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Top 15 Family-Friendly Beaches in Florida with Soft Sand and Clear Water

With summer just around the corner, your next trip to Florida is bound to have a beach vacation. Known for its white sand beaches, gentle breezes, surfing waves, and adrenaline-pumping activities, this tropical paradise offers a plethora of options for families to have some fun in the sun.

Best Family Beaches in Florida

If you want to explore the coastline of the Sunshine State, our comprehensive guide will help you narrow down the picturesque spots that must make it to your itinerary.

From exquisite hotels and resorts to kid-friendly activities and attractions in the vicinity that come with all modern amenities, the best family-friendly beaches in Florida have it all! 

Best Family-Friendly beaches in Florida

Vero Beach

Enjoy serene shores, golfing, fishing, and water sports at Vero Beach. Located on Florida’s famous Treasure Coast (named after lost treasures that were dumped here by the Spanish), this is one of the best family spots in Florida to soak up the sun.

Check out the natural parks at the beach with your little ones to explore the many inlets and rivers. If you’re lucky, you might even spot manatees, turtles, and dolphins in their natural habitats. 

The area comes packed with shopping options, from oceanside shacks to larger city malls that cater to your every need. Add a little educational spin to your kids’ vacation by taking them to the museums that dot these shores, like the Museum Of Art and the Indian River Citrus Museum.

For out-of-towners, this stretch of sand houses several charming resorts like the Costa d’Este Beach Resort & Spa. Your kids will adore staying just a few feet away from the shore, where they can go on treasure hunts to find the lost loot from ages ago.

And while they frolic under the watchful eye of the trained lifeguards (and at least one adult from your group), you or your partner can indulge in adventurous activities such as beach cruising, surfing, sea kayaking, and paddleboarding. 

Deerfield Beach

If you’re looking for quiet family beaches in Florida, head to the acclaimed “Blue Wave” Beach of Florida, Deerfield Beach. Deriving its name from large deer that once inhabited its shores, this award-winning beach is now known for its superior water quality, safety services, and habitat conservation projects.

Grab your swimsuits, sunscreens, and your energetic little ones, and splash around in the pristine waters or sunbathe on the crowd-free shores. Older kids can join their parents to try out surfing, paddleboarding, or even fishing from the International Fishing Pier, which stretches 1000 feet from the shore to the ocean.

For a change of view, take your kids to Quiet Waters Park which is complete with a skateboard park, a water park, campgrounds, picnic sites, and fishing spots. Its most popular attraction is Ski Rixen, the longest cable-ski course in the country, where teens, tweens, and adults can indulge in water skiing or wakeboarding. 

Panama City Beach

White sands that transition to turquoise waters filled with colorful, vibrant reefs below make Panama City Beach one of the most beautiful beaches in Florida for families. Apart from pretty vistas, the beach also comes with gentle, shallow waters, giving your little ones the freedom to splash around without feeling too restricted.

Take your kids on a bonding adventure with activities like scuba diving, snorkeling, and fishing charters for your fishing trips. If you are traveling with little ones, sign up for a dolphin cruise to spot the lovable marine creatures up close. 

After taking in all there is to “sea”, head to some of the off-beach family attractions, including water parks or arcades along the shoreline. Pier Park, Shipwreck Island, Zoo World, and Gulf World Marine Park are some must-visits here.

Escape the midday heat at one of the sea-facing, air-conditioned restaurants serving the fresh catch of the day, or drop by the IMAX theater for a movie break.

Cocoa Beach view from the Pier
Cocoa Beach view from the Pier

Cocoa Beach

Got some young surfing enthusiasts in the family? Cocoa Beach is the best place for beginners to kick-start their passion. The waves here are calm and consistent, giving your little ones the ideal setting to try riding the waves. 

Besides surfing, Cocoa Beach also provides a myriad of options for food, fun, and drinks, making it one of the best family vacation spots in Florida. 

