15 Of The Best Florida Beaches For Families
To some, Florida may be best known for Disney World but to others, it’s all about the Florida beaches. Its warm climate and more than 660 miles of pristine beaches make it the perfect US beach vacation destination. Many of these Florida beaches also rank as the best beaches in the US so if you thought Florida was all about Disney, think again!
We took the kids on a six week beach hopping road trip around Florida when they were small. The beaches in Florida are all so varied but what we loved above all is that they are so family-friendly.
With so many top beaches in Florida, it’s hard to choose the best, and really, everyone looks for something different in a beach. With the help of some fellow travel bloggers, we’ve made sure to include a good mix of the best Florida beaches for families to include quiet beaches, surfing beaches, city beaches and shelling beaches so that there’s something for everyone.
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The Best Florida Beaches for Families
(Submitted by Jenni from Cruise Mummy)
Cocoa Beach is located on Florida’s space coast. Perfect for families, this beach has soft white sand and crystal clear waters. One of the main attractions of Cocoa Beach is the historic Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier which stretches 800 feet over the ocean. There are some lovely bars and restaurants on the pier where you can grab a bite to eat, as well as shop, enjoy live music and a spot of fishing.
Cocoa Beach is the perfect place to learn how to surf as you can easily wade out past the breakers and the waves are consistently just the right size for beginners. Here you’ll find the largest surf shop in the world, Ron Jon Surf Shop, as well as Ron Jon Surf School which is also the largest surf school in the US.
Other activities here include kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and kite surfing. Right by the beach, there’s a skate park. Or you could hire a segway and take a trip to nearby Port Canaveral to see the cruise ships.
Car parking is available near the beach, where you’ll also find picnic tables, restrooms and showers.
New Smyrna Beach
(Submitted by Nichola of Family Hotel Expert)
New Smyrna Beach is approximately an hour from Orlando and yet feels a world apart from the fast paced life of the theme parks and attractions. The beach here is beautiful and sandy and with its lifeguard tower feels like old school America at its best.
New Smyrna is often rated as one of the best surfing beaches in the world so it’s better for wind sports rather than swimming. It is often a refuge for turtles with hundreds of turtles laying their eggs on the sand during the season. Three different species nest here – the Loggerhead, Leatherback and the Green Turtle. There are also sharks and dolphins regularly spotted here so it’s great for a wildlife boat trip with so many beautiful creatures to spot.
Nearby, in the town of New Smyrna, are ice cream parlours, cafes and gift shops and there are some great family resorts in Florida to stay at nearby too, making it perfect for family holidays in Florida.
Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island is a small barrier island about 7 miles long that lies off the west coast of Florida 55 miles south of Tampa. It is perfect if you’re looking for a laid back beach destination because it has a real low-key island vibe.
Until 1922 when the Cortez Bridge was built, Anna Maria Island was only accessible by boat which is what has helped it to preserve an old Florida style.
Anna Maria Island has several beaches along its western coast from Coquina Beach in the south to Bean Point in the north. The main beaches (Coquina Beach, Anna Maria Beach and Holmes Beach) all have facilities and life guards. The water here on the Gulf side is perfectly calm and the sand is soft and white, making it one of the best Florida beaches for families.
The best beach in our opinion, however, is Bean Point on the northern tip of the island. It’s not so easily accessible and there aren’t any facilities there, but it is perfect if you are looking for quiet beaches in Florida. It’s the ideal place to watch the sun set with a picnic.
(Submitted by Pauline from BeeLoved City)
If you are heading to Tampa for your next holidays in Florida, you will be spoilt for choice in terms of beautiful beaches! The most famous and one of the most popular beaches in Florida is Clearwater Beach. It was voted best beach in the USA by Tripadvisor several years in a row and once you step foot on it, you’ll know why!
Clearwater Beach is 2.5 miles long. The sand is exceptionally soft and white. The water is crystal clear and shallow, perfect for people travelling with kids! It’s also a great place to go kayaking or paddleboarding.
There are loads of facilities near Clearwater Beach. If you want to grab a bite or drink, head to the promenade. It goes all along the beach up to Pier 60 and is home to dozens of beach bars, restaurants and ice-cream parlours.
Walking up Pier 60 is a must-do in Clearwater Beach. From the Pier, you will discover amazing views over the beach and the gulf. If you are lucky, you might catch a glimpse of dolphins jumping! In the evening, it becomes a popular spot to watch the sunset.
Finally, make sure to head to one of the bars on the beach. The Shephard’s Beach Resort always has music and gigs on!
(Submitted by Noel from Travel Photo Discovery)
One of the most popular and well known beach to visit in Miami is South Beach. One of the biggest attractions in Miami, South Beach incorporates the gorgeous Art Deco buildings, beautiful stretches of beach and walking promenades, work out areas and gorgeous hotels to enjoy a delicious cocktail or bite to eat.
The weather seems to always be even more temperate closer to the ocean in Miami and the water is just like bath water so it is perfect for visitors of any age to enjoy the beach and water at South Beach. One of the nice things about the beach there is the expansive length so you can easily find open areas. The coastline tends to be shallow for quite a distance from the shoreline with mostly gentle waves that pick up later in the day for those that want to play in the waves.
