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Florida is known for its tourist-packed theme parks and white sand beaches, however, outside of these destinations lie quaint towns full of rich history, unique charm, and hidden gem beaches that are worth exploring. For a memorable off-the-beaten-path journey, check out some of these lesser-known picturesque towns you can visit in Florida.
One of the more popular small towns in Florida, Mount Dora boasts 19th-century clapboard houses and historic buildings amongst antique shops and outdoor cafes. Stroll along the quaint downtown shops and soak in a classic glimpse of Old Florida.
Spanish moss, quaint B&B’s, and pristine beaches make up this island on Florida’s northernmost eastern border. Full of southern charm, the historic downtown, delightful shops and restaurants, and beloved Fernandina Beach earns Amelia Island a spot on this list.
A friendly little fishing town, Apalachicola is a Florida gem that boasts some of the best seafood and friendliest locals in the state. Visit the nearby St. George Island, go on a river cruise, or try your hand at fishing like the locals.
With speed limits that never reach higher than 35 mph, this quaint 7-mile barrier island is full of cyclists, kayakers, and turquoise water views. Only 50 miles south of Tampa, visit Anna Maria for laid-back vibes and picturesque natural scenery.
While America’s oldest city has become quite popular throughout the years, it has continued to maintain its small-town vibe and historic authenticity. Explore the quaint Spanish colonial architecture, peaceful Crescent Beach, or visit the oldest masonry fort in the U.S.
You will find old world charm in this small town near its bustling neighbor Tampa. Visitors love Tarpon Springs for its heavily influenced Greek culture, scenic waterfront, and eclectic mix of antique stores and art galleries.
Situated on Florida’s Emerald Coast you will find 26 miles of white powdery sandy beaches, luxury beach houses, and pristine scenic landscapes. At this top beach destination in Florida’s Panhandle, you can visit Topsail Hill Preserve State Park, the unique artist colony Gulf Place, or Point Washington State Forest’s 15,000-acre preserve.
Breathtaking and scenic, Destin is the “world’s luckiest fishing village,” allowing fishermen to easily access the deepest waters of the Gulf of Mexico, and deep waters means a variety of fish species. After a day on the water, set up camp at Henderson Beach State Park, walk along the action-packed boardwalk, or visit historic Fort Pickens.
Located along the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel is an easy-going town popular for shelling, stunning sunsets, and laid-back vibes. Devoid of fast-food restaurants, street lights, and city noise, Sanibel maintains its cozy small-town vibe.
Brooksville is known for being both historic and charming, with moss-laden oak trees, canopy roads and rolling green hills. Home to the nearby pristine spring waters of Weeki Wachee and immaculate trails in Withlacoochee State Forest, Brooksville is a lesser-traveled vacation destination.
A funky area with Hemingway-style wooden homes and paved streets with crushed oyster shells, Grayton beach is a small artsy town full of character with beaches that consistently rank among the most gorgeous in the U.S. It also consistently rates as one of the best hidden gems on the Gulf Coast.
Home to St. George Island State Park, St. George Island is a 28-mile-long barrier island that lacks chain restaurants and high-rise hotels. Kayaking, cycling, and paddleboard are popular outdoor activities, while the clear Gulf waters make for a great day of fishing. One of the last preserved barrier islands in Florida, head here to enjoy its soft sugary sands that pair well with charming waterfront cafes and sunset cruises.
Nicknamed “The Little Town That Time Forgot”, Micanopy is one of Florida’s most charming small-town gems. Experience the beauty of Old Florida through its quaint mix of charming shops and beautiful natural wonders and meander along the downtown area past sidewalk cafes and boutiques. Afterward, make a pit stop at Pearl’s Country Store for some of the best barbecue in the state.
One of the tiniest towns on our list, St. Marks has a population of just over 300. Don’t be fooled by its size, as it offers an abundance of alluring natural attractions. Just 20 miles south of Tallahassee, you can visit the archeological displays at San Marcos de Apalache Historic Park, explore salt marshes and natural habitats at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, and see St. Marks Lighthouse, the second oldest light station in Florida.
Less than an hour from Panama City Beach, Mexico Beach sits on the edge of the Gulf of Mexico in Florida’s Panhandle. With a community that has been working hard after it got hit by Hurricane Michael, Mexico Beach is a great place to unplug and relax away from the city noise. The population here hovers around 1,200 residents, and while you won’t find high rises and traffic lights, you will encounter white sand beaches, welcoming locals, and plenty of opportunities for a day of swimming, kayaking, and shelling.