12 Underrated Florida Beach Towns You Must Visit This Summer

12 Underrated Florida Beach Towns You Must Visit This Summer

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Florida is known for its white-sand beaches, year-round sunshine and laid-back personality, but most travelers only scratch the surface by exploring big cities like Miami, Key West and Orlando. Beach enthusiasts that dig a little deeper will be pleasantly surprised to find an array of postcard-perfect beach towns that typically fly under the radar, where time seems to slow down and collecting colorful seashells along the shoreline is a top priority.

These alluring enclaves are not only budget-friendly getaways, but they also boast quiet stretches of golden sand where you can take leisurely strolls, build sand castles with the kids and enjoy water sports fun—all without the tourist crowds. If you’re looking for a peaceful vacation where you can stretch out on the shore, check out these top underrated Florida beach towns that are perfect for a summer getaway.



1

Seaside

Courtesy of Flickr

Located in the Panhandle just under an hour’s drive from Panama City Beach, Seaside is one of Florida’s most underrated beach destinations in South Walton County. Known for its pastel-colored houses and brightly painted cottages, this Instagram-ready beach community not only has a beautiful white-sand beach but also cool attractions, including the Vintage Airstream trailers on Central Square that offer an array of foodie delights, from tasty barbecue at Barefoot BBQ to shaved ice at Frost Bites. Purchase beachwear at Perspicasity, browse the music-filled Central Square Records shop or pick up fresh produce at Seaside Farmers Market, then rent a bike and cruise the beach area or hop in the car and explore neighboring cities like Rosemary Beach and Alys Beach.

2

Pass-a-Grille Beach

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Pass-a-Grille Beach is a small beach community nestled at the southern tip of St. Pete Beach. A favorite with locals, this area offers miles of uninterrupted shoreline. Soak up the sunshine and swim in crystal-clear waters, then refuel with a grouper sandwich or other Florida seafood specialties at Sea Critters Cafe or pair burgers with a cold beer at Paradise Grille. If you’re looking for an area to enjoy beachcombing, take a short 15-minute drive to the much-praised Fort DeSoto Park. Unwind at Coconut Inn, a hotel boutique with one and two-bedroom units and family-friendly perks like fully-equipped kitchens, or stay at Sabal Palms Inn to enjoy Gulf of Mexico views from beachfront studios.



3

Amelia Island

A visit to Amelia Island and nearby Fernandina Beach is like taking a step back in time, where you’ll find charming bed and breakfast accommodations and 13 miles of scenic shoreline. It’s golden-hued beaches and guided horseback tours along the beach are a real highlight, while outdoor adventures like fishing, boating and seashell collecting offer a break from the hustle and bustle. Catch sunrise at Main Beach Park or enjoy the waves at Peters Point Beachfront Park, then explore the cobbled streets lined with Victorian-era buildings in Fernandina Beach. Spend a day browsing antique shops, locally-run restaurants and the longest operating saloon in Florida, The Palace Saloon.

4

Anna Maria Island

Courtesy of Flickr

Surrounded by sparkling Gulf of Mexico waters, Anna Maria Island is a beautiful barrier island just offshore from its more popular neighbor, Sarasota. You’ll be lured in by white-sand beaches and quiet residential streets, where it might be a surprise to see a lack of high-rise hotels and chain stores. Spend your time sunbathing, watching dolphins or collecting seashells at Coquina Beach, then stroll the Historic Bridge Street with art galleries, boutiques, bars and restaurants. Rent a beach cruiser or standup-paddleboard from Beach Bums, then pick up sweet treats at The Donut Experiment along colorful Pine Avenue.

5

Atlantic Beach

One of the best spots to escape the crowds in Northeast Florida, Atlantic Beach offers easy access to golf courses, picturesque parks and top-rated attractions in nearby Jacksonville. The beachfront One Ocean Resort & Spa is the only high-rise hotel in the area, making it the perfect base for your summer vacation. Hop on a bike and pedal past the shops and restaurants along Ocean Boulevard, then sip cocktails at Lemon Bar or satisfy your sweet tooth at Whit’s Frozen Custard. Bike or drive to Kathryn Abbey Hanna Park to find over 20 miles of biking trails in addition to a lively atmosphere full of local surfers, beachcombers and campers.