The beach areas also have plenty of water sports rentals, beach bars and other food venues fronting the waterfront area and walking/biking trails that you can take all around the South Beach area. There are even excercise stations around the beach area and if you wake up early, there’s a free sunrise yoga experience on the beach to start the day off right.
If you are visiting Miami for a few days or more, check out my post on the top things to do in Miami for more inspiration and planning a perfect visit to the area. You’ll find plenty of things to do and see in the city and some fun down time to enjoy the South Beach area and popular attractions in the area.
(Submitted by Sinead from Map Made Memories)
Bowman’s Beach is a long, scenic stretch of sandy beach on the northern west tip of Sanibel Island, which is located off the west coast near Fort Myers. People visit Bowman’s Beach from all over the world but it is not because Bowman’s Beach is a typical paradise beach for building sandcastles or playing volleyball!
Travellers flock here for ‘shelling.’ Bowman’s Beach is one of the best shelling beaches in Florida. It is covered in shells of all shapes and sizes from tiny, fragile sand dollars to impressively large, solid, conch. With an estimated 250 varieties of shells on the beach, there is always something new to see and find, particularly after high tide or a stormy day.
Visitors will quickly adopt the ‘Sanibel Stoop’ as they bend over for hours searching for rare and unusual shells. Eager children will not leave empty handed. To add to its appeal, Bowman’s Beach is visited by a host of wildlife including pelicans and dolphins. It is an idyllic spot whatever the season.
Siesta Key Beach
(Submitted by Amanda from Toddling Traveler)
If you’re looking for beautiful white sand beaches in Florida, Siesta Key Beach in Sarasota is by far one of the best beaches in Florida. With its location along Florida’s Gulf Coast, the weather is warm all year round and the calm water, it is also one of the best family beaches in Florida.
Not only is the beach well maintained, but there are also several amenities at Siesta Beach. They include restrooms, a cafe, beach rentals, an awesome sand castle playground, beach volleyball and more. Siesta Beach is also known for its drum circle that takes place on Sundays at sunset.
The adjacent village of Siesta Key also makes it the perfect beach destination. There are several great restaurants, bars and shops within walking distance from the beach. There’s also great public transportation, including a trolley that’s free within the Siesta Key area.
In addition to the beautiful beach, there are so many fun things to do in Sarasota, FL. Sarasota is the home of the Ringling Circus, and Circus Sarasota and the Ringling Museum are two attractions that can’t be missed. For more family fun, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens and the Mote Aquarium are also great things to do when visiting Siesta Key Beach in Florida.
(Submitted by Lizzie from Lizzie Lau Travels)
Jupiter was named by Coastal Living magazine as one of the Top 10 Happiest Seaside Towns in the USA, and if you get the chance to visit its 3.4 miles of beautiful beaches, you’ll know why. Jupiter Beach is one of the most family friendly beaches in Florida with great restaurants and shopping for when you’ve soaked up enough sun and salt water.
Located at the confluence of the Loxahatchee River, Intracoastal Waterway and Atlantic Ocean, the calm clear waters of Jupiter’s beaches make it a favorite spot for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, surfing and snorkeling. The Gulf Stream is closest to the US coastline here, so the water temperature remains at an average of 78 degrees all year long.
Jupiter’s main beach parks are Carlin Park, Ocean Cay Park and Jupiter Beach Park, and DuBois Park. They offer swimming areas guarded by Palm Beach County’s Ocean Rescue, picnic areas with grills, restrooms, outdoor showers. Some offer pavilion rentals for parties, playgrounds, and even an exercise trail. DuBois Park at the mouth of Jupiter Inlet is a unique area where you can explore the protected shallow coves and lagoons.
St George Island
(Submitted by Madison from Living with Mee)
Just off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, St. George Island offers an old school feel, with relaxing beaches. The 22-mile barrier island is untouched by the commercial landscape dotting the shore of many of the Florida panhandle beaches, but still offers an array of things to do and places to eat. St. George Island is the kind of destination where memories are made that bring you back year after year.
The beaches are rarely packed, the waters are often calm, making it perfect for families or groups looking for a retreat. And the entire island is dog friendly!
Four public beaches are available for access, including Julian G. Bruce St. George Island State Park that has been ranked by Dr. Beach as one of the Top 10 multiple times. The beach offers plenty of parking, beach house facilities, and picnic areas. Many Florida Panhandle vacation rentals sit along the sand or just a short walk from the private and public beaches, perfect for zipping back to and taking a snack break.
If a charming, laid back Florida vacation is what you’re after, look no further than St. George Island.
(Submitted by Michelle of Moyer Memoirs)
Flagler Beach is a quiet little beach located in a city with the same name. It is found on the east coast of Florida between Daytona and St. Augustine and is a six-mile-long stretch of pristine sandy beachfront topped off at one end with a great fishing pier.
In addition to great fishing, you can enjoy surfing, open-air restaurants, gift shops, and spectacular ocean views. The Atlantic Ocean tide brings in a lot of sea creatures, and the shores are abundant with sea turtle nests.
