Editor’s Note: Due to the fluctuating world situation, beach closures may occur and travel restrictions may be in place. Please check with local sources before you visit and abide by local guidelines.
It’s hard to think of Florida without thinking of sunshine, surf, sand and its 1,200 miles of coastline. The Sunshine State boasts nearly 700 miles of pristine white-sand beaches. They’re the perfect spot to soak in the sun and frolic in the warm waters of the Atlantic or Gulf of Mexico. Many of Florida’s beach towns are popular family vacation destinations.
In addition, Florida’s state parks offer a wide variety of outdoor activities, including kayaking, standup paddleboarding, jet skiing and snorkeling.
Best Family Beach Vacations in Florida
Florida beach towns are perfect for family vacations and getaways. There are many options to explore — from beach towns along the Gulf Coast to Florida islands and beach towns on Florida’s Atlantic seaboard. Here’s our list of some of the best family-friendly beaches in Florida.
Let’s start with the sparkling waters on Florida’s Gulf Coast — Clearwater Beach. There is plenty of room for building sandcastles, snorkeling, or family beach activities such as strolling the boardwalk along Pier 60 or taking an evening cruise on a “pirate” ship, parasailing, and more.
There is also no shortage of beach resorts tailored to the needs of families with children. Clearwater Beach is home to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where the hit movie, Dolphin Tale, was filmed. It’s the perfect activity for a family vacation in Florida.
Fort De Soto State Park
This Florida state park is part nature and part beach, which makes it one of the most unique Florida beach destinations in The Sunshine State. Fort DeSoto State Park has a whopping 1,110 acres of mangroves and natural habitats for over 300 species of birds and loggerhead turtles.
Fort DeSoto State Park is the ideal family vacation thanks to its outdoor amenities including fishing piers, bike rentals, easy hiking trails, and of course, plenty of white sand beaches.
Panama City Beach
Some of the most beautiful stretches of white sand beach can be found in the 27 miles along Florida’s Gulf Coast in the Panhandle region of Florida.
Panama City Beach offers endless opportunities for kayaking, paddleboarding, snorkeling, and even sunset cruises where you can spot dolphins in the sparkling waters.
Additionally, Panama City Beach has a multitude of family-friendly beach resorts right on the beach making this the perfect place for a family vacation.
Fort Myers Beach
Just north of Naples, Florida is Fort Myers Beach — a beach town with a stretch of family resorts, plenty of shopping on its boardwalk and easy beach access to construct sandcastles from those white sands.
By day, families can enjoy plenty of watersports, such as snorkeling, swimming, and parasailing. In the evening, grab an ice cream on the boardwalk or take an evening cruise and enjoy the region’s spectacular sunsets.
If you’ve discovered Fort Myers Beach, you won’t want to miss Sanibel Island beach which is a short drive from Fort Myers. Sanibel Island is accessed via toll bridges and is fairly secluded. Parking at this beach is limited. Unless you are staying on Sanibel Island, you will want to rent a bike and cruise the sidewalks.
This family vacation destination has some of the best seashelling or seashells along its pristine white sand beach. Newly-constructed boardwalks lead you through natural habitats and mangroves with a historic lighthouse (you can’t climb or enter) you can view. Take a lunch to enjoy on one of the many picnic tables.
New Smyrna Beach
No family vacation to Florida is complete without visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando. While you’re there, you will want to visit New Smyrna Beach on Florida’s east coast. The drive takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
This long stretch of Florida beach is one of the more relaxing and less crowded Florida family beaches, and it offers swimming, sun, and water sports.
Take the short walk to the 1.5 mile-long boardwalk at the Smyrna Dunes State Park and picnic in the over 70 acres of nature.
Amelia Island (also a barrier island) is located in northeast Florida on the Atlantic. The island has a welcoming community, miles of nature to explore, horseback riding, and water sports like kayaking and standup paddleboarding.
Amelia Island has a rich history and offers daily programs for children to learn more about Amelia Island Plantation. There is plenty of nature for the whole family to explore at Fort Clinch State Park. Amelia Island has family-friendly resorts with children’s programs that give parents a little break. Be sure to check with Amelia Island’s beach resorts for daily programs for kids.
Siesta Key is one of the best beaches in Florida for its endless family-friendly activities. Siesta Key is just a short drive from Sarasota, Florida, and has many outfitters that offer watersports such snorkeling or paddleboarding along Siesta Key’s white-sand beaches. This charming beach town has a small village with shopping and dining options.
Miami’s South Beach may not be the first Florida beach that comes to mind when you think of family-friendly. However, Miami’s South Beach has a fun, lively ambiance, not to mention plenty of family-friendly resorts to complete that family vacation. Miami’s vibrant atmosphere and architecture will keep everyone entertained during the day and at night.
Destin is a top family-friendly beach destination along the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle. From the Crab Island sandbar to the Gulfarium, where children can interact with dolphins, this seaside town is a popular beach vacation option.
If you book off-season (not during spring break), Destin hotels are quite affordable. Condos in Destin are plentiful, and there are also many Airbnb or VRBO rentals in Destin. Check out our top 10 reasons to visit Destin, Florida.
With this list, you should be able to start planning that family vacation or getaway at one of these best beaches in Florida with a plethora of activities for everyone in your brood. What Florida family beaches did we miss?