6

Navarre Beach

Sitting squarely between Destin and Pensacola, Navarre Beach is a laid-back barrier island with more than 12 miles of white-sand beaches. It’s one of the most underrated beach destinations on the Gulf Islands National Seashore, perfect for summer getaways with pier fishing, scenic bike rides and kayak eco-tours. Revel in your solitude with a day of swimming in the emerald green water or sign up for an underwater diving adventure at nearby Navarre Beach Marine Park. Enjoy sunset views from the oceanfront pool at SpringHill Suites by Marriott Navarre Beach, which offers spacious rooms and suites with private balconies and unobstructed beach views.

7

Deerfield Beach

Courtesy of Flickr

If you want a quiet summer getaway, skip Miami or Fort Lauderdale and instead head to Deerfield Beach, a charming area with Old Florida vibes and an award-winning coastline. Aside from its pristine beach with plenty of water-based activities, nature enthusiasts will love exploring the scenic nature trails and mangrove swamps at Deerfield Island Park. Try your hand at fishing along the 976-foot-long fishing pier, then let little ones delight in the exciting water slides at Splash Adventure Water Park. When hunger strikes, don’t miss sampling juicy burgers at Charm City Burger Company, seafood specialties at JB’s on the Beach or authentic Cuban cuisine at Little Havana Restaurant.

8

Fort Myers Beach

Courtesy of Flickr

Offering a combination of sun-kissed beaches and historic landmarks, Fort Myers Beach is a stunning southwest Florida town on Estero Island. Its long stretch of sandy shoreline is ideal for parasailing and swimming, while nature lovers can head to nearby Calusa Nature Center and Planetarium to observe local wildlife, including bald eagles, hawks and owls. Throw out a line at the Fort Myers Beach Pier or take the family to Lynn Hall Memorial Park for picnicking and grilling. Enjoy a tropical escape at Lovers Key Resort with easy access to Lovers Key State Park, or enjoy luxury perks at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, including one and two-bedroom suites, outdoor pools and spa treatments.



9

Vero Beach

Courtesy of Flickr

An easy-going beach town with an idyllic coastline, Vero Beach got its name from the Spanish treasure fleets that sank here in the 1700s. Located just two hours from Orlando on Florida’s Treasure Coast, visitors can enjoy the calm waters at Wabasso Beach Park, a playground and picnic area at Jaycee Park or spot local birdlife at the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. Unwind at Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel & Spa, which offers a prime beachfront location, luxurious day spa and an outdoor pool or enjoy the prime location of the Gloria Estefan-owned Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa. Want an aerial view of Vero Beach? Sign up for an exciting tour with Treasure Coast Seaplanes.

10

Vilano Beach

Courtesy of Flickr

If you’re keen on visiting St. Augustine but prefer to base yourself away from the tourist crowds, check out Vilano Beach. This local beach area is dotted with tiled fountains and retro Art Deco architecture and boasts beloved waterfront restaurants such as Beaches at Vilano, famous for its seafood dishes, while Cap’s on the Water has a wooden deck and oyster bar. Dig your toes in the sand, relax under an umbrella along the shore or search for shark’s teeth at low tide, then catch the sunset at Vilano Beach Pier or from your private balcony in one of the suites at Hampton Inn & Suites St. Augustine – Vilano Beach.

11

Grayton Beach

Courtesy of Flickr

Less than an hour’s drive from Panama City Beach, Grayton Beach is a small beach community with arguably the best unofficial slogan ever: “Nice Dogs, Strange People.” This eclectic beach town is best known for scenic trails and white-sand beaches in Grayton Beach State Park, while sampling oysters at the Hurricane Oyster Bar is considered a rite of passage. Dip your toes in the warm Gulf waters or get active with a canoeing, paddleboarding or kayaking adventure, while those looking for a unique souvenir will find them in spades at local boutiques and art galleries.

12

St. George Island

St. George Island is a great place to get away from it all, as this quiet enclave is nestled just off North Florida’s Gulf Coast and boasts 28 miles of unspoiled barrier island landscapes perfect for doing nothing. While you won’t find any big-ticket attractions or high-rise hotels, this family-friendly area has some of the finest white=sand beaches in the Sunshine State. The uncrowded shoreline and clear Gulf waters are ideal for sunbathing, swimming and fishing, while those looking for a birds-eye view can climb the 92 steps up the Cape Saint George Lighthouse. Follow the trails at St. George Island State Park or take a day trip to nearby Apalachicola for world-renowned oysters.






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