There's no question about it -- summer is here. But hey, it could be worse, like 110 degrees and no beach breeze. So while the rest of the country rides the heat wave, get outside for a beach barbecue before the inevitable afternoon storms roll in, and you'll never wonder again where your summer (and life) went wrong. Here's a shortlist of top spots to get your barbecue on while enjoying a beach breeze and chowing down on good eats.
Let's start this one with a caveat: This is a weekday-only spot, because weekends are crazy and getting a decent spot and tolerable neighbors are next to impossible. Instead, get to Haulover Park for happy hour one weeknight. You can drive your car right up to your grill and conveniently unload all your gear and grub. The picnic tables and charcoal grills on the southernmost end of the park offer the best view and overlook Haulover cut and the Atlantic Ocean -- perfect for watching the day's fishing boats come in with their haul. Park entry is free after 5 p.m., but if you must go before then, the cost is $6 per car. Stay till sundown or until the park staff asks you to leave.
Oleta River State Park
This is another one of those crowded weekend spots, but its beauty is the late-day sun. By 4 p.m., most beaches in Miami have a condo shadow cast upon them, but at Oleta's beach, you can still catch rays as the sun sets thanks to the west-facing beach. Fishing and kayaking are available for those who need more entertainment than grilled meat and a picturesque sunset. Parking is available, but the grills are a bit of a walk from the beach, so take a wagon or extra hands if you have a lot of cargo. The park charges $5 per vehicle and closes at sunset.
Monument Island via South Beach Kayak's Full Moon Tour
Work for your dinner with a guided kayak tour by South Beach Kayak on Saturday nights. The tour takes adventuresome foodies across Biscayne Bay, through the islands for sunset, and then to Monument Island for a bonfire, weenie roast, music, s'mores, and beverages. The trip will set you back $45 plus gratuity per person, but food and rentals are included. Be sure to plan ahead and make reservations in advance for this Saturday's trip -- and don't forget the bug spray, a blanket or chairs, and sneakers.
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Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
After you climb the Cape Florida Lighthouse's 109 steps, take a load off at one of the many covered picnic spots inside Bill Baggs State Park. You can find secluded areas at the end of No Name Harbor, a sandy spot on the beach, or a scenic space that looks out on Stiltsville. Because Clueless taught us to "do a lap before we commit to a location," we recommend hopping on a bike and scoping out potential spots before setting up. The park charges $8 a car and is open until sunset.