Lori Wilson Park has a playground near the parking area

Lori Wilson Park offers the perfect beach park experience, with a children’s playground, hammocks, picnic tables, and delicious eateries. Restrooms are located by the car park.

Don’t forget to plan a stop at the historic Cocoa Village and the NASA Kennedy Space Center, both of which will fill your kids with awe and wonder.

A frequently visited spot by tourists and locals alike is the Cocoa Beach Pier. The boardwalk extends all around the coast, giving you the perfect ambiance to catch beautiful sunsets with the family.

For a lively scene, check out Coconuts On The Beach in the evenings. They offer service down to the shore with great food (and a specially curated kids’ menu), good music, and hand-crafted cocktails.

Siesta Key Beach

Siesta Key is an 8-mile-long barrier island that lives up to its name. Providing the ideal escape, the beach welcomes tourists to unwind on its cool quartz sand and clear waters or stir up some fun with the various entertainment options it offers. 

Aside from the usual park trails and nature walks, families can also head to Caspersen Park Beach to find shark teeth that have washed ashore! If you’re looking to enjoy watching more “live”ly buddies, take your kids to observe apex predator sharks and giant manatees at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.

Amenities like restrooms, eateries, picnic tables, and even a free shuttle around the island ensure that parents can enjoy as much as their kids without worrying about the little details.

Equipped with a large parking area, Siesta Key is one of the best white sand beaches in Florida for families who wish to travel with their own private vehicle. Keep in mind that the parking area quickly fills up during the summer months, so be sure to arrive early.

Amelia Island

Amelia Island takes you back in time with buildings that are centuries old and welcomes you to indulge in the chill, laid-back lifestyle of the island. Explore thirteen miles of beautifully sandy shores that are home to some of the best family beaches in Florida.

Take a dip in the azure blue waters, or laze around in the tide pools with your tiny tots. Maritime forests, where you will encounter native wildlife, expansive hiking or biking trails through the national parks, and seashell hunting are some unique highlights of Amelia Island to add to your bucket list.

Travel like the royals do in horse-pulled carriages that will take you around the district. The more daring teens and tweens in your family can also go riding off into the sunset on horseback in true cinematic fashion.

When it’s time to splurge, you will be stoked to find a range of stores, dining options, art galleries, and all things touristy at this haven! Pick up spun clothes by authentic artisans as souvenirs, or learn about the Island’s stories at the Museum of History.

Sample a local cup of joe at Amelia Island Coffee, or treat your family to some seafood delicacies at Timoti’s or The Salty Pelican Bar.

Key Biscayne

Tucked away from the streets and into nature’s lap is one of the most pristine locations in all of Florida – Key Biscayne. A quick and scenic drive over the Rickenbacker Causeway will lead you to this paradise.

Located in the middle of two other national parks, Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Biscayne offers some of the best secluded beaches in Florida. 

Head down to the popular lighthouse, teeming with history all the way from 1825, and get some perfect vacation snapshots with your family. You can also find umbrella and beach chair rentals nearby to lounge by the sea while the kids rent bikes to explore the shoreline.

If you want to make a family adventure out of it, Miami EcoAdventures offers biking tours through the thick vegetation of the parks, with fresh air to rejuvenate you. 

Make a pit stop at Boaters Grill to refill your hungry tummies with some classic American grub before you take the scenic highway back home.

St. Augustine Beach

Take your beach vacation up a notch at America’s oldest city, St Augustine. Founded in 1565, the coastal city invites you with its rich history and makes you stay back for the beautiful beaches.

Head to the beachfront park that comes with ample parking and nifty little amenities like restrooms and picnic tables. Enjoy a calm afternoon getting your tan on or at the pier, casting a fishing line while your kids let loose at the splash pad.

Don’t forget to let your furry family members in on the fun, as the park is completely pet-friendly.

If you want to set up an umbrella and lounge chairs or cycle along the hard-packed sand, Barney’s Beach Service or Big Bill’s Beach Stuff Rentals can hook you up with the beach essentials. 

