11 Beautiful Beach Towns in Florida That Aren’t Miami

Florida is teeming with scenic beaches on both the Gulf Coast and the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re looking for a bit of history, quaint beachside charm, or the perfect spot for an epic sunset, here’s our guide to our favorite beach towns in the Sunshine State that aren’t Miami.

Fernandina Beach

Located on Amelia Island, the small town of Fernandina Beach is known for its quiet charm, and yet this unassuming place has a surprising background in pirate culture. The historic town bares a rich past, as it once served as a hiding spot for pirates’ treasures, and is also home to Florida’s oldest and (supposedly haunted) saloon. But aside from the ghost tales, the beach town also hosts the Eight Flags Shrimp Festival and offers plenty of boutique shopping.Fernandina Beach Marina, Amelia Island, Florida © Dawna Moore / Alamy Stock Photo

View of Fernandina Beach Marina, Amelia Island, Florida

Fort Myers

Perched on the west coast of the peninsula, Fort Myers offers plenty of decent fishing and family-friendly attractions, including a tour of the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Winter Estates. The homes-turned-museums sit on 20 acres of botanical gardens, and boast a collection of artifacts and inventions made by Edison and Ford.The winter home of Thomas Alva Edison © Richard Ellis / Alamy Stock Photo

The winter home of Thomas Alva Edison beside the Caloosahatchee River in Fort Myers, Florida. Edison and Henry Ford build their winter estates on adjacent sites surrounded by a 21-acre botanical garden.

Sanibel Island

Swarming with shells and conches of pale pink hues, the shores of Sanibel Island are a shell hunter’s paradise. The currents wash up tons of shells which visitors can pick up and identify with those collected at the Bailey-Matthews Shell Museum. The island is also famous for its scenic sunsets, bird-watching, and the J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, which is home to different species like giant manatees and crocodiles. White Pelicans, Ding Darling Wildlife Reserve, Sanibel, Florida © Vicki Jauron, Babylon and Beyond Photography / Getty Images

White Pelicans and Reflections at Ding Darling Reserve


Translated from Spanish to “purple island,” Islamorada is part of the archipelago of the Florida Keys. Easily accessible via boat or the Seven Mile Bridge, visitors can indulge in plenty of saltwater fishing catching tarpon, redfish and snook as the island is known as the sport-fishing capital of the world. There’s hiking along the nature trails of the Long Key State Park, and snorkeling by the coral reefs. Tip: beer lovers shouldn’t miss a taste of the ales from Islamorada Beer Company.Islamorada, Florida © cristianl / Getty Images


Key West

The most famous island of the Florida Keys, Key West makes our list for a variety of reasons. It’s got all the snorkeling, water sports and fishing to be expected, but it’s also a historic town with charming streets dotted with Queen Anne-style architecture, ghost stories and tours, a vibrant, laid-back nightlife, and, lest we forget, the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. The island is the perfect vacation spot for a couples’ getaway, a family holiday, or a fun time with friends.Quiet Street In Key West, Florida © Maria Kraynova / Alamy Stock Photo

Key West, Florida, USA - September 12, 2019: Quiet Street In Key West, Florida USA

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is located just south of the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, and is a favorite surfing destination. Amateur and pro surfers can experience decent waves along the Cocoa Beach pier, especially at the end of hurricane season which is generally September–December. Visitors can delve into some deep-sea fishing, or explore the Kennedy Space Center, where, if you time your visit right, you can catch a glimpse of a rocket launch. The beach town boasts great dining and nightlife as well. Surfing at Cocoa Beach © Scopio / Alamy Stock Photo

man doing surfboard on sea waves


Dotted with pastel-painted Victorian houses, the colorful town of Seaside is a real-life postcard. Spend the day shopping in the quirky boutiques, see the lighthouse and go for a relaxed stroll along the shores to watch the sunset along the Golden Coast. The small town is so picture-perfect it served as the location for the utopic film The Truman Show starring Jim Carrey.Seaside, Florida © Kristina Blokhin / Alamy Stock Photo

Wooden house tower new urbanism modern architecture by beach ocean, nobody in Florida view during sunny day

St. Petersburg

Home to the world-renowned Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg is a cultural haven with plenty of dining, attractions and beautiful parks. Visitors can indulge in fresh artisanal foods at the Discover Locale Market, watch glass-blowing at the Chihuly Collection, or simply take in the glittering coast. The waterfront city is also known for having the most consecutive days of sunshine! Salvador Dali museum, St. Petersburg © david a eastley / Alamy Stock Photo

geodesic structures at the salvador dali museum in st petersburg on the florida coast

New Smyrna Beach

Cruise through the enchanting palm-tree-lined streets of New Smyrna Beach, and you’ll know why it’s a Florida favorite. The white sandy beaches and stress-free personality of New Smyrna is everything you’d expect from a beach town holiday. It’s brimming with eclectic boutiques, delicious mom-and-pop restaurants, and glorious sunsets to enjoy in peaceful tranquility.Flagler Avenue, New Smyrna Beach © Richard Ellis / Alamy Stock Photo

Car entrance to Flagler Avenue beach and boardwalk in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. New Smyrna allows private vehicles to drive on the sand and park along the beach.

Anna Maria Island

This barrier island along the Gulf of Mexico boasts a vast wildlife and pristine beaches popular with both locals and tourists. Visitors can spot nesting sea turtles and a broad spectrum of birds such as herons, cranes, roseate spoonbills, and wood storks. If you’re lucky you might also spot bottle-nose dolphins.Sandpipers in Anna Maria Island, Florida © Cheri Alguire / Alamy Stock Photo

A brown Sandpipers in Anna Maria Island, Florida

Gasparilla Island

Another barrier island worth a visit is Gasparilla Island located along the southwest coast. Mostly inhabited by fisherman until the late 19th century, legend has it the island is named after the pirate José Gasparilla who had his base and treasure hidden on the island. The treasure was never found, but visitors can equally enjoy their share of snorkeling and fishing in the glittering waters surrounding the island

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