10 Best Small Towns in Florida you must discover!

3 sisters spring crystal river

Visiting the Sunshine State soon and looking for the best small towns in Florida? We are here to help! 

Florida may be known for its beaches, theme parks and springs but there is so much more to discover! The Atlantic Coast of Florida is very urbanised and you will mainly find cities there but the rest of Florida is full of charming small towns that will blow your mind!

In this article, we selected the most beautiful and coolest small towns in Florida. All of them have a population under 15,000 people which means that you can enjoy a nice vacation, away from the crowds!

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.

The best small towns in Florida

Beautiful Small Towns in South Florida

Tavernier

Located in the Florida Keys, between Key Largo and Islamorada, Tavernier is one of most underrated places in the keys! Yet, this cute small town in Florida has a lot to offer!

kayaking key largo

Here are a few examples of things to do in Tavernier: 

  • Kayaking in the mangroves: Tavernier is one of the best places in Florida for kayaking. You will get to explore both the coast and the mangroves. If you are in luck, you will even get to see manatees! I highly recommended the guided kayak tour in Tavernier. It’s absolutely amazing and so great to learn more about the beautiful ecosystem surrounding us. Click here to see the latest prices.
  • Eating Key Lime Pie at Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie Factory: The Key Lime Pie is the most famous desert in Florida. The best place to get one is in Key West but you will also find some delicious ones in Tavernier. They have an outdoor area with tables where you can enjoy your pie.
  • Relaxing at Harris Harris Beach: this beautiful hidden gem in the Florida Keys is a great place to go swimming and working on your tan. It’s not that well known which means that it’s usually pretty quiet.

WHERE TO STAY IN TAVERNIER: If you want to make the best of your trip, opt for beachfront rental in the Florida Keys. If you’d rather staying in a resort, book a room at the Atlantic Bay Resort. There are swimming pools and the setting is so pretty!

Matlacha

Visiting Matlacha in Florida
Photo credit: Felixmizioznikov via Canva Pro

Matlacha (pronounced Mat-la-shay) is one of the most colourful towns in Florida. 

This little fishing town is surrounded by beautiful barrier islands such as Pine Island. It’s a lovely place to spend a few days. It’s a very interesting and unique place with a boho feel. Quite unusual for a fishing town! It’s also a great place for people who want to step back in time. Matlacha has this Old Florida vibe!

Here are some ideas of things to do in Matlacha: 

  • Kayaking: if you like water activities, consider going on a kayaking or stand-up paddling trip. You can either stay around Matlacha or go further in the Mangroves. It’s very pretty and good fun.
  • Visiting Leoma Lovegrove Gallery & Gardens: If you love colourful places and art, this is the place for you! Leoma Lovegrove is an artist who created an incredible gallery in Matlacha. It’s very colourful and cool. You can take many beautiful photos there. On some levels, we can think of it as the Wynwood of Matlacha!
  • Discovering the Matlacha Pass Aquatic Preserve.

WHERE TO STAY IN MATLACHA: The Matlacha Cove Inn is the perfect place to stay in Matlacha. It’s colourful, beautiful and very good value for money.

Key Biscayne

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

Key Biscayne is definitely one of the most unique small towns in Florida. Why? I hear you asking? Well, mainly because of its location. Key Biscayne is located in Miami, between Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

It’s the ideal destination for people who want to stay away from the crowds and enjoy a bit of small-town vibe while still being close to the big city. 

Here are some cool things to do in Key Biscayne:

  • Cycling in Virginia Key: the best way to explore Virginia key is by bike. It’s very pleasant and you will discover incredibly beautiful views!
  • Exploring Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park: this is one of the most underrated state parks in Florida but that doesn’t mean you will get bored! It’s a paradise for people who love water-based activities. Snorkelling, swimming, kayaking, paddling… you can do it all. Please note that there is an $8 entrance fee per vehicle.
  • Cape Florida Lighthouse: this is the oldest structure in Miami. It was built in 1825 and has survived numerous hurricanes since! If you are into history, visiting Cape Florida Lighthouse is a must-do.
  • Going for a walk in Crandon Park.
  • Explore Miami: There are many things to do in Miami and if you can, it’s well worth exploring it on a day trip (or 2). Here are some places you should check out: Little Havana, Wynwood, South Beach and Art Deco District.

