Gorgeous pristine beaches, a developing foodie scene, progressive eco-tourism efforts, and a walkable community are just a few of the reasons to add Surfside, Florida, to your travel itinerary.
Located approximately 12 miles northeast of Miami, Surfside is a tiny town of 6,000 residents. Geographically tiny compared to neighboring Miami and Bal Harbour, it consists of only one-half of a square mile or eight city blocks in length. But those blocks are packed full of an array of amenities, exciting things to do, places to eat, and more.
A hidden gem in the middle of the hustle and bustle, the charming beach town of Surfside is near various historical, cultural, and artistic attractions and both state and national parks. You will fall in love with the quaint Florida beach town when you visit, and here are the reasons why.
1. Park Your Car
Once you arrive in the oceanfront town of Surfside, Florida, you can park your car at your hotel or condo and walk to just about everything. When we visited, we walked to dinner, the shops, the beach, the bike path, the community center, and more. There was no need to drive anywhere.
2. Pristine Beaches
There is approximately one mile of clean and safe public white sand beaches. We visited near the end of May, and the beaches of Surfside were not crowded. They were peaceful and quiet. Families were enjoying the ocean and playing in the sand.
For those that enjoy a quiet Florida beach, check out The Best Florida Beaches That Typically Aren’t Ridiculously Crowded.
3. Environmentally Conscious Community
A community-wide water conservation initiative, plastic straws and styrofoam bans, a turtle nesting program, and a public art display shining the spotlight on the destination’s beloved Florida loggerhead sea turtles are all part of the eco-tourism initiative. Plus, visitors and residents can enjoy a walkable community and ride bicycles to explore the destination without increasing their carbon footprint.
Three different sea turtles return to Surfside beaches every year to nest. From May 1–October 31, sea turtles and other marine wildlife nest. Known as “Uptown Turtle Town,” Surfside does everything in its power to protect the turtles who visit. The town has banned plastic straws and styrofoam in commercial establishments. They work to keep the shoreline clean so that plastics and other litter do not threaten the marine ecosystem. They have “Fill A Bag” stations for encouraging beachgoers to grab a bag and fill it with trash. They ask everyone to remember to “Leave nothing behind but your footprints.” You can learn more about their eco-tourism initiatives here.
4. Public Art Display
Sea turtles are a big deal for this tiny town, and they go out of their way to protect these marine creatures. They also have five-foot-high, colorful fiberglass and resin sea turtle sculptures along Harding Avenue to highlight their efforts. “Tales of the Surfside Turtles” helps raise awareness about the loggerhead turtles that visit each year to nest in the sand. The Turtle Walk includes 13 giant turtles with four-foot wingspans, each painted by a different local artist. They even have a turtle coloring book you can download (PDF) to teach your grandchildren about turtles.
5. Specchio Cafe
Surfside is an up-and-coming foodie town with many acclaimed restaurants. They reflect a mix of international flavors. Specchio Cafe serves authentic Italian dishes that delight visitors and keep locals coming back again and again. With their white linen tablecloths and impeccable service, you feel special when you eat there.
A meal at this intimate cafe should be on your “must try” list when visiting Surfside. They offer a wide range of delectable pastas and classic entrees, and the locals will tell you, “everything is excellent!” I can vouch for that. I ordered salmon with a side of Italian vegetables, and our dinner was gourmet quality. The molten lava cake with vanilla ice cream for dessert was sinfully delicious.
6. The Surf Club
In the ’30s, the Surf Club was a famous luxury hotel known for indulgent celebrity parties with prominent guests like Elizabeth Taylor, Winston Churchill, and Frank Sinatra. The Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club has done its best to bring back the opulence with its dress-up and dine restaurant, gorgeous Meditteranean-inspired grounds, and lavish spa treatments.
If nothing else, stop by to admire this stunning architectural marvel and gardens or have a cocktail at the Champagne Bar to end your evening.
