What can be more rewarding and relaxing than a beach day during the beautiful summer? And when it’s in our very own Sunshine State, Florida, you got to know the best beach towns in Florida to make the most of it. With the right list of Florida beach towns, you can make your summer the most happening one.
So, if you’re wondering what are some of the affordable Florida beach towns for families or which are the best beach towns to live or to retire in Florida, we’ve got your back. Our curated list of the best small beach towns in Florida is your answer to all the questions regarding Florida beach cities.
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Let’s now hop onto the amazing list and find out the 12 best coastal towns in Florida.
1. Sanibel Island
You are planning for a trip to beach cities in Florida for vacation and you’re not sure which one to pick? Well, you can’t miss the charm of Sanibel Island which is located just 30 miles away from Fort Meyers. The white, clean beaches and the serene atmosphere is the perfect destination for a quick getaway.
Population: Although small in size, Sanibel Island possesses the most exciting beaches, and different activities like snorkeling, fishing, and boating.
Safety: Sanibel Island is undoubtedly the safest beach town in Florida. According to the report “Safest Cities in Florida”, Sanibel Island is the seventh safest city.
School and University: The Sanibel School is a public school where most students admit. However, the students are sent to Fort Meyers for high school. People wanting to pursue higher studies in universities have to move out of the city.
Job opportunity: Sanibel Island does provide a variety of jobs, so if you have plans to move to Florida, you can check this out.
Affordability: The place is a little bit high-priced when it comes to the cost of living.
Known as a nature lovers’ den, Sanibel Island has some of the most gorgeous places nearby. If you want to experience some different kinds of shells, you must visit Bowman’s Beach. Periwinkle Way is a great place for shopaholics as this place has a number of shops as well as some cute restaurants for a quick meal.
Also, if you want to enjoy a romantic Florida beach vacation with your partner, then you should not miss Captiva island.
Naples is a beautiful beach city in Florida that will surely make your vacation experience just a bit more awesome. If you wish to explore some fine dining, indulge in some exquisite shopping in boutique shops, and enjoy the vibe of the superior culture, then Naples is your next best beach town to visit in Florida. Think of art galleries, golf courses, spectacular gardens, and breathtaking sunsets, and Naples has got it all.
Location: Located on the Gulf of Mexico in Southwest Florida.
Population: Being the principal city of Naples- Marco island, Naples is quite a populous city. With residents mostly over the age of 65, this city is considered to be one of the best places to retire in Florida.
Safety: With a crime rate lower than 90% of the Florida average, Naples is known for its safety among tourists and residents. So, if you plan to move to the best beach town in Florida, consider Naples as one of your options.
School or university: If you are looking for some good academic institution options for your kids, then Naples has some of the top-rated public schools. Also, for higher education, it has 3 universities like Florida Gulf Coast University and Hodges University.
Job opportunity: The job market in Naples is quite healthy.
Affordability: It is called the wealthiest city in America. With urbane shops and fine dining restaurants, the place is definitely high-maintenance.
Naples Pier is a hot favorite tourist destination. Enjoy a warm sunset, fishing, or click pictures of dolphins, Naples Pier should be a must-visit. The Naples Zoo at the Caribbean Gardens is another popular spot. Experience the magnificent beauty of 70 rare species of animals in this vast tropical garden. However, if you are a fan of art and culture, then don’t forget to spend a day at the Baker Museum.
3. Key West
You can’t miss out on Key West if you’re on the hunt for beach cities in Florida for vacation. Coastal living in Florida has become very popular nowadays. It is the perfect destination for adventure seekers who are waiting to indulge in snorkeling and diving. It makes for a superb Florida beach town visit because of its easy-going and friendly atmosphere, pristine beaches, and eye-catching coral reefs. Also, it’s a great place for foodies due to the availability of fresh and tasty seafood. Key West has amazing party scenes making it a go-to destination for young adults.
Location: This Florida beach town is located in the Southernmost part of Florida and it’s 90 miles north of Cuba.
Population: As one of the Florida coastal cities, Key West does have a considerable amount of population. You would find a diverse yet tight-knit community culture here.
Safety: If you plan to visit a Florida beach town on your own, then Key West is totally safe for solo traveling.
School and University: There are some public schools in Key West and Key West University has online learning facilities.
Affordability: Living is a bit on the higher side in this beach town in Florida as Key West is known to be the second most expensive city in the Sunshine State.
When in Key West, you must spend a day at Duval Street. With strings of restaurants and shops, tourists love to spend some time here. The street is also peppered with different kinds of festivals throughout the year. Make sure to watch the sunset in Key West and visit the famous Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum and appreciate the great Spanish interior.
