Most beautiful and family-friendly beaches in Florida, USA
Home to gorgeous beaches, thrilling amusement parks and lots of year-round sunshine, Florida is one of the hottest family vacation locations in the United States. There are endless possibilities when it comes to choosing a location for a family vacation in Florida. With numerous resorts, vacation rentals and white sand beaches to choose from, you and your family are assured of a fun-filled vacation.
Apart from its beautiful beaches and lots of water activities, Florida has tons of biking trails, water sports and places where families can explore the wonders of nature and learn about different animal species.
This post is part of our beach vacation series and Discover the USA
Best Florida Beaches for Families
Our selection of incredible Florida beaches for families looks at both those near to resorts and seaside cities offering a plethora of family amenities, to those more remote state parks perfect for a picnic or more isolation in these times of social distancing.
For each we’ve recommended nearby stays from more pocket-friendly options that may sit a short way from the beach to luxury resorts or condos giving spectacular oceanfront access – and of course, everything in between!
For longer beach stays in Florida, we recommend a vacation rental with VRBO. A rental property gives families more space and can end at a cheaper rate than a resort the longer you stay.
You may also want to check out our guide to the best East Coast Beaches for family vacations, where we head to the Carolinas and beyond to New England, or our guide to the best Gulf Coast beaches if you want to head further west through Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana & Texas.
Best known for its secluded beach areas and brilliant waves, Deerfield Beach, is one of the best beaches in Florida for families. It features large rocks which divide sections of the beach area and create a semblance of privacy for families to relax and play. Deerfield Beach also has a pier and boardwalk, which are perfect for taking long walks and watching the sunrise.
Your kids will love playing at Quiet Waters Park. There, they will have access to a ski cable and enjoy a full day of water skiing on the serene lake. Note that Deerfield Beach is a surf community, so if your children are old enough, this is one of the best family beaches in Florida where they can learn how to surf.
This is one of the most popular family beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast – largely due to being one of the closest beaches to Disney World & Orlando. You will find its fine, smooth beach sand alluring. Clearwater Beach is wide enough to accommodate the crowds, so although incredibly popular, you should find some space for yourself and your family.
Its calm, shallow waters also make it one of the best beaches in Florida for kids. Older kids can try their hands on fishing and parasailing from the pier. Clearwater Beach also offers a lot of nearby family attractions. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium, for example, is an excellent attraction for families. There, you and your kids will get to meet Winter, a dolphin with a prosthetic tail.
Sand Key Park, Clearwater
Sand Key Park is located in a peaceful area just a little further south and away from the bustle of Clearwater. It sets the scene for a perfect family-friendly beach vacation in Florida. Just adjacent to Clearwater, but without the highrise hotels.
With a delightful white sand beach, dog-friendly park, beautiful beach cabanas and huge bathhouses, it has all the amenities needed for families to have a great time outdoors. Your kids will love playing at the playground and swimming at the beach, where trained lifeguards are always available.
The facilities here also include beach wheelchairs for disabled visitors to use on the beach and in the water at no cost. Sand Key Park is also known for its birds to keep an eye out for owls and herons. You may also get to see some sea turtles!
DuBois Park, Jupiter
This beach park is located along the inter-coastal waters of Jupiter, FL. With its calm waters and host of outdoor activities perfect for children and adults alike, it has become one of the best Florida family beaches on the east coast. Your children will enjoy participating in several water activities like snorkeling, kayaking and fishing.
A delightful playground area is set back from the sand where smaller kids can play safely away from the water. DuBois Park has a vast picnic area with several barbecue pits, outdoor showers and restrooms. This beautiful beach – part of The Palm Beaches – is also dog friendly so feel free to bring your furry children along too.
Panama City Beach
Best known for its creamy white sand and crystal clear waters, Panama City Beach, is another of the top family-friendly Florida beaches. If you are looking to experience a memorable, fun-filled family beach vacation, this is your spot. Panama City Beach is one of the most popular Florida beaches on the Gulf Coast, stretching for 27 miles. Its shallow waters are perfect for younger kids to swim and paddle in.
