There's a reason so many families from the east coast and beyond flock to Florida, especially in winter. The Sunshine State offers year-round warm weather, hundreds of miles of sandy beaches, swaying palm trees, and plenty of things to do with kids. That means there are so many places for families to take some fabulous Florida beach vacations. Luckily, we have several writers and editors here at Mommy Poppins who are familiar with the state to help you choose the best places for your upcomingIFlorida beach vacations.
This island just south of Florida's border with Georgia is home to 13 miles of gorgeous beaches, destination-worthy state parks, plenty of mini golf courses, and great shopping and restaurants. Families can get up-close with animals and participate in nature programs at the Amelia Island Nature Center; take a dolphin, manatee, or sea turtle expedition through Amelia River Cruises; go horseback riding on the beach; and so much more. The beachside Omni Amelia Island Resort is a standout for families with its sprawling pool and splash pad, awesome kids' club and children's activities, two championship golf courses, amazing fitness center and spa, and 10 delicious restaurants. The luxurious Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island also offers amazing experiences for kids including indoor pirate campouts, pirate tuck-ins, and a fantastic kids' club with themed days.
The beach at Delray Sands Resort is a perfect area for family bodyboarding. Photo courtesy of the resort
3. Delray Beach
This small beach town with big personality is also part of Greater West Palm Beach, but it deserves its own spot on our list. USA Today once named Delray Beach the "Most Fun Small Town in America." When not enjoying the white-sand beaches and delicious local restaurants, check out the unique Morikami Japanese Gardens. Take your fun indoors to the Silverball Museum for some unique family entertainment with modern and old-school arcade games, or drive to Boca Raton to visit the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. Delray Sands is a great beachfront boutique hotel with the perfect combination of upscale and coziness. For a larger hotel with all the amenities you could ask for, stay at the Opal Grand Resort & Spa.
Yes, it may sound surprising, but I enjoy South Beach with my kids. Avoid wilder crowds by going during winter as opposed to spring break. If rain arrives or the kids need a break from the waves, take some time to explore the Miami Children's Museum, located just over the bridge from Miami Beach.The Miami Seaquarium is an amusement park, museum, educational program, and rescue center all in one and a must-visit with kids who love sea life. For accommodations, Hotel Victor is a beautiful boutique hotel in the heart of South Beach. Though swanky, it's great for families because of its walkable location, beach playground across the street, shallow heated pool, and Sugar Factory restaurant located right off the hotel lobby. Another great option is Hotel Ocean, a boutique hotel located on the historic Espanola Way.
No list of Florida beach vacations would be complete without the Florida Keys, a 125-mile chain of islands off the southern tip of the state. They begin at Key Largo—home to one of our favorite Florida Keys resorts, Playa Largo Resort and Spa—and end down in Key West. Each of the islands has its own character, and you can't go wrong at any of them. You can snorkel at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park in Key Largo, go fishing in Islamorada, visit sick and injured sea turtles at the Turtle Hospital in Marathon, go beach camping at Bahia Honda State Park in Big Pine Key, and frolic on breathtaking beach after breathtaking beach. And, you can't leave the Keys without trying its signature dish—Key Lime pie.
There are so many beaches that feel private and secluded on Sanibel and Captiva islands, located right outside Fort Myers. My favorite spot to take the kids is near the Sanibel Lighthouse, where the waves are calm and the shells are plentiful. Rent bikes for a day to explore the entire island, making sure to stop at the J.N. "Ding" Darling Wildlife Center. Our family’s favorite beach from which to watch the sunset is at the Mucky Duck in Captiva. The Sanibel Sea School is an interactive way to get the kids involved in marine ecosystems while having fun. And if you're looking for the luxurious island escape of your dreams, the South Seas Island Resort is it. From swank pools with water slides to nature-oriented children's activities, this expansive resort has everything you need on property for the entire family to have an excellent beach vacation.
Often known for its golf courses and plentiful high-end shopping, Naples, Florida is also a perfect family vacation destination. Located in Florida's Southwest region, the beaches of Naples offer miles of gentle waves, soft white sand, and beautiful warm weather year-round. Besides the abundance of beaches, we never get bored in Naples with its family-friendly attractions and activities. The Naples Zoo at Caribbean Gardens is a fantastic way to spend half a day exploring nature. If you have younger children, you won't want to skip the Golisano Children’s Museum of Naples. For waterside activities, the area offers great shelling, calm kayaking, and good fishing off the Naples Pier. My favorite beachfront hotel in Naples is the Edgewater, an all-suite, boutique hotel in a convenient location. The Ritz-Carlton Naples is also a great family-friendly beachfront hotel that offers kids' club activities.
8. Siesta Key
One of the eight barrier islands of Sarasota, Siesta Key beach is continually voted one of the best beaches in the US. The sand is 99% pure quartz, which makes it sugar-fine, uber soft, and cool on the feet. It's easy to spend a day here with the FREE parking, calm waves, beach volleyball courts, large playground, picnic tables, and nice outdoor showers. Take a day to explore the nearby family-friendly attractions like the Ringling Museum and the Children’s Rainforest Garden at Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. To take advantage of this beautiful, relaxing beach destination, I suggest condo-style accommodations on the beach. Hyatt Residence Club is a great place for the entire family to spread out, or consider renting one of the many rental homes available in the area.
A great add-on to an Orlando vacation, Clearwater Beach is beautiful and family-friendly. When taking a break from the sunshine and sand, plan a few hours at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. When evening rolls around, head to Pier 60 for a wonderful sunset celebration with artisans, crafters, street performers, and more. To see the Gulf from a different perspective, go on an adventure with Captain Memo's Pirate Cruise. The Hilton Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa is next to Pier 60, making it an excellent location for evening activities with the kids. This comfortable and modern resort makes it easy to have a car-free vacation.
Part of the Florida Panhandle's "Emerald Coast"—a 100-mile stretch of beach along the Gulf of Mexico—Destin is brimming with gorgeous beaches, interactive museums, amusement parks, animal adventures, and great restaurants. Frolic on the sand and enjoy the nature trail at Henderson Beach State Park. Get up-close with sea creatures at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park in nearby Fort Walton Beach. Find out why Destin is known as "the world's luckiest fishing village" at the interactive Destin History & Fishing Museum. Most visitors in Destin choose to stay in condo rentals via apps like Airbnb, but if you prefer a resort, the Emerald Grande at HarborWalk Village offers stunning Gulf Coast views and proximity to shops and restaurants.
This article was originally published In 2018. It was updated in 2023 with additional reporting by Jennifer Marino Walters.