The Sunshine State is unsurprisingly known for its gorgeous beaches. With almost 700 miles of sandy shoreline, you’re sure to be able to find just the right oceanside oasis for you. We’ve compiled a list of the best beaches in Florida so you can plan your next vacation or weekend getaway with ease.
Top Beaches in Florida for Tourists
Florida has some incredible beaches for tourists visiting the area. Not only will you be able to enjoy the sun and sand during your stay, but also local dining and entertainment. Siesta Key and Miami South Beach are our top picks for tourists visiting Florida.
It’s a no-brainer, Siesta Key is the perfect destination for out-of-towners. In 2020, TripAdvisor name Siesta Beach the #1 beach in the United States and #11 in the world, and for good reason. Its unique white quartz sand is soft and stays cool even on the hottest of days, and the beach’s numerous amenities will help to ensure that your visit goes smoothly.
Siesta Beach has a large parking area conveniently located next to the beach, and the area is equipped with concession stands. There’s even a free trolley that will tool you around the island so you can visit the area’s numerous dining and shopping destinations.
One of the most interesting things about Siesta Key is its weekly drum circle performance. Every Sunday evening, about one hour before sunset, dozens of Siesta Key residents and visitors can join in on a free, community-organized drum circle on Siesta and Englewood Beaches. You can enjoy this unique and memorable experience all year round.
You’ll find Siesta Beach on Siesta Key, just about a 15-minute drive south of Sarasota. The island has plenty of lodging options, and you can find a number of hotels and condominiums within walking distance of the shore.
Miami South Beach
Perhaps the most well-known tourist beach in the state, Miami South Beach has something to offer for every Florida visitor. Located on the south end of the roughly 9-mile-long Miami Beach island, this beach can be reached from downtown Miami via the various bridges that connect the island and the mainland.
Miami South Beach is not only known for its beautiful sandy shores, but also for its glamorous shopping, nightlife, and dining. Located within walking distance of the beach are various pedestrian shopping areas like Lincoln Road, or head to Española Way to see Meditteranean-inspired architecture.
South Beach is also a great destination for art lovers. Check out the Wolfsonian-FIU art museum or take an Art Deco architecture tour. And don’t miss the world-class restaurants located on Miami Beach island, like The Bazaar by José Andrés (located in the Ritz Plaza Hotel at the north end of the beach) or the plant-based eatery PLANTA South Beach.
There are various parking options available close to South Beach, but be prepared to pay, as garage and metered parking are common. But if you’d rather stay close to the action, there are a number of hotels lining the island that will leave you within a stone’s throw of the Atlantic shoreline.
Best Family Beaches in Florida
Whether you’re planning a family trip to Florida or are a Florida resident searching for a change of scenery for you and your kids, there are plenty of great spots that offer a family-friendly atmosphere. However, we think that the best family beaches in Florida are St. Augustine Beach and Fort De Soto State Park & Beach.
St. Augustine Beach
Located on the northeast Florida coast, on Anastasia Island, St. Augustine beach offers fun and relaxation for the whole family. The beach features a covered beachside pavilion, a long fishing pier, a splash park, a sand volleyball court, and more. As you can see, there are activities for everyone in the family to enjoy.
If you’re looking to lounge, you can rent a big beach umbrella. Or for the more active members of your family, consider renting a surfboard, paddleboard, skimboard, or kayak. There are also plenty of inland activities in the near vicinity. You can check out the San Marco Fort in downtown St. Augustine or stroll the historic streets of the city’s colonial quarter.
You will find lots of family-friendly accommodations conveniently located near the beach, such as condominiums and extended stays. Or if you would rather stay on the mainland, the beach is just a 15-minute drive from downtown St. Augustine. Fortunately, the area offers ample parking options within walking distance of the shore.
Fort De Soto State Park & Beach
Located just south of St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach, Fort De Soto State Park spans five islands that boast beautiful beaches and activities for kids and adults of all ages. Fort De Soto’s North Beach has been recommended by Parents Magazine as a great seaside destination for kids. Your little ones will love the pirate ship playground and tidal pool.