If you would love to indulge in more adventurous water activities, we advise that you sign up for the dolphin cruise or visit Gulf World Marine Park. Older kids will also enjoy exploring the fishing charters, snorkeling and jet skiing. There are lots of family-friendly off-beach activities like amusement arcades, water parks and festivals throughout the year.
Where to stay: Perfect for a family group try a Shores of Panama Condo or a luxury stay try SpringHill Suites by Marriott Panama City Beach Beachfront
If your family is looking to take some time off and unplug at any of the great family beaches on Florida’s gulf coast, Captiva Beach is a top pick. Located on Captiva Island, this beach is one of the best-restored beaches in Florida.
This beach is best known for its wide array of unique shells and is a hotspot for shell collectors. Bring along a bucket and enjoy exploring the beautiful white sands of Captiva and sifting through conch shells and sand dollars. Captiva Beach also boasts of the most enthralling sunsets, so be sure to make plans to watch the sunset with your family and take lots of memorable pictures.
Where to stay: No big hotels or resorts on Captiva, just some incredible luxury vacation rentals to try here.
Fort Myers Beach
Located on Estero Island just south of Fort Myers, Fort Myers Beach is the perfect location to enjoy quiet family time away from the bustle of city life. Exuding a serene, small-town beach aura, Fort Myers Beach offers families seven miles of glorious powdery sand. Fort Myers Beach, one of the best beaches in Fort Myers, is filled with several fun water activities for both kids and adults.
There is always something exciting to do, from diving, snorkeling, swimming to dolphin watching and fishing on the pier, making it one of the best family beaches in Florida. However, please note that to go on any of the dolphin watching excursions, it is best to book in advance and secure your spot, especially in the peak seasons.
Located in the centre of Space Coast, Cocoa Beach is the East Coast surfing capital of the US. This peaceful beach is set only an hour or so away from Disney World and Orlando and is one of the best family beaches on Florida’s East Coast.
With its long stretches of beach and proximity to Kennedy Space Center, families with kids are constantly seen trooping to this location for a fun-filled getaway experience.
Your kids will enjoy swimming in the shallow waters and exploring boogie boarding and surfing. Equipment rentals and surfing lessons are available on the beach. You can also sign your family up for a manatee kayaking tour where you get to see some sea creatures up close.
Fort DeSoto State Park
This park in the St Pete’s area of the Gulf Coast has a lovely stretch of pure white sand and is an excellent location for nature lovers. With about 1,100 acres of land, which consists of mangrove swamps and vast beaches, Fort DeSoto has become home to a variety of animal species.
This is one of the best beaches in Florida for kids who love birds. With over 300 species of birds living on the islands, your kids will have a lot of fun trying to identify herons, pelicans, egrets and more – bring the binoculars!
Be sure to check out the playgrounds and hiking trails where your family can participate in some energizing outdoor adventure. If you still need more outdoor adventures for your family, we recommend that you rent some bikes and explore the old fort located in this park.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
When looking for family-friendly beaches in Florida where you can enjoy an urban beach experience, Fort Lauderdale is the best pick. This beautiful urban beach stretches seven miles and is patrolled by lifeguards. Its vast space and tons of fun activities all make it one of the best Florida family beaches.
Apart from snorkeling and swimming, there are other exciting water activities you and your family can enjoy. We recommend that you rent a kayak and explore the inland waterways and canals for a more immersive beach experience – or take on a river cruise.
The boardwalk at Fort Lauderdale features several restaurants and regularly hosts concerts and festivals. Rollerblading on the boardwalk is common among visitors, so feel free to let out the adventurer inside you.
One of the best beaches in Florida for families, Venice Beach, is best known as the ‘shark tooth capital of the world’. This beautiful beach with its white sands, stunning sunsets and diverse wildlife used to be completely underwater and was filled with sharks.
Over time, the water receded, and the shark habitat reduced. This history has left its mark in the form of millions of shark teeth submerged off the coast. It is normal to see shark teeth washed ashore on a daily basis on Venice Beach. Share this history with your kids and have them prepared to hunt for shark teeth! The best areas to find shark teeth on Venice Beach are around the Venice Jetty area.
