Enjoy eight miles of sugary white sand that stretches along Florida’s Gulf Coast. It’s been rated the best sand beach by Travel Channel in the past, so you really can’t go wrong.
Where to stay: You’ll be steps from the beach at The Ringling Beach House, plus they have pools to cool off in.
Where to eat: Snack on a Florida Sea Sundae at Big Olaf’s Creamery, and for dinner you can sample tapas, like the ceviche or shrimp curry roll, at The Cottage.
What to do: Boating and fishing will keep you close to the beach, and if you’re willing to wander then take a day trip to Sarasota and explore the Ringling Museum of Art and downtown Sarasota’s antique and boutique stores.
2. If you’re looking for great waves and that paradise feel, look no further than Delray Beach.
A seemingly sleepy beach town that also happens to have amazing nightlife? Yes, please.
Where to stay: For a more all-inclusive feel, The Colony is located centrally in downtown Delray, but if you’re looking for boutique and oceanfront digs, then head over to Crane’s BeachHouse.
Where to eat: Get a real taste of Florida seafood and order the conch fritters at Bamboo Fire Cafe.
What to do: Rent a bike and explore the adorable streets of Delray, then take a sunset cruise to get the best views from the water.
3. For a long stretch of white sand that’s also close to bigger cities, head to Clearwater Beach.
If you’re looking for more than just a beach, then you must visit Clearwater Beach. Yes, it’s an enormous stretch of pearly white sand on the Gulf Coast, but it also boasts plenty of nightlife and restaurants to keep you busy off the beach too.
Where to stay: For something more upscale with a romantic restaurant try the Sandpearl. Or hit up the Palm Pavilion Inn for a more boutique experience.
Where to eat: Get a grouper sandwich at Frenchy’s, and order the fish tacos at Pearly’s.
What to do: Check out the surf shops on the boardwalk or head over to the Clearwater Aquarium to see their rehabilitated wildlife. And, while they’re a bit of a drive, visits to the Big Cat Rescue and Salvador Dali museum are totally worth it.
4. St. Augustine is like walking through history and being able to sit on a picturesque beach afterward.
Aside from the scenic beach, St. Augustine is America’s oldest city. Which means it’s teeming with beautiful architecture that stems from the city from being founded by the Spanish and settled in 1565.
Where to stay: Get a little taste of history when you stay at the Inn on Charlotte, built in 1913 and just a short walk to the historic fort.
Where to eat: Wake-up and grab an amazing vegan breakfast at Manatee Cafe, sip a Beach Martini at Cellar 6, and treat yourself to a truffle butter steak at Collage.
What to do: Visit the oldest wooden schoolhouse, see dolphins on an eco tour, and fantasize about gold bars at the pirate and treasure museum.
5. If you’re looking for a charming downtown area that’s close to untouched wildlife, you need to visit Dunedin.
Where to stay: Treat yourself to an adorable B&B at the Meranova Guest Inn.
Where to eat: Taste the white truffle lobster risotto at the Black Pearl and you’ll feel like you’ve entered a better world. Or totally ease into vacation mode at the Dunedin Brewery.
What to do: When you need a beach break, stroll the downtown area and pop into one of the many galleries, or rent a kayak and head to one of the nearby islands.
You’ll get equal slices of untouched nature and peaceful beaches on this Northern Florida gem of an island.
Where to stay: Camping is one of the coolest parts of visiting St. George, but if you want to skip the tent, there’s the Buccaneer Inn.
Where to eat: Start with a dozen oysters at the Blue Parrot Cafe, and end with a cone at Aunt Ebby’s ice cream.
What to do: Take a guided kayaking tour to spot bald eagles, pelicans, and dolphins, or stroll over to tour the lighthouse.
For a quirky beach experience, the southernmost tip of St. Pete beach is loaded with little art galleries and a marina that looks like it’s from another time altogether.
Where to stay: Since you come to Pass-A-Grill in part for the history, stay in the 1920s Don Cesar and have your life changed by its beauty.
Where to eat: To eat right on the beach, you need only head to Paradise Grille, or go ultra chic and try the pork belly polenta at the Maritana Grille.
What to do: Take a day for a deep sea fishing trip and, with any luck, you’ll have something for dinner by the time you’re done!
8. If you need a more lively beach experience, then head to South Beach in Miami.
South Beach is where to go if you want a beach and a big city vibe to go with it. It also doesn’t hurt that there’s endless Cuban food as well.
Where to stay: For a super stylish hotel with a bar you can hang out in all night, the Setai is an excellent choice.
Where to eat: Chow down on fresh guacamole and corn with jalapeño crema at Taquiza, and don’t miss the seafood selection at Joe’s Stone Crab.
What to do: If you’re bored in Miami, then you’re doing it wrong. Whether it’s a shopping spree, dancing all night, or gawking at the Art Deco buildings, you’ll be endlessly entertained.
9. For when all you want is some gorgeous views of the water, visit Cocoa Beach.
Surfing and waves are big in Cocoa Beach (literally), so come here to catch a wave, or just watch someone else expertly do it.
Where to stay: You’ll have a charming stay with breakfast included at The Inn, not to mention their nightly wine and cheese hour.
Where to eat: Get the stuffed French toast at Simply Delicious Cafe, and don’t pass up the lobster roll at Jazzy’s Mainely Lobster and Seafood.
What to do: See a Florida alligator up close and personal from the safety of an airboat tour, or see if you have what it takes to master wind surfing.
Destin is chockfull of Southern charm, thanks to its location in Northern Florida, so you won’t be short of scenery or hospitality here.
Where to stay: For stunning views and a little romance, lay your head at Henderson Park Inn.
Where to eat: Grab a beer at The Other End, then indulge in some real Southern fare, like jambalaya or shrimp and grits, at the Louisiana Lagniappe.
What to do: Get back to nature at Henderson Beach State Park, and shop your way through the HarborWalk Marina at Sunset.
11. And Key West will be one of the most unique towns you’ll ever visit.
The southernmost point of Florida is a mix of literary history, roaring nightlife, and truly yummy food that will make you want to extend your stay.
Where to stay: The Casa Marina Resort has been open since 1920 and is steps from the beach and Duval Street (aka easy access to the best of Key West).
Where to eat: Score some mahi mango tacos at the Garbo’s Grill food stand, and end the night with dessert at the cheekily named Better Than Sex — get the brie cheese and chocolate Morning After danish, and wash it down with an Adult Apple ale.
What to do: You must visit Ernest Hemingway’s house, if only to see the six-toed cats he left behind, then shop and drink your way through Duval Street.
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