WHERE TO STAY IN KEY BISCAYNE: This little town is home to one of the best hotels in Florida, The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. Click here to see the latest prices.

Stuart

Visiting small town Stuart in Florida
Photo credit: Gabriel Pevide via Canva Pro

Stuart is located on Florida’s Treasure Coast. It’s one of the rare small cities on the East Coast. It’s the perfect place to visit if you are looking for a more secluded town in this naturally busy area. It is known as the “Sailfish capital of the world”.

Here are some cool things to do in Stuart:

  • Roam around downtown: Stuart historic downtown is very pretty and people are super friendly. Just having a bit of wonder and strolling around is always a pleasant thing to do.
  • Visit the museums: if you are into culture and history, make sure to visit the Stuart Heritage Museum and Road to Victory Military Museum.
  • Sailfish Splash Waterpark: if you are travelling with kids (or love a good water park) make sure to spend a day at the Sailfish Splash Waterpark. There are many slides and it’s very good fun!

WHERE TO STAY IN STUART: The Pirate’s Cove Resort and Marina is a super cute resort with colourful decor and swimming pools. See prices here.

Everglades City

Visiting Everglades City in Florida
Photo credit: Lunamarina via Canva Pro

Although it is called “city”, Everglades City is the smallest Florida town in this article! There are only 400 people living there!

This charming fishing town is located in the heart of the Everglades National Park. Delicious food, fascinating history, unique landscapes… it has it all!

A lot of visitors overlook the Everglades during their trip to Florida. This is a mistake you should not be making! The Everglades are absolutely fascinating and if you choose to stay in Everglades city, you will be in for a very authentic experience. 

Here are some awesome activities you can do:

  • Visiting Chokoloskee Island. From Everglades City, you can easily drive to the island. There is a bridge. It’s an excellent place to go fishing, kayaking and walking.
  • Discovering the smallest post office in the USA in Ochopee
  • Going on a ranger-led activity in the Everglades. You will find several visitor centres in the Everglades including one in Everglades City and Shark Valley. They offer all sorts of ranger-led activities including guided walks, cycling tours and kayaking tours. If you want to learn more about the ecosystem and how incredible the Everglades are, this is a must-do. You can easily book your activity in one of the visitor centres.
  • Going on an airspeed boat ride in Shark Valley. This is from far the most popular thing to do in the Everglades. Drive 45 minutes down to Shark Valley and jump on one of the airboats. It’s the best way to explore the National park. You will see many alligators and discover the mangroves! Click here to see the latest prices.

WHERE TO STAY IN EVERGLADES CITY: Everglades City Motel is an all-time favourite. It’s good value for money, well located and the rooms are very nice. Click here to see the prices.

 

Pretty Small Towns in Central Florida

Pass-a-Grille

Pass a grille in St Pete Florida
Photo credit: Shakzu via Canva Pro

Pass-a-Grille is a small beach town located between St Pete and Fort De Soto. This is the perfect place to stay if you want to discover St Petersburg while staying away from the crowds. 

It’s a very cute place with loads of restaurants, local shops and beautiful beaches. Here are some ideas of things to do:

  • Watching the sunset on Pass-a-Grille beach.
  • Going on a day trip to Fort De Soto.
  • Heading to downtown St Pete. You will discover beautiful street art, amazing museums and loads of restaurants and bars.

WHERE TO STAY IN PASS-A-GRILLE: The Don Cesar is the ultimate place to stay in St Pete Beach. Alternatively, you can opt for these amazing Airbnb.

Tarpon Springs

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

Located just a bit north of St Petersburg and Clearwater, Tarpon Springs is one of the most underrated destinations in Florida. It’s famous for its greek heritage and historic downtown. You will also find loads of beautiful beaches in the area. This is an excellent choice for people looking for a honeymoon or bachelorette party destination off the beaten path.

Here are some ideas of things to do in Tarpon Springs: 

  • Visiting the historic district. As you roam around downtown, you will discover beautiful galleries and shops. Some of the buildings are over 200 years old!
  • Going on a Greek food tour. You will get to taste delicious dishes!
  • Going on a clear kayak tour of Tarpon Springs. If you are visiting in winter, you will even get to see manatees! Click here to see the prices.