Pass-A-Grille is a hidden gem in Florida and if you want some time off from the noise of the city, then you must visit this beach city in Florida. As one of the small coastal towns in Florida, Pass-A-Grille offers a quiet stay and lets you unwind. Pass-A-Grille gives you the old, rustic Florida charms which are certainly irresistible. From good restaurants to galleries or shops, you will just reach in by walking a few steps.
Location: Pass-A-Grille is located just right at the gulf of Mexico and is the last beach on St.Pete Beach.
Population: Being a small Florida gulf coast beach town, Pass-A-Grille does not have a lot of population.
Safety: This little beach town is very safe for your next Florida beach town vacation.
Affordability: With its affordable cost of living, Pass-A-Grille is considered one of the cheapest beach towns to live in Florida.
When in Pass-A-Grille, you must experience your breakfast on the beach. Visit Paradise Grille to enjoy your meal with the scenic sea views. You can enjoy yourself on the small island, Shell Key. Go for a kayak tour and reach this quaint island for a shelling and bird viewing experience. Gulf Beaches Historical Museum makes for a great family day trip as well.
5. Grayton Beach
If you are planning to move to Florida, Grayton Beach must be there on your list. It seems just to come out of a calendar page. With its super clean and sandy beaches, moonlit nights and beautiful sunrises, this one beach town in Florida is a favorite of all. The narrow streets are covered with canopies of oak, pines, and magnolias. The beach town is a sweet mixture of modern homes and old cottages which makes it the best beach town in the Florida Panhandle. You will find a range of cute shops, unique restaurants, and live music.
Location: Grayton Beach is located on the Florida Panhandle Gulf Coast and it is just beside the famous Grayton Beach State Park.
Population: This small beach village is not so densely populated.
Safety: Grayton beach offers not only a relaxing and laidback lifestyle but also it’s a safe place to stay.
Affordability: With the popular motto, “nice dogs, strange people”, this beach town in Florida is quite affordable.
Grayton Beach State Park is the most popular attraction here. You think of an activity and this park has everything in store for you. Be it fishing, hiking, paddling, or camping, you would always be entertained. You must experience the local food of Grayton at different restaurants like Hurricane Oyster Bar, Grayton Seafood Company, etc.
6. Siesta Key
You will never regret moving to Florida, as this Sunshine State is full of beach towns to cheer you up after a busy week. Siesta Key is one such Florida beach town that is ideal for a short weekend getaway. The sunny weather, the white beaches, the turquoise water- all this makes Siesta Key your next beach town destination. Moreover, this is one of the most walkable towns in Florida. From couples to families and to even adventure enthusiasts, Siesta Key offers everything for you.
Location: Siesta Key, a barrier island of the Gulf of Mexico, is located off the coast of Sarasota.
Population: Siesta Key is very popular for its natural beauty and hence the town is pretty much crowded.
Safety: The local residents are very friendly and the town is quite safe.
School and University: Due to a lack of good schools, families send their kids to Sarasota Public School.
Affordability: Siesta Key is not expensive compared to other beach cities in Florida.
Ranked as one of the tops, Siesta Key Beach is the main tourist attraction of this Florida beach town. Enjoy stunning ocean views or hop on to some water activities, you are guaranteed to spend an exciting day there. If you want to feel the local village vibes, check out some shopping places, Siesta Key Village is your best bet. Roam around and explore the boutique shops, nice restaurants, and live music at Daiquiri Deck. Make sure to visit Point of Rocks if your heart wishes to go diving and snorkeling.
7. Anna Maria Island
Another small coastal town in Florida is Anna Maria Island. If you wish to rejuvenate yourself during the summer in a quaint, old charming place, Anna Maria Island will give you everything that you’re looking for starting from snorkeling to swimming on clear water.
This beach also offers horseback riding and you will find a lot of manatees, dolphins, and different types of birds on this island. Enjoy the warm Florida weather and indulge yourself in some fun activities in Anna Maria Island.
Location: This gorgeous beach is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast.
Population: Anna Maria has a very low population. So if you’re on the hunt for a quiet and less crowded place to settle down, then this is one of the best places to live on the Florida coast.
Safety: Home to some pristine beaches, and lush greenery, Anna Maria Island is a safe place to go for a vacation with families.
School and University: There are quite a few options for elementary and middle schools on Anna Maria Island.
Affordability: The cost of living on Anna Maria Island is relatively higher than in other beach towns in Florida.
When on Anna Maria Island, you must visit Coquina Beach. The crystal clear beaches of Anna Maria Island offer tons of fun activities, beach cafes, and cabanas. Do you want to pick some souvenirs from Anna Maria? Then head to Historic Bridge Street which is filled with boutique shops and art galleries. Also, find some lovely seashells on Cortez Beach which usually does not receive a lot of footfall.
