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The 15 Best Beaches in Florida

Whether you’re looking for a weekend getaway or you want to ride some waves, the best beaches in Florida will provide unique adventures. The sand and the sun are only the beginning. Do you want to swim with dolphins? How about a sunset cruise? Do you have a craving for seafood? You’ll find that and more in one of the only places with a state shell, the horse conch.

panama city beach

Panama City Beach lies about 98 miles southwest from Tallahassee in the northwest Panhandle of Florida in  Bay County. It is on the Gulf of Mexico side with 9 miles of shoreline. Other nearby towns include Youngstown and Miramar Beach.

Getting To Panama City Beach

From the north, visitors to the area can take Florida Highway 79 South the US 98 directly to your destination. US 98 is also the best route coming from the west or south. Traffic is manageable even for residents commuting to their workplaces. However, there is a noticeable spike during spring break.

Parking At Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach isn’t a large town at just under 19 square miles. Recent development has favored condos over single-family dwellings. That puts a pinch on parking sometimes.

Most of the time, I find a spot.

Photos Of Panama City Beach

coastal view of panama city beach florida with a clear blue sky and buildings in the background
bright sunny day at panama city beach florida with wooden beach lounge chairs
boardwalk leading to panama city beach during the evening time with a sunset

There is a broad range of activities with some unique offerings. The water is the backdrop for most things to do, whether it’s taking a sunset cruise or brushing up on the local history. A lot of these types of attractions appeal to a variety of audiences with the beaches more focused on the younger set.

Good For Yes / No

 

Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Swimming

 

 

Yes

 

Fishing

 

 

Yes

 

Snorkeling

 

 

Yes

 

Kite Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Paddle Boarding

 

 

Yes

 

Beach Sports

 

 

Yes

The scenery alone will attract all ages. The area is a popular spring-break destination spot and it may not appeal to seniors who are looking for a relaxing getaway. Many accommodations have minimum age requirements for renting.

Good For Yes / No

 

Young Adults

 

 

Yes

 

Families

 

 

Yes

 

Elderly

 

 

Yes

Panama City Beach Weather

It is quite hot June through September with average temperatures in the 90s. The area is less sunny from July through September and July is the wettest month. May and September are the ideal times to visit this subtropical environment.

Panama City Beach has recovered well since Hurricane Michael struck on October 10, 2018. It was especially devastating since it was a Category 5 storm event and the largest to hit the United States ever.

Top 5 Places To Stay Near Panama City Beach

There is a lot of condo rental properties in Panama City Beach. You’ll also see many resorts, which are geared toward the millennial age group. The best places to stay are the larger chains that accommodate the crowds well.

  • Holiday Inn Express & Suites
  • Driftwood Lodge
  • Country Inn and Suites
  • Holiday Inn Club Vacations Panama City Beach Resort
  • Fontainebleau Terrace

Top 5 Things To Do Near Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach has the typical attractions like waterparks, but it also takes advantage of its seaside location to offer standout visitor experiences. The unifying theme is the water, whether you’re snorkeling in it or riding the ways or observing wildlife.

  • Shipwreck Island Waterpark
  • Catamaran Snorkel and Dolphin Watch Tour on The Footloose
  • Sunset Catamaran Sail on The Privateer
  • Skywheel Panama City Beach
  • Beginner Scuba Diving Tour

Top 5 Restaurants Near Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach has a lot of seafood and specifically, sushi restaurants. You’ll also see ones that play up the beach, cajun, and Mexican themes which give the area an eclectic feel. Mixed with the posh establishments are dive bars and taverns.

  • Runaway Island
  • Hook’d Pier Bar & Grill
  • Nick’s Slice Of Brooklyn Pizzeria & Bar
  • Firefly
  • Salty Goat Saloon

cocoa beach

You’ll find Cocoa Beach, of I Dream of Jeannie fame, directly south of the Cape Canaveral Base in east-central Florida on the Atlantic Ocean in Brevard County. It is part of the Thousand Islands in the Banana River Lagoon and is one hour east of Orlando.

Getting To Cocoa Beach

There are a few roads that go from the mainland to the island where Cocoa Beach lies. In the north, there is Florida State Roads A1A and 520. To the south, there is Florida State Road 404. All roads cross over the Indian River, Merritt Island, and the Banana River.

