St. Augustine, Florida, shops and inns line St. George street with flags. Image credit Sean Pavone via Shutterstock

12 Most Unique Florida Towns

The Sunshine State is known for boasting an extensive array of island-setting towns and beach escapes. However, thanks to the booming tourist industry in Florida, each of the state’s sunkissed towns had to develop a competitive advantage to compete with neighboring towns. Therefore, the most unique Florida towns are those with an artistic edge, historical significance, or picturesque landscape. From the oldest city in America to the skydiving capital of the world, explore the most unique Florida towns and what makes them stand out from neighboring communities.

Key West

Road leading to Key West, Florida
The road leading to Key West, Florida.

Key West, is a town nationally renowned for having some of the best beaches, like Smathers Beach and Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park Beach. The popular weekend escape stands out from other unique towns in Florida with its "Conch Culture," which refers to the native residents of the remote Island located at the southern tip of Florida. Conch, pronounced Konk, is a name for sea snails that locals use to describe original residents of the area.

Aspects of local culture encompass Mediterranean-influenced cuisines and sea-centric community events like the Sunset celebration at Mallory Square and the Fantasy Fest held annually during the last week of October. The strong sense of community, delicious foods, and calm beaches make the town one of the best destinations in the Sunshine State. Quirky things you'll encounter during your visit include a population of free-range chickens that roam freely due to the town's history of raising chickens for food before the town was connected to the rest of Florida with a bridge in 1912.

St. Augustine

Aerial view of St. Augustine, Florida.
Downtown St. Augustine, Florida.

Nothing says unique like the oldest city in America. St. Augustine’s history dates back to 1565 and was one of the very first communities to be settled by Europeans. The town has long intrigued visitors and vacationers with its small-town's allure. From charming brick streets of St. Augestine's historic downtown to pristine beaches and the remains of past settlers, this small town balances a little bit of all atmospheres found in the Sunshine State.

The town's water-surrounded setting allows for various watersports and outdoor activities, from fishing at the St Augustine Municipal Marina to waterfront hikes at the nearby Anastasia State Park. Learn about different crocodile species at the St. Augustine Alligator farm, take a picture before the striped St. Augustine Lighthouse, and don’t leave without trying out local beverages and touring the St. Augustine distillery occupying the 1917 Ice Manufacturing Plant.


Flowers blooming along the hidden Fairy Trail of Horseshoe Park in Cassadaga, Florida
The hidden Fairy Trail of Horseshoe Park in Cassadaga, Florida.

Known as the "Psychic Capital of the World," this small town is home to a community of psychics and mediums. The town’s name translates from Seneca Indian to mean water beneath the rocks, and it is one of Florida’s hidden and underrated gem towns. Cassadaga's distinct reputation is the key reason it is unique, as colorful spiritual emblems and ornaments cover scenic paths like Horseshoe Park and Fairy Trail, giving Cassadaga a quirky haunted touch. Explore the Cassadaga Spiritual Camp, visit C. Green’s Haunted History Museum, and hike the 146-acre Colby-Alderman Park for a well-rounded experience in town.

Cedar Key

Waterfront buildings on stilts in Cedar Key, Florida.
Waterfront buildings on stilts in Cedar Key, Florida. Image credit JRP Studio via

Cedar Key is a picturesque coastal town with a relaxed, artsy vibe, known for its seafood and natural beauty. Visitors and vacationers flock to Cedar Key for the annual Old Florida Celebration of Arts and an abundance of outdoor activities. Cedar Key perfectly resembles old Florida, for being one of the oldest towns on this list after St. Augustine. However, despite the town’s longstanding reputation for being one of the most beautiful Florida escapes, Cedar Key has recently been hit by Hurricane Idali, causing severe damage to prominent waterfront destinations.

Tarpon Springs

People walking around in the historical downtown of Tarpon Springs, Florida.
People walking around in the historical downtown of Tarpon Springs, Florida. Image credit via

Famous for its Greek heritage and sponge diving industry, this town offers a taste of Mediterranean culture without leaving The Sunshine State. Its European charm can be experienced at St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral and the Tarpon Springs Cultural Center. Greek culture is not limited to historic centers in town as you can enjoy an authentically Greek dining experience at Hellas Restaurant, Mr. Souvlaki, and Dimitri’s on the water. Take photos at the old Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks, and visit Sunset Beach and the island-setting beach of Howard Park. Explore the Greek marketplace and tour the Anclote River for a well-rounded experience in town.

Mount Dora

Colorful Mount Dora's downtown area, a popular tourist destination.
Colorful Mount Dora, Florida, downtown area. Image credit  Jillian Cain Photography via

This Florida small town is unique for embodying the hospitable essence of Southern American small towns. Founded in 1880, Mount Dora is home to various antique shops, numerous community events, and the popular Christmas Lighting Festival. Historic Victorian architecture will highlight your visit to Mount Dora, with quirky places like Donnelly House, The first national Bank in Mount Dora on Fifth Avenue, and Lakeside Inn at 100 Alexander St. Renninger's Flea Market & Antique Center is Mount Dora's weekend go-to destination to shop from local vendors like, The Curious Muse: Crystal shop, and quirky shops within walking distance like Fallen Barns Antiques, Rose and Grace Market, and Florida Twin Markets.

