15 Most Charming Seaside Towns in Florida

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From secluded getaways to small towns with rich dining scenes, don’t overlook these quaint beach towns.
Updated April 9, 2024
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Active retirees enjoy the sunset

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While Miami and Tampa might be the first spots that spring to mind when thinking of Florida beaches, these big cities are not for everyone.

Luckily, Florida has much more to offer, with more than 800 miles of sandy beaches.

So, before you retire early to the Sunshine State — or merely plan your next getaway there — here are 15 of Florida’s most charming beach towns.

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Anna Maria Island

Unwind/Adobe coquina beach with white sand

Anna Maria is a Gulf Coast barrier island that offers beautiful, laid-back beaches, excellent waterfront dining options, and a delightful main street lined with an array of shops, galleries, and more.

The 7-mile-long island also offers plenty of thrilling attractions, such as boat tours and horseback riding.

Captiva Island

Ray Dukin/Adobe north captiva island

Located on Florida’s southwest coast, Captiva Island has a bit of something for everyone.

The beautiful beaches provide the ultimate relaxation, but there is also fun for more adventurous vacationers looking to snorkel or scuba dive. Check out the sea life on a boat tour, or hit the resorts and spas.

Clearwater Beach

artiom.photo/Adobe panoramic shot of city clearwater beach

Award-winning Clearwater Beach is a charming, family-friendly town that always has something going on.

From stunning beaches to excellent restaurants and seaside attractions such as dolphin cruises and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, there is fun for the whole gang.

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Cocoa Beach

lunamarina/Adobe cocoa beach pier

In addition to a charming beach town and stunning shoreline, Cocoa Beach is a great place to catch an out-of-this-world view.

The town’s proximity to Kennedy Space Center means you might just catch NASA or SpaceX doing a test launch while you are lounging on the beautiful white sands.

Delray Beach

Brandon Klein/Adobe Delray Beach Florida

A quaint beach town with an eclectic art scene, Delray Beach is located in the southern part of Palm Beach County.

It’s easy to get to — located right off Interstate 95 — and is known for hosting gallery nights and live music, and being home to some truly delicious dining options.

Gasparilla Island

bilanol/Adobe small town boca grande

Part of a chain of barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico, Gasparilla gives visitors the opportunity to bask in nature’s beauty.

The island is a great place to swim, snorkel, and fish. It is also well-known for its shelling — particularly in the winter months — and its historic lighthouse, Port Boca Grande Lighthouse.

Islamorada

DANLIN Media GmbH/Adobe Islamorada Florida Keys

Located in the Florida Keys, Islamorada has an idealistic and tranquil small-town feel. It also offers plenty to do, from fishing and kayaking to hiking and dolphin watching.

The area is also known for its local craft beer scene and excellent dining options.

Key Biscayne

kmiragaya/Adobe famous lighthouse at key biscayne

Just across the causeway from downtown Miami, Key Biscayne is a small barrier island filled with stunningly beautiful beaches and excellent dining options.

You will also find plenty of outdoor adventures, including boating, windsurfing, hiking, lighthouse tours, and more.

Lauderdale-by-the-Sea

PAG Photography/Adobe lauderdale by the sea

Just north of Fort Lauderdale, Lauderdale-by-the-Sea is a quieter beach town with its own old-world feel and charm.

It’s known as a great place to go shore diving, but the walkable community also boasts a beautiful beachfront district with delightful cafes, shops, and even a free shuttle.

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Madeira Beach

artiom.photo/Adobe madeira beach florida

“Mad Beach” may be a little livelier than some of the other quaint beach towns on this list, but the barrier island community still offers miles of beautiful and relaxing shoreline.

After lounging on the beach, there are plenty of activities for the whole family — including John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk, which has more than 100 shops and restaurants.

New Smyrna Beach

SailingAway/Adobe sunrise over flagler avenue florida

A low-key beach that offers the chance to kick back and relax, New Smyrna is located between tourist hot spots such as Orlando and Daytona.

With miles of beautiful shoreline along the Atlantic Ocean, there is a bit of something for vacationers of all types — from water sports to art galleries and top-notch boutiques and restaurants.

Pass-a-Grille Beach

artiom.photo/Adobe pass-a-grille beach park

Pass-a-Grille is located in the southern end of the St. Pete Beach district and has a quaint, old-Florida feel.

While it’s just a short drive from downtown St. Petersburg, Pass-a-Grille has its own charm. Here, you will discover famed ice cream parlors, outdoor art markets, rooftop bars, and top-notch restaurants.

Seaside

Heather/Adobe seaside florida

A small and tranquil town on the Gulf of Mexico, Seaside was designed to be something of a pedestrian oasis. That means it’s easy to get around on foot or by bike.

So, take in the natural beauty, delicious beach-side restaurants, shops, galleries, and more. Seaside is one of those places that will keep families coming back for generations.

Siesta Key

Solarisys/Adobe siesta key beach

Just a short ride from lively Sarasota, Siesta Key is a laid-back and beautiful beach town along Florida’s southwest coast.

Here, you will find a free trolley service to take you to plenty of shops, dining, and entertainment options at Siesta Key Village. You can also engage in fun, beachy activities such as fishing or parasailing.

Vero Beach

Felix Mizioznikov/Adobe vero beach fl

If you are looking to avoid large crowds, step up your travel game and put Vero Beach on your itinerary.

Something of a hidden gem, the Vero area boasts 26 miles of beaches, a charming downtown area, excellent local cuisine, and plenty of entertainment options such as galleries and a theater.

Bottom line

Maridav/Adobe couple biking

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Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

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