 

Traffic is often heavy, especially near Cape Canaveral. The beaches are also often crowded. There are several festivals throughout the year which adds to the congestion.

Parking At Cocoa Beach

Timing is everything when it comes to Cocoa Beach. Many of the events draw thousands of visitors and there are limited spaces near the beach. Residents also use the city’s network of channels for transportation, which is an option if you rent a boat.

 

Sometimes I find a spot.

Photos Of Cocoa Beach

Surfing is the number one attraction with the East Coast Surfing Hall of Fame and Ron Jon’s Surf Shop. Both make Cocoa Beach a destination spot for those interested in the sport. Bear in mind that there is the unspoken surfer law, especially in a community so ingrained in this pastime. Respect the locals and the rules.

Good For Yes / No

 

Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Swimming

 

 

Yes

 

Fishing

 

 

Yes

 

Snorkeling

 

 

Yes

 

Kite Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Paddle Boarding

 

 

Yes

 

Beach Sports

 

 

No

As a well-known tourist spot, Cocoa Beach can get crowded during the tourist season. Its proximity to the Kennedy Space Center makes it a popular destination for individuals of all ages. Visitors who want to relax should seek the beaches off the beaten path.

Good For Yes / No

 

Young Adults

 

 

Yes

 

Families

 

 

Yes

 

Elderly

 

 

Yes

Cocoa Beach Weather

May through October is the rainy season for Cocoa Beach. March through the beginning of May is the best time to catch some rays. You can expect partly cloudy skies most of the year. July and August are the hottest months.

Top 5 Places To Stay Near Cocoa Beach

While there are the usual chains, you’ll find some gems with smaller venues that include cottages and guesthouses. Many are more secluded, offering some welcome privacy.

  • Oceanfront Cottages
  • The Inn At Cocoa Beach
  • Sea Aire Motel
  • La Quinta by Wyndham Cocoa Beach Oceanfront
  • Beach Place Guesthouses

Top 5 Things To Do Near Cocoa Beach

The Kennedy Space Center is the star attraction of the area. However, the location of Cocoa Beach also provides many opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing. The seascape is stunning, making even walks along the beach or on the pier inviting. And no trip to Cocoa Beach is complete without a visit to I Dream of Jeannie Lane.

  • Kennedy Space Center
  • Cocoa Beach Pier
  • Fin Expeditions Kayak Tour
  • Ron Jon Surf Shop
  • Fin & Fly Fishing Charters

Top 5 Restaurants Near Cocoa Beach

Seafood is top-notch here, making it a destination spot for the freshest you will find. You’ll also see some different food experiences, such as Asian fusion and Caribbean cuisines.

  • Florida’s Fresh Grill
  • Fat Kahunas
  • Jazzy’s Mainely Lobster and Seafood
  • The Tiny Turtle
  • Crackers Island Grille

New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach lies north of Cocoa Beach, also on the east coast on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean in Volusia County. Nearby cities include Glencoe, Port Orange, and Edgewater. It is 14 miles south of Daytona Beach.

Getting To New Smyrna Beach

From the north, US Interstate 95 South provides direct access to the exits that will get you to New Smyrna Beach, specifically, Florida State Road 44 East. Alternatively, US Highway 1 South will provide lovely ocean views. These roads will also get you there from the south. Traffic can get congested, especially during the height of the tourist season.

Parking At New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is a larger town than some other popular destinations. However, there’s a reason it’s a part of the so-called Fun Coast. Its proximity to Daytona Beach often brings a lot of daytrippers which can add to the congestion.

 

Most of the time, I find a spot.

Photos Of New Smyrna Beach

Surfing is one of the primary activities in New Smyrna Beach. There is golfing and hiking in one of the many parks dotting the area including Tiger Bay State Forest. Nearby Daytona Beach Parasail can add just the right amount of excitement to your vacation.

 

It’s worth noting that New Smyrna Beach and Volusia County have the notorious reputation of being known for shark bites. It is imperative to heed any warnings about sightings. Stay safe out there.

