Head To This Underrated Florida Beach For A Budget-Friendly Vacation

Florida's beautiful southeastern coast is jam-packed with popular tourist destinations like Miami, Palm Beach, and Key West, attracting millions of visitors yearly. While gorgeous, they're also notoriously expensive destinations. Budget-minded travelers hoping to experience the beautiful turquoise waters, tropical climates, and white sand beaches of the Sunshine State might consider skipping the busier spots and heading straight to the quaint beach community of Lauderdale-by-the-Sea.

Located on a barrier island 30 miles north of Miami and 7 miles from Fort Lauderdale, the underrated town can be reached easily from two major international airports. Despite its proximity to the bustling metropolis of Miami, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea has managed to maintain a whimsical small-town ambiance that is perfect for a romantic getaway or an unforgettable family vacation.

On a visit to the seaside village, you'll have access to stunning beaches and a variety of accommodations and dining options to suit most budgets. Instead of renting a car, consider walking or biking during your stay, as the whole perimeter of the town is only 1.5 miles. Explore the colorful town square and soak up the charming mid-century modern style architecture that lends a vintage feel to the area, and spend long days swimming in the ocean, lounging by the pool, and making memories with your loved ones.

Affordable accommodations and dining options

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is full of excellent lodging options that can fit comfortably within all types of budgets. Expect to find everything from boutique hotels to quaint family-operated inns. There are even a few large resorts right on the water. Incredibly, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea has managed to keep the giant sky-rise hotels away from the beachfront, further adding to the "Old Florida" small-town charm.

Accommodation prices in the area start at around $80 per night for a budget 2-star hotel room or a private apartment rental on Airbnb. The majority of the beachfront hotels and resorts start around $130. The area's best dining options are in Anglin's Square and Anglin's Pier. You'll find plenty of casual and mouthwatering dining options to curb your cravings. For fresh seafood and sandwiches with a lively atmosphere on the waterfront, visit Aruba Beach Cafe. Sandwiches, salads, and burgers start around $15, and mains like Key West fried shrimp are $25. Sea Watch on the Ocean is another excellent choice, with seafood mains starting at around $30. For a laid-back brunch option, visit Bean & Barnacle, where you can get a great cup of coffee and a breakfast sandwich for $10.

Fun activities that won't break the bank

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is full of free and inexpensive things to do around town, making it one of the best vacations if you're on a budget. Spend plenty of time enjoying the white sand, and carve out a little slice of beach for yourself to build sand castles and swim in the sparkling Atlantic Ocean. Pack a picnic for an inexpensive beach lunch.

Pier fishing is another popular pastime in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea. Anglin's Fishing Pier, built in 1963 and stretching 900 feet over the ocean, is privately owned, and you can rent fishing equipment for a small fee. The pier is undergoing repairs due to damage from a hurricane, but it is generally open 24 hours a day. Florida is a popular spot for snorkelers and divers and Lauderdale-by-the-Sea provides plenty of opportunities to get close and personal with marine life. You can book a snorkeling or scuba tour to the offshore reefs or explore the Shipwreck Snorkeling Trail for free, as it is only a five-minute swim from the beach.

When you've had your fill of sand and sun, consider renting bikes and riding around town or simply relaxing in public spaces like Anglin's Square with its iconic colorful umbrellas and comfy Adirondack chairs. There are games set up for kids, and free events are often held throughout the year. El Prado Park is another excellent place to explore, especially to visit the Farmers' Market, held each Sunday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.