The long expanses of gulf and oceanfront land make Florida an ideal vacation destination for beach lovers. The state offers beach communities that cater to young partyers, families, outdoor enthusiasts and romantic honeymoon getaways. Whether your idea of a “best” beach is the one with the best surfing, the best sunbathing or the best shell collecting, you will find it in Florida.
A top location for family-friendly beach vacations and a haven for beach-sports lovers, Clearwater Beach offers visitors an abundance of activity options. The narrow, 3-mile-long sandy peninsula makes a great location for sunbathing, volleyball, dolphin-watching cruises and parasailing. Pier 60 features a recreation center, fishing, concession stands and covered playgrounds.
South Beach’s man-made beaches are enhanced by art-deco architecture, a legendary club scene and hot bodies sunbathing near some of the cleanest ocean on the Atlantic Coast. The beach is a Florida playground, with a strong international presence and a huge selection of activities for the over-21 set. The palm-lined beaches are perfect for sports or sunbathing during the day, and offer one of the best views of the city skyline at night.
For those looking for a heavier dose of nature-based beach activities and fewer party areas, Sanibel Island is a good choice. The beaches here are considered the best of Florida’s “shell beaches”: places to search for and collect intact conch, cockle and scallops shells. Bowman’s Beach is remote enough to offer beachgoers a quiet day on the sand, while Lighthouse Beach draws visitors to its rustic boardwalk and historic lighthouse.
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Whether you want to drive your car across the sand or sit in the stands to watch NASCAR or another professional circuit race, Daytona Beach is the place to be. In addition to racing activities, Daytona’s stretch of sand draws sunbathers while the arcade boardwalk brings in families looking for evening entertainment. Board enthusiasts can catch a wave at one of the best beaches on the East Coast for surfing.
Siesta Key is celebrated for having the whitest beaches in Florida, with 99 percent of the sand made up of white quartz. This makes for great sand-castle building and also keeps the sand cool even on the hottest days, perfect for families traveling with small children. The water at Siesta Key is more shallow than many other beaches and there are lifeguards on duty year-round. Nearby rental cottages, picnic areas and playgrounds help families make the most of their time at Siesta Key.