The Best Beach Towns in Florida: 9 Incredible Coastal Destinations

By  Danny Newman

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Looking for a top beach town in Florida where you can live, vacation, or retire? Discover the best coastal destinations to visit this year.

Today, we’re going to reveal 9 of the best beach towns in Florida. Whether you visit during the summer, winter, or any other season, these incredible destinations in the Sunshine State are sure to be an ideal place to explore. Let’s dive in.

1. Key West

Key West is a slice of Floridian paradise right down in the southwest of the state. Diverse, bustling, and ever-popular, it’s well-known for its lively nightlife and the fantastic food scene on Duval Street.

The beaches are hard to beat here, too, with beautiful white sand and turquoise water that stretches out to the horizon. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also home to the 3rd largest coral reef in the world, making it a haven for scuba diving and snorkeling!

Another thing we love about Key West is the range of available accommodation options. From basic campsites to luxury resorts, you’re guaranteed to find something to suit your budget. This makes the town’s fantastic atmosphere and unique attractions super accessible to everyone.

2. Naples

No list of incredible beach towns in Florida would be complete without Naples. Another lively destination in the southwest, it has more restaurants, bars, shops, museums, galleries, golf courses, and gardens than you can shake a stick at!

The safe and welcoming vibe in Naples is second only to its beaches – especially at sunset when the sky lights up with unforgettable displays of crimson and gold. There are beaches to suit every interest, all boasting glorious stretches of soft white sand. Whether you want to surf, swim, sunbathe, or stroll, Naples won’t disappoint.

One particular hotspot to include on your itinerary is Naples Pier. A tourist favorite, the pier is prime real estate for watching the sun go down, doing some fishing, or snapping photos of the dolphins that frolic offshore.

3. Sanibel Island

This peaceful beach town is just southwest of Fort Myers and connects to the mainland via the Sanibel Causeway. For a small place, Sanibel Island possesses an impressive number of attractions!

Get ready for Bowman’s Beach and the breathtaking JN Darling National Wildlife Reserve. Various museums, restaurants, and boutique stores provide additional entertainment – particularly on the occasional day when the weather’s bad. However, the main appeal of Sanibel Island is undoubtedly the outdoors…

You can hike and bike until your heart’s content here, hire kayaks and paddleboards to explore from the water, or go deep-sea fishing if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. If that wasn’t enough, you’ll enjoy mile after mile of pristine coastline and witness all sorts of incredible wildlife, such as dolphins and birdlife.

4. Grayton Beach

Grayton Beach is postcard-perfect. More of a village than a town, it’s the epitome of a coastal paradise! Expect clean, sugar-soft sandy beaches that frequently feature on lists of the best beaches in America. The whole place feels untouched, unsullied, and utterly unlike bigger and busier parts of Florida.

The atmosphere at Grayton Beach is as unique as the scenery, though. Consider its motto: “Nice dogs, strange people.” Quirky and cute, it’s suggestive of the creative and carefree vibe that draws artists, musicians, and other free spirits to its shores.

White picket fences, a cool art scene, and historical cottages add to the charm; clear turquoise waters and a coastal forest contribute to its appeal. Whether you visit with friends, family, or your other half, you’ll come for a day and stay for a week.

5. Amelia Island

While it isn’t the cheapest beach location in this article, there’s a lot to love about Amelia Island. Named after Princess Amelia – King George II of Great Britain’s daughter – it’s jam-packed with history and small-town charm!

Why not explore the civil war era Fort Clinch or visit the Museum of History? If that doesn’t appeal, you can go horseback riding in the state park or enjoy the restaurants and bars in Fernandina Beach’s busy downtown area. Failing that, the 3 miles of pristine, uncrowded beach are tailor-made for sunbathing and swimming!

Another incentive to use this beach town as a base is its proximity to Jacksonville. Located 30 miles to the south, Jacksonville’s a must-visit destination in its own right!

