Find out which beaches in the Sunshine State made our list.
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A beach lover’s heaven, Key West is one of the most enchanting of the 1,700 islands that make up the Florida Keys. It’s also the southernmost city in the continental US. The beaches in Key West are ideal for swimming and snorkeling, and fishing is allowed off the piers at most beaches. Enjoy these activities at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park, Florida’s southernmost state park -- and one of its most beautiful spots -- that’s home to wide stretches of sugary sand and tranquil waters.
Clearwater Beach's well-deserved reputation as one of America's finest beaches has lured countless families and couples to its broad, sandy shores and beachfront hotels. Spread along a narrow, 3-mile stretch of the Pinellas Peninsula on the Gulf Coast, Clearwater Beach straddles the blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and tranquil Tampa Bay to the east. This location between the 2 waters and Clearwater's proximity to Tampa offer visitors ample activities, such as sunbathing on white-sand beaches, diving into a game of beach volleyball, renting fishing boats, taking a dolphin-watching cruise, parasailing or heading to a mainland museum or aquarium.
Sanibel is a unique barrier island with an east-west orientation that differs from the typical north-south layout. This east-west designation has helped Sanibel earn its reputation as one of the Shell Islands — prime spots along Florida’s coastline for gathering perfectly intact shells in every shape and size.
With a small population of locals, along with breathtaking, clear-blue waters and immaculate white-sand beaches, Sanibel Island offers a fun and relaxing vacation for families and couples alike.
Captiva Island Home
Along with Sanibel, Captiva Island shares the distinction of being one of Florida’s Shell Islands. Captiva is generally the spot to find the larger of the intact shells and offers some of the best fishing and boating in Florida. Go boating down the waterways of the island to see local wildlife, including dolphins, crocodiles, blue herons and many different species of colorful birds.
The easternmost town in all of Florida, this 16-mile-long, half-mile-wide island is the epitome of wealth and extravagance. In times past, it served as the winter home to the Vanderbilts, the Kennedys, the Rockefellers and other millionaires. True to form, the town still features some of Florida’s finest hotels, restaurants and shops, as well as beautiful beaches. Perched next to the Gulf Stream, this beach town also enjoys the extra benefit of warm blue water and gentle breezes.
Situated between Roberts Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, just a short distance from downtown Sarasota, Siesta Key is as laid-back and enjoyable as any beach you’ll find in Florida. Beach lovers flock to these silky shores to take advantage of the wide expanse of sand and the tranquil Gulf waters. Siesta Key Beach is perfect for strolling, shell-collecting or more active pursuits, such as renting a catamaran or kayak from one of the many beach concessionaires. This perfect family vacation venue, which boasts beachside picnic areas and playgrounds, is also home to candlelit restaurants and cozy rental cottages ideal for a romantic getaway.
Located in southern Florida on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples offers phenomenal fishing experiences along the pier, top-notch outdoor restaurants and fun — but difficult — golf courses. Watch the rolling waves and gaze at the gleaming mansions that line some of Naples’ most popular beaches along 12th Avenue South. Another great beach lies a few miles north of Old Naples, at the Delnor-Wiggins Pass State Park. This is a great place to spread out the family's beach blanket and camp out for the day, as there are bathhouses and food stands on-site and rentals available for everything from umbrellas to kayaks to snorkeling gear.
Take a dip in the crystal-blue waters of Miami’s South Beach, an international playground that offers non-stop nightlife, high-end shopping, luxurious boutique hotels and unique Art Deco architecture. This man-made beach is perfect for early morning runs and topless sunbathing. And while it may not be the Caribbean, the water is as clean and clear as the Atlantic gets. The beach is also about the best spot to view the city lights at night.
Delray Beach at Ocean and Atlantic avenues is a charming village by the sea. Each year, nearly 1 million visitors flock to this family-friendly, 2-mile-long beach that’s ideal for fun beach activities, including sandcastle-building. Take a break from the beach and hit nearby Atlantic Avenue, lined with boutiques, seafood restaurants and the luxurious Seagate Hotel and Spa.
Relaxing is easy on Atlantic Beach: Sand as soft and white as sugar, brilliant sunshine and azure waters abound. And while Atlantic Beach has heaps of small-town charm, it’s also just a short drive from Jacksonville, making it convenient for day-trippers and vacationers who want a short airport-to-beach commute.
Panama City Beach
A visit to Panama City Beach is about the best way to stimulate all five senses at once. Smell the salty sea breezes from the Gulf; feel the warm water lap against your bare skin; taste some of the best seafood in the country; listen to local bands or top 40 hits at nightclubs; and see enough miles of sandy white beaches, parks and water sports to last a lifetime.
Destin has a wide array of attractions for everyone. Aside from basking on the beach, enjoy fun in the sun on Crab Island, an underwater boating and party island located on the North side of the Destin bridge. Or spend some time scuba diving, fishing or enjoying the nightlife.