5 Best Small Towns in Florida
So you’re planning a Florida vacation and looking for the best small towns in Florida. Florida is one of the most popular vacation states thanks to the warm weather and sunshine, and soft sandy beaches. When you think of Florida, you likely think of cities such as Orlando, Tampa, or Miami.
However, there are plenty of small towns in Florida that are well worth visiting! Each one offers a unique vibe, as well as fun activities, fewer crowds, and a more laid-back atmosphere.
So today, I want to focus on what I think are the 5 best small towns in Florida. Many of them are only a short one-hour drive from the major cities in the state. So if you fly into one of the major airports, you’ll only be a short drive away.
Speaking of driving, You’ll definitely need a rental car if you’re flying into Florida. I recommend renting a car from Discount USA Car Rental. Whenever I need to rent a car, I use Discount USA Car Rental no matter which airport I am flying to. They have the best prices, and you don’t have to pay until you pick it up!
Okay, let’s get to the 5 best small towns to visit in Florida.
Cocoa Beach is one of the best small towns in Florida. It is located approximately one hour to the east of Orlando. In fact, this is one of the closest beaches to Orlando.
This is one of the best places to surf in Florida. If you don’t know how, call one of the local surfing schools. The Cocoa Beach Surf Company is one of them. You can even grab some gear at the Ron Jon Surf Shop.
When you’re not in the water, you can walk down the beach to the Cocoa Beach Pier. The pier goes 800 feet out into the ocean.
Skateboarding is also popular down in Cocoa Beach. So, don’t be surprised if the kids want to venture over to Cocoa Beach Skate Park to improve their half pipe.
A few other things to do in Cocoa Beach include visiting the Manatee Sanctuary Park, taking a Sea Turtle Preservation Society Turtle Walk, or visiting the Liberty Bell Museum.
If you have the time, I recommend heading over to Cape Canaveral. You can explore the Kennedy Space Center. And there is always the Cape Canaveral Lighthouse too.
Hotel Recommendations: Hilton Cocoa Beach Oceanfront or Hampton Inn Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral
Matlacha is an old fishing village on a charming island just off the coast of Cape Coral. The entire town is painted in bright tropical colors. So, make sure you take your camera with you to capture a few pictures.
Although Fort Myers has an airport, you’re only about 2 hours from Tampa or 2.5 hours from Miami, so it’s not too much of a drive from a large city.
At first glance, there might not seem to be a lot to do when you take a vacation in Matlacha. However, this small town in Florida offers more than it seems.
One of the best things to do in Matlacha is head out onto the water to go fishing. You can also do a little crabbing, clamming, and shrimping.
The kids might not enjoy art galleries. But you can try to bribe them to wander through the Leoma Lovegrove Gallery and Gardens. Or the Wild Matlacha Tiny Village Child Art Gallery.
I find it usually works well if I tell them we are going to the CW Fudge Factory after. No one can seem to turn down homemade fudge! They also sell chocolate, popcorn, and other candies.
Hotel Recommendations: Matlacha Cove Inn
Islamorada is one of the best small towns to visit in Florida. It is part of the Florida Keys. You can easily visit this area by itself. Just don’t be surprised if you head back to see the Keys in their entirety sooner than later.
Florida isn’t always the best place to snorkel, but the Keys are certainly the exception! Make sure to being your own gear, because you never know when you’ll find a great spot to jump in!
There is so much to do in Islamorada. I recommend beginning with a stop at the Theater of the Sea. This marine park is filled with dolphins, sharks, sea lions, and alligators. Basically, all the animals you want to see during a Florida vacation!
The shipwrecks over at Indian Key Historic State Park are pretty neat. It’s even better when you choose to kayak over to the park.
More history can be seen over at The Florida Keys History and Discovery Center. The kids will love the sunken treasures.
One of the more unique things to do in this small town in Florida is explore the secret sandbar. First, you must know where the secret sandbar is located. That’s easy. It’s on either side of the Whale Harbor Channel.
Second, you must have a boat to get there. Again, easy! Simply rent one and take it out. If you don’t have access to a boat, rent a jet ski, kayak, or canoe. Anything to get you out to this little picturesque area.
Pro Tip: It’s even better if you take a picnic lunch with you!
Hotel Recommendations: The Islands of Islamorada or Caloosa Cove Resort
This is our personal favorite small towns in Florida! Captiva Island is only four miles long. So, it may get the award for really being one of the smallest towns in Florida. This island is near Fort Myers on the Gulf Coast.
Time in this area can be spent relaxing and enjoying the tranquility. You will love all the time you can spend on the beach. Especially if you have beach access directly from your hotel room.
Don’t forget to check out the best things to do in Sanibel and Captiva.
Other activities to enjoy in Captiva include going for a boat ride or taking a dolphin cruise. Parasailing and kayaking are also popular options for families.
If the kids love seashells, start collecting them on your walks. The most shells can be found at Turner Beach and Allison Hagerup Beach Park. If you can’t find enough there, consider going over to Sanibel Island. That island is really close and there are always shells there too.
One thing you won’t want to forget to do when you are on vacation is watch the sunset. It sparkles over the Gulf of Mexico. So, take a walk along the beach at night, as the sun is going down.
Brandon and I have also rented bikes here to ride around. the island, that would also be fun if you had bigger kids or a way to pull the little ones.
Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island is approximately one hour from Tampa. This small town in Florida on the Gulf Coast will have you thinking you have finally reached paradise.
Overdevelopment is not a thing in this small town. So, don’t plan to spend too much time in chain restaurants or big box stores during your visit.
The beach is seven miles long, so you will have plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the warm weather. And when you tire of the water, you can always walk along the Anna Maria Island Pier.
Since the island isn’t that big, one of the best ways to get around is via bicycle. There are numerous places to rent bikes on the island. So, don’t think you must skip this amazing option while on vacation!
You can easily ride to Historic Bridge Street to do a little shopping or explore an art gallery. It is even the perfect place to grab a bite to eat from a local restaurant.
When you are not bike riding, you may find yourself in a kayak paddling through the mangroves. You never know when you might spot a dolphin or manatee during your kayaking adventure!
The best small towns in Florida
These are the 5 best small towns in Florida. If you haven’t added them to your vacation bucket list yet, you may want to soon!
As you can see, Florida is so much more than big cities and theme parks! Not that we don’t love theme parks, of course! It’s nice to have some downtime away from the cities avoid crowds and traffic.
Planning a Florida vacation with kids? Check out some of our top blog posts and Florida vacation ideas:
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- 30 Things to do in Clearwater with Kids
- Dinosaur World Florida Review | Is Dinosaur World in Lakeland FL worth visiting?
- 25 Free Things at Disney World
- 32 things to do in Destin Florida
About Florida Travel With Kids
Florida Travel with Kids was started by a family who loves to travel the state of Florida with kids! This site will help you explore the fun state of Florida and all of the kid-friendly activities you’ll find here.
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