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16 Best Beaches in Florida for Families

With about 1,197 miles of coastline, the Sunshine State has no shortage of kid-friendly Beaches. From Beach parks to wildlife sanctuaries to sand dunes to marine biodiversity to nature trails to watersports – there’s so much to see and do with kids. We’ve curated a list of the best beaches in Florida for families to help you enjoy an amazing beach trip with your kids!

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Read More: Road Trip from Miami to Key West – Florida Keys Itinerary with Kids

Beautiful Beaches in Florida for Families

Clearwater Beach

Located on the west coast of Florida facing the Gulf of Mexico, Clearwater Beach is just about 1.5 hours away from Orlando. It has been voted as the best beach in Florida.

With superfine white sand beach spanning 2.5 miles, a beautiful pier 60 Clearwater, a huge playground, a beach walk promenade, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and a lot of water sports and beach volleyball courts, there are tons of activities to keep families with kids entertained for the entire day.

Drink in the colors of a magical sunset at the beach with nightly celebrations. The nightly sunset celebration at Pier 60 features artisans and street performers, that delights the kids as well as adults. The families enjoy the fun evenings with celebrations lasting 4 hours starting before sunset and into the night.

All in all, Clearwater Beach is perfect for families looking for a laid-back beach experience.

Places to Stay Near Clearwater Beach
clearwater beach florida

West Palm Beach

Beaches: Ocean Reef Park, Lake Worth beach, Peanut Island, Delray Beach, Juno Beach , Oceanfront Park

West Palm Beach is the city on the East coast of Florida with charming beaches, festivals, and much more that it is worth visiting. West Palm Beach is a 1-hour drive from Miami and can be easily added to Miami to Key West road trip itinerary.

One of our favorite beaches is the Ocean Reef Park beach. As the name suggests, there is a reef around this part of the ocean and even protruding out from the water.  You can see grayish-black rocks on the beach. The beach is shimmering with a blanket of shells and fun to walk on. This beach is great for snorkeling and fishing.

Some of the other family-friendly beaches are Lake Worth and Peanut Island. Peanut Island is a man-made island with campgrounds, walking paths, guarded swimming, and snorkeling. It is fun to spend a day with the family playing and relaxing on the beach.

Places to Stay Near West Palm Beach
west palm beach delray beach florida

Key Largo

Beaches: Far Beach and Cannon beach

The first and the largest Key in the archipelago of Florida Keys is Key Largo. It is home to the largest artificial reef. The best place to experience the beaches and reefs is at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. With two public beaches and Many water activities including snorkeling, scuba diving, and glass-bottom boat tour, it is the most sought State Park in Key Largo.

Far Beach and Cannon Beach are the two man-made beaches in the State Park. The Far beach is popular among families with soft sandy beaches and kids’ playgrounds. The water at Far beach is warm and shallow making it apt for swimming and underwater exploration. Swim in the waters or relax on the beach amid palm trees, it surely is a great place to spend a day.
There are many glass-bottom boat tours that take deep into the ocean to explore the reef, corals, and colorful marine life.

Cannon Beach gets its name from the 17th-century cannons that sit on one corner of the beach This is one of the best Snorkeling and scuba diving spots.

Places to Stay Near Key Largo Beach
key largo reef florida

You Might Like: Florida Keys Family Resorts and Hotels

Key West

Beaches: Smathers beach, Rest beach, Fort Zachery State Park, Higgs Beach, and Dry Tortugas National Park

One of the most popular and largest beaches in Key West is Smathers beach. With many water activities like kayaking, paddleboarding, kitesurfing, and windsurfing to enjoy, it is thronged by families. We recommend parasailing over the Smather’s beach for the ultimate adventure.

Higgs beach, a public beach, is located adjacent to the Hotel Casa Marina, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Higgs Beach Park has many activities available include swimming, snorkeling, sunbathing, beach volleyball, tennis, pickleball, and a beachside Children’s Playground. There is also a pier at one end of the beach to watch the waves crashing. Everything to have a full filled time. Book a snorkeling tour discovering the magical coral reef.

If you want to dwell on history along here with beach fun, then Fort Zachary Taylor State Park is the best bet. It boasts temperate and clear waters, which make for excellent swimming and snorkeling conditions. Besides enjoying the beach, you should take a tour of Fort Zachary Taylor, a National Historic Monument that predates the Civil War.

A trip to Key West is incomplete without watching the gorgeous sunset. Take a sunset cruise and gaze at the colored hues painted on the sky.

