Known for the vast beaches of the big cities, Florida also has many small charming towns that offer a more secluded getaway with every comfort, still being an option. Less-touched by human hands, nature thrives there, while the atmospheric centers with winding streets lead one to the beaches for the laid-back lifestyle everyone is worthy of experiencing.
Anna Maria Island
The barrier island of Anna Maria is located between the Gulf of Mexico and mainland Florida, comprising a wonderful getaway for those seeking peace. The laid-back atmosphere of the town and the seven pristine miles of white and sandy beaches induce relaxation. For a choice of varied activities, there are antique and souvenir shops, art galleries, and places to taste amazing seafood delicacies. With strict rules on business and construction and being a bird sanctuary, one will feel transported into some exotic fairyland. The romanticism-evoking pier from 1911, and the Rod and Reel Pier from 1947, where fishers have set their bases, offer extensive views to the horizon of dolphins, jumping, and surfers indulging in their favorite pastime.
Also known as the oyster capital, the town is set in the emerald Gulf of Mexico's picturesque Apalachicola Bay. Staying true to its nickname, the town's restaurants are some of the best in America to enjoy a freshly caught seafood dinner, as well there is an annual Florida Seafood Festival. Apalachicola offers one to experience the charm of "Old Florida." It has a historic district that houses over 900 buildings, some of which have been around for almost 200 years. The Apalachicola National Forest and Tate's Hell State Forest are enjoyed thoroughly by hikers and nature lovers. The Gulf's charm, the calm waves rolling onto the unspoiled beaches, and the quaint fishing village vibe promote a sense of tranquility.
Once a busy port, Cedar Key is a tiny enclave of a town, charming in its quaint vibe of an old-fashioned, traditional Florida beauty. A true paradise for artists and writers, it is easy to get inspired by the unspoiled natural beauty of the tranquil village that comes with multilevel houses sitting on stills overhanging the Gulf of Mexico, while the beautiful beaches of the state spread from underneath. The Old Florida Celebration of the Arts celebrates the artists in April. The Stargazing Party in February can also comprise a daily night-time tradition, with no sky-risers that would obscure one's view. There are also the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, the Cedar Key Museum State Park, and many on-the-water restaurants serving fresh local seafood.
Set in the Gulf Coast, Dunedin is one of the oldest towns in the state, with a unique composition of Scottish charm, celebrated through annual festivities and carnivals, such as the Dunedin Highland Games. Its four-mile-long shoreline, with pristine beaches, is "celebrated" every day. There are two state parks, a three-some mile trail through virgin slash pine forests, as well as the dominating 38-mile-long trail that offers cycling, hiking, or strolling to the heart's content. Similar to the substantial Scottish population of the town, its Honeymoon Island State Park is filled with ospreys and is one of the most visited parks in the state. The TD Ballpark hosts Dunedin Blue Jays' games and comprises their training facility.
Part of Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is the northernmost city on Florida's Atlantic Coast. Despite being a popular golfing destination, common wildlife sightings signal that the well-preserved natural area is largely unspoiled. Whether one finds charm in the upscale spas and world-class resorts or the many cozy B&Bs, everyone flees to one of the thirteen pristine beaches to sunbathe and dip toes in the soft white sands. Many will also find their sanctuary in the excellent golf establishments, such as the Artrageous Artwalk and the Fort Clinch State Park, or the well-reviewed art galleries, like the Amelia SanJon Gallery and the Shady Ladies Art, with the latter offering a class.
The "purple island" or the "Village of Islands," Islamorada spreads over five islands in the Florida Keys, with plenty of beaches suitable for any water sport imaginable. As the sports fish capital of the world, with 500 species of fish, fishing tournaments are thoroughly enjoyed by many. Several excellent restaurants set on the water's edge are known to serve some of the best seafood in the world, caught right on the spot. One can also rent a kayak to visit the Indian Key State Park, stop by the Theater of the Sea to watch dolphins and sea lions at play, or partake in a glass-bottom boat ride.
While some call this oldest inland town of Florida "the town that time forgot," the name Micanopy, meaning "head chief," was be-given by the leader of the Alachua Seminoles. One can learn about its early-day residents, the Alachua Seminoles, at the Micanopy Native American Heritage Preserve that protects a Native American mound. The Paynes Prairie Preserve State presents a massive natural basin in the "great Alachua Savannah" for bison and wild horses to roam free over the 22,000 acres of grasslands. Inducing the type of charm that is reminiscent of the past, the narrow, ancient oak-lined streets aligned with numerous historic homes emanate picturesque warmth. The town has also been appealing to the film industry, with numerous films and television shows choosing it as their locale.
The small-town charm of Safety Harbor resonates in its name as a safe and lovely place to get away from the crowds and worries of the daily being. With healing waters and numerous beaches in the vicinity of the downtown area, including Main Street's first-class restaurants, the town can truly appease any palette. There is also an Instagram-worthy Whimzey Bowling House or the ancient Live Oak at Baranoff Park in the historic district that is between 300 and 500 years old. The Philippe Park comprises a beautiful walk along the harbor, where many pleasure boats set off and arrive The Safety Harbor Marina and Fishing Pier are favorite spots among the fishing aficionados.
The Vero Beach barrier island is tucked along the Treasure Coast and named "The Best Small Town in Florida," particularly by those who found their peaceful heaven in it. The Treasure Coast itself retained the name upon the destructive powers of its offshore reefs that would wreck ships carrying valuables, and where people to this day dive searching for them, including the recently sunk ship, the S.S. Breconshire. The area is also known as the Gateway to the Tropics. The climate is suitable for gorgeous and intense flora growth, combining everything from northern species to tropical palms and greenery. The McKee Jungle Garden and Lion Country Safari offer great pastimes, while Vero restaurants serve farm-to-table plates with artisan ingredients.
These towns sit closely to the coastline of the unspoiled beaches while their vibrant hearts brim with charm. The feeling of tranquility that comes with the secluded vibe of the many island towns on the list is also unmatched as a bucket-list experience for those yearning to recharge during the next beach-bound getaway.