Save your evening for walking tours around the city to visit places of historic significance. Stop by the Lighthouse and Maritime Museum and explore the Castillo De San Marcos National Monument.

And for the little pirates in the family, the Pirate and Treasure Museum is where they can get a glimpse of authentic loot and pirate chests.

Tip: The beaches are home to protected species of sea turtles. If you want to visit nesting grounds and watch your kids light up at the sight of cute baby turtles, make sure you visit during the late summer and fall months. 

St Pete beach
St Pete beach

St. Pete Beach

Home to the famous Don CeSar Resort, St. Pete Beach and its sandy beaches promise some of the best family vacations in Florida. Expect nothing short of a memorable time at this hub for arts, culture, and rich heritage.

Sit back on the white sand beach, and let the therapeutic sound of the waves refresh you while the kids build little sandcastles. When you feel rejuvenated, book a dolphin tour to enjoy the beautiful sights of dolphins dancing in the waters with the family.

If you are traveling with toddlers, St. Pete Pier has a marine-themed playground that will help them run off some extra energy. Adults can check out the rooftop tiki bar on the pier or head downtown to some of the bustling eateries and shops.

Book a table at the Rumfish Grill, where you and your kids are treated to delicacies that consist of seafood, steaks, and more, against the backdrop of a large aquarium. It’s a unique dining experience that will leave you wanting more. 

New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is a fantastic opportunity to introduce your budding little explorers to all things outdoor. From surfing and paddling to eco-tours, airboat tours, and river cruises, the endless possibilities for adventure puts this spot on the top of the list of best beaches near Orlando for families.

The beach is conveniently located near some of Florida’s biggest attractions, like Walt Disney World. So, families on a theme-park tour can squeeze in a quick visit to New Smyrna and soak in the retro vibes, sunbathe, surf, or simply enjoy a seafront picnic (facilities available). 

Hard-packed sand along the shores allows you to rent your own cruiser or bicycle and pedal across with your partner and kids during the sunsets. If you don’t want to stray too far from the sea, you’ll find a range of grand to budget-friendly hotels and condos along the coast. 

As you embark further into the city, you’ll find museums, RV campgrounds, and fishing camps for a little off-beach fun. Rest assured, New Smyrna takes the cake as one of the best family-friendly beaches in Florida that will keep you on your toes with something new to try every day.

Hutchinson Island

From horseback riding on the sandy shores to a variety of cultural events and excellent dining options further inland, Hutchinson Island brings you the complete package of family fun. The barrier island on the East coast is surrounded by miles of uninterrupted coastline, free for public access.

You will find the Atlantic Ocean on the east and the Indian River on the west of this sliver of land. Explore some of the best Florida beaches for families who prefer having private time away from crowds and lay back as this quaint island enchants you like no other. 

Young surfers can master waves of all sizes and strengths at this beach. Later, rent a vehicle and drive down to the Fort Pierce Farmers Market on the banks of the Indian River, to relish mouth-watering food and sway along to live music with your kids.

Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa is arguably the best choice for accommodation, being steps away from the shore. You can also check out Dockside Inn and Resort for a cost-effective stay that is just as impressive. 

Holmes Beach

Anna Maria Island is situated towards the south of Tampa Bay and is home to Holmes Beach in Manatee County. Walk along the coasts with your feet in the sand or catch scenic views of the county from the Sunway Skybridge. It’s where to go if you’re after that perfect family vacation portrait at golden hour.

The Manatee Public Beach is the closest one nearby and is widely popular for the pure white sand grains. With volleyball courts, playgrounds, restrooms, showers, and a whole lot of other amenities, this is also one of the most sought after family-oriented beaches in Florida.

Parents can rest easy, thanks to the continuous lifeguard support and rescue facilities available on standby.

