10 Florida Beach Cities Perfect for a Getaway

Ashlee and Pablo smiling along a pier with the ocean in the background in Florida.

In a place nicknamed ‘The Sunshine State,’ you can expect a lot of sun, surf, and sand on a trip to Florida. From sunbathing to snorkeling to tons of boardwalk activities, Florida is full of exciting opportunities for adventure seekers.

Visitors flock to the sandy beaches to enjoy Florida’s balmy weather and unique outdoor activities all year long. For a sunny vacation spot or a romantic getaway, keep reading to learn more about these fun Florida beach cities.

St. George Island

Ashlee enjoying the beach at St. George Island.

Ashlee enjoying the beach at St. George Island.

Just off the Gulf Coast of Florida, St. George Island is a 28-mile barrier island of white sand beaches and picture-perfect beach homes. Visitors to the island can enjoy boat tours or rent bikes and explore everything St. George Island has to offer. It has beautiful blue water, a stunning shoreline, and wildlife. The beaches are ranked the top in the country.

Take a trip to Dr. Julian G Bruce St. George Island State Park, located on the east coast of the island. The park is open every day of the year from 8 am to sundown, where people can enjoy fishing and kayaking, and can even camp on the park’s grounds.

Don’t forget to visit the historical Cape St. George Lighthouse, built in 1852, and is still a beacon of light for incoming ships and boats to the island. 

Our favorite place to eat on the island is BJ’s Pizza and Subs  — they have gluten-free pizza.

Be sure to make reservations to camp at St. George Island State Park in advance. It can be hard to secure a booking. We booked 11 months in advance, right when the reservation window opened. We highly recommend catching a sunrise or two if you’re camping.

Apalachicola is also a cute place to visit just across the bridge. We loved sampling mead at the Apalachicola Bee Company. Such a neat place!


Sarasota’s Siesta Key Beach is one of the top-ranked beaches in the country. Known for its powdery white sand, Siesta Beach is a fun place to relax.

Turtle Beach, near the south end of Siesta Key, is a quieter and ideal place to catch up with your significant other away from the crowds. 

For outdoor enthusiasts, discover the 58 square miles of the Myakka River State Park. Observe the local wildlife on a stroll down the Birdwalk Bridge, or rent canoes and kayaks to enjoy the park by water.

Lido Key Beach is another pristine shoreline that offers kayaking and sunset cruises, and you may even see some dolphins if you’re lucky!


Pablo enjoying Gulf Islands National Seashore at Fort Pickens.

Pablo enjoying Gulf Islands National Seashore at Fort Pickens.

Undeveloped and preserved beaches are rare, but the Gulf Islands National Seashore offers visitors natural shorelines and crystal clear waters away from urban life.

Stretching from Cat Island, Mississippi, to Okaloosa, Florida, the Gulf Islands National Seashore is ideal for camping, hiking, and watching wildlife. It is one of our favorite places in the U.S. and we have seen dolphins close to shore twice while visiting.

Pensacola is also home to the Pensacola Lighthouse, built in 1859 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors can climb the 177 steps to the top of the lookout to take in views of the Gulf Coast, then hike through nearby Fort Barrancas and explore the historical military outpost at the entrance of Pensacola Bay. 

If you’re planning on camping, we’ve camped at Fort Pickens (Gulf Islands) and Big Lagoon State Park. Both are excellent places to park your RV near Pensacola.


Halfway between Pensacola and Panama City along the Gulf Coast, visitors can experience water activities and the white sandy beaches of Destin.

Henderson Beach State Park offers more than 60 campsites connected to the beach with access to nature trails, sand dunes, and wildlife. You’ll want to book right when the reservation system opens up for your dates — this is a hot spot for RVers. We are never able to book a spot here!

Exploring the area by boat is the next best thing to do. There’s no shortage of boat tours, from fishing charters to dolphin cruises. If you’d like a romantic dinner cruise for you and your partner, take in a sunset dinner and fireworks show with SunQuest Cruises.

Panama City

Ashlee & Pablo having fun at Shell Island near Panama City, FL.