7. Family Friendly Hotels
When we visited, we stayed at The Residence Inn, Surfside, and it was the perfect location for both multigenerational families and couples. It is an all-suite hotel on Collins Avenue across the street from the beach. They have a spacious rooftop pool with cabanas and an atrium area in the hotel center with trees, shrubbery, and places for small groups to sit, relax, and chat.
Another feature we used was the free bicycle signouts. We signed them out for a couple of hours and rode on the designated beach bike path. The Residence Inn also has beach chairs you can sign out for the day, so we used them when we visited the beach.
Breakfast is included in your stay, and they have hot and cold items available.
The hotel was clean and beautiful, and the service was excellent. Everyone working there was friendly and helpful.
The Grand Beach Hotel Surfside is another option for mature travelers and multigenerational families. It features four pools, jacuzzis, a restaurant, and it overlooks the pristine Surfside beach.
8. Boutique Shopping
The town of Surfside boasts some world-class shopping. Think jewelry stores, boutiques, fabric and tobacco stores, and much more.
9. Walking Path Adjacent To The Ocean
Surfside is heaven if walking is your passion. You can walk your troubles away along the coastal walking path adjacent to the ocean. There is a separate path for jogging and walking that runs from 88th Street to 96th Street. It is separated from the beach by seagrass, plants and shrubs, and a rope fence.
10. Bike Path
If Bicycling is more your speed, there is a second path for bicycling that is firmer and wider. The dual paths in Surfside are roughly a mile in length from 88th Street to 96th Street and separate the dunes from the oceanfront properties. We used our bikes on loan from the Residence Inn for a morning bike ride. With no crowds, it was the best beach bike ride I have ever enjoyed.
11. Community Recreation Center
The Surfside Community Recreation Center has a refreshing plunge pool with a slide, a lap lane pool, and a splash area. The center has locker room facilities, restrooms, and hosts various events.
12. Nesting Turtles
The public beach in Surfside serves as a nesting area, and if you visit between May and October, you may have the opportunity to see the nesting turtles. There are three varieties: the green sea turtle, loggerhead turtle, and leatherback turtle. The loggerhead is the most common, with an average weight of 275 pounds and approximately three feet in shell length.
They mate at sea, and then the females come to shore and lay 100–120 eggs. Hatchlings emerge after several weeks, and then the group enters the water together.
Pro Tip: If you are interested in seeing the nesting turtles, the best time to visit is between June and September. Remember, loggerhead sea turtles are a threatened species.
13. Sunday Farmers Market
If visiting over a weekend, plan to support local businesses at the Surfside Farmers Market on Collins Avenue. The farmers market operates every Sunday from 9 a.m.–3 p.m. Visitors can shop for home decor, food, artisan items, apparel, handmade jewelry, baked goods, acai bowls, and Peruvian-style cuisine.
14. Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill
Famous for its fresh fish and baby back ribs, Flanigan’s Seafood Bar and Grill uses fresh ingredients and offers homemade items. A popular menu item is their WayTooBig Sandwiches — they have even trademarked the name of the signature style sandwich.
When we visited, I tried the baby back ribs. I thought I would get about six ribs, but they served the whole rack. I must admit they were delicious. We enjoyed our meal so much we returned with friends the following evening.
15. Serendipity Creamery and Yogurt Cafe
Sweet yet tart, smooth, cold, and delicious. The sorbet we enjoyed at Serendipity Creamery and Yogurt Cafe in Surfside, Florida, was a delectable afternoon treat.
The ice cream and sorbets are made from scratch in small batches, so they are always fresh. You have a choice of over 24 eclectic flavors. Think toasted coconut, passion fruit, raspberry, pear Riesling, orange marmalade, mango, and more. I enjoyed the mango sorbet, a true treat for the tastebuds.
For years this quaint beach town was overlooked as people enjoyed the excitement of Miami or the luxury of nearby Bal Harbour — but that is changing. People are learning about this secret gem. Plan a visit to this quaint Florida beach town, and fall in love with Surfside.
If Surfside isn’t your last stop while exploring Florida, be sure to check out 9 Beautiful Towns You Must Visit On Florida’s East Coast.