Don’t forget to stop by Marina Bay to try out the most delectable seafood dishes on the island. Send your taste buds into a flurry with fresh seafood, American pizza, and pub grub, before journeying around the island with your kids using the free trolley service.

Fort Zachary Taylor Historic State Park

Pack in some intriguing history as you immerse yourself in cool, crystal clear waters at one of the best beaches in Florida Keys for families, located at Fort Zachary Taylor. Cycling, snorkeling, fishing, bird watching, paddling, hiking, and even scuba diving are popular activities to try with your little munchkins at this Civil War-aged fort.

Get your hands on adventure gear or beach rentals easily with the in-house rental services. Apart from creature comforts like restrooms and picnic tables, the beach also has inclusive and accessible amenities like free, beach wheelchairs and permission to bring service animals inside its premises.

The only downside is the lack of lifeguards on duty, so remember to keep an extra close eye on your little ones while enjoying the waters.

Towel off and refuel yourself at the Cayo Hueso Cafe with local, authentic cuisine made from fresh produce of the land. After satisfying your cravings, take a self-guided tour or the daily tour at 11 a.m., and check out the seacoast guns and the fort walls that protected the coast during most major wars.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale is a familiar sight to Hollywood lovers, with the classic stretch of coastline showcased in every spring break movie. But don’t be fooled by the movies! With almost 24 miles of shoreline, the beach is also a hub for yachting, swimming, and snorkeling for the whole family. 

With the open sea on one side and the city on the other, Fort Lauderdale is also popularly known as the “Venice of America”. This name is derived from the miles and miles of inland waterways that can be explored by you and your family by jet ski, kayak, and classic gondola rides. 

Considered one of the best urban family beaches in Florida, Fort Lauderdale is home to luxurious properties like The Pelican Grand Beach Hotel. This resort has a 500-foot-long private beach stretch, as well as pools and rivers to drench your kid in non-stop fun. 

Once the sun sets, put on your finest vacation wear and spend your evenings at Las Olas Boulevard, which has a handful of boutiques, eateries, and cafés. Board a water taxi and cruise through the coast for an amazing view of mansions and private yachts along the Millionaires Row. 

Naples Beach

Got some fussy little ones in the family that don’t want to miss out on contemporary comforts? Naples puts you in the center of high-end shopping and fine dining, while instantly transporting you to the lap of nature with wonderful beaches and habitat conservation areas.

An effortless blend of both worlds is the reason it is one of the best Florida destinations for families.

Posh parkways, pretty beaches, and delicious food make Naples stand out from the rest of the shores on the coastline. Most of the beaches are free to access but do have limited paid parking areas. 

Set up your beach umbrella and picnic basket on the soft sand near the Naples Pier. Take a dip in the waters or challenge your family to a game of beach volleyball.

After a relaxing afternoon, use the shower and restroom facilities to clean up and change. Walk through the pier with your loved ones and watch the sun dip into the glistening water of the Gulf of Mexico.

Kids are sure to enjoy the Naples Zoo and the Naples Train museum, while adults can indulge in a sophisticated shopping experience at Fifth Avenue South and Third Street South. There are also a number of art galleries and decor shops you can check out if you have some extra time to while away.

Clam Pass Beach Park

Located in the North Naples area, Clam Pass Beach Park has a massive 35 acres of coastal habitat with the capacity to accommodate 175 cars at a time – an indication of the footfall this popular beach receives. The park maintains the lush conservation areas by providing beach access via a boardwalk further away from the habitat.

Surrounded by verdant forests of black, white, and red mangroves, a stroll through the three-quarter-mile boardwalk is a must for nature lovers. The boardwalk alone is a wonderful place to just come, stand, and enjoy spotting flower blooms and butterflies with your little ones. You can even choose to take the free tram to the beach if you want to skip the walk.

As the green broad walk merges into white shores, you will be greeted by soft waves that gently wash over your playful kids. The tidal Bay Area is home to a plethora of marine life and birds, so you just may see the local fauna sunbathing on the shores. 

