The 15 Most Charming Small Towns in Florida

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Uncover the magic of Florida's 15 most delightful small towns.
Updated Feb. 7, 2024
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When you think of Florida, the spotlight often shines on international cities like Miami and world-renowned attractions such as Walt Disney World.

However, tucked away from the theme parks and crowds of tourists are some of Florida's hidden gems: charming small towns with quirky characters and fun experiences.

Whether you're looking for unspoiled nature, local shopping hubs, or a lazy day by the water, step up your travel game and visit one of these charming small towns in Florida.

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Amelia Island

jovannig/Adobe coastline of Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island offers visitors a blend of indoor and outdoor fun. Here, you will find Victorian architecture, riverfront culture, and beaches on the Atlantic coast.

Stroll through the streets of Fernandina Beach, where cute shops and seafood restaurants line the waterfront.

Anna Maria Island

Unwind/Adobe coquina beach with white sand

Anna Maria Island is a hidden gem along the Gulf of Mexico. With its sugar-sand beaches and warm turquoise waters, this small town clings to its laid-back atmosphere despite the odds.

Explore the island by golf carts, enjoy fresh local cuisine, and take in breathtaking sunsets at Bean Point.

Cape Canaveral

L. Paul Mann/Adobe missile-launch-from-cape-canaveral

Known for its connection to space exploration, Cape Canaveral is more than a launchpad.

Explore the Wizard of Oz Museum after a day at the Kennedy Space Center. You can also enjoy a fishing trip on the Atlantic Ocean and look for all the kinds of wildlife.

Bioluminescent kayaking near the Haulover Canal is a bucket-list activity in summer.

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Cedar Key

Margaret Burlingham/Adobe cedar key florida

Cedar Key is a quaint town on Florida's Nature Coast celebrated for its artistic community, local seafood, and rugged yet scenic ambiance.

This small town is filled with colorful buildings and friendly locals. It is a great place to enjoy outdoor activities, get out on the water, and eat fresh clam chowder.

Cortez

michael/Adobe aerial looking from cortez beach

Cortez is one of the oldest working fishing villages in Florida. Its residents have fought hard to preserve its historic heritage, resisting development typical elsewhere in the state.

Visit during stone crab season to sample great local cuisine after spending the day on pristine nearby beaches.

Local attractions include the Florida Maritime Museum, which features a butterfly garden housed in a historic schoolhouse.

Crystal River

TRE Wheeler/Adobe Homosassa River

Crystal River is the manatee capital of the world, a place where you can legally snorkel with manatees. It's a great experience in the spring-fed waters of Kings Bay.

With its small-town charm, Crystal River has a variety of seafood restaurants, shops, and accommodations. Be sure to stop by nearby Homosassa Springs State Park for more epic wildlife viewing.

DeFuniak Springs

Felix Mizioznikov/Adobe lake defuniak florida

DeFuniak Springs is centered around the circular, spring-fed Lake DeFuniak, creating the backdrop for this small town in the Florida Panhandle.

Visitors can explore the historic district with its Victorian-era architecture, stroll around the lake, enjoy boating and water activities, and frequent the town's restaurants and lodgings.

Dunedin

robertmilleronline/Adobe Dunedin Causeway Honeymoon Island State Park In Florida

Located on Florida's Gulf Coast, Dunedin has the perfect blend of arts, nature, and Scottish heritage.

The town is known for its local arts scene and parks. Cycling aficionados will also enjoy the Pinellas Trail. Dunedin's Main Street, with its local shops and restaurants, has a welcoming vibe.

Nearby Honeymoon Island State Park has pristine beaches and nature trails to enjoy.

Dunnellon

Info Creates/Adobe dunnellon florida

Situated along the gorgeous Rainbow River, Dunnellon is heaven for nature lovers.

Known for its crystal-clear headsprings and water activities — including tubing and kayaking — the town is famous for its natural beauty. Visitors can also explore the historic district, take a riverboat cruise, and experience Old Florida vibes.

Stop at Swampy's and enjoy the famous gator bites while taking in the river view. Have high tea at Sweetie's as well.

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Key Largo

lucky-photo/Adobe sunny beach with coco palms and tropical sea

The Florida Keys consist of numerous small islands that are arguably one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Like the many other small towns in the Keys, Key Largo has its own charm, with colorful coral reefs, waterfront bars, and a Jimmy Buffett sense of escapism.

Snorkel with abundant marine life, nosh on some key lime pie, and enjoy the breathtaking drive along the Overseas Highway.

Fort Pierce

Stephen/Adobe fort-pierce-florida-panorama

Nestled on the Atlantic Ocean, Fort Pierce attracts many visitors thanks to its small-town energy and coastal charm.

Fort Pierce has stunning beaches, including the acclaimed Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, which is a great spot for water activities and viewing wildlife. The historic downtown has art galleries, shops, and numerous dining options.

Don't miss the Navy SEAL Museum and the farmers market on Saturdays.

Mount Dora

SR Productions/Adobe Downtown Mount Dora

Situated on the shores of Lake Dora, this quaint town is ripe with vintage charm, thanks to its historic downtown and cobblestone streets.

Mount Dora is known for its shops, art galleries, and waterfront. Visitors can take a boat tour, attend one of the town's many festivals, or simply enjoy the relaxed vibe that makes Mount Dora a quintessential Florida gem.

St. Augustine

SeanPavonePhoto/Adobe river bridge at st. augustine florida

St. Augustine is the oldest continuously inhabited colonial town in the U.S.. It's known for its Spanish Colonial architecture, the iconic Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, and a vibrant beach scene.

Downtown, you'll find landmarks such as the Oldest Wooden School House Museum & Gardens mixed in with plenty of shops and places to dine.

Wildlife enthusiasts will love St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoological Park, home to every crocodilian species.

Tarpon Springs

SR Productions/Adobe sponge diver statue

Tarpon Springs — known for its Greek heritage, sponge docks, and waterfront lifestyle — feels like it's in Europe. The downtown area is walkable and often bustling with activity.

Visitors can take Boat tours, explore the historic district with its cute shops, and enjoy authentic Greek cuisine and fresh seafood.

Palm Beach

jovannig/Adobe water color of palm beach

Palm Beach is a small town in populous South Florida known for its fancy estates, upscale shopping on Worth Avenue, and gorgeous Atlantic Beaches.

The town's opulent architecture, boutiques, and gourmet dining create an exclusive yet inviting atmosphere if you're feeling spendy.

A silver lining to those high prices is that you might be able to use your credit card to earn travel rewards that you can use on your next vacation.

Bottom Line

Drobot Dean/Adobe holding credit card and cellphone

Florida may be famous for Walt Disney World and South Beach, but there's so much more to love in the Sunshine State. Each of these small towns has something unique to offer.

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Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee

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Author Details

Cat Lafuente Cat Lafuente is a Florida-based writer and editor with extensive experience in digital and print content spaces. Her own personal finance journey — particularly consolidating debt and paying it off, in turn boosting her credit score and becoming a homeowner — inspired her to join the FinanceBuzz team; she hopes she can help others do the same.

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