What’s your favorite place to escape? When Globetrotting TravelingGrandmom needs a little down time, sitting on a Florida beach with her toes in the sand is one of her favorite things to do. When her kids were growing up in Florida, the family often escaped to the beach for a day or two. And with over 1,350 miles of coastline, there were plenty of options. From top to bottom Florida is chock full of family beaches. Read on for the Best Florida Beaches for Families.
Need a Family Escape? These Florida Beaches Deliver
With its abundance of theme parks, historic sites and sunshine, Florida offers plenty of family fun. But sometimes you just need a little down time, There’s no better place to escape than on one of Florida’s many family friendly beaches. My kids grew up in Florida and are now raising their kids in the Florida sunshine. We know a thing or two about Florida’s beaches! Read on for our picks for the best Florida beaches for families.
History and Sunshine at Fort De Soto Park
With soft sugary sands, the warm clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico and brilliant sunsets, Fort De Soto Park makes a fantastic Florida beaches getaway. Protected by a sandbar, the North Beach has a large lagoon that doesn’t get above three feet deep — the perfect place for the little ones to swim.
A 7-mile paved nature trail is ideal for a bike ride or you can paddle a kayak through lush mangroves. Be sure to keep a look out for pelicans, heron, and egrets—year-round residents of the park. Dolphins are often spotted from the Gulf fishing pier and sea turtles nest along the beach in summer.
Built for the Spanish-American War, historic Fort De Soto has old cannons and jail cells giving the kids (and you) plenty to explore. Park amenities include canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals, a food concession, picnic areas and outdoor showers.
See What’s Biting at New Smyrna Beach
Located on Central Florida’s east coast, New Smyrna Beach is one of our family’s favorite beach side communities. Building sand castles, surfing, kayaking and bicycling on the beach are all popular activities with beach rentals plentiful. Surf fishing is a favorite past time for our gang—just dig up a few sand fleas for bait and cast away.
At the 73-acre Smyrna Dunes Park at the northern tip of New Smyrna Beach, a two-mile elevated boardwalk winds through the sand dunes. This provides a platform for viewing the unique vegetation, marine life, reptiles, and animals that live in the park. There are also picnic areas, pavilions, and an observation tower.
New Smyrna streets are lined with quaint restaurants and shops. There are a number of hotels and many private rentals available. Most have pools and many have tennis courts, shuffleboard, basketball and other games for family time.
Get back to nature at St. George Island
Nestled in Florida’s panhandle surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico and the Apalachicola Bay, the barrier island of St. George has miles of pristine beaches. If you are looking for uncongested natural beauty, this is your beach.
There are hotels, villas, old-style cottages and stunning vacation homes available as vacation rentals. The fishing in the area is unsurpassed with local marinas offering inshore and offshore fishing charters. St. George Island also has kayaks, paddle boards, bicycles and assorted other beach toys for rent. Or opt for an excursion to an uninhabited island, a boat trip to spot dolphins, or a snorkeling adventure.
With 81 percent of Franklin County’s land being publicly owned, eco-adventures are everywhere. The Apalachicola River Paddling Trail was designated as a national paddle trail in 2008. Nearly 100 miles of trails run through the swamps of the Apalachicola River giving paddlers of all levels the opportunity to get up close to nature.
Hang out with a Pirate at Palm Island
Located on Florida’s Southwest Gulf Coast approximately 50 miles north of Fort Myers, Palm Island is seven miles of paradise. This little gem has long been a favorite of my family. The island is accessible only by boat or car ferry. Golf carts, scooters, and bicycles are your transportation once on island. And no matter what the season, Palm Island’s beaches are never crowded. We’ve spent hours combing the beaches for sharks’ teeth, sand dollars, and starfish.
The primary lodging and recreation center for the island is Palm Island Resort. Built in the old Florida style architecture, the resort has one, two and three bedroom fully equipped villas for rent. Clusters of four to eight villas are arranged around heated swimming pools, Hydra Spas and tennis courts. The recreation center rents golf carts, kayaks, jet skis, tennis equipment, snorkel gear and fishing poles.
The kids will be fully entertained by Red Beard the Pirate and his parrot, Bones. Red Beard was fortunate enough to be shipwrecked on Palm Island where he teaches little pirates swashbuckling crafts aboard his shipwrecked vessel.
Kitschy shops and cocoa sands at Cocoa Beach
Located along Florida’s Space Coast an hour’s drive from Orlando, Cocoa Beach is named for its soft cocoa colored sand and known for its friendly waves. Designated the east coast surfing capital, you’ll find veteran surfers along with beginners riding the waves.
Driving into town along Highway A1A there are plenty of kitschy souvenir shops—a place to pick up that pink flamingo you know you have always wanted! But the one shop you can’t miss is the massive two story Ron Jon’s Surf Shop. This is the place to find anything you could ever want for all your favorite beach activities. Surf boards, swimsuits, sunscreen, and everything in between: it’s all here. Beach rentals including surf boards, boogie boards, beach umbrellas and stand-up paddle boards are also available.
A landmark since 1962, the Cocoa Beach Pier has bars, restaurants and gift shops. The kids will enjoy the Dinosaur Store on the Cocoa Beach Causeway with its selection of dinosaur teeth, fake shrunken heads and arcade games.
Sand as soft as sugar at Siesta Key
If you’ve ever walked barefoot on the hot sand of a Florida beach, you’ll understand why Siesta Key is consistently rated as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches. While the sand on most beaches is mostly pulverized coral, the sand on Siesta Key is 99% quartz keeping it consistently cool on the feet. At the Great International White Sand Beach Challenge held in 1987, it was recognized as having the “whitest and finest sand in the world.” Imagine the sandcastles you can build with this perfect sand…and just think how happy your feet will be!
It’s not just the sand that makes this stunning beach popular with families. The shallow water near the shore makes it ideal for young children. Siesta Key Beach is perfect for strolling and collecting shells. For more active pursuits you can rent a catamaran or kayak from one of the many beach concessionaires. There are plenty of beachside picnic areas and playgrounds.
An abundance of rental properties, land and water activities and family-friendly restaurants add to the charm of this stunning island.
Whatever beach style your family prefers, Florida delivers. Do you have a favorite Florida beach?