The best Florida beach towns are cozy and quaint, reflecting an Old Florida ambience. Here are seven of our favorites, all small enclaves worth discovering.
Stories about our favorite Florida beaches, including hidden treasures where you can find solace, best fishing or surfing, and many family beaches to sun and play.
- Spring Break in Florida
- Our favorite secluded beaches
- Beach horseback riding
- 7 closest beaches to Disney World
- The best little beach towns in Florida
- Our 15 favorite beaches in the Florida Keys
Browse our full catalog of beach stories below…
Clam Pass Park in Naples is a beach hidden behind a posh resort. There’s a pretty kayaking trail plus the beach is special: Tides in the little pass float you in and out of a lagoon like a lazy river ride.
Visiting here, I found myself amazed that places like Anna Maria Island survive — a low-rise beach town with quaint cottages and a spectacular beach. Daytrippers will be happy to learn they can skip the weekend traffic and parking hassles with an affordable new ferry service from Bradenton.
This beach occupies one of the last undeveloped barrier islands on Florida’s southwest coast, and its a place for finding shells, sand dollars, gopher tortoises and, best of all, unadorned natural beauty. It reopened 14 months after severe damage from Hurricane Ian in 2022. Presently, it operates with limited facilities including portable restrooms.
In Dunedin, we love bicycling the Pinellas Trail, but this charming Tampa Bay area town has more to offer, with eight breweries plus great restaurants and coffee shops in its walkable historic downtown. Twenty minutes away are two excellent state parks with award-winning beaches.
The Top 10 destinations for Spring Break in Florida. Also links to live beach cams at 30 popular beaches.
Like all beaches, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is popular when it’s hot, but it is also a great winter destination because it offers scenic kayaking and rentals. We like kayaking to Munyon Island, a wild mangrove island that 120 years ago was the site of a health resort serving an elixer that “restored vitality.”
Fort Myers Beach was a charming Old Florida town, but Hurricane Ian blasted it. More than a year later, much damage remains and you see it everywhere. But a big Margaritaville resort is opening in December, which can help turn things around.
As sun-worshipping Floridians, we are always on the lookout for ways to improve our beach experience. There is no end to the quest.
What could be better than this? Camping within earshot of the surf, soft breezes and soaring seagulls. Beach camping in Florida is living the dream.
Windswept beaches, pristine back country waterways, a mile-long fishing bridge, scenic campgrounds, and a lot of hands-on history.
This Miami state park is a remarkable island of green where you can kayak, mountain bike, picnic and enjoy a sandy beach. There are even rustic cabins to rent. It’s the largest urban park in Florida.
Florida Panhandle’s greatest treasure might be Gulf Islands National Seashore, with an unspoiled barrier island, sand as white as snow and a rare Civil War fort whose spooky spaces you can wander.
There are six fabulous beaches of Venice FL, including one set aside for canines. But the big attraction is ancient shark’s teeth that wash ashore in the surf.
Surf fishing is a terrific family outing — or a quiet escape to get away alone. Be prepared with our popular checklist and how-to guide. (Photo by Jerry Lower, The Coastal Star)
It’s easy to find a beach in Florida. It’s harder to find a hidden beach, a beach where you experience a sense of discovery and delicious isolation. Here, however, I share my favorites, discovered over many years.
The Hollywood Beach Broadwalk bike trail is a delightful bike ride. A trip to Old Florida, it has vintage buildings, casual beachfront eateries and great views.
If riding a horse through sand and surf is your dream, here are a half dozen places in Florida that can make that dream come true. Riding opportunities are located on both coasts as well as in northern and southern Florida.
This state park is more natural than it has been for decades. Enjoy the terrific beach and tropical hammock, tour the historic lighthouse, dine at restaurants with great views and walk or bike trails.
The best beaches near Disney World are not exactly at the edge of town, but you do have some fabulous options.
Grayton Beach is consistently ranked among the Top 10 beaches in America, making it a prime candidate for your bucket list. This park and the whole region is worth make great fall and spring trips, but you have to plan early.
Craggy limestone rocks form a dramatic beach-scape, far different from the usual sandy beach. At the right time, waves crash into the rocks, spurting water 50 feet into the air.
Some sections of the 2.5 mile beach remain closed. Otherwise, the park is open every day from 8 a.m. until sunset.
With eight state parks, a national park, scads of history and top beaches, Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach make a great base to explore northeast Florida.
Sargassum seaweed is starting to drift towards us, but it’s unlikely we’ll see any until after Spring Break.
Two of the best beaches in America are in Florida — perennial favorites on this annual list: St. George Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park. See the other Florida beaches that have been selected over the years too.
This sandy campground near Jacksonville is a beach lover’s dream.
Sea-turtle walks are like seeing a nature documentary in person, and they’re back in many places for 2023. But you need reservations to join these night-time beach walks to watch giant sea turtles nesting.
Travel and Leisure magazine calls New Smyrna Beach “Florida’s most underrated seaside city”. We think it is “Florida’s best little beach town.”
Florida Islands don’t come any better than Sanibel, but while that paradise recovers from Hurricane Ian, we think you’ll find lots to love in these 5 other destinations.
Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park has reopened eight months after Hurricane Ian’s 10- foot storm surge blasted it. It has superb white sand and clear water.