However, there’s something for everyone at Fort De Soto State Park and Beach. History lovers should check out the park’s fort and Quartermaster Museum. More active members of the family can hop on a bike and explore the park’s seven miles of paved trails or rent a canoe or kayak to get a firsthand glimpse at some of the manatees that inhabit the area.
The park also boasts a dog-friendly beach, fishing areas, and one of the state’s best beachfront campgrounds. The sites are equipped with water, electricity, charcoal grills, and picnic tables, offering a comfortable and convenient camping experience.
But for the less rustic visitors, cabins and houses are available for rental in the park as well. The area has plenty of amenities, such as snack bars and gift shops. And if you choose to drive in from the mainland, you can park at the spacious and conveniently located lot.
Prettiest Beaches in Florida
Florida has no shortage of beautiful views, but there are some sights in the Sunshine State that are simply breathtaking. If you’re on the hunt for which is the prettiest beach in Florida, look no further than Flagler Beach and Santa Rosa Beach.
With one of the most unique Florida shorelines, Flagler Beach is a must-visit for those seeking beautiful sights. Located on the Atlantic Coast between St. Augustine and Daytona Beach, this area is sure to take your breath away with its six miles of cinnamon-colored coquina sand.
The unique sand, old-fashioned pier, blue Atlantic waters, and natural landscape all add to the area’s aesthetic appeal. However, the views aren’t the only thing that Flagler Beach has to offer. The downtown area boasts a quaint shopping area, or check out some of Flagler’s various art galleries.
Those looking for a more active getaway can go horseback riding on the beach, head to the golf course, or rent kayaks and paddleboards. Flagler Beach is also a great destination for animal lovers. Nearby you’ll find a sea turtle hospital, and if you visit at the right time (December-March), you may even spot some whales.
There are plenty of dining options with a view in the Flagler Beach area, so you can enjoy your meal while glancing out at the Atlantic Ocean. And to top it all off, the beach is pet-friendly and offers free parking.
Santa Rosa & Area Beaches
Located along Florida’s famous Emerald Coast, Santa Rosa Beach has some of the whitest sand and clearest waters you’ll find in this state. Santa Rosa Beach is actually an area that spans from Choctawhatchee Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. This beautiful beach neighborhood, located in South Walton County, was in fact dubbed one of Travel + Leisure magazine’s favorite towns in the United States.
Santa Rosa Beach is not just one beach, but a collection of beautiful seaside destinations. One of the county’s beaches is actually also called Santa Rosa Beach, and this area, located on the Gulf of Mexico, offers a pristine coastline with soft white sand, crystalline waters, and breathtaking sunrises and sunsets.
Some of the other area beaches that deserve mention are Blue Mountain Beach and Grayton Beach State Park. Blue Mountain Beach, also located on the Gulf of Mexico some six miles up the coast from Santa Rosa Beach, is home to the highest elevation in South Walton County (a whopping 65 feet). Aside from breathtaking ocean views, Blue Mountain Beach boasts plenty of delicious dining options! From tacos to barbeque, and how could we forget the best-selling handmade ice cream?!
Along the same South Walton Gulf Coast, you’ll find Grayton Beach State Park. Santa Rosa Beach is the best destination for nature lovers. It offers a pristine coastline, fishing and paddling on the park’s inland lake, and four miles of forest trails. You can even stay overnight in one of the park’s comfortable cabins or set up camp at a rustic campsite.
If you’re coming in from out of town, you can fly into Destin Fort-Walton Beach Airport, which is located just 34 miles from Santa Rosa Beach. There are plenty of lodging options in the area, including beach resorts, vacation rentals, and seaside condominiums.
