13 Best Beach Towns in Florida for an amazing vacation in the Sunshine State

Planning a vacation and looking for the best beach towns in Florida? We are here to help!

Florida is known for its beautiful beaches, theme parks and lively towns. It has so much to offer and we want to help you choose the perfect destination.

In this article, you will find a selection of beautiful beach towns in Florida. This includes famous ones but also hidden gems!

Whether you are a couple, a family or an adventurer, you will find the perfect place here!

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a commission if you decide to make a purchase through my links, at no extra cost for you! As an Airbnb Associate, I may earn when you book through these links.

Best beach towns in Florida

Best Beach Towns in Florida

Key West

sunset mallory square key west

Key West is, without the shadow of a doubt, the most famous beach town in Florida!

Located at the very end of the Florida Keys, Key West is a lively and quaint town that everybody should visit at least once in their life! There is nothing quite like it.

Unfortunately, there aren’t as many beaches as you may think there. A lot of people expect the Keys to be full of beaches. This is not the case however, there are a few ones that are worth checking out.

Also, you will find many water activities there and for this reason alone, you will love it!

Here are a few examples of things to do in Key West:

  • Visiting Fort Zachary.
  • Going to Higgs Beach.
  • Roaming along Duval Street.
  • Watching the sunset from Mallory Square.

If you are interested in visiting Key West, make sure to take a look at this Key West itinerary. You’ll find everything you need there!

WHERE TO STAY IN KEY WEST: Ocean Key Resort & Spa is a stunning resort ideally located on Duval Street. See reviews and prices here.

Destin

Located in Northwest Florida, Destin is one of the best destinations for a beach vacation. It’s known for its stunning white sandy beaches and sandbars.

It’s also a lively place where you will find loads of restaurants and bars, making it an excellent destination for a girls’ weekend or bachelorette.

Here are a few ideas of things to do in Destin, FL: 

  • Visit Crab Island. This underwater sandbar is Destin’s most famous landmark. It’s absolutely stunning! There are many things you can do there such as grabbing a drink on a floating Tikki bar or going on a cruise. Click here to see the prices.
  • Grabbing a drink and dinner at Destin Harbor Boardwalk. In the evening, walk around the Harbor Boardwalk. There are many bars and restaurants there. It’s good fun!
  • Water activities. If you love outdoor and water activities, you will be in for a treat in Destin, FL. Kayaking, snorkeling, fishing… you can do it all!

WHERE TO STAY IN DESTIN, FL: Henderson Beach Resort is located right by the state park and has direct access to the beach. See reviews and prices here.

Siesta Key

Siesta Key beach in Florida

This is the ultimate beach destination in the Sunshine State! Siesta Key is home to some of the best beaches in the USA.

Located near Sarasota, on the Gulf Coast, Siesta Key is the perfect beach town for people who want to relax and spend a lot of time on the beach.

Siesta Key itself is fairly small. There are only 6,000 inhabitants which means you get to enjoy a quieter time. At the same time, you will be very close to Sarasota which is one of the major cities in Florida. Basically, it’s perfect to get the best of both worlds!

Here are a few things to do in Siesta Key:

  • Walking on Siesta Key Beach and working on your tan. Siesta Key Beach wasn’t named the best beach in the USA for no reason! It truly is stunning! The sand is made of silica (quartz powder) which means it’s very white and soft! There is no other place like it. Even Whitehaven Beach in Australia is not quite as soft! Walking along the beach is very pleasant and you will love doing so. The same goes for relaxing and building sandcastles. That said, Siesta Key is a popular beach so it can get quite crowded. Make sure to head there early in the morning,
  • Taking beautiful photos with the lifeguard stands. Miami is not the only place where you can find beautiful and colorful lifeguard stands. Siesta Key Beach also has plenty! If you like taking beautiful pictures, walk up the beach and pose with some of these beautiful beach stands!
  • Visiting Crescent Beach. If you want to stay away from the crowds, head to Crescent Beach instead of Siesta Beach. It is beautiful as well but way less busy!