Good For Yes / No

 

Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Swimming

 

 

Yes

 

Fishing

 

 

Yes

 

Snorkeling

 

 

Yes

 

Kite Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Paddle Boarding

 

 

Yes

 

Beach Sports

 

 

Yes

The climate of New Smyrna Beach makes it an excellent option for all kinds of outdoor activities for visitors of all ages. Art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Atlantic Center for the Arts.

Good For Yes / No

 

Young Adults

 

 

Yes

 

Families

 

 

Yes

 

Elderly

 

 

Yes

New Smyrna Beach Weather

Most of the year, New Smyrna Beach enjoys partly cloudy skies. The best months for sun are in the late spring.

 

After May, precipitation peaks through the summer before settling down in October. Average temperatures are around 60 degrees in the winter with summer highs approaching 90 degrees or more.

 

Rain is common in September and October.

Top 5 Places To Stay Near New Smyrna Beach

The recommended accommodations to seek out are the independently-owned smaller inns and motels. They are gorgeous with a plethora of amenities that the larger chains don’t offer. Visitors will find the quiet they seek.

  • Anchor Inn
  • Night Swan Intracoastal Bed and Breakfast
  • Black Dolphin Inn
  • Nocturne Motel
  • The Riverview Hotel

Top 5 Things To Do Near New Smyrna Beach

The area is rich with many museums that celebrate its history. There are also several parks.

 

Daytona Beach is always worth the trip and boaters can take to the water with a rental from Backwater Marine for some manatee spotting.

  • Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
  • Smyrna Dunes Park
  • New Smyrna Museum of History
  • Turtle Mound National Historic Site
  • The Bob Ross Art Workshop

Top 5 Restaurants Near New Smyrna Beach

While seafood is always on the menu, you’ll also find a diverse collection of places to eat with cuisines that range from Cuban and  Italian to American.

  • Sonapa Grille
  • Yellow Dog Eats Kitchen & Bar
  • Limoncello South
  • The Garlic
  • Third Wave Cafe

Vero Beach

Vero Beach is in east-central Florida on the Atlantic Ocean in Indian River County. Nearby cities include Gifford, Florida Ridge, and Wabasso. It is about 128 miles southeast of Tampa.

Getting To Vero Beach

From the north, you can take either US Interstate 95 or US Highway 1 South to get to Vero Beach. From 95, you’ll need to exit on Florida State Road 60 East to go directly into town and the water. US Highway 1 or Florida State Road 1A1 can get you there from the south.

 

You’ll find a lot to do within walking distance of downtown accommodations. These main roads are often congested during tourist season. There is also bus and rail service to the area.

Parking At Vero Beach

Vero Beach doesn’t have the cache of Orlando or other popular destinations. However, it does have its loyal following because of Indian River Lagoon and a broad range of water sports. There are 26 miles of shoreline, so there’s plenty of space.

 

I always find a spot.

Photos Of Vero Beach

Vero Beach is smaller than the usual tourist spots, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to do. It boils down to deciding how you want to experience the water.

 

You can do the paddling yourself or have someone else take the helm and lead the way. Anglers will find many opportunities to throw out a line along the Indian River Lagoon.

 

Kayaking and boating are also excellent choices for a day on the water.

Good For Yes / No

 

Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Swimming

 

 

Yes

 

Fishing

 

 

Yes

 

Snorkeling

 

 

Yes

 

Kite Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Paddle Boarding

 

 

Yes

 

Beach Sports

 

 

Yes

The diversity of the attractions makes Vero Beach an excellent choice for visitors of all ages.

 

It is especially accommodating for families. Outdoor activities are the primary offering.

Good For Yes / No

 

Young Adults

 

 

Yes

 

Families

 

 

Yes

 

Elderly

 

 

Yes

Vero Beach Weather

Vero Beach, with its more southerly location and oceans setting, experiences a humid, subtropical climate.

 

The best times to visit are January through April and in December. Other times of the year are often rainy with daily storms, especially in June and September.

Top 5 Places To Stay Near Vero Beach

Visitors will have a wide range of accommodation options from cottages to spas to charming boutique hotels. Affordable mom-and-pop motels are also available.

 

If you’re looking for the ultimate place to stay, check out the Disney Resort in Vero Beach, located just north of town.

