White sand, clear waters and not a care in the world are what often come to mind when envisioning the perfect afternoon on the beach. All across Florida, sparkling bright beaches line the coasts and offer a more than picturesque getaway for just about anyone. While the sunshine state may have plenty of room for fun in the sun, some beaches prove more ideal than others for traveling families and their varying needs. Fortunately, we know of five of Florida’s best beaches for family travel, each near different, glamorous locales within the state.
Roughly an hour-long drive from Tampa, Siesta Key offers many key sources of beachfront entertainment such as organized watersports and scuba diving while also providing some entertainment shoreside. A local retail village near the beach offers trolley services to many restaurants, shops, playgrounds and volleyball courts. Lodging can be found nearby in Sarasota, one of Florida’s primary Gulf Coast cities. Featured attractions include The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, as well as the historic, Ca’ d’Zan Mansion. Kids can find plenty to do between the Fur Fun Club on Fridays, the Florida Wheels Skating Center and Circus Sarasota.
Just outside a city of the same name, Panama City Beach stretches itself out across 27 miles spectacular white sand. Pier Park, a nearby shopping center, offers over a million square feet of various shops and other entertainment. Further family fun can be found along Front Beach Drive, featuring attractions such as “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” and Gulf World Marine Park. Should you want the full Florida experience, families are more than welcome at Gulf World Marine Park, where kids and adults alike will enjoy shark feedings, stingray petting and even swimming with dolphins.
On the Northeast side of Florida, the historic Amelia Island is a must-see destination for traveling families. From kayaking to horseback riding and a glimpse of history at Fort Clinch State Park, Amelia Island offers plenty of variety in what’s to be seen and done. Fernandina Beach offers plenty of lodging options on Amelia Island’s northeast border, playing host to the ever-popular Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival, as well as a handful of beautiful golf courses. Kids are sure to enjoy Kelly’s Seahorse Ranch for rides on the beach as well as the Faces in Time costume outlet, with photos available in minutes.
Along the Gulf of Florida’s central west coast, Clearwater Beach offers far more than simply its namesake. By day, traveling families can enjoy parasailing, rides on a pirate ship and shallow, soothing waters to cool off in, with older kids being able to enjoy renting jet skis. By night, one can take their family to the nightly celebrations from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. over at Pier 60. Fire eaters, stilt walkers, musicians and even magicians can all be found here on any given night and are sure to be hit with your whole team. Lodging and further attractions such as the Clearwater Aquarium can be found just shore-side of the beach in the city of Clearwater.
No list of Florida beaches is complete without Daytona Beach. Packed to the brim with activity, Daytona beach offers everything from food to rentals on boogie boards, scooters, and even ATVs. Outside the beach, plenty of family fun can be found at the Daytona Lagoon waterpark between waterslides, mini golf, go-karts, laser tag and much, much more. Further top destinations within the city can be found at the Marine Science Center, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station and Daytona International Speedway, with absolutely no shortage of gorgeous resorts to stay at on the beach.