Favorite White Sand Beaches in Florida
White sand beaches are a Florida specialty. The soft quartz sand found in these areas provides the perfect surface for seaside lounging. White sand beaches are undoubtedly some of the best beaches in Florida. We can’t exactly say where the best white sand beaches are in Florida as it depends on one’s preferences. But here are a few of our favorite white sand beaches: Pensacola Beach, Fort Myers Beach, and Naples Beach.
Rated one of TripAdvisor’s Top 15 Beaches in the U.S. in 2021, Pensacola Beach is considered by many to be a can’t-miss destination on the Florida Gulf Coast. This beach is actually located on the barrier island of Santa Rosa (not to be confused with Santa Rosa Beach), which spans 18 miles of white sand beaches.
Pensacola Beach, found on the western tip of the Sunshine State, offers a variety of activities aside from lounging on its sugary sand. It’s a great area to take a dolphin cruise, or head out to the fishing pier and cast your line into the crystal clear waters.
Nature-lovers should check out the Pensacola Beach Eco-Trail, which leads visitors on a tour of the area’s flora and fauna. Keep an eye out for dolphins, reptiles, a variety of birds, and native plants. And for the more active of the bunch, try out some of the numerous water sports offered at Pensacola Beach, such as surfing, sailing, or jet skiing.
There are plenty of places to stay in the Pensacola Beach area, including hotels, vacation rentals, and bed & breakfasts. And when it comes to dining, you can choose between beachside restaurants, breweries, food trucks, and more.
Fort Myers Beach
You’ll find Fort Myers Beach on Estero Island, located just off of the southwest Florida coast. The island is connected to the mainland via Matanzas Pass Bridge and Bonita Beach Causeway, though there are plenty of hotels and other lodging options on the island.
Fort Myers Beach boasts seven miles of coastline on the Gulf of Mexico, showcasing soft, white, crystalline sand. The area is excellent for dolphin sightings, or head out on a relaxing catamaran sail. When you’re there, be sure to catch a sunset from the end of the beach’s fishing pier.
Conveniently located close to the shore you will find numerous restaurants and bars. And if you’re looking to get your shopping fix, head to Times Square, the heart of Estero Island’s downtown. Here you’ll find boutique shops, galleries of local artists, and plenty of outdoor dining options to refuel after a day on the town.
Another great excursion in the area is Lovers Key State Park. Here you can head out for a bike ride, do some fishing, or kayak alongside wild manatees. If you’re planning on driving in from out of town, know that there are various parking options at Fort Myers beach. You can find lots conveniently located close to the downtown or next to the beach.
Naples Beach, or the Beach at Naples Pier, is a long stretch of coast that showcases soft white sand and unobstructed views of the Gulf of Mexico. Located less than a mile from downtown Naples, the area is within walking distance of the town’s numerous dining and shopping options.
The pier at Naples Beach stretches 1,000 feet into the Gulf, making it an ideal fishing spot. There is a concession stand conveniently located halfway down the pier, which sells fishing bait, snacks, and beach supplies. Beachgoers will enjoy the beach volleyball courts and warm turquoise waters, which are perfect for taking a dip.
There are plenty of parking options near the beach, ranging from metered to pay-by-space. There are even parking permits available for residents. You will also find convenient amenities located in close proximity to the shore, such as restrooms and various dining options.
Favorite Quiet Beaches in Florida
For those looking for a more toned-down environment, there are plenty of quiet beaches where you can sit back and relax. Forget about big parties, crazy adventure activities, or hoards of tourists. Our favorite quiet beaches in Florida are Sebastian Inlet State Park and Crescent Beach.
Sebastian Inlet State Park
Considered to be one of the best saltwater fishing areas off the east coast of Florida, Sebastian Inlet State Park offers three miles of untouched Atlantic beaches. Fishing fanatics can try their hand at catching some mackerel, snook, or bluefish. Meanwhile, surfers can head out to the break for some of the best surfing conditions you’ll find on the Eastern Seaboard.
Other relaxing activities include birding, shelling, and picnicking. There are also a couple of museums in the park, such as the Sebastian Fishing Museum and the McLarty Treasure Museum.