WHERE TO STAY IN SIESTA KEY, FL: The Sea Spray Resort is located only 200 yards from the stunning Siesta Key. See reviews and prices here.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach in Florida

Clearwater Beach is a resort and beach town located on the gulf coast. It is famous for being home to Clearwater Beach, one of the best beaches in North America.

You can easily get there by car from St Petersburg or Tampa. It’s only 30 minutes drive from Tampa Airport.

It’s an excellent spring break destination for both families and college students. On one hand, you will find loads of kid-friendly activities. On the other hand, there are many beach bars where you can party!

Here are a few things you can do in Clearwater Beach

  • Walk along the promenade. There are many beach bars and ice cream parlors along the promenade. It’s a great place to grab a snack or drink.
  • Enjoying the beach. Clearwater Beach is truly beautiful. The sand is white and soft. You will love spending time there. Make sure to get there early though as it can get quite busy, especially in winter.
  • Sunset celebration at Pier 60. In the evening, head to the pier to watch the sunset. This is one of the best sunset spots in Florida and the atmosphere is incredible! Alternatively, you can go on a sunset cruise. See prices here.

WHERE TO STAY IN CLEARWATER BEACH: Shephard’s Beach Resort is the best place to stay in Clearwater. They have a private beach, a restaurant, pools and plenty more! See reviews and prices here.

Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island

Fernandina Beach is located on the stunning Amelia Island, in North East Florida. It’s a great place to spend a beach vacation!

You can easily get there by car from Jacksonville or from Georgia as it’s at the border.

The town is very quaint and surrounded by beautiful beaches.

Here are a few things you can do in Fernandina Beach: 

  • Horseback riding on the beach. If you love the idea of going horseback riding in Florida, Fernandina Beach is the perfect place for you! It’s one of the best places to do this on the beach. It’s a fantastic activity that is suitable for adventurers, couples and families.
  • Shopping on Main Street Fernandina Beach. You’ll find many cute shops downtown. If you like buying local products and finding unique clothes, this will be your paradise!
  • Visiting Fort Clinch State Park. This is the perfect place to visit if you love both history and the outdoors. You will learn plenty about the Civil War and will discover the local wildlife. There is a $6 entrance fee per vehicle.

WHERE TO STAY IN FERNANDINA BEACH: Hampton Inn & Suites Amelia Island is a stunning hotel in Fernandina Beach. The location is ideal and the amenities amazing. See reviews and prices here.

Cocoa Beach

Honeymoon in Cocoa Beach Florida
Photo credit: Canva Pro

Cocoa Beach can easily be referred to as the ultimate Florida beach town! Not only are the beaches beautiful but it’s also very close to one of the most famous theme parks in Florida, the Kennedy Space Center.

It’s a fairly small town with a population of 11,000. You’ll find everything you need while still having this unique Florida town vibe. It’s also a great honeymoon destination!

Here are a few ideas of things to do during a vacation in Cocoa Beach, FL: 

  • Roaming around the Historic Cocoa Village. If you love quaint towns, you will be in for a treat in Cocoa beach. The historic village is full of beautiful historic houses, cute boutiques and unique buildings. It’s a great place to walk around.
  • Visiting the Kennedy Space Center. Cocoa Beach is only 30 minutes drive from the Kennedy Space Center. If you want to learn more about NASA and why Cape Canaveral is so important for the space industry, this will be the perfect activity. It’s also a good thing to do with kids. Click here to see the prices.
  • Watching the sunset at the Cocoa Beach Pier. Sunsets in Florida are amazing and the Cocoa Beach Pier is one of the best places to watch it. This famous location is a must-see!

WHERE TO STAY IN COCOA BEACH: Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront is a stunning hotel with direct access to the beach. See reviews and prices here.

Key Biscayne

Visiting Key Biscayne in Florida
Photo credit: Matthew Bennet via Canva Pro

Key Biscayne is one of the best small towns to visit in Florida. Located on an island right by Miami, Key Biscayne is ideal for people who want to stay in a quiet town while still being very close to the main attractions.

