family beach

The Best Beaches in Florida for Families and Which Ones You Should Avoid

Florida is known for many things, some good and some bad, but its beaches are some of the best in the US, evidenced by the 140 million tourists who visited the Sunshine State last year.

Florida beaches are a sight to behold, from beautiful white sand shores to crystal blue water and pretty incredible sunsets.

However, which beaches are the best for a family vacation? Factors to consider when choosing family-friendly beaches are cleanliness, overcrowding, a gradual slope to the shore for easy access, and attentive lifeguards. 

1. Ft. Walton Beach

ft walton beach florida
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Florida’s panhandle harbors some of the state’s most beautiful beaches, and fellow Americans are clueing into this wonder. With its vibrant structures at other beach access points in Fort Walton Beach, the boardwalk has revitalized this charming Southern beach town. 

Nightclubs, restaurants, volleyball courts, and concessions create a lively atmosphere on the boardwalk, offering diverse activities to keep you entertained day and night. Families will enjoy Angler’s Beachside Grill, where children can play in a roped-off playground while parents watch from above. Near the pier, the Gulfarium offers spectacular shows featuring dolphins leaping and sea lions playing, delighting visitors of all ages.

2. Panama City Beach

panama city beach florida
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Located in picturesque Northwest Florida, Panama City Beach boasts an impressive 27 miles of pristine white-sand beaches, creating a perfect playground for the entire family. The lively Pier Park is a sprawling million-square-foot hub of shopping and entertainment, offering abundant experiences for all who visit. 

Furthermore, the city’s calendar is brimming with an array of family-friendly events, ensuring there is always something exciting happening for everyone to enjoy.

3. Amelia Island

amelia island florida
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Amelia Island, situated on the Atlantic side of the Sunshine State, is a treasure trove of activities for the whole family. From kayaking adventures to horseback riding and from exploring the fascinating Floridian history at Fort Clinch State Park to simply basking in the island’s natural beauty, there’s something to keep everyone excited and engaged. 

At the Ritz-Carlton Omni Resort, parents can unwind and enjoy some quality adult time, knowing that their children are in safe hands. The resort’s children’s program is designed to keep the little ones entertained and engaged, ensuring a worry-free vacation for the whole family.

4. Daytona Beach

sunset daytona beach
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When I hear Daytona Beach, I immediately think of spring break gone wild. However, this Florida beach isn’t always overrun with college kids and bikers looking to have a good time. It actually boasts a family-friendly environment in other parts of the year. 

Visitors have everything at their fingertips right on the beach and pier. Vendors provide anything from bikes, boogie boards, scooters to sunscreen and snacks. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take surfing lessons there. If the kids get bored burying Dad in the sand, the Daytona Lagoon Waterpark is a short distance away.

5. Cocoa Beach

cocoa beach florida
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Cocoa Beach is a constant destination recommendation from Florida natives whenever I inquire about the best beaches. The reason? The famed, historic Cocoa Beach Pier and the short drive to the Kennedy Space Center, a few miles down the road. 

In addition to the beautiful beach, which has attentive lifeguards on duty, the pier is brimming with restaurants, gift shops, and live music entertainment. 

6. Clearwater Beach

dolphin clearwater beach florida
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According to my friends who live in Florida, Clearwater Beach, just south of Tampa on the Gulf side, is the best family-friendly beach in the state. This beach greets you with parasailing, rides on a pirate ship, and a long pier stretching into the Gulf of Mexico.

Its sugar-sand beaches and stunningly clear waters beckon all who visit. However, its amazing sunsets are breathtaking. Families can head to the Clearwater Maritime Aquarium to visit the rehabilitated marine life when the sun gets too hot. 

7. Anna Maria Island

anna maria island florida
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Anna Maria, a captivating barrier island, stands out as a unique and exceptional family-friendly Florida destination. This island offers diverse experiences, catering to every aspect of your ideal vacation.

The island offers various activities that cater to all interests. Experience the timeless charm of old Florida as you savor grouper sandwiches at an open-air beach café, kayak with dolphins, and splash in the pristine Gulf waters. Unwind on the beach, explore the shops and eateries of Bradenton Beach, and try your hand at fishing from the City Pier. 

8. Siesta Key

siesta key florida
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The understated Sarasota beach of Siesta Key welcomes all visitors. It’s an exceptional family-friendly spot where you can spend your days soaking up the sun on the softest white sand beaches and catching a wave or two. 

Visitors can enjoy various water sports, snorkeling, and fresh seafood from the available eateries. A trolley can take you to the shops, volleyball courts, and an excellent playground for your little ones.  

9. Delray Beach

delray beach florida
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Rand McNally and USA Today voted Delray Beach the most fun small town in America. It is a charming village with big-city sophistication. Atlantic Avenue, the pedestrian-friendly main street, is lined with restaurants, shops, and art galleries and even features a popular pinball museum.  