If you want to experience secluded and sandy beaches, turquoise blue waters, superlative coral reef, and a magnificent fort, then head over to Dry Tortugas National Park. The park located on an island about 70 miles away from the mainland Key West is only accessible by ferry or seaplane. There are full-day tours to the National Park available.

Choose from the best resorts in Key West that are perfect for families to enjoy the tropical vibes of the southernmost part of the US.

key west smathers beach florida
Smathers Beach

Sanibel Beach

Jamie Harper of Fly by the Seat of our Pants

Sanibel beach is a gorgeous gulf stretch of sand littered with millions of shells.  Fort Myers in Florida is the shelling-capital of the world.  This means you’ll find the largest collection of sea stars, cones,conch, gulf and whelks on the beaches of Sanibel Island. 

Getting to Sanibel Island is quick and easy.  From Fort Myers Airport you will need a car to drive over the bridge to Sanibel island. It is a $6 toll or riding a bike is free. The drive over the long bridge is gorgeous.   

Once on Sanibel Island, you will find a few eating and shopping areas, some remote homes and miles of  beaches. Parking can be scarce and mostly likely paid. Get there early to reserve your spot for the day.  

Enjoy a  scenic drive through the entire island. Visit the JN Darling National Wildlife Preserve on the north side of the island.  The south side offers the beaches. Visit the Lighthouse beach park to the far west of the island. Or drive to the far east of the island for some walking trails on the edge of the gulf looking out over smaller islands. 

On Sanibel Island, you’ll find several beaches to choose from, but the longest stretch is Sanibel Beach.  This beach is perfect for families.  The waves are mild or non-existent lapping onto white gorgeous sand. In the summer, the gulf waters are bathtub-warm, so you can stay all day long. There are endless opportunities for shelling and collecting unique sea treasures. if you love Florida beaches, Hawaiian beaches will be perfect for you!

Places to Stay Near Sanibel Beach
sanibel fort myers barefoot beach florida
© Jamie Harper

Siesta Key

Ruby Escalona of Voyage Florida

Located in Sarasota, Florida, Siesta Key is one of the best beaches in Florida for families. Just drive over the Bridgeway 10 minutes away from downtown Sarasota and Siesta Key is within reach.

Why must you visit? Well, the sand is the best, it’s powder-soft and does not get hot even though it’s 100 degrees outside. The water also does not get too deep near the sand, perfect for little ones to wade in.

Siesta Key Village is a great place to shop or eat. It’s walking distance from the beach and has lots of local places to patronize.

Selby Gardens is a great place to chill and see various plants. Their children’s rainforest garden gives plenty of space for little ones to run around and explore. It’s also a good spot to sit by the water without going to a beach.

Downtown Sarasota is within a few minute’s drive away. Every Saturday, there’s a farmer’s market that shuts down parts of downtown to traffic, making it an entirely walkable area. It’s a good spot to find great eats and good souvenirs.

Sarasota Jungle Gardens is also within a 20-minute drive north of downtown Sarasota. Think of it as a zoo with shows and other animal interactions. It’s a great spot to learn more about various animals and keep children entertained

Places to Stay Near Siesta Key Beach
Siesta Key Beach Sarasota Florida
© Ruby Escalona

Destin Beach

Daphna Bar of A Tiny Trip

Destin beach is located on the Florida panhandle. It is part of the Emerald Coast that is named for the blue-green emerald color of the water in the ocean. The Destin area encompasses Fort Walton Beach, Destin, and Miramar Beach. Some may even include Rosemary Beach and Seaside in the general area. So if someone tells you they went to Destin, you may want to ask what beach they stayed at!

To get to Destin you can fly into the small airport at Fort Walton Beach or the larger one in Pensacola, an hour’s drive away. From the Pensacola International Airport, you will need a car to get around the area.

The main thing to do in Destin is hang out at the beach. The clear water is calm and perfect for swimming with kids. Bring your beach gear from home, or check if your rental will supply any, otherwise you may end up having to shop for a beach umbrella and chairs. There are some larger condominium complexes that rent chair and umbrellas but you should confirm ahead of time.

Other than swimming and sunbathing, you can also charter fishing boats or go to the fishing pier. Many residents play golf and tennis! There are actually 8 golf courses in Destin. In addition, there are lots of shopping centers in the Destin area. From beach gear superstores to outlet malls to high-end outdoor shopping plazas, there is something for everyone. Destin is the perfect beach destination for families looking to spend quality time together, enjoying the white sand beaches and the sunny Florida skies.