WHERE TO STAY IN TARPON SPRINGS: Hampton Inn & Suites Tarpon Springs is a great hotel with outdoor pool and breakfast included. See prices here.

Crystal River

3 sisters spring crystal river

Located a couple of hours north of Tampa, Crystal River is well known for being home to hundreds of manatees between January and March. Winter is the best time of the year to visit Crystal River but regardless of when you decide to come, you will enjoy this cute small town in Florida.

Here are a few things you can do:

  • Swimming with the manatees. This is only possible between January and March. I recommend calling the visitor centre beforehand and ask them how many manatees they currently have. Depending on the temperature, the manatees may arrive and leave sooner or later than expected. Click here to see the latest prices.
  • Walking around the 3 sisters spring. This is where the manatees stay. If you are visiting in winter, you will see them from the boardwalk. It’s an easy 30 minutes walk. The water is insanely green/blue and clear. With or without manatees, it’s a cool place to see. Please note that you can’t go swimming from the path. If you want to swim there, you will need to get to the springs by boat or kayak.
  • Going kayaking on the river and in the springs.
  • Visiting Homosassa Springs and Weeki Wachee. These are two very popular attractions near Crystal River. You can easily go to either (or both) on a day trip. It’s beautiful and very unique.

WHERE TO STAY IN CRYSTAL RIVER: Retreat at Crystal Manatee is a super cute hotel that also offers breakfast. It has excellent reviews and is good value for money. Click here to see the latest prices.

Brooksville

Visiting Brooksville in central Florida
Photo credit: Sean Craft via Canva Pro

Located near Tampa, Brooksville is a historic town with beautiful houses and buildings. If you are driving from St Pete to Crystal River, you will pass by. It’s worth stopping for a bit and having a look around. Here are some things you can do:

  • Visiting the Hernando Heritage Museum
  • Strolling around Tom Varn Park and Hernando Park
  • Discovering Frank Saxon House

WHERE TO STAY IN BROOKSVILLE: Fairfield Inn & Suites Brooksville Suncoast Parkway is a beautiful hotel. Breakfast is included.

 

Charming Small Towns in North Florida

Apalachicola

Small town of Apalachicola in Florida
Photo credit: Lady photo via Canva Pro

Located in Northern Florida, on the Gulf of Mexico, Apalachicola is a small town of 2,400 inhabitants. Often referred to as the “mini St. Augustine”, this cute fishing town is perfect for people who love historic building, incredible architecture and seafood. 

Here are some ideas of activities in Apalachicola:

  • Roaming around historic Apalachicola. You will find beautiful examples of 1800s architecture. Make sure to go to the Trinity Episcopal Church. It’s very pretty.
  • Visiting the museums. Apalachicola is home to several fantastic museums such as Raney House, Gorrie House and the maritime museum. It’s a unique opportunity to discover what an 1800s southern-plantation house was like!

WHERE TO STAY IN APALACHICOLA: The Gibson Inn is an absolutely stunning inn in Apalachicola. It has this unique historic vibe and the service is excellent. Click here to see the latest prices.

 

Seaside

Seaside is definitely one of the coolest small towns in Florida. Like Matlacha, it’s a very colourful beach town.

It was used as a filming location in the 1998 movie The Truman Show and guess what! The actual town is as surreal as in the movie! Of course, the names of the streets were changed but it is truly a fairytale town!

Looking for some activities? Here you go!

  • Take beautiful photos with the pastel-coloured houses. Seaside is what we would call an Instagrammable place. There are many photo opportunities and you will love looking for amazing photo spots. If you want to bring back amazing souvenirs, consider hiring a local photographer.
  • Checking out the beautiful pavilions on the beach.
  • Renting a bike and cycling around town.

WHERE TO STAY IN SEASIDE: Blue Two is an absolutely stunning and quaint beach house in Seaside FL. Click here to see the latest prices.

 

You may also be interested in:

11 Places to Go in Florida on Your Honeymoon

Hidden gems in Florida

Glamping in Florida

Things To Do In Orlando, Florida

Beautiful American Small Towns: 25 Prettiest and Coolest Small Towns in the USA

8 Beautiful Small Towns in Texas to visit this year!

 

Pin it for later!

The cutest towns in Florida