  • Costa d’Este Beach Resort
  • Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa
  • SpringHill Suites by Marriott
  • The Caribbean Court Boutique Hotel
  • South Beach Place

Top 5 Things To Do Near Vero Beach

There is a diverse plate of activities that include cultural attractions, boat tours, and fishing charters. You can sightsee via an airboat, kayak, or even a seaplane.

 

You can start your journey on the Treasure Coast Wine & Ale Trail at the American Icon or Walking Tree Brewery.

  • McKee Botanical Garden
  • Round Island Beach Park
  • McLarty Treasure Museum
  • Sea Sup Go Boat Tours
  • Treasure Coast Seaplanes

Top 5 Restuarants Near Vero Beach

Vero Beach offers visitors a broad selection of dining options along with some rare gems.

 

You can enjoy anything from Southern cooking to a Hawaiian luau. Prices range from fine dining to hole-in-the-wall dives for a quick bite.

  • Southern Social
  • Crab Stop Vero Beach
  • The Barefoot Cafe
  • American Icon Brewery
  • Michael’s On 7th

Delray Beach

Delray Beach is in Palm Beach County in southeastern Florida on the Atlantic Ocean.

 

It is about 10 miles north of Boca Raton and six miles south of Boynton Beach. Other nearby towns are Kings Point and Highland Beach.

Getting To Delray Beach

From the north or south, US Interstate 95, US Highway 1, and Florida State Road A1A, affectionately known as Ocean Boulevard, go directly through the town. They are often congested since it’s only 52 miles from Miami. The city is larger, making traffic more of an issue.

 

Delray Beach stands out with its street-legal golf cart community. Visitors can rent vehicles to avoid some of the traffic. There is also a free shuttle along with both rail and bus public transportation.

Parking At Delray Beach

You may have some trouble finding a space if just because of the local traffic. Plan on taking the time to look.

 

Alternatively, you can take to the water and come into town by boat via the Intracoastal Waterway. You can also cruise in while on a yacht tour.

 

Sometimes I find a spot.

Photos Of Delray Beach

While Delray Beach offers the usual array of water activities, it is also well-known for its scuba diving.

 

The Delray Wreck lies in shallow water, making it an excellent choice for beginners and experienced individuals alike. However, there are only 3 miles of shoreline.

Good For Yes / No

 

Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Swimming

 

 

Yes

 

Fishing

 

 

Yes

 

Snorkeling

 

 

Yes

 

Kite Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Paddle Boarding

 

 

Yes

 

Beach Sports

 

 

No

AARP named Delray Beach one of the best beaches in Florida for individuals over 50.

 

Those seeking an active nightlife will find it here in droves on East Atlantic Avenue. Cultural activities also abound with the Arts Garage and Pineapple Grove Arts District.

Good For Yes / No

 

Young Adults

 

 

Yes

 

Families

 

 

Yes

 

Elderly

 

 

Yes

Delray Beach Weather

Its southern location means that Delray Beach is tropical. Winter and spring are the best times to visit before the rainy season begins in June.

 

Average highs hover around the mid-70s. Summer days are sultry and downpours are common. Most days are at least partly cloudy.

Top 5 Places To Stay Near Delray Beach

Delray Beach enjoys a wide range of quality accommodations, making it one of the best beaches in Florida.

 

Locations on the water are few with the shoreline mainly filled with condos. The town is part of Florida’s Gold Coast. Expect to pay a bit more than smaller venues.

  • Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott
  • Colony Hotel & Cabana Club
  • Crane’s Beach House Boutique Hotel & Luxury Villas
  • The Seagate Hotel & Spa
  • Colony Beach Club

Top 5 Things To Do Near Delray Beach

The downtown area has many sites, restaurants, and other attractions, with several within walking distance.

 

Birdwatchers will enjoy the Wakodahatchee Wetlands where they can spot migrating and native wildlife.

  • Wakodahatchee Wetlands
  • Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens
  • Delray Yacht Cruises
  • Le-Mieux Fishing Charters
  • Underwater Explorers Tour

Top 5 Restaurants Near Delray Beach

Those who love Italian food will find plenty of options. They range the gamut from fine dining to bistro menus to pizza.