A big college town with oodles of appeal, it offers all the amenities of a modern city plus 22 impressive miles of coastline. Don’t miss the Jacksonville Zoo, the Riverwalk, or the Big Talbot Island State Park, among countless other attractions.

6. Siesta Key

In many ways, the barrier island of Siesta Key is Florida at its finest. The weather’s amazing, the beaches are unbeatable (Siesta Public Beach has twice been voted the best in the nation), and the restaurants and nightlife are both top-notch.

As clichéd as it sounds, there really is something for everyone here. Romantic getaway? Tick. An island paradise? Absolutely. A playground for outdoor enthusiasts? You bet. A family-friendly town with activities for all ages? That too!

Located on the western edge of the Sunshine State, Siesta Key’s also on the doorstep of downtown Sarasota and sits midway between Fort Myers and Tampa. That makes it a) super accessible and b) a stone’s throw from big city attractions.

7. Sarasota

Speaking of Sarasota, we’d feel remiss not to include it on this list of the best beach towns in Florida! A practical base for exploring Siesta Key, it also offers historical landmarks, cultural attractions, world-class golf courses, and a whole lot more. Here’s a very quick rundown of the best things to do in Sarasota:

  • Visit the Ringling fine art museum
  • Explore the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens
  • Check out the Sarasota Jungle Gardens
  • Visit the famous Ca d’Zan waterfront mansion
  • Experience the Central Sarasota Farmers Market each Saturday
  • Walk the Legacy Trail from Sarasota to Venice
  • Swim and sunbathe at Lido Beach Park

8. Pass-a-Grille

This hidden gem provides an enviable escape from the hustle and bustle of other Florida destinations. A small beach town in Pinellas County, Pass-a-Grille’s quaint, charming, and has a lovely rustic appeal. Head to the southern end of St. Pete Beach to experience it for yourself.

Prepare yourself, though: there isn’t much to do in Pass-a-Grille. But don’t worry – that’s almost the point! Time moves slower here; life is simpler. Days revolve around the beach – around getting fine white sand between your toes and sharing casual seafood meals with friends. You might venture to a bar for a drink in the evening, or sit watching the sun descend slowly over the horizon.

Whatever you do, expect to walk away feeling refreshed and replenished. You’ll be more relaxed than you’ve been in years and reluctant to step back into “real life”.

9. Captiva Island

Remember Sanibel Island? Well, you’ll find another of the best beach towns in Florida just north of there. Hop across the Blind Pass Bridge, and you come to Captiva Island – a place so beautiful it deserves its own special mention!

Favored for its peace and quiet, Captiva’s a quaint travel destination that’s renowned for its beaches and wildlife – including dolphins, manatees, bobcats, and bald eagles. Thanks to various child-friendly activities and amenities on Turner Beach and Captiva Beach, families tend to love it here as well.

Oh, and Fort Myers is only an hour away! With its nature preserves, nightlife, history, and, of course, more amazing beaches, we could easily have included it on this list. Be sure to stop by while you’re in the area.

Visit the Best Beach Towns in Florida

The best beach towns in Florida offer a sanctuary of sorts, no matter the time of year – an escape to a land of sunshine, warmth, blues skies, white sand, and azure waters.

In fact, there are so many stunning coastal towns in Florida that deciding where to go can be a challenge! We hope the suggestions in this article have been helpful in that regard. Each boasting its own intrinsic appeal, you’re guaranteed a memorable getaway (…whether you go in winter, summer, spring, or fall!).

Of course, Florida’s also a great place to retire! If you’re researching beach towns there as a potential retirement destination, then you might also enjoy these tips on how to enjoy life after retirement.

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About the Author

Danny Newman

I’m a digital nomad from England who loves traveling and has a passion for writing.

To make Wealthtender free for readers, we earn money from advertisers, including financial professionals and firms that pay to be featured. This creates a conflict of interest when we favor their promotion over others. Learn more. Wealthtender is not a client of these financial services providers.
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