Thinking of South Florida conjures images of white sand beaches, non-stop parties, Latin food and music and the hip South Miami Beach scene. But South Florida is also a place to be a teenager. With its warm climate, teens have opportunities for year-round activities outside.
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Outside of Miami Beach, South Florida sometimes gets the rap of being an area overflowing with retirees. Not so. From the Gulf Coast to the Atlantic, several spots cater to teens. Naples on the southwest coast has white sand beaches, bike trails and water sports, making it ideal for outdoorsy types. Many communities throughout Fort Lauderdale and Broward County have quaint downtowns with outdoor spaces that welcome teens and offer street performers, pop-up parks and other cool -- and free -- hangouts.
South Florida is home to two of the largest school districts in the country: Dade County and Broward County school districts, the fifth and sixth largest in the country. With huge school districts comes diversity, both in students and in programs. Broward County School District, for example, has 22 magnet programs ranging from aviation to performing and visual arts.
Free Stuff for Teens
For teens, it's always best to have low- or no-cost options for entertainment. In Naples, the Naples Pier is free to enter, and teens can watch dolphins play, take in a gorgeous sunset, swim in the gulf, and fish without a license. Fort Lauderdale's Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District is filled with restaurants and shops to browse through, and it's a safe place to watch people, hang with friends or grab a bite to eat.
In South Florida, several community centers designed for teens offer an enjoyable and safe environment. The Coral Gables War Memorial Youth Center has programs, special events and activities throughout the year. In addition to a large gym, the center has a fitness center, a roller hockey rink, theater and dance studio. It also features free special events. The "505" Teen Center and Hobbit Skate Park in Delray Beach is one of the best deals anywhere. For a small fee, membership brings access to the teen center's extensive amenities, including a billiard room, recording studio and lounge area, and a host of educational and recreational programs designed to promote social responsibility and self-esteem.