Enjoy activities like visiting the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens or engaging in watersports such as sailing, snorkeling, and kiteboarding. Just south of town, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center offers a butterfly garden, sea turtle walks, outdoor aquariums, and scavenger hunts.

10. Hollywood Beach

hollywood beach theater
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While it may receive mixed reviews regarding its family-friendly status due to its proximity to Miami Beach, Hollywood Beach is still an excellent beach that boasts several activities the kids will love. Some of the concerns raised in these reviews include cleanliness and riptides but it’s important to note that these are not universal experiences, and many families have had wonderful vacations here. 

Family dining is worry-free, with parents enjoying a seaside meal while their kids play in the nearby sand. Two Boardwalk parks invite children to play paddleball at the historic Garfield Street courts or cool off in the dolphin play fountain. A trolley makes getting around easy, and watersports and a beach theater ensure never-dull moments.

11. St. Augustine Beach

castillo de san marcos florida
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St. Augustine, Florida, is the nation’s oldest city, but this is not the only reason it stands out. It’s an excellent blend of history, attractions, and incredible beaches to dip your toes into. Along St. John’s Ocean Pier Park, visitors can enjoy a beachside pavilion, splash park, a sand volleyball court, and your leashed dog is always a welcome addition. 

Dedicated lifeguards watch over your little ones playing in the crystal-blue surf, allowing the parents to relax just a smidge. There are many land-loving activities to participate in, such as visiting the Castillo de San Marcos or ziplining over the gators at St. Augustine Alligator Farm. 

Beaches to Avoid for Families

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Everyone has strong opinions about which Florida beaches are best for a family-friendly vacation, and that’s perfectly fine. The ideal spot is subjective; however, these three beaches are often overcrowded and are party-central. For those reasons alone, we suggest avoiding them on a family vacation. 

1. Miami Beach

friends beach miami toasting
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Although there are plenty of kid-friendly activities around Miami Beach, Miami, in general, is a tourist destination for singles and couples sans kids. The city attracts people looking to party and have a good time while paying for overpriced drinks and meals.
“The beach itself is often overcrowded, and because of this, the shore is unclean and dangerous for small children,” says resident Dara Schottenfeld. “There are much safer and family-friendly beaches to visit in Florida.”

2. South Beach

crowded south beach
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South Beach is along the same stretch as Miami Beach, with just 23rd Street separating them. Due to its proximity and its attraction to the same kind of tourists, South Beach isn’t a great destination for families.

If you’re adamant about staying in Miami while on vacation with the family and want to go to the beach, locals suggest visiting the mid- or north beach in the area just south of 5th Street. That area is much more kid-friendly and offers a few attractions, like Flamingo Park, that the kids will enjoy.

3. New Smyrna Beach

new smyrna beach florida
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New Smyrna Beach, located on Florida’s East Coast, has gained the moniker “the Shark Bite Capital of the World” due to its notably high number of yearly shark attacks. This widespread reputation may lead individuals to reassess their decision to visit the area.

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather spend my vacation not worrying about being eaten by a shark.

The Most Incredible Waterfalls You Have to Experience in Your Lifetime

couple niagara falls
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Is there anything more majestic than the incredible waterfalls that occur naturally all over the world? With their thunderous cascade and the slow erosion of the earth’s surface, these wonders possess a powerful essence of life that is truly a marvel to behold.

It’s a thrilling adventure to stand on the edge and witness the gallons of water plummet to the ground below. These wonderful bodies of water are a global attraction, drawing people from all corners of the world to experience their awe-inspiring beauty.

Here are 14 waterfalls that are not just a must-see but a must-experience. They are the epitome of natural beauty and should absolutely be at the top of your bucket list.

The Most Incredible Waterfalls You Have to Experience in Your Lifetime

The Most Visited Tourist Attraction in All 50 States

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There are many awe-inspiring wonders and incredible attractions across the United States, from lesser-known national parks with crystal clear lakes and epic sunsets that are postcard-worthy to urban metropolises with world-renowned museums and historical landmarks.

Each state has a most-visited hotspot that deserves to be on every explorer’s bucket list, and we have compiled the perfect list for those interested in soothing their case of wanderlust.

The Most Visited Tourist Attraction in All 50 States

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With a passion for travel, great food, and beautiful art, Julie put aside her 15-year career in the tech industry and dove head-first into a more creative sphere. Utilizing her degree in Communications, she is pursuing freelance writing. An avid traveler, Julie has experience writing and documenting the amazing spots she has visited and explored, the delicious food she has tasted, and the incredible art she has admired and purchased! When she’s not writing, she can be spotted around Austin, TX, at various art gallery openings, having a delicious meal with her husband and friends, and playing with her two dogs.