 

Seafood of all kinds is also in abundance. You can get traditional meals or go raw at any of the local sushi places.

  • Dada
  • Flybird
  • Deck 84
  • Driftwood
  • Death or Glory Bar

Siesta Key Beach

The town of Siesta Key Beach lies on the west-central coast of Florida on the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota County.

 

It is a barrier island about 8 miles south of Sarasota. Other nearby towns include Bee Ridge, Sarasota Springs, and Southgate.

 

The beach is one of four located in the village.

Getting To Siesta Key Beach

Florida State Road 758 will get you there from the north. Florida State Road 72 is your best bet if you’re coming from the south.

 

The total area of Siesta Key is only 3.5 square miles with cool, white sands composed primarily of quartz.

Parking At Siesta Key Beach

Because of its small size, you’ll likely have issues with parking, especially when the tourist season is in full swing.

 

Luckily, the Siesta Key operates an open-air trolley service in case you don’t want to worry about looking for a parking spot.

 

Sometimes I find a spot.

Photos Of Siesta Key Beach

The entire Siesta Key Beach has recovered from the thralls of an algal bloom called the red tide in 2018. The water is clear, with no issues.

Good For Yes / No

 

Surfing

 

 

No

 

Swimming

 

 

Yes

 

Fishing

 

 

Yes

 

Snorkeling

 

 

Yes

 

Kite Surfing

 

 

Yes

 

Paddle Boarding

 

 

Yes

 

Beach Sports

 

 

Yes

Siesta Key Beach is a long walk from the main hub, despite the installation of mats.

 

The area is well-to-do with a cost of living that is higher than the US average. The city caters to all ages with shopping, restaurants, and attractions that anyone can enjoy.

Good For Yes / No

 

Young Adults

 

 

Yes

 

Families

 

 

Yes

 

Elderly

 

 

Yes

Siesta Key Beach Weather

January through April along with November and December are the best time to visit. There are ideal opportunities to enjoy abundant sunshine.

 

The summers are often wet with daily storms and high humidity typical of a subtropical region.

Top 5 Places To Stay Near Siesta Key Beach

Several places capture the essence of island living to the tee. Many are smaller, offering the intimacy and privacy that couples will appreciate. Others are self-contained with everything you’ll need close at hand.

 

Condos overlooking the ocean provide incredible views. You’ll find accommodations on the mainland.

  • Tropical Shores Beach Resort
  • The Inn On Siesta Key
  • Siesta Sunset Royale
  • Siesta Key Palms Hotel
  • The Capri At Siesta

Top 5 Things To Do Near Siesta Key Beach

There are a host of galleries and shops in town. It is amazing given the fact it wasn’t inhabited until the roads connected it to the mainland in the early 20th century.

 

The beaches, of course, steal the show with their gorgeous white sand.

  • Electric Bike Siesta Key Sunset Tour
  • Kokomo Charters
  • Siesta Key Fishing Charters
  • Parasail Siesta
  • Siesta Key Bike and Kayak

Top 5 Restaurants Near Siesta Key Beach

The food around the beach is primarily seafood and American cuisine. There are plenty of Italian options too.

 

You’ll see a lot of moderately priced venues with the quintessential tiki theme.

  • Big Water Fish Market
  • Summer House Steak & Seafood
  • Claytons Siesta Grille
  • The Cottage
  • Spearfish Grille

South Beach

The South Beach or SoBe neighborhood is located on the southeastern tip of Florida in Miami Beach in Miami-Dade County.

 

It encompasses the southern part of the city. Biscayne Bay lies east and the Atlantic Ocean, west.

Getting To South Beach

There are numerous routes to get to South Beach. Florida State Road A1A and Alton Road are the main thoroughfares. Traffic is typically heavy.

 

Fortunately, it’s easy to get around without a car by foot or bicycle. Public transportation is also available.

Parking At South Beach

Parking is difficult at best. Visitors would fare better to find alternative ways to get to the water.

 

If you do get a space, the chances are you’ll be walking anyway.

 

Sometimes I find a spot.

Photos Of South Beach

The question visitors might ask is what can’t you do at South Beach.

 

There is just as much fun to be had on the land as there is on the water.

Good For Yes / No