You can easily get to Key Biscayne by car from Miami airport. This also means that you can go on day trips to Miami Beach, the Everglades or the Florida Keys with ease.

Here are a few examples of things to do in Key Biscayne: 

  • Relaxing in Crandon Park. Not only is it a beautiful beach in Key Biscayne but it’s also considered as one of the best beaches in Miami. You will find 2 miles of white and soft sand. Perfect to relax for a day!
  • Visiting Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. This beautiful state park in the southern part of the island is home to beautiful beaches, the beautiful Florida lighthouse and great walks. It’s a great place to go snorkeling or kayaking.

WHERE TO STAY IN KEY BISCAYNE: The Ritz-Carlton is by far the most beautiful hotel in Key Biscayne. See reviews and prices here.

Pass-a-grille

Pass-a-grille is a cute beach town near St Petersburg, Florida. It’s one of the best places to stay if you want to get the best of both worlds. On one side, you will enjoy the tranquillity of this small town. On the other side, you can easily visit St Petersburg.

It’s only 30 minutes drive from Tampa Airport which is very convenient. To make the best of your time, make sure to rent a car. That way, you can go around and discover everything Tampa Bay has to offer.

Here are a few things to do in Pass-A-Grille: 

  • Relaxing on Pass-a-Grille beach. This stretch of white sand is perfect for people who want some peace and quiet. It’s a pretty and quiet beach. Perfect for families and visitors who want to stay away from the crowds.
  • Exploring Shell Key. This remote and unspoiled island is one of Florida’s best-kept secrets! You can easily go there by taking the shuttle from Pass-a-grille or by booking a tour. Click here to see the latest prices.
  • Roaming around Downtown St Pete. St Petersburg is one of the best cities to visit in Florida. It’s lively and vibrant. Downtown has loads to offer including fantastic museums and cute local cafes.

WHERE TO STAY IN PASS-A-GRILLE: The Don Cesar is located just a tiny bit north of Pass-A-Grille and is the ultimate place to stay in St Pete. The building is entirely pink. It’s beautiful! See reviews and prices here.

Tarpon Springs

Visiting Tarpon Springs in Florida
Photo credit: Patricia Yablonski via Canva Pro

Tarpon Springs is one of the most unique beach towns in Florida. It’s known for its greek influences. If you like quiet towns and greek food, you will be in for a treat here!

You can easily get there from Tampa (45 minutes drive), Clearwater or St Petersburg.

Here are a few things you can do in Tarpon Springs, FL: 

  • Relaxing on Sunset Beach. This cute beach near Tarpon Springs is perfect for families who want to relax and stay away from the crowds.
  • Roaming around the historic district. Tarpon Springs is a historic town. There is a lot to learn about it. The historic district is also home to loads of antique shops.
  • Visiting Tarpon Springs Sponge Dock. The town is known for being one of the rare places in Florida where they still harvest natural sea sponges. If you head to the Sponge Dock, you will be able to discover this unique activity. It’s also an excellent place to grab some delicious Greek street food. Finally, you can also opt for one of the boat tours.

WHERE TO STAY IN TARPON SPRINGS: Hampton Inn & Suites is only 10 minutes from the Sponge dock and has an outdoor pool. See reviews and prices here.

Dunedin

best beach florida honeymoon island

Dunedin is one of the most underrated beach towns in Florida. Located just a bit north of Clearwater and St Peterburg, this quaint town is perfect for people who want to stay away from the crowds.

It’s known for its beaches, wildlife and unspoilt islands, making it one of the best hidden gems in Tampa Bay!

Here are a few ideas of things to do in Dunedin, FL:

  • Visiting Honeymoon Island State Park. You can easily get there by car. There is a bridge which makes it very easy for you. The entrance costs $8 per vehicle. On the island, you’ll discover beautiful and quiet beaches as well as some wonderful walks such as the Osprey walking trail. You can also take the ferry to Caladesi Island, another unspoilt island in Florida.
  • Walk the Pinellas trail. This 39 miles trail is a great place to go walking or cycling.
  • Golfing. Dunedin FL is home to one of the best golf course in the state. If you love this kind of activities, head to the Dunedin Golf Course.