Want to know which is the luckiest fishing village in Florida? Then pack your bags and plan a trip to Destin. The crystal blue waters and the spotless sandy beaches are an attraction to all tourists. Home to various adventure sports, family spots, and accessibility to Southern food, Destin should be on your list of the best beach towns in Florida.
Location: Found in the area of the Panhandle, Destin is situated in northwest Florida.
Population: Due to its various attractions, Destin is pretty crowded, and weekends can be sometimes fully packed.
Safety: Destin is not just a safe place for vacation but also to live in for expat, students and families.
School and University: There are 2 elementary schools, and 1 middle, and high school in Destin.
Affordability: The cost of living including housing, food, and education is on the higher side in Destin.
When you are in Destin, make sure to take a ride on the Crab Island Sandbar Adventure. Enjoy your meal in a floating restaurant and soak in the scenic views. If you want to see some animal adventures then head to the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park. Kids love this place as you can see and even touch a dolphin. Around 20 minutes by car, Baytowne Wharf is a lovely harbor town.
Islamorada, the “Sport Fishing capital of the world”, is popular for its splendid sea views, sunny weather, and small-town vibe. If you want to know which are the beach towns near Miami that can be a perfect family destination, then Islamorada is the option to go for. With tons of family-friendly outdoor activities, families can spend an amazing weekend in this beautiful beach town.
Location: The village of 6 islands, Islamorada is just 90 minutes south of Miami.
Population: Islamorada is not very populous.
Safety: The crime rate(per 1000 residents) of this beach town is 8.86 which is pretty low.
Affordability: If you are planning to visit Islamorada, an average of $110 is spent daily on a vacation.
History of Diving Museum is a well-known spot for not only divers but general tourists also. Get to know the underwater history thoroughly in this museum. Experience a dose of paradise on the quaint beach called Anne’s Beach. The shallow water is perfect to indulge yourself in swimming and it’s safe.
Pensacola, the westernmost city in the Panhandle, is a place of rich cultural heritage. The city is beautifully circled by the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The friendly people of this little beach town are welcoming to everyone where you can enjoy a relaxing vacation. Moreover, the city is full of old, retro vibes, and to experience the fullest of it, make sure to go on a bike ride. The beach town in Florida is brimming with artists, food, and musicians so you’ve got plenty of options for entertainment.
Things to do in Pensacola
- National Naval Aviation Museum is one of the most visited tourist spots. Spend an entire day in the museum knowing about the 150 restored aircraft of the U.S Navy.
- Get on a shopping spree on Palafox Street and enjoy the local restaurants. The nightlife is quite lively so you’re set for the night too.
11. Cocoa Beach
Are you a little tight on budget and looking for the cheapest beach towns in Florida to live in or to go for a vacation? Well, think no more and come visit Cocoa Beach. Just an hour’s drive from Orlando, Cocoa Beach is the ideal destination for leisure and fun. People who are done with the theme parks visit this beach as a day trip from Orlando. Known for its surf breaks and beaches, this beach town in Florida is an affordable place to visit with your friends, family, or with your partner.
Things to do:
- The calm and shallow waters on Cocoa Beach are perfect for an amateur surfer. You can learn or you can bring your own surfing board for a fun day at the beach.
- To get a 360-degree view of the ocean, head to the Cocoa Beach Broadwalk. This couple-friendly Florida vacation spot has tons of shops, eating joints, and boutiques for you to enjoy and pick up some great gifts.
12. Sunny Isles
Sunny Isles Beach, another Florida coastal town is famous for some amazing renowned restaurants, white, clean beaches, and happening nightlife. It offers gorgeous views of the oceanfront vistas and there are several public parks. The shoreline is a treat for the eyes as it is full of high-rise buildings and hotels.
Things to do:
- Collins Avenue is the place where you’ll find nice restaurants, cafes, and the best shopping places. So, don’t forget to spend a sunny afternoon at Collins Avenue.
- Heritage Park is a part of the local heritage of Sunny Isles. Spend a quiet evening inside the green, small park and just sit back and relax.
There are certainly various pros and cons of living in the Sunshine State. But one of the pros definitely has to be Florida beach towns. The coastal towns offer tons of activities and opportunities to tourists and its residents and you’re assured to have a splendid time in one of these small beach towns in Florida. So, mark your calendar and plan a fun trip to Florida beach cities.
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FAQ: Best Florida Beach Towns
1. What beach in Florida has the whitest sand?
Ans: Siesta Key in Florida has the whitest sand.
2. What part of Florida has the prettiest water?
Ans– Anna Maria, Destin, and Sarasota are some of the parts of Florida with the prettiest water.
3. What is the safest beach town to live in Florida?
Ans– Sanibel Island is the safest beach town to live in Florida.