One may think they have seen it all upon visiting Florida's epicenters and party-pit beaches. The truth is the concentration and variety within these small beach towns showcase the authentic Floridian vibe.
Set off the west Florida coast, Captiva Island is a cute little sister of Sanibel Island, known for its sea star- and shell-strewn shores, grouper sandwiches at RC Otters enjoyed outside under the shaded umbrella, as well as the South Seas Island Resort spread for 300 acres. There, one can relax in tranquility on one of the private beaches, sightsee and photograph around the scenic yacht harbor, enjoy a nine-hole golf course, or exploit the three outdoor pools with waterslides. More down-to-earth Keylime Bistro at Captiva Island Inn serves crab cake Benedict and Key lime pie, while the Bubble Room featuring toys from the 1930s and '40s, has a menu with Gulf shrimp, sticky buns, and orange crunch cake. The garden of Jungle Drums Gallery with a giant crouched frog, and a giant's chair that begs you to sit in it offer just a glimpse at the island that feels as if sprinkled with fairy dust. It induces a sense of magic that is unmatched anywhere else in the area, spellbinding everyone who dares step foot on it.
Halfway up the "keys," Islamorada is a picturesque village community spreading over six Florida Key islands. Known as a getaway to relax and seize the moment, it is also one for fine coastal living, where coral reefs, fabulous beaches, and the natural beauty innate to the Keys make one want to Carpe every Diem of their lives. A downtown full of charming buildings and gorgeous sites and the perfect weather to enjoy exploring, the addiction is real, with many coming back times again. There are quaint restaurants to enjoy some unforgettable date nights, atmospheric cafes for an afternoon coffee, and several breweries to explore. Florida Keys Brewing Co. and Islamorada Beer Company offer an impressive selection of local craft brews, while the Lazy Days Restaurant and Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar have killer water views, fruity cocktails, live music, and fish tacos. When not grabbing sitting at one of the establishments, one can try backcountry sport fishing and saltwater fly fishing, scuba dive and snorkel around the reefs, and relax on the beach to the tranquil sound of the waves.
Jensen Beach is an unassuming and relaxing coastal town nestled between the Atlantic and the Indian River Lagoon on Hutchinson Island in southeast Florida. It has been nicknamed the "Pineapple Capital of the World" since 1895. More than one million boxes of the prickly fruit were shipped off its shores in June and July each year. The broad golden-sand beaches of the town boast Caribbean-colored cottages with picket fences. The art galleries, one-of-a-kind shops, and offbeat sidewalk cafes give Jensen beach a well-rounded atmosphere, including the must-eat-at, 11 Maple Street Restaurant, set in an old house, serving innovative dishes. It's one of our favorite small towns in Florida by the beach. As a scenic paradise for nature lovers, there's the Indian River Lagoon, teeming with dolphins and manatees, while the outdoor activities include surfing, sailing, fishing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle-boarding.
Perched on Florida's south-eastern coast with the Loxahatchee River running through Jupiter, it is a town of various water perspectives for almost 360 degrees and endless beach time fun. The notable Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse from 1860 offers uninterrupted panoramic views from itself, a marvelous historic structure. The tropical and lively downtown area gives way to many parks, beaches, and trails, such as the Jupiter Waterway Trail, comprising 40 miles of rivers, beaches, and inlets for some scenic exercise. One can also explore the mangrove swamps along the river, kayak through Riverbend Park, ride horses, and visit the historic Indian historical sites while in Jupiter.
With two picturesque beach parks to each side, Key Biscayne is an island village known for the famed local historic monument Cape Florida Lighthouse and a sophisticated downtown feel, unusual for such a destination. Just off Miami's coast, many make the drive for a day trip on the ocean to get away into the entirely different atmosphere from the mighty city. Having come through a development boom since the causeway in the mid-20th century, it has since hosted notable people like Richard Nixon, Cher, and Brad Pitt. The luxurious island living on Key Biscayne includes golf courses and gourmet restaurants while those looking for something more low-key will also find numerous quaint attractions. One must check out the 170-year-old Cape Florida Lighthouse and the Heritage Trail for mesmerizing water vistas with prehistoric fossil reefs. The Crandon Park Beach offering calm waters is perfect for windsurfing, among other activities and relaxation options for a tranquil beach time in Florida.
Definitely a special small town in northwest Florida from the very first glance, WaterColor's beach setting is oddly juxtaposed by the perfumed breeze of its pine forest. The extra burst of freshness induces a unique feeling, while the scenery makes the eyes rejoice with pleasure. Suited to its name, the incredibly colorful town on the inside comes with nostalgia-emanating buildings, while the palms and the pebbled footpaths scream beach getaway of a lifetime. As if that was not enough, the adorable 499-acre destination resort WaterColor, snuggled between the Gulf of Mexico and a rare coastal dune lake, is adorned by parks and gardens. It is complete with a boutique inn, a boathouse, tennis, spa, shops, restaurants, a fitness center, and a private sugar-sand beach with a Saturday-evening Beach Bonfire. There's also the Western Lake for a more secluded beach feel, kayaking, and canoeing.
Seaside emanates calming vibes with its pastel-colored houses and tranquility-inducing name. Seaside's funky personality comes out in the eclectic local eateries for a perfectly-balanced lifestyle. The beach setting in the stunning Gulf of Mexico calls with its spectacular views to explore the area around. The friendly community calls to make frequent stops at the many quaint shops, restaurants, galleries, and cafes downtown while walking or biking through the atmospheric town. The lively town is known for its New Urbanism stance, with everything necessary for living or vacations within a 10-minute reach. There is the annual 30A Songwriters Festival with live music at the venues and along scenic 30A Highway, while the center hosts a weekly market and outdoor concerts, among other events thoroughly enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
Set on a barrier island in the Indian River Lagoon on Florida's east coast, Vero Beach is the ultimate destination for natural beauty with gorgeous beaches, long coastlines, and unbelievable scenic hiking and biking trails. The vast Mckee Botanical Garden is a scenic escape from the heat for strolls or relaxation with its tropical and native plants and water streams with lilies. Vero Beach is also home to the Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge, caring for brown pelicans. Its historic main street, featuring a fabulous downtown area, is full of little cafes, restaurants, and shops to explore, along with the spots listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Being the cultural and creative hub of Florida, there is a weekly gallery and vintage market to peruse and stock up on, while its Museum of Art is one of the best known in the area. Vero Beach is a truly un-crowded getaway with no building taller than four floors, the small-town vibe, and the white-sand beaches with more birds than people. To top it off, some quarter of the world's sea turtle population lay eggs on Florida's East Coast, with Vero at the epicenter of the wonderful wildlife sighting.
From traditional to eclectic tropical getaway experiences, these small beach towns have got it all for a must-hit getaway into the undiscovered parts of Florida. Each comes with its own flair and unique atmosphere, while the secluded setting will make one will feel transported out of the country altogether.