If you’re really looking for a quiet escape, reserve one of the park’s more than 50 campsites. Sites at the main campground are all equipped with electricity, picnic tables, and campfires, and nearby you will find restrooms and a Wi-Fi hotspot. And for the more rustic campers, check out the park’s primitive campground located at the Bayside Marina.
You will find Sebastian Inlet State Park along U.S. Route 1 between Palm Bay and Vero Beach. There are various parking options on the inlet, and more parking is available on the mainland near the south side of the park.
Located some ten miles down the coast from downtown St. Augustine, Crescent Beach is a quiet and relaxing Atlantic Ocean escape. This area is much less crowded than many other Florida beaches, making it the perfect option for beachgoers looking for rest and relaxation.
Its hard-packed sand makes it the ideal spot for long walks down the shore, beach volleyball, morning runs, bike rides, or even seaside horseback riding. Visitors who are looking to stay close to the shore have the option to rent beach houses, cottages, or condos in a convenient location.
If you’d rather drive into the area, there is an ample parking lot located within walking distance of the beach. The area also offers other amenities, such as restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and a pavilion.
If you really want to disconnect, head to Matanzas State Forest, which can be reached by car from the beach in about ten minutes. Here you can enjoy hiking, biking, bird watching, camping, and more. Keep an eye out for local wildlife and see if you can spot one of the bald eagles or otters who call the forest home.
Best Shelling Beaches in Florida
If searching for shells is more your thing, there is no shortage of shelling beaches in the Sunshine State. You can find gorgeous conches and coveted sand dollars at our top picks for shelling in Florida: Turner Beach on Sanibel Island and Tigertail Beach on Marco Island.
If you pay a visit to the Sanibel Island area, specifically Captiva, Turner Beach is your spot for seaside lounging and shelling. The area boasts over 250 different kinds of seashells native to the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean region.
You will find Turner Beach along an approximately 15-mile stretch of beaches on the island. One of the reasons that we recommend Turner Beach is because it tends to be much less crowded than the other areas you pass before reaching our recommended spot. This means that the seashell offering is more abundant and diverse than what you might find at other, more popular beaches.
Once you’ve gotten your share of shell hunting, there are plenty of other things to do in the area. Turner Beach is also an excellent fishing spot. Head out on the beach’s rock jetty to cast your line or simply snap some beautiful pictures.
Turner Beach is about a 45-minute drive from Fort Myers, and there is a parking lot conveniently located right next to the beach. But there are also lodging options on the island if you would like to stay nearby. You can find cottages, vacation rentals, apartments, and more on Captiva Island, or stay next door on Sanibel Island, where you can find a variety of places to stay.
Head to the southwest coast of the state and you’ll find Marco Island among the mangroves and Everglades. Marco Island is a well-known Florida Gulf Coast getaway. Though the area as a whole is highly developed (resort hotels and golf courses abound), Tigertail Beach is a natural escape.
The beach is a Collier County park, and you’ll find a paid parking area, a snack bar, and changing rooms at the developed part of the beach. But once you cross the beach’s roughly 50-yard-long lagoon, you’ll find yourself along three miles of untouched coastline.
Its challenging access is what has helped to preserve Tigertail Beach. Once you make the 15-20 minute trek across the lagoon, you’ll be able to search for an endless amount of gorgeous shells while dolphins swim offshore and ospreys fill the air.
Once you’re ready to head back to civilization, you’ll find plenty of things to do on Marco Island. Take a sightseeing boat tour, play a round of golf, or check out the Marco Island Historical Museum. The area also has a great offering of shopping and dining options.
You Can’t Go Wrong With Any of These Florida Beaches!
As you can see, there is a Florida beach for everyone. Whether you’re looking for adventure, relaxation, or simply a picturesque place to soak up the sun, the Sunshine State offers a diverse variety of seaside getaways. For us, these are the best beaches in Florida, and we hope that this list helps you find your ideal oceanside escape.