Ashlee & Pablo having fun at Shell Island near Panama City.

Panama City might be known as a popular spring break destination for college students, but this bustling area is home to two state parks: St. Andrews State Park and Camp Helen State Park.

The area boasts 27 beaches along the Gulf Coast. From surfing to snorkeling, camping, and hiking, Panama City is a great stop for those looking to spend time outdoors.

For a rural and wild beach experience, take a ferry to Shell Island (link to our YouTube video) and spend half a day soaking in the sun. This is another one of our favorite places in Florida. You can catch the ferry at St. Andrews State Park.

St. Andrews is also a neat place to camp. Campsites are right along St. Andrew Bay. 

Though we haven’t done this, you can scuba dive off the coast, nicknamed the “Wreck Capital of the South” due to all the shipwrecks collected at the bottom of the ocean. 

St. Augustine

Located in the northeastern corner of the state, St. Augustine is rich in history and culture. The Castillo de San Marcos National Monument is the oldest military fort in the U.S. Visitors can explore the grounds overlooking the Matanzas River and the Atlantic Ocean beyond. 

Anastasia State Park offers more than 1,600 acres of tidal marshes, sandy beaches, and sand dunes to enjoy. This park is a wonderful area to camp overnight or spend the day kayaking or canoeing on the water. There are also many areas to hike along nature trails and bird-watch if you want a low-key outdoor experience. 

St. Augustine is the oldest city in America. If you’re into ghost tours, like us, we hear this is the place to do one. 

Key West

Beautiful beach with a palm tree.

Beach with a palm tree.

Key West is the southernmost island in the Straits of Florida. Although the island is only 4.2 square miles, Key West is home to several historical landmarks such as the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park, and the Harry S. Truman Little White House

Smathers Beach is a popular tourist destination with soft white sand plus areas for watersports and volleyball. If you’re looking for somewhere quiet to spend a casual day on the beach with your significant other, try Clarence S. Higgs Memorial Beach Park. Aside from the calmer atmosphere, you can enjoy snorkeling and paddle boarding, or rent chairs and umbrellas to picnic on the beach. 

Fort Lauderdale

A quick 30 minutes south of Boca Raton will take you to Fort Lauderdale along the Atlantic Ocean. Hollywood Beach is a must-see spot for its classic palm tree-lined beach and golden sand. You can also rollerblade or bike down the paved boardwalk or sunbathe on the sandy beach.  

Wildlife fans should check out Flamingo Gardens, one of the oldest botanical gardens in South Florida. There are more than 60 acres of natural attractions, including a hummingbird garden, a butterfly garden, and a flamingo pond.

If you’re looking for a day at the beach, Pompano Beach and its iconic Fisher Family Pier is a great place to people-watch and wade in the warm Floridian waters. 


boating in florida

Boating in Florida.

Tampa is a bustling city with indoor and outdoor activities for families, couples, and solo travelers. The Hillsborough River State Park is an oasis right outside downtown Tampa, with nature trails, wildlife, and overnight campgrounds. Visitors can also view Class II river rapids in the park, a rarity in metropolitan areas like Tampa.

Water Street is the trendy place to go for food, shopping, or staying in boutique hotels.

For anyone who has dreamed of going on safari, make sure you visit Safari Wilderness Ranch. This wilderness area provides 260 acres of natural habitats for animals, like zebras, camels, cheetahs, and red-ruffed lemurs. You can go on drive-thru safari tours and have a safari experience without ever leaving the country! This is kind of cool. Who doesn’t like seeing zebras?

Daytona Beach

With more than 23 miles of shoreline, Daytona Beach is known for its crowds and busy pier. For a laid-back atmosphere, Ormond Beach is just north of Daytona Beach and a great spot for relaxation, beachcombing, and walking along the shore. 

To avoid the crowds, take a trip to Tomoka State Park for a calming day of catching fish or canoeing along the peaceful waterways. At just half a mile, the inviting atmosphere at Tomoka State Park is also a fun and secluded area for a cozy picnic with your significant other. 

Posted in

Zaida Marston


  1. William B Randall on June 12, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    These beach destinations sound great !!