WHERE TO STAY IN DUNEDIN: Fenway Hotel is an absolutely stunning hotel in Dunedin with a swimming pool. See reviews and prices here.

Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach is the ideal destination for people who want to stay in a small village in Florida. It’s located near Destin, in north Florida. You can easily get there by car.

Grayton Beach is a quiet and cute place to spend a vacation. It’s home to fantastic beaches and is not crowded. Basically, it’s the best place to relax!

Here are some things to do in Grayton Beach: 

  • Visiting Grayton Beach State Park. Home to fantastic beaches and walks, Grayton Beach is one of the best state parks in Florida. There is a $5 entrance fee but believe us, it’s well worth it! You can opt for a relaxing day there or try one of the numerous water activities such as fishing, paddling or kayaking.
  • Visiting Grayt Wall. This outdoor community is perfect for people who love art and off-beat experiences. It’s an amazing community. You will find beautiful pieces of art. There are also many photo opportunities there. It’s super cute!
  • Eating delicious seafood. Grayton Beach is also known for its seafood. You’ll find many restaurants that serve amazing dishes. For the full experience, head to Grayton Seafood Co.

WHERE TO STAY IN GRAYTON BEACH: Hibiscus Coffee is a super cute guesthouse in Grayton Beach. See reviews and prices here.

Captiva Island

Captiva Island is located on the Gulf Coast, just a bit north of Sanibel Island. It’s a very small community with a population well under 1,000.

It’s only 1-hour drive from Fort Myers. If you choose to fly to Miami, you can also rent a car there and drive the 3 hours to Captiva.

This is a great destination for people who love the beach and the outdoors.

Here are a few activities you can do:

  • Shelling. Sanibel and Captiva islands are famous for the shelly beaches. Going shelling is actually one of the most popular activities there. Both kids and adults love it!
  • Visiting the Ding Darling Nature Preserve. This is one of the best places in the Sunshine state to discover wildlife. Birds, bobcats… it has it all! There are many ways you can explore it including with a bicycle or kayak.
  • Watching the sunset. The sunset from Captiva Island is stunning and you will love watching it. In the evening, head down to the beach with a drink and picnic!

WHERE TO STAY ON CAPTIVA ISLAND: Captiva Island Inn is a cute and quaint bed and breakfast. See reviews and prices here.

Islamorada

key west road trip

Islamorada is located in the beautiful Florida Keys. It’s one of the most underrated towns in the keys. Most people tend to head straight to Key West, yet, Islamorada has loads to offer!

You can easily get there by car from Miami or the airport. It takes between 1 and 2 hours.

Here are a few things you can do there:

  • Kayaking in the mangroves. The Keys are famous for their stunning mangroves. One of the best ways to explore them is to go kayaking. You will get to discover a beautiful eco-system as well as the local wildlife. If you are lucky, you may even spot some manatees!
  • Relaxing at Anne’s Beach. This is one of the best beaches in Islamorada. It’s a great place to swim, relax and enjoy a picnic. You will also find some walks.
  • Feeding the tarpons at Robbie’s Marina. This seaside restaurant gives its visitors the possibility to buy a bucket of food for the tarpons. That’s a great thing to do with kids.

WHERE TO STAY IN ISLAMORADA: Postcard Inn is a gorgeous beach resort in Islamorada. See reviews and prices here.

You can also opt for one of these beautiful beachfront rentals in the keys.

Map of the best beach towns in Florida

 

You may also be interested in:

10 Best Small Towns in Florida you must discover!

21 Best places to go kayaking in Florida

19 Best places for Snorkeling in Florida

15+ Incredibly Romantic Cabin Getaways in Florida

12 Best Sunflower Fields in Florida