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No one does charming beach towns quite so well as Florida. This southerly state is brimming with idyllic seaside villages situated along its thousands of miles of pristine coastline, and the soft sand, crystal clear water, and year-round sunshine make it the perfect place for a beach vacation or an extended stay.
There are great coastal communities up and down the Gulf and Atlantic side of the state, and the southern Keys offer additional options for upscale getaways. But not all Florida beach towns are created equal!
Maybe you’re looking for a family-friendly getaway, a quiet enclave away from all the action, or somewhere with that Old Florida feel. No matter what you consider the perfect getaway, the Sunshine State has a lot to offer. Here are some of the most charming beach towns in Florida.
Anna Maria Island
If you’re seeking out a charming Florida beach town where you can truly get away from it all, look no further than Anna Maria Island. You won’t find any towering high rises or chain restaurants here. Just historic seaside cottages and miles of soft sand beaches. Anna Maria Island is largely residential, though there are plenty of local cafes and boutique shops to keep you entertained if you tire of the beach.
This lovely barrier island sits south of Tampa and is accessible by road. So while you’ll likely feel worlds away from it all, you’ll have no problem returning to the real world when (if ever) you’re ready.
Dreamed up and developed in the 1980s, Seaside is a small community located along the Florida Panhandle. With white picket fences, pastel houses, and a gorgeous beachside locale, this postcard-perfect town may sound like the stuff of fiction. And while it was used as the set for “The Truman Show,” Seaside is a real-life dream come true.
The community was created with beachgoers in mind, and the whole town is easily walkable and bikeable. Sprinkle in some trendy galleries, tons of restaurants, and of course, a beautiful beach, and you’ve got one of the most charming beach towns in Florida!
Not to be confused with the hustling and bustling Fort Lauderdale to the south, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a quiet commune known for its incredible diving opportunities. Just 100 yards off the coast, snorkelers and divers can discover an old shipwreck and a colorful coral reef.
Back on land, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea offers a vibrant town square, a collection of cozy mom-and-pop shops, and plenty of seaside cafes. Make sure you stroll along Anglin’s fishing pier, even if only for the views.
Just south of Seaside is the lesser-known community of Alys Beach. Featuring whitewashed villas, secluded courtyards, and swaying palm trees, Alys Beach is an exclusive beach town perfect for those who want a little (or a lot) or luxury for their beach retreats.
Chill out in a cabana on the beach with a drink in hand, shop ’til you drop at local boutiques, or reconnect with nature in the town’s 20-acre nature preserve. Alys Beach is one of Florida’s hidden gems that will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a European town.
Tucked away along the Florida-Georgia line sits Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach. This quaint town is quite unassuming, but its fascinating history and fun festivals make it one of the most charming beach towns in Florida.
While you’re in town, you can learn about the shrimping industry, visit a haunted saloon, and maybe even find some buried treasure if legend has it right. Of course, you should also pencil in some time to spend on the beautiful beach.
Located on Florida’s west coast near Fort Myers, Captiva Island dishes out small-town vibes in spades. You won’t find any cars or stop lights, just golf carts and happy residents making their way to and from the beach.
This quiet seaside locale is obviously all about the beach, but there are actually tons of things to do besides getting your tan on. Golfing, tennis, and fishing are all popular pastimes here, and there’s also a cute downtown area with quirky restaurants and laid-back pubs.
If you want to stay in the Orlando area without actually staying in the Orlando area, Cocoa Beach makes a perfect home base. You’ll be an hour from Orlando and 30 minutes from the Kennedy Space Center – if you’re lucky, you may even see a rocket launch from your seat on the beach!
Cocoa Beach is as popular with surfers as it is with space enthusiasts, and the waves are best here between September and December. Other water sports are available to non-surfers, including deep-sea fishing, parasailing, and more. If you prefer to stay dry, you can explore the charming downtown area, play a round of golf, or grab some ice cream from the Cocoa Beach Pier.
St. George Island
Tucked away in the Florida panhandle, St. George Island offers a serene escape from the crowded destinations. The laid back atmosphere creates for a beautiful atmosphere and lets the natural beauty of the island shine through.
One of the highlights on the island is the stunning State Park that has miles of pristine beaches. Visitors can explore the undisturbed shoreline and coastal habitats, view wildlife, collect shells and enjoy various water activities. Back in town, the lighthouse is the main draw where you can learn more about the history of the area and climb all the way to the top for beautiful 360 degree views of the island.
Islamorada sits about halfway down the Florida Keys, just 90 minutes from the bustling shores of Miami. It’s one of the best places in the world for deep-sea fishing, with nearly 500 different species swimming in the area, but the appeal doesn’t stop there.
This small town boasts numerous beaches along both the Atlantic and Gulf sides, coral reefs, two breweries, and even a state park (Long Key State Park). It is the perfect beach town to stop at on a Miami to Key West road trip.
For a nature-forward beachy getaway, set sail for Vero Beach on Florida’s east coast. With wildlife refuges, unspoiled beaches with stunning water, and miles of trails winding through the pristine area, Vero Beach is undoubtedly one of Florida’s best-kept secrets.
The community is focused on keeping this small town small, which adds to the charm and keeps the crowds (mostly) away. There’s also an ordinance that forbids buildings over four stories tall, so you won’t have to worry about towering skyscrapers popping up anytime soon.
While it has quite the reputation as a haven for snowbirds and retirees looking to settle down somewhere warm, Naples is so much more than just your average Florida retirement village.
The town sits along the Gulf Coast, with beautiful beaches and a historic pier jutting out into the ocean. The area is also famed for its world-class golf courses, a chic downtown area, and plenty of opportunities for dolphin watching and deep sea fishing.