The 14 Most Beautiful Places in Florida

From white sand beaches to lush national parks to those gorgeous Keys

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With over 1,300 miles of coastline, a bounty of national parks, gorgeous tropical islands and more, there’s no shortage of breath-taking travel destinations in the Sunshine State. But with so much to see, where do you even begin? We’ve got you covered with our list of the most beautiful places in Florida, including where to stay in each spot. From the northern part of the Sunshine State all the way down to the Keys, these downright gorgeous locations deserve a spot on your travel bucket list. 

The 8 Most Beautiful Secret Beaches in Miami and Beyond (Don’t Tell Anyone)

1. Crystal River


A small town on Florida's Nature Coast, Crystal River is known for its crystal-clear springs and abundant wildlife. Take a guided tour of the springs, swim with manatees (yes, really!) or explore the nearby forests and nature trails. Want even more outdoor adventure? Kayaking and fishing are also popular activities here. After a day out in Mother Nature, kick back with some fish-to-fork cuisine in the historic downtown area.  

2. Anna Maria Island


Located on the Gulf Coast, Anna Maria Island is a quiet, old Florida town with a laid-back atmosphere and stunning, private island-like beaches. Come here for fishing, kayaking and swimming, or simply relax on the beach and soak up the sun. Explore the island's charming downtown area, which is home to a range of boutique shops and galleries or take a bike ride along the scenic Gulf Drive to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery.

3. Naples


This ritzy beach town is known for its soft stretches of sand, luxury shopping, and upscale dining. The city is home to several beautiful parks (don’t miss the Naples Botanical Garden) and is surrounded by pristine nature preserves. Explore the historic downtown area, filled with charming shops, galleries, and restaurants, or take a stroll along the iconic Naples Pier for stunning sunset views over the Gulf.

4. Sanibel Island


Just off the state’s peninsula on the Gulf of Mexico, Sanibel is heaven on a beach. Beyond the miles of crystal-clear waters, there are thousands of patterned seashells waiting to be collected up and down the shoreline. Known for its relaxing atmosphere, this dreamy beach town doesn’t have a single high-rise in sight. Hop on a bike or lace up your sneakers, explore a nearby trail and end your