South Ocean Boulevard. If romanticimpulses take over during your visit, many couples make South InletPark Beach the spot for their wedding (before or after lifeguardscome on duty, though), or at least their wedding pictures. Thisscenic county-owned park on the Boca Raton inlet goes from theocean to the waterway, featuring a pier/jetty for fishing andsightseeing, and also offers a good place to windsurf, jet ski,canoe or kayak. 9. HollywoodBeach
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Off Hollywood Boulevard or Sheridan Street at State Road A1A.Hollywood Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts, 954-921-3404.Beach conditions: 954-921-3334. Annual resident parking permitinfo: 954-921-3535. North Beach Park: 954-926-2444. Hollywood'spublic beach offers sun and sand for sunbathing, swimming andsnorkeling. The beach extends north from Hallandale Beach Boulevardto county-owned North Beach Park (which has a 60-foot observationtower) and about a half-mile short of Dania Beach Boulevard. Itsadjacent 2.2-mile Broadwalk is crammed with cafes, bars, shops andits own band shell and is a popular spot for strolling. There'salso a sea turtle hatchery, part of the Endangered Sea TurtleProtection and Relocation Program. 10.
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Take Sunrise Boulevard east. Phone: 954-828-5346. Beach conditionshotline: 954-828-4597. Beach Patrol Headquarters: 954-828-4595.Parking permit office: 954-828-3700. The world-famous, Where theBoys Are beach stretches 3.5 miles, offering swimming,sunbathing, snorkeling along three reefs, as well as shops,restaurants, bars and hotels to the south, quieter stretches to thenorth and a dog-friendly beach in between. Palm trees and asidewalk make for a nice seaside stroll, but watch out for skaters.The north end, from around Las Olas to Oakland Park boulevards, isquieter and unguarded for part of its length, with no restrooms.More facilities are located in South Beach Park, which starts southof Las Olas and extends south to Holiday Drive. Dogs are allowed onFort Lauderdale Beach on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays fromSunrise Boulevard north to lifeguard stand No. 5. Hours for dogwalking are 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. April through October, 3 p.m. to 7p.m. other months. A permit is required, which must be purchased atFort Lauderdale Parks and Recreation Dept. headquarters, 1350 W.Broward Blvd., Fort Lauderdale (954-828-7275), weekdays from 8 a.m.to 4 p.m. A one-weekend pass may be purchased on site.

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