Sanibel Island

Stunning aerial view during sunrise of Captiva Island and Sanibel Island.
Stunning aerial view during sunrise of Captiva Island and Sanibel Island. Image credit Noah Densmore via

A serene barrier island famous for its seashells, the JN Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge, and a slower pace of life, Sanibel Island is home to preserved parks and eco-rich tourist attractions. The Island boasts some of the calmest secluded beaches in Florida, like Bowman’s Beach Park. Sanibel's relaxed atmosphere makes for a perfect nature-centric escape. Aside from the many parks and endless miles of coastal beach, cool places to visit in town include Sanibel Moorings Botanical Gardens, Sanibel Island Farmer’s Market, and Sanibel Island Museum, which narrates tales of colonial history.


Market Street in Celebration.
Market Street in Celebration, Florida. Image credit JennLShoots via Shutterstock

A real-world Disney land, Celebration offers a blend of unique atmospheres and is an upscale suburb in Orlando. The quirky town is a planned community developed by The Walt Disney Company, known for its nostalgic, small-town atmosphere and unique architecture. The city is more of a work of art than a residential area with fabulous architecture like Town Hall by Philip Johnson, The Googie Style Cinema by Cesar Pelli, and Hotel by Graham Gund. Despite being developed by a corporation, Celebration still enjoys a charming small-town feel with major public amenities, restaurants, shops, and everything in between. Celebration Town Tavern, Nature's Table, and Columbia Restaurant are among the best places to dine in town.

Ybor City

Famous 7th Avenue in the Historic Ybor City, now designated as a National Historic Landmark District.
Famous 7th Avenue in Historic Ybor City, now designated as a National Historic Landmark District. Image credit Nick Fox via Shutterstock

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa famous for its extensive history of manufacturing Cuban cigars, lively nightlife, and Spanish-influenced architecture, like the El Centro Español de Tampa. Visit Centro Ybor for a range of nightlife options like Club Prana and Bad Monkey, or learn more about the town’s history through its old cigar factory of JC Newman, which is still in operation. Other unique places to visit in Ybor City include Ybor City Museum State Park, which takes you back in time to learn more about the town’s historical significance, and L’ Unione Italiana, an architecturally unique Italian clubhouse. Wrap up your tour of the charming small Florida town with a top-of-the-line dining experience at Columbia Restaurant, the town's oldest still operating restaurant.


A colorful houseboat residence docked on Apalachicola Bay in the town of Apalachicola.
Colorful houseboat residence docked on Apalachicola Bay in the town of Apalachicola, Florida.

Apalachicola is a coastal port town with a historic downtown, known for its oysters, picturesque Greek Revival-style homes, and seafood industry. Take a walk down the historic district and browse over 900 historic homes and buildings dating all the way back to the 1830s. The town is also home to various fascinating museums, including Jhon Gorrie Musem State Park and the Apalachicola Maritime Museum. Don’t leave the town without browsing local shopping options in Downtown Apalachicola. Some of the best shopping experiences are at Market Street, Commerce Street, and Water Street, with quaint boutiques like Apalach Outfitters and Betsy’s Sunflower and Kitchen store.


Athens Theatre in the historic small town of DeLand.
Athens Theatre in the historic small town of DeLand, Florida. Image credit SR Productions via Shutterstock

A college town with a vibrant arts scene and a lively community, DeLand is nicknamed the Skydiving capital of the world for its skydiving industry. Stenson University is the town’s claim to fame, while Woodland Blvd has been recognized as one of America’s best main streets for its welcoming atmosphere of local businesses and historic buildings. Shop, dine, party, and enjoy the town’s many parks like Earl Brown Park, Eastside Park, Painter’s Pond Park, and more. Famous tourist attractions in the area include the beautiful Stenson University campus, the Museum of Art, and the old Stenson Mansion. Cool places to catch live local entertainment in Deland include Dolly's Olde Time Tavern, Cafe Divincci, and OB's Restaurant & Lounge.


Facade of old buildings in Micanopy, Florida
Old buildings in Micanopy, Florida.

Micanopy is a quaint, rural town with charming historic buildings and antique shops, often used as a filming location for movies and TV shows. Films like Doc Hollywood, Cross Creek, The Gravedigger, Act of Love, and more have been filmed in Micanopy. As you stroll down Cholokka Boulevard, you’ll encounter antique shops, unique boutiques, and cozy cafes, making it an ideal destination for leisurely shopping and dining. Explore the nearby Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, where you can witness the incredible diversity of Florida’s wildlife and ecosystems. Popular antique boutiques in the area include Delectable Collectables, House of Hirsch Antiques, and Shady Oak Gallery.

From the timeless allure of St. Augustine to the psychic mystique of Cassadaga and the vibrant nightlife of Ybor City, Florida’s most unique towns are a testament to the state’s multifaceted appeal. So, whether you’re a visitor or a local looking for a new adventure, explore these hidden gems and discover the many facets that make these Florida towns some of the most unique and unforgettable places to explore.

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