Head to the concession stand, rent essentials like beach umbrellas or cabanas, and stock up on snacks and beverages for hungry little tummies. For something a bit more hands-on with nature, you can also pick up kayaks or canoes to traverse the mangroves.

Longboat Key Beaches

Longboat Key is a residential beach community with many high-end spots and activities that are sure to keep everyone in the family engaged. This small strip of land separates Sarasota county from Manatee county and houses over 20+ miles of uncrowded shores. 

While these quiet family beaches in Florida might sound too good to be true, you will have to account for lesser access points and a lack of essential amenities. So, don’t forget to come prepared with all the essentials you and your kids will need.

Since the beach itself does not have many restrooms, booking a stay for the day will give you and your kids the convenience of having your own room to clean up in. Check out Sand Cay Beach Resort and book a condominium that comes with a full-fledged kitchen and sea-facing barbecue areas for a wholesome experience. 

Unlike the beaches, the coastline is fully equipped with facilities like fine dining spots and luxurious waterfront golf arenas. You also have countless shopping options along the sparkling shorelines, so prepare to pamper yourself with a classy, elegant beach getaway.

Fernandina Beach

When looking for some of the best beaches in North Florida, you’ll find Fernandina Beach mentioned in almost every list. Perched on the tip of Amelia Island, it is one of the most pristine beaches in the state, with enough places to stroll, play and dip your toes in. 

The crystal clear waters will entice you to spend hours splashing around or taking private surf lessons with the children. Amenities like outdoor showers and picnic tables make it easier for you to travel light without compromising on your child’s comfort.

Egan’s Green Creekway is an eco-protected zone in the vicinity where you can catch stunning sights of rare flora and fauna. If your kids are not a fan of walking, pick up a bicycle and ride through the area with your loved ones.

The history buffs in the family will have a lovely time in downtown Fernandina, brimming with heritage. Take a walking tour or set out on your own to visit its vibrant homes, streets, local shops, and eateries.

With a long list of festivals that last year-round in this town, you are sure to get a chance to experience at least one of them during your visit!

Sand Key Park Beach

Comprising a park and a white sand beach, Sand Key Park guarantees a lively yet cheap Florida family vacation if you are on a budget. The park comes with a playground, a picnic shelter, a boardwalk, and nature trails, too; a killer deal, considering you can enjoy all of this without paying a dime!

The in-house dog park even lets your four-legged friend zoom and roll around all day without a leash. 

When it’s time to hit the waters, you’ll find the beach is one of the calmest places you can escape to. Sand Key Park is located on Clearwater Beach, which is the aptest name for this part of the coast.

The water is so clear that you will be able to see the bed from above!

Take your family on a windsurfing adventure, or embrace the relaxed lifestyle and rent umbrellas and cabanas to laze around on the shore. Go on a scavenger hunt with your kids to find unique shells and conches, and then reward them with tasty bites from the concession stands.

Whatever your type of vacation, Sand Key Park is an ideal spot for a memorable day out with your tiny tourists.

Captiva Island

Your search for the best-secluded beaches in Florida comes to an end at the shores of Captiva Island, located off the Gulf Coast. Known for being largely untouched and uncrowded, the beaches here let you slip right into a vacation mood with their magical and serene atmosphere.

You will still find enough things to keep your active little ones occupied at Captiva and its neighboring island of Sanibel, from relaxed birding to adrenaline-pumping surfing. Walk around the white shores to discover exotic flora and fauna, such as huge frogs to the smallest starfishes. 

If you find yourself unable to leave (who would want to?), check into the South Seas Island Resort, where they have a day plan for children, custom-made according to your preferences. From learning the basics of sailing to catch-and-release fishing and beach day camps, your kids can get the most out of their beachside trip. 

While the young ones are engaged, parents can steal away to witness a romantic sunset as the waves lap at their feet at this truly heavenly destination.

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