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Florida’s Best Small Beach Towns

Sleepy coastal towns mean laid-back, toes-in-the-sand fun

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florida small beach towns, beach view

The ideal beach getaway is best without the crowds. Lance Asper

Planning your next vacation or day-trip to the beach? Check out these small beach towns along the Gulf and Atlantic Coastlines of Florida. We’ve compiled a list of some of the top places to stay, eat, and things to do in each location.

Anna Maria Island

This barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico is home to white sandy beaches, crystal clear blue water, and an “Old Florida” charm. At only 7-miles long and with a speed limit of 35mph, residents and visitors primarily travel around town by bike, scooter, or on foot. Serene sunsets, a laid-back vibe, and family-friendly activities make Anna Maria Island a fun place to visit for all ages.

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Tip: Hop aboard the island’s free trolley system to visit the local attractions.

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Boca Grande

On the barrier island of Gasparilla is a small village called, Boca Grande. Surrounded by the Gulf of Mexico’s turquoise water, it is known as one of the best places in the world for tarpon fishing. Boca Grande is home to loggerhead turtles and a variety of birds. Its natural beauty, history, and wildlife make it perfect for disconnecting from city life.

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Tip: The Boca Grande Marina is the only place to purchase gas on Gasparilla Island. The main mode of transportation is by bike or golf cart.

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Juno Beach

Located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway lies the small coastal town of Juno Beach. It is home to some of the most abundant loggerhead sea turtle nesting spots and the 569-acre Juno Dunes Natural Area. With its panoramic sunrises, dog-friendly parks, and full-service pier, this town has something to offer for everyone.

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Tip: If you’re looking to catch a wave or paddleboard, Groundswell Surf Shop offers rentals.

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Pass-A-Grille

Travel to the southernmost point of St. Pete Beach and find yourself in the charming beach town of Pass-A-Grille. This town is only one block wide and is sandwiched between the Gulf of Mexico on one side and the Boca Ciega Bay on the other. With its laid-back vibe, pink sunsets, unique shopping, and tasty eats, Pass-A-Grille is a beach town you won’t want to pass up on.

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Tip: The “Free Beach Ride” offers free transportation around Pass-A-Grille and St. Pete Beach. All you have to do is tip the driver when you arrive at your destination.

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  • Shop at some of the most eclectic and original stores in St. Pete Beach at the historic 8th Avenue shopping district.
  • Take a 10-minute boat ride on the Shell Key Shuttle over to the barrier island of Shell Key for a day of snorkeling, shelling, and dolphin watching. Sunset cruises are available, as well.
  • Rent a fishing rod or bicycle to explore Pass-A-Grille at the Merry Pier. Check out their fresh fish and seafood market that features fish caught straight from the Gulf.

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  • Grace 120 8th Avenue St. Pete Beach, FL (727) 317-4770
  • The Wharf 2001 Pass-A-Grille Way St Pete Beach, FL 33706 727) 367-9469
  • Seahorse Restaurant 800 Pass a Grille Way Pass-a-Grille Beach, FL 33706 (727) 360-1734

Seaside

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Located on the Gulf of Mexico between Panama City Beach and Destin is a town called, Seaside. It’s here that you will find pastel-colored coastal homes with white picket fences and wrap around porches. Known for its 20th century “New Urbanist” design, Seaside’s community was built with the tagline, “The Dream of a Simple, Beautiful Life.” Everything from shops, dining, and the beach are all within walking distance to gorgeous cottages and homes.

Tip: There are nine unique pavilions around Seaside that are not only landmarks, but they mark the end of every street and stand as a passageway to the ocean. Pack a picnic one evening and marvel at the sunset through one of these distinctive structures.

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  • Let Cabana Man make your day at the beach a little more relaxing by setting up lounge chairs, beach umbrellas, or even private cabanas. If you’re looking for some extra fun, they provide kayak, paddleboard, and boogie board rentals too.
  • Looking for a good beach read? Check out one of the oldest businesses in Seaside, Sundog Books, for a wild mix of classic literature, popular fiction, children’s books, and more.
  • Visit the Seaside Farmers Market on Saturdays from 8:00am to noon. Taste some of the local fresh fruits and veggies, baked goods, and much more.

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St. Augustine

Known as the oldest city in the nation, St. Augustine is rich with historical beauty and an old-world atmosphere. It is located on the Matanzas River and the Atlantic Ocean. Whether you’re a history buff or a beachgoer, St. Augustine is filled with places to see and things to do.

Tip: Take a walk down the oldest street in the United States, Aviles Street. Dating back to the 1570s, this cobblestone street is packed with museums, boutique shops, live music, and fine dining.

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  • Hop onboard one of Old Town Trolley’s St. Augustine Sightseeing Tours. They offer an unlimited “Hop On & Off” privileges at 23 different stops around town.
  • St. Augustine’s history is brought to life in the Colonial Quarter. This pet-friendly immersive attraction transports guests back to the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.
  • Climb 219 steps to the top of the St. Augustine Lighthouse and experience an unparalleled view of the nation’s oldest port, the Atlantic Ocean, and St. Augustine.

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Vero Beach

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Located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, Vero Beach is home to white sandy beaches, gourmet food and drink, museums, and cultural events. A haven for watersports enthusiasts, artists, and those looking to enjoy a relaxing getaway, Vero Beach offers an invitation to a slower pace of life.

Tip: Explore the shipwreck of the S.S. Breconshire, which is located a quarter mile in front of the Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa. The resort offers a 90-minute guided tour, which includes a kayak rental and snorkeling gear.

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  • Stroll through Ocean Drive (only one block away from the ocean) and explore boutique shops, Kilwin’s ice cream shop, and local art galleries.
  • Visit the pet-friendly Farmers Market Oceanside on Saturdays from 8:00am to noon on Ocean Drive at Humiston Park. Enjoy a variety of local organic foods, botanicals, live music, and more.
  • Taste some of the best local Vero Beach brews on tap at the Walking Tree Brewery.

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READ NEXT: Best Florida Beaches Guide

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