Asides from shark teeth hunting, your family, will also enjoy going on dolphin cruises and playing with sea turtles. Venice Beach is also an excellent location for bird watching and fishing.
With its wide, bubbling shores and picnic areas, Daytona Beach on the east coast has become one of the best family-friendly Florida beaches. Apart from the numerous attractions located in and around Daytona Beach, families with kids will also have tons of exciting activities to explore.
Daytona Beach’s piers are an excellent start for older kids. There, they can enjoy swimming in the waters or exploring the exciting world of endless arcades along the pier. There are also scooter and jet ski rentals available for you and your kids. If you would like to explore other fun options off-beach, feel free to check out the Daytona Lagoon Waterpark and the Daytona International Speedway.
Siesta Key is home to some of the best family beaches on Florida’s Gulf Coast. An 8-mile long barrier island, the sand here is delightfully soft and white, and the waters are shallow and warm, making it a great location for the best Florida beaches for kids.
The sand on Siesta Key is known for its unique composition of granulated quartz, which makes it cooler than average – and so soft toddlers can walk barefooted on the beaches without any discomfort. In fact, Siesta Key is known as home to some of the whitest and finest sand in the world. Isn’t that something?
Each of the beaches on Siesta Key (Siesta Key Beach, Crescent Beach and Turtle Beach) features sun shelters, playgrounds, lovely picnic areas, volleyball courts and washroom facilities. Your family will also enjoy some off-beach attractions like shopping at Siesta Key Village and exploring the Ringling Circus Museum.
One of the best Florida beaches for families with kids, Madeira beach, has so much more to offer than just beautiful white sand. Although it is best known for dolphin watching, Madeira Beach also offers other fun family activities like boat cruises, snorkeling tours, sunset cruises, deep fishing tours and fun beach festivals. If you are looking for a fun family beach with lots of activities and parties suitable for kids, this is a great pick for you.
Madeira Beach has lots of tiki bars and cabana rentals. Adults can have fun as well and enjoy an upbeat beach experience. There are wave runners, paddleboats and kayak rentals available as well, so be sure to plan for some adrenaline-inducing water adventure.
Where to stay: No big chain hotels here, just a wonderful place to get a holiday rental right on the beachfront, a mix of older and more modern properties.
Located west of Fort Myers, Sanibel Island has made a name for itself as one of the most exclusive but family-friendly Florida beaches. This beautiful beach features pristine, soft sand, palm trees lining the boardwalk and beach areas, a wide beach area and several shelters available to provide shade for the family while the kids play in the water and build sandcastles.
One popular attraction of visiting Sanibel Island is seashell hunting. Prepare to collect seashells with your kids as they are abundant on this beach. Don’t forget to pack a bucket and small shovels for digging up these prized shells.
Some family-friendly activities available on Sanibel Island are biking, jet skiing and sunset cruises. You can also take your kids to explore the incredible JN “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge, where they will learn about the various species of wildlife that live on Sanibel Island.
As you can see, there’s so much more to a family trip to Florida than just the theme parks. Take advantage of the year-round mild weather and plan a family vacation at one of the best beaches in Florida for endless hours of beachfront fun with your family.
More for your family beach vacation
Before you go, don’t forget to check out the beach vacation planning section of our website. Here you can find;
- Our Ultimate Beach Packing List – essentials for every beach trip + a downloadable beach packing checklist
- Tips for your baby’s very first trip to the beach – top tips from sun safety to controlling the sand & items you’ll want to pack
- Toddler beach essentials – don’t miss these important items from your packing list!
- Best pop up beach tents – from baby beach tents to sun canopies big enough to fit the family, why you might want to invest in one of these for a big day at the beach
- The best beach toys for summer 2021– the essentials we always keep in our beach bag
- Will your kids need beach shoes? A look at different styles of water shoes and when you might need them at the beach
- Sandproof & waterproof beach blankets – big enough to fit all the family
- Perfect gifts for Mamas who love the beach – a gift guide for unique beach gifts ladies in your life will love
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