There is free access to enjoy this uncrowded beach, but the very best way to experience Flagler Beach is to camp right on the oceanfront. Beverly Beach Camptown is located steps away from the ocean water. You can bring your own motor home, or rent a little cabin in order to wake up, roll over, and open your eyes to the rolling waves in front of you. Flagler Beach is the perfect relaxing choice for a Florida beach vacation destination.
Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park
(Submitted by Elaine & Dave from Show Them The Globe)
The Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park in Naples is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida. The 166 acre park boasts a magnificent mile long stretch of white sand and idyllic turquoise waters on the Gulf of Mexico. 80% of the park is occupied by mangroves and the mix of lush vegetation and pristine beach makes for a tropical escape in south west Florida.
The beach is a popular sunbathing and swimming spot and, away from Wiggins Pass to the north of the park, its calm shallow waters are perfect for families. Other activities include paddle boarding, kayaking and fishing in designated areas. The beach is also renowned for its shelling and beachcombing opportunities.
Facilities are excellent in the Delnor Wiggins Pass State Park with restrooms and change stalls accessible to beach goers. There are well maintained parking areas, picnic tables, grills and bike racks available to visitors.
A fee applies upon entry to the park: it is $4 for a single person vehicle, $6 for a vehicle with 2 to 8 passengers and $2 for pedestrians, cyclists or additional passengers.
(Submitted by Megan from Red Around The World)
Tigertail Beach is one of two main beaches on Marco Island and happens to be the lesser-visited one. There is an entrance fee to access the beach, but it’s so worth it. It is $8 but they have tons of facilities including a snack bar, changing area, beach umbrellas, playground, and a kayak/paddleboard/beach gear rental place. It’s a great beach to visit if you’re staying on Marco Island or nearby in Naples or even as a day trip from Everglades City.
Once you’re at the beach, there are two ways to access the ocean section of it. You can either go to the lagoon beach then wade or paddle across it from anywhere in the parking area, or you can park at the very far end of the parking area and walk around. It adds maybe 10 minutes but you don’t have to carry all your gear through the lagoon first.
Tigertail Beach is huge, meaning you’ll have plenty of room to relax away from people. The shelling is wonderful especially if you go out onto the little sandbars in the water (which may be underwater) and the water is warm and calm making it perfect for cooling off or families looking for a calm beach.
(Submitted by Rachel & Clark from Seeking Our Someday)
Sunnyside Beach is located 20 minutes West of Panama City and is one of the best Florida Panhandle beaches. This quiet and secluded section of beach is a great escape from the hustle and bustle of Panama City Beach, and is one of the cleanest beaches in Florida with crystal clear water.
There are a few public beach access points along Sunnyside Beach (Beach Access Points #86-95), but with a majority of the beach accessible only by private residence communities, it provides a very tranquil experience. Because this section of beach is quiet and used mostly by locals, be aware that there are limited public facilities and nearby food options.
The white sand and calm gulf waters of Sunnyside Beach make for great family days out at the beach, or a long weekend escape.
Smathers Beach Key West
(Submitted by Lori from travelinmad)
Florida is blessed with an abundance of great beaches, and one of the very best is Smathers Beach in Key West. This half-mile long public beach on the Atlantic (south) side of the island is one of the largest beaches in the Keys and everyone’s answer for what to do in Key West any time of year.
Bordered by gently swaying palm trees and ideal for getting some shade, the white sand beach here is as wide as the clear water is azure blue. The surf is almost always calm so it’s an ideal choice for family beach vacations in Florida.
Vendors offer lounge chairs, umbrellas, paddle boards, and small sail boats for rent and there are public restrooms, shower facilities, and volleyball courts. Parked along A1A/South Roosevelt Boulevard (which runs the entire length of the beach) are food trucks offering a variety of food, drinks, snacks, and sundries. No wonder it’s so popular with Spring breakers.
Parking is available at $4.00/hour from 6am to midnight Monday through Saturday, noon to midnight on Sunday. If it seems too hot to walk, a short taxi ride from the beach is all that’s needed to enjoy restaurants, cafes, shopping, historical sites like the Hemingway House, and of course, strolling famous Duval Street in the heart of Key West.
(Submitted by Amy from The Florida Travel Girl)
Personally, I think the best beach in Florida is Melbourne Beach. Most people have not heard of it and that is part of what makes it so special. You will find Melbourne Beach just south of Cocoa beach, about an hour and a half east of Orlando. It is known for wide sandy beaches, great surfing and low crowds.
There are a few beaches in this area to visit, but Spessard Holland is the park I recommend. Here, there is free and ample parking and all the facilities you need, including a snack bar. I love getting a chocolate covered Key Lime Pie Slice on a stick for a midday treat! Depending on the tide and time of year, the water can be very wavy, which is fun for surfing and boogie boarding. However, in the spring, it is often calm, flat and refreshing.
Most special of all about Melbourne Beach is that every year, thousands of sea turtles lay their eggs on this beach. If you get a chance to visit on a summer night, see if you can spot one nesting! Regardless, you will still have a memorable time at Melbourne Beach.