Soft white sand beaches, azure blue waters, stellar seafood, and sunny skies make Florida a year-round travel destination. The Sunshine State’s 1,350 miles of coastline are great for swimming, sunbathing, snorkeling, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, beach walks, and shelling. It is also home to many charming seaside towns. Whether you’re looking to plan a vacation or just want to forget about winter for a while, here are 16 Florida beach towns our readers have loved this year.
1. Pompano beach
Located just north of Fort Lauderdale, Pompano Beach sits on the Atlantic coast of South Florida. Miami, Boca Raton, and West Palm Beach are all within an hour’s drive, making this laid-back and unpretentious beach town the perfect stopover for a scenic Florida road trip.
Pompano is a great place to explore for snorkelers – a beautiful coral reef lies 400 meters from the coast. If you happen to be there during the holiday season, try to watch the boat parade!
2. Deerfield Beach
Just north of Pompano Beach on Florida’s east coast, Deerfield Beach is a more affordable alternative to some of its close neighbors like Miami, Boca, and West Palm. However, this low-key beach town has all of the amenities of those big beach towns, including restaurants, bars, and ice cream parlors in the town center. Stroll the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier and experience the boardwalk.
If you’re looking to escape the cold, crowds, and corporate consumerism, consider Pass-a-Grille. You won’t find any fast food chains or stores here, just a good old-fashioned American little town, with a beach! You can find this authentic slice of Florida at the southern end of St. Pete Beach, which has some of the best beaches in the country.
4. Saint Augustine
Known as the oldest city in the United StatesThe oceanfront community of St. Augustine is about an hour south of Jacksonville. Anytime is a good time to visit this historic city, but it’s especially magical during the holidays when the city center is adorned with millions of twinkling lights for the annual Nights of Lights festival.
5. The singer’s island
Speaking of Florida’s east coast, the opulent, elegant and luxurious Singer Island is home to gorgeous beaches, upscale resorts and spas, and superb restaurants. Bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Florida Intracoastal Waterway to the west, this South Florida island offers a plethora of water activities including kayaking, boating, deep sea fishing. World class sea, crystal clear snorkeling and scuba diving.
6. Sanibel Island
About 25 miles south of Fort Myers is the quaint seaside town of Sanibel Island and its little sister, Captiva Island. Vast and calm, the beaches of Sanibel are known for their soft white sand and their numerous possibilities of bombardment. Our writers agree that this weekend getaway has some of Florida’s best beaches.
You won’t find hotel skyscrapers in this charming, laid-back beach town. Locals and visitors cross the island by bicycle. Fishing and kayaking are also important here. JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge offers both and is also home to hundreds of animals, from crocodiles and manatees to dozens of bird species.
7. Nap Key
Our readers named Siesta Key America’s Best Beach at this year’s Best of Travel Awards. Our authors agree, calling it one of the best beaches in Florida. Located on the west coast of Florida along the Gulf of Mexico, this barrier island is just minutes from Sarasota. Although only 8 miles long, this stunning island getaway offers pristine beaches, plenty of outdoor attractions, great dining options, and fun for the whole family.
8. Anna Maria Island
With stunning white sand beaches, Old Florida buildings, and a growing food scene, Anna Maria Island is another Florida beach town beloved by both our readers and our writers. This tropical paradise is popular with retirees and snowbirds. The scenic island is just 7 miles long and includes three towns: Anna Maria, Holmes Beach, and Bradenton Beach, the latter of which connects to Bradenton in mainland Florida.
9. Saint-Georges Island
A barrier island in the enclave, St. George’s Island is part of the “Forgotten Coast” – the part of the Gulf Coast so named for its expanse of pristine, pristine beaches. What you won’t find: Skyscrapers and shopping malls. What you will find: An uncrowded white sand beach. St. George Island State Park is on Dr. Beach’s list of America’s best beaches for 2021. Swim, canoe, kayak, boat and fish in its crystal-clear waters. The beach is also ideal for excavations and shelling.
10. Surf side
Beautiful, pristine beaches, a developing food scene, progressive ecotourism efforts, and a pedestrianized community are just a few of the reasons our readers love Surfside. At just half a square mile, this quaint Florida beach town is small compared to its neighbors Miami and Bal Harbor. But its eight city blocks are packed with amenities, exciting things to do, places to eat and more.
Islamorada, a village made up of six of the Florida Keys, is located midway between Miami and Key West (and makes a fun stop if you’re traveling in between!). This family-friendly destination is home to water sports, sport fishing, historic sites, succulent seafood and, of course, a lime pie. Stroll and admire the sights, kayak the Whale Harbor Channel, swim with dolphins and more!
12. Mexico Beach
East of Panama City, past Tyndall Air Force Base, is a great spot for a quiet beach getaway. The rejuvenated Mexico City beach is rebuilding itself after being flattened by Hurricane Michael in 2018. To the east of the city is a long public beach park where the emerald seas of the Gulf of Mexico kiss the shore.
13. Delray Beach
Located on the southeast coast of Florida, Delray Beach is a treasure trove of art galleries and pubs in addition to its pristine white sand beaches. Just south of West Palm Beach between Boyton Beach and Boca Raton, this upscale beach community makes a lovely day trip or weekend getaway, without the hefty price tag or the crowds. Downtown Delray Beach – where you’ll find most of the action – is within walking distance and there is plenty of parking.
14. Vero Beach
An incredible vacation destination located on Florida’s “Treasure Coast”, Vero Beach sits midway between Melbourne and Palm Beach. This laid-back Florida beach town offers plenty of outdoor attractions, citrus fruit galore, beautiful beaches, a thriving local arts scene, a wide array of local dishes, luxury accommodations and more.
15. Boca Grande
The old town of Boca Grande in Florida sits on an 11 km long strip of land known as Gasparilla Island. Known for its hospitality and charm, it is full of natural beauty. Visitors come here for the world-class sport fishing, the historic downtown area, and the dazzling white sand beaches.
16. Cedar key
A small, quaint and quiet island town, Cedar Key has less than 800 residents, mostly retirees and fishermen. A short drive from Gainesville and a few hours from Tampa Bay and Orlando, this may be Florida’s premier weekend getaway destination.
Part of Florida’s “Nature Coast”, this island offers many outdoor activities, including fishing. From the shallow marshes at the back of the island to the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, there is an abundance of good fishing spots.
- 11 spectacular Florida beaches our writers love
- Dr. Beach announces its list of the best beaches of 2021
- Best of Travel: America’s Best Beaches