How would you plan a road trip in Florida?
You might think: theme parks, beaches, or even the bustling city of Miami.
However, there’s more to Florida than mouse ears and South Beach – Florida has some of the most beautiful small towns that you’d ever want to visit and quite possibly, live.
Each town has something special about it that sets it apart from the rest of the towns throughout the sunny, and often stormy state of Florida. These pristine towns encompass a wide range of locations, things to do, and unique aspects that make them a paradise within the Sunshine State.
Here are the top 10 beautiful small towns in Florida you must visit on your next Floridian excursion.
10. Old Homosassa
Considered part of Florida’s nature coast, Homosassa is located in Citrus County and is a small fishing village. Its vibrant history and quiet lifestyle is just part of its charm.
There, you’ll also find manatee tours, diving, fishing, century old oak trees, and be able to just enjoy nature at its finest. If you’re hungry, the Old Homosassa Smokehouse smokes fresh seafood daily.
9. Ponce de Leon
Ponce de Leon Springs was named after the Spanish explorer who was looking for the fountain of youth. While he may not have found it here, what was discovered is one of the most beautiful natural springs in the world, which remains a cool 68 degrees year round.
Considered the Gateway to the Gulf of Mexico, Ponce de Leon is located near the Alabama border in Northwest Florida. If swimming isn’t your cup of tea then there is a 443-acre state park to explore.
8. Tarpon Springs
Located less than an hour’s drive from St. Petersburg, Tarpon Springs is part of the National Register of Historic Places and is the “sponge capital of the world.” It has historic charm with its abundance of late 1800s buildings and fishing is the main sport to enjoy.
There are numerous boat tours to enjoy and if it’s nature you’re after then the Brooker Creek Reserve or Konger Tarpon Springs Aquarium are just two of the many places to visit. Ready for a cold one after spending a day in the Florida sun? Check out Saint Somewhere Brewery.
7. Grayton Beach
If you’re looking for the ideal place to swim, sunbathe, fish, and enjoy nature in all its pristine beauty, then Grayton Beach is the place to be. This hidden gem is nestled along the Gulf Coast and is known for its motto, “Nice dogs, friendly folks.”
The lifestyle is easy and carefree and you’ll find some of the best freshwater and saltwater fishing in all of Florida. You’ll feel the true Florida experience and when you’re ready to wine and dine there are beach bars, restaurants, and even wine bars to indulge in.
6. Silver Springs
Home of the oldest attraction in Florida, Silver Springs has glass bottomed boats where you can see all of the life underwater in the crystal clear springs.
Located in Marion County just east of Ocala, the springs create almost 600 million gallons of water each day and are one of the largest in the entire world.
Just as beautiful as Silver Springs State Park, Juniper State Park is another sight to see in the Silver Springs area. You can kayak, camp, swim, and breathe in the beauty of these springs.
5. Crystal River
Just a couple of hours from Tampa, Crystal River is true to its name. Whether it’s fishing, boating, diving, eco-tours, swimming, or checking out the local wildlife – Crystal River has it all.
Rent a house on the river and check out a kayak ride where you can see to the bottom of the stream. Manatees are in abundance and scuba and snorkeling allow you to check out some of the awesome underwater creatures like stingrays and fish.
4. Anna Maria Island
Located on the coast of Manatee Island, this barrier island is also called Anna Maria Key and has some of the most breathtaking views in all of Florida. Just picture yourself in paradise – a drink in your hand (doesn’t have to be an alcohol one), sun in the sky, and emerald water at your feet.
And while fishing and golfing are two of the favorite past times, just soaking up the sun is perfectly acceptable. There is even a historical museum if you want a little bit of local culture.
3. Mount Dora
Every charming place in Florida doesn’t have to be on the coast and Mount Dora is a perfect example. This one-hundred (and more) year old village has historic charm, a stunning chain of lakes, and is the “Bass Capital of the World.”
There is literally something for everyone, whether it’s shopping, attending the many festivals, fishing, dining, or just taking it easy and appreciating the gorgeous view.
2. St Augustine
Who would have thought that a city located in Northeast Florida is the oldest continuously occupied city in the entire country? Founded in 1565, St. Augustine obviously offers a glimpse at a historic landmark but there’s more to it than that.
While it is still a major tourist attraction, it holds on tight to its small town charm. Soak up some of the arts and culture or check out the view from a 76-foot Schooner. You will also love the restaurants and can check out the St Augustine Distillery Company or take a wine tasting tour. It’s classy yet quaint.
This little fishing village has so much to offer. Quaint inns, historical cemeteries, unparalleled views – and all in a city that is quiet, charming, and has some of the freshest seafood around.
Less than 100 miles from Tallahassee, Apalachicola is home of acres of national forest to explore, pristine beaches (St George Island, anyone?) and locally caught seafood ranging from fresh shrimp and scallops to fish that was swimming just hours before it appears on your table.
You won’t find tons of crowds or theme parks but in this hidden gem of a town, is that what you want anyway?
No matter what you enjoy doing in Florida, sometimes it’s nice to just relax and take part in the natural beauty without the crowds you find at major tourist attractions and these places all have that quaint charm you’ll find to be a breath of fresh air.