Places to Stay Near Destin Beach
destin beach florida

Honeymoon Island State Park

Paula of Paula Pins the Planet

If you are looking for an incredible, less touristy, and a great beach to visit in Florida with your family, Honeymoon Island State Park is a great place to explore. With 4-miles of amazing beaches to explore and a 3-mile hiking trail through one of the last remaining virgin slash pine forests.   

Honeymoon Island State Park is located about twenty-five minutes north of Clearwater Beach in the Tampa Bay area on Florida’s west coast, at the end of the Dunedin Causeway. The Park is open 365 days per year, from 8 am until sunset. To enter the State Park, you have to pay an entry fee of $8 per vehicle.  

Besides the sweet and romantic name, Honeymoon Island is a great place to visit not only for couples but also for the whole family. 

Honeymoon Island is a great place for outdoor lovers of any age, as it offers many options like soaking in the sun, swimming, fishing, kayaking, biking, and hiking. You can also take a ferry across the channel to Caladesi State Park, an island with pristine beaches and turquoise water. It is less crowded and less rocky than the beaches of Honeymoon Island.  

You can find 2 cafes on Honeymoon Island, and you can buy food and beverage or bring it with you for a nice picnic on the island. There is no option for accommodations inside Honeymoon Island & Caladesi Island. But is just a short distance driving from Clearwater or Dunedin, where you can find several options for accommodations.  

Places to Stay Near Honeymoon Island State Park Beach
honeymoon island state park florida
© Paula

Juno Beach

Ally of Ally Travels

Juno Beach in Palm Beach County, Florida is a hidden gem for family vacations. I’ve spent almost every winter for the last 25 years vacationing there with my family. It’s a spot that truly offers something for all ages, and a quick hour drive from Fort Lauderdale Airport, or an easy 25-minute drive from Palm Beach International Airport. 

For a fun family breakfast, head to Paris in Town. It’s a local gem that serves up fresh crepes, egg sandwiches, and pastries. My family has been going there for over a decade and have never been disappointed. While you’re visiting, spend as much time as possible enjoying the sunny weather at the beach. It’s immaculately kept and has fairly calm waters, making it ideal for children to boogie board safely. There’s also plenty of shells and sand dollars to be found as you walk the beach. 

When you need a break from the sand, head to the Loggerhead Marine Life Center. It’s a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation center located a short distance from Juno Beach Pier. 

It’s seriously heartwarming watching the rehabbed turtles in their tanks. Each tank includes the turtle’s name, history, and how long they’ve been in the center’s care. The best part is that it’s technically free admission, though donations are very much encouraged! 

While you’re there, don’t forget to check out their gift shop for lots of local goods and environmentally friendly products. You can even adopt a turtle as a family and receive updates on their progress throughout the year. Keep an eye out on their website for turtle release parties. You’ll get to be present as they release baby turtles into the wild. It’s a truly miraculous experience!

Another experience that shouldn’t be missed is going kayaking in a glass-bottomed boat. Get Up and Go Kayaking in nearby Jupiter offers one of a kind “Clear Kayaking Tour” through Jupiter Pointe Marina. You and your family will kayak for two hours through crystal clear waters while observing fish, turtles, and even manatees throughout the bottom of your boat. 

No matter what you choose to do in Juno Beach, it’s truly a magical vacation spot that will live in your family’s memories for years to come.

Places to Stay Near Juno Beach
juno beach pier florida
© Ally

Rosemary Beach

Priya Vin of Outside Suburbia

Rosemary Beach is relatively easy to get to, there are two airports not too far away. Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport is 20 minutes away from Rosemary Beach.

Relatively unknown to many Rosemary beach in Florida is one of the best beaches in Florida.  The water is a pretty shade of emerald green and shallow, the sand is soft and sparkly.  The town itself is charming with whitewashed houses reminiscent of Caribbean architecture.  Families can enjoy the many beach town nearby, ride bikes, and enjoy coastal cuisine in the many area restaurants. Don’t miss the Farmers market.

Spend your time at the beach soaking up the sunshine or looking for shells and sand dollars. Rosemary Beach, Florida is also home to a large grassy area where kids can play.  At night you can look for crabs with a flashlight. 

You won’t find big hotel chains, condos, or high rises here, just vacation rentals.  The beach homes are gorgeous with wrap-around verandas, outdoor areas, and a boardwalk that leads to the beach. 

There are many other small beach towns you can visit. Check out the coastal dune lakes in the area, they are found only in a handful of places like Madagascar, Australia, and New Zealand.

Places to Stay Near Rosemary Beach
rosemary beach florida

Tigertail Beach

Lori of Travlinmad.com

Southwest Florida is a perfect year-round destination for families, for the variety of fun activities and experiences everyone in the family will enjoy. But without a doubt, the biggest reason is the beautiful beaches.

Exploring the beaches are one of the best things to do in Marco Island for families, and Tigertail Beach is a favorite among those with small children. It, in fact, is one of the best Florida beaches for kids.

You’ll find a unique combination of two beaches here: a calm inner beach perfect for exploring wildlife, paddling, or playing on the many watercraft for rent, and a pristine white sand beach just a short hike away on the Gulf of Mexico.

But the truly unusual nature of Tigertail Beach is how you reach the outer beach. A short hike through about 3-4’ of water then following a short path through mangroves brings you to one of the prettiest stretches of sand on the beautiful Gulf of Mexico.

Adventurous families should plan on exploring nature in nearby Everglades National Park or take a shelling cruise and hunt for beautiful seashells.

Whether you’re planning a family vacation or a day trip from another coast, be sure and check out Marco Island, the largest of Southwest Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands. Getting to Marco is so easy — it’s an hour and a half from both Ft. Myers and Miami off I-75. Take the first exit for Marco Island and follow Rte. 951 straight across the causeway to this tropical island. The parking lot at Tigertail Beach offers plenty of space for cars, and the $8.00 parking fee for visitors is well worth it to spend the day.

Places to Stay Near Tigertail Beach
tigertail beach marco island florida
© Lori

Read More: Miami Quotes to Inspire Your Trip to Florida

Pensacola Beach

Jo Almeida of Uncensored Escapes

Just 8 miles south of Pensacola, you’ll find its eponymous beach and my favorite part of this slice of Florida. Pensacola Beach features over 10 miles of white-sand shores and balmy, turquoise waters! You can easily find a secluded spot for you and your family to enjoy the Sunshine State in full and without ending up sharing your towel with your neighbor! This makes it a particularly good option to bask in the sun while still practicing social distancing.

Alternatively, if you prefer to be closer to civilization and all the attractions, you can park near the Pensacola Beach Pier. Along with the Pier, which you can walk for $1.25/person, you have myriad restaurants, souvenir shops, and accommodation options to choose from. If you drive West to the very end of Santa Rosa Island you’ll find Fort Pickens, where you can learn about this historic landmark’s role in the American Revolutionary War.

And if your family would rather get some adventure in, you have multiple family-friendly activities to choose from as well, including fishing, sailing, parasailing, surfing and paddleboarding lessons, diving and snorkeling tours, dolphin tours, and even helicopter tours to admire the Gulf of Mexico from above!

Normally you can easily access this Floridian gem from Downtown Pensacola by driving across Pensacola Bay Bridge (pedestrians not allowed on the bridge) to Gulf Breeze and then across Pensacola Beach Road. As of January 2021, however, Pensacola Bay Bridge is closed for repair following severe damage caused by Hurricane Sally, so you’ll need to take a rather long detour that will add over 25 miles to your route.

From Downtown drive North on I-110 N and take Exit 6 onto I-10 E toward Tallahassee, and continue East until you take Exit 22 right onto FL-281. Then continue all the way to Gulf Breeze Parkway, where you’ll make a right. Keep going west until you hit the FL-399 S Exit toward Pensacola Bch./Ft. Pickens. Then just keep driving South on Pensacola Beach Road until you find yourself in Pensacola Beach, at last!

Places to Stay Near Pensacola Beach
pensacola beach florida
© Jo Almeida

Melbourne Beach

Amy Gilbride of The Florida Travel Girl

I think the best beach in Florida for families 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 its wide sandy beaches, great surfing, and low crowds.

The public beaches are free, do not get too crowded, and have a family-friendly atmosphere, with no spring breakers. If you get too much sun, the Kennedy Space Center and the Brevard Zoo are both nearby and make for educational and fun day trips. In the evening, you can check out Downtown Melbourne for shopping and dining.

There are many 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.

Places to Stay Near Melbourne Beach
melbourne beach florida

Lowdermilk Beach

Annick from The Common Traveler

Located in Gulf Shore Boulevard North in Naples, Florida, Lowdermilk Beach can be easily accessed by car or by taking a local CAT (Collier Area Transit) bus. Parking is available at a cost.

Due to its location in Lowdermilk Park, Lowdermilk Beach offers something for people of all ages to do. This white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico provides calm water, making it safe for swimmers of all levels. The beach has restrooms and shower facilities, something every family can appreciate!

Aside from building sandcastles with the white sand and splashing in the Gulf of Mexico’s warm waters, Lowdermilk’s Park offers lots to do. Children can play on the two playgrounds. Picnic tables are available for those who prefer to sit at a table to eat. A small concession stand sells basics. Bring a volleyball with you to enjoy one of the two white sand courts. Experience an amazing sunset by staying late in the day.

There are lots of fun things to do in Naples for families too! The Naples Zoo is located nearby. Take an airboat ride through the neighboring Everglades. Downtown Naples and its famed 5th Avenue are dotted with restaurants, galleries, and shopping. The best way to get a feel for Naples is to take either a trolley ride, a walking tour, or a segway tour depending on the ages and interests of your group. 

Places to Stay Near Lowdermilk Beach
Lowdermilk Beach Florida
© Annick

Cape San Blas

Tanya Raedeke of Rad Family Travel

Cape San Blas is one of Florida’s secret beaches and a priceless gem for families looking for their next best beach vacation. Cape San Blas stretches out for miles making it fun to explore the gulf side and bay side of this 17-mile long peninsula. 

This quiet slice of paradise sits across Saint Joseph Bay from Port St. Joe, Florida; just hang a right onto 30E after you pass through Port Saint Joe. The cape’s crown jewel is beautiful, raw St. Joseph Peninsula State Park that’s definitely worth a visit even if you’re not camping there.

Cape San Blas is the perfect beach for social distancing and space to play. Take a long walk or run, throw the football around, or pass the soccer ball back and forth. Bring your cooler and put up a shade canopy for a picnic lunch and a nap.

Don’t forget your boogie boards, kites, fishing poles, kayaks, and swim rafts for hours of fun in the water. Bring your bikes to Cape San Blas to enjoy the 8.7-mile long Loggerhead Run Bike Path curves that curve along St. Joseph’s Bay. Ride to Coneheads for an afternoon ice cream cone or an early dinner.

In the evening, fires are allowed along the beach as long as it’s further than 100 feet from any structure, including a boardwalk. Make some s’mores and enjoy gorgeous sunsets. Go crabbing at night and you may even spy bioluminescent algae on the shore under a starry night sky. 

There are many beautiful beach homes along Cape San Blas, some well suited for large family gatherings. You won’t find many high-rise condominiums here. Wherever you stay on the cape, you are not far from the beach. 

For a casual dinner out and some lively karaoke with the locals, visit nearby Indian Pass Raw Bar for raw oysters and yummy parmesan baked oysters. Appalachicola and St. George Island are great day trips for a change of scenery.

Places to Stay Near Cape San Blas Beach
Cape San Blas Florida
© Tanya Raedeke

Bradenton Beach

Gary and Michelle of Love and our Laptop Lives

Bradenton Beach is one of many beaches located on Anna Maria Island, Florida. Anna Maria Island seems to be one of those charming areas that get overlooked, and I’m glad it does. It is one of our favorite places to visit any time of year.

Anna Maria Island is a seven-mile-long barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida. It is located south of Tampa and North of Sarasota. Bradenton Beach is the center of all the beach action. To get to Anna Maria Island you could fly into Sarasota Bradenton International airport which is only a twenty-minute drive from Anna Maria Island. It is more fun to fly into Tampa and rent a car and make the one-hour drive to Anna Maria Island by way of the Skyway Bridge.

Bradenton Beach is a small quaint town that is known for its old-world Florida charm, it’s powdery white sandy beaches filled with shells, the aqua blue water, the gorgeous sunsets where you can many times see dolphins jumping in the moonlight, friendly locals and it’s historical fishing piers.

Driving onto the island almost takes your breath away and instantly relaxes you. It is a tropical vacation without leaving the states.

An island trolly is available to take visitors from one breach to the next and run almost the entire length of the island. With several beaches located adjacent to Bradenton Beach on each side, it is nice to be able to park your car and trolly the remainder of the day, keeping the sand out of your car while you beach hop.

Bradenton Beach is welcoming to all, young and old. This is truly a family-friendly beach. Shelling is a favorite, as is sandcastle building, swimming and just soaking up the sun. If you are looking for a little more excitement nearby Bradenton Beach you can rent kayaks, take a boat tour, go deep-sea fishing, or try your hand at parasailing.

While visiting Bradenton Beach be sure to check out one of the many local favorites; Coquina Baywalk that runs through a wildlife area, Motes Aquarium, and enjoy some of their hands-on exhibits or walk the City Pier and talk with the local fishermen.

Places to Stay Near Bradenton Beach
bradenton beach anna maria island

So, which one of the best family-friendly beaches in Florida are you planning to head to with kids? Share with us in the comments section.

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The post 16 Best Beaches in Florida for Families appeared first on Travel Melodies.



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