The Best Family Beaches In Florida

Soak Up the Sun on the Best Beaches in Florida for Families

By Robert Schrader | Published on September 7, 2023


If you're searching for the best family beaches in Florida, you'll be spoiled for choice. The sugary sands of the Sunshine State are perfect for parents and kids alike, regardless of where in Florida you plan to vacation with your family. Watch the sunrise from behind the swaying palms of Miami's South Beach, see it set from Clearwater Beach near Tampa, or head north to Florida's fantastic panhandle. Life's a beach in Florida — which one will your family choose?

1. Make South Florida Your Vacation Base

Miami's South Beach might not be the first one that comes to mind when you think of family beaches in Florida. However, while the clubs of Collins Avenue attract partygoers each night once the neon lights of South Beach light up, the strip's sands are very family-friendly as long as the sun is shining. Florida's east coast beaches in popular cities are well-patrolled by lifeguards, which will give you peace of mind while traveling with your kids who aren't the best swimmers yet.

Of course, South Beach is not the only east coast Florida choice for the best beaches in Florida for families. Fort Lauderdale's Las Olas (a Spanish phrase that translates to "the waves") is an idyllic stretch of shore convenient to restaurants, shops and family-friendly hotels. It's also less than 30 minutes from Miami and even closer to Ft. Lauderdale's only cruise terminal. The island of Palm Beach even further north is home to historically quite beaches along with amazing local ocean foods, museums, gorgeous parks, and luxury shopping making it perfect for the whole family.

2. Tampa Area With The Best Family Beaches In Florida's Gulf Coast

It's no surprise that many of the best family vacations in Florida take place on the Gulf Coast. Tampa, the hub of the region, is home to Busch Gardens amusement park and is just a stone's throw from Clearwater Beach, which is often listed as one of the top beaches not only in Florida but the entire United States. Families love Clearwater's miles of sugar-white sand, not to mention the large selection of hotels and resorts for any budget or taste.

Other top Tampa-area beaches include peaceful Treasure Island, where kids can frolic for shells while mom and dad enjoy a bite to eat, and St. Pete Beach. If you've got an extra day, you can get in the car and head for Sarasota's famous Siesta Key, where tranquil waves lap at pristine sands perfect for building castles. While Tampa proper doesn't really have beaches, be sure to stop along Bayshore Boulevard, where kids will love peering into the water to see sting rays gracefully swim past.

3. Enjoy The Panhandle's Emerald Coast

From Pensacola to Panama City and everywhere in-between, the panhandle is home to many top beaches in Florida for families. Do keep in mind that if you're arriving downstate in Tampa, Miami or Orlando or plan to depart by cruise from any of these cities, you'll need to build the time it takes to drive to and from Florida's "Emerald Coast" into your family's itinerary.

Once you take care of logistics, you'll see why so many parents choose to take their kids to this special part of Florida. Whether you choose Panama City Beach with its plentiful resorts and restaurants or Destin's Miramar Beach and its abundant timeshares, the blue-green hue of the water contrasts beautifully with the perfectly white sand. Join your little ones for a splash out in the gentle waves, or lay out a towel and sunbathe as they dig away in the sand.

4. Settle Down In Southwest Florida

Not all the best family beaches in Florida's Gulf Coast are in the Tampa area. Many travelers head south from Tampa Bay (or west across Florida from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale) to Fort Meyers. Southwest Florida has everything families are looking for, no matter how yours prefers to travel. Before or after you cruise out of Florida, rent an RV and join the caravan on Fort Meyers Beach, which is one of Florida's top sunset spots, even if your family doesn't camp out. Or, choose Sanibel Island, whose shell-covered beaches will keep kids busy while parents enjoy resort or vacation home amenities.

Want to take your family even farther off Southwest Florida's beaten path? Head south to Naples, whose sleepy shores are perfect for kids who might not enjoy the excitement of Miami, Clearwater or even Sanibel. Or, choose Florida's own Venice Beach, which is crisscrossed with "canals" — much like its namesake in Italy — with plenty of places to eat and shop.

5. Discover Underrated Florida Beaches

Likewise, if the Florida east coast beaches in Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Palm Beach are too busy for your family, you can always take them north. Melbourne Beach on the so-called "Space Coast" (named for its proximity to Kennedy Space Center) offers pristine sands and clear waters less than an hour's drive from the port city of Orlando. While Daytona Beach isn't quite as tranquil, the carnival rides and cotton candy on the boardwalk offer guaranteed entertainment for kids of any age.

Driving even further north along Florida's east coast yields even more discoveries. In addition to amazing beaches, older kids will love the history on offer in St. Augustine, which was one of the first modern cities on the North American continent. Amelia Island, which is only a short drive from Jacksonville, sees powdery dunes covered in unkempt brush and is perfect for families seeking a less manicured beach experience.

Enjoy family time on the beach when you cruise from Florida.

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