It seems that whenever we think of Florida and travel, beaches and theme parks come to mind. True, there are a bunch of them in the sunshine state. Also true is that Florida offers one of the best places for a good road trip in the country. Year-round mild weather and a well-kept highway system can take travelers to an interesting variety of places at a leisurely pace. Here I will be listing 11 small Florida towns you need to visit.
You won’t find many buildings that are taller than a palm tree on Sanibel Island, and that’s because the city has taken careful measures to preserve the natural beauty of the area. The town is markedly devoid of fast food restaurants, which were banned, and even stoplights. So get ready to step into a world that feels totally removed from the norm.
2. Tarpon Springs:
Tarpon Springs is a riverfront town with a historic downtown district and brick streets. It’s also heavily influenced by Greek culture — the Greeks began to immigrate there in the 1880s when they were hired to harvest sponges — and as you walk down the main drag you’ll find authentic foods, like moussaka and baklava.
3. Santa Rosa Beach:
Santa Rosa Beach is all white sugar sand and nestled along a 26-mile stretch of Florida’s Emerald Coast. It’s home to a unique artist colony, as well as the Point Washington State Forest, a 15,000-acre preserve, making this town one of those rare places where you can go from luxury to the rugged outdoors easily.
4. Delray Beach:
Delray Beach was named the Most Fun Small Town in America in 2012 by USA Today, which probably has something to do with the busy downtown area. You can sip wine as you roam through a gallery art walk, or snorkel through a sunken steamship during the day. Some of the activities include walking across the three-mile boardwalk on the Wakodahatchee Wetlands to try and spot alligators and identify the more than 140 different species of birds.
Most people go to Destin for the unbelievable beaches, and it’s easy to see why: They’re quite perfect. Plus, there’s a fun (and free!) boardwalk to stroll on. If you’re looking for loads of outdoor action, Destin is a great spot to visit. Take a professional sand sculpting class from the masters, and wade around Crab Island, which is a part of the beach where the water is waist deep and floating vendors (think ice cream and sandwiches) cater to your every whim.
6. St. Augustine:
St. Augustine is America’s oldest city. It was founded by the Spanish and settled in 1565, and because of that it has a lot of history to explore. Make sure to see the Castillo, Fort Matanzas, the city gate, and the oldest wooden schoolhouse in America.
7. Fort Myers:
Certain areas of Fort Myers are more bustling than others, but the historic district is quaint and lined with hip bars, galleries, and plenty of trendy restaurants. The real highlight, though, are the winter homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, both of which are still intact and worth a trip.
8. Clearwater Beach:
Clearwater Beach is almost entirely made for visitors: There are boats that will take you on fishing excursions, dolphin sighting adventures, and you can rent your own jet ski or parasail to explore the Gulf of Mexico. Captain Memo’s pirate cruise is ridiculous, in that you are on a giant pirate ship, but also insanely fun if you just want to have a silly beach cruise. If you tire of the beach, drive 30 minutes to St. Petersburg and check out the stunning Salvador Dali museum.
For pre-Civil War era architecture and some of the friendliest locals you’ll ever meet, Apalachicola is a hidden gem along the Florida coast. Take a river cruise with Captain Gill and hear all about the natural surroundings of Apalachicola, and don’t miss the Chestnut Street Cemetery where the oldest tombstone dates back to 1831.
10. Amelia Island:
Nestled on the east coast of Florida, close to Jacksonville, is Amelia Island. It’s all Spanish moss and southern charm in the small shrimping village with quaint B&Bs and absolutely adorable eateries. Fernandina Beach is a sea turtle sanctuary, so check out the nests (but don’t touch!) and you might just see some little guys hatching. And don’t forget to visit Fort Clinch, where you can explore the 19th century military structure, go camping, or get your hike on.
Don’t forget to let me know what you think about this list in the comment section below and if you have been to any of these places, what did you think about them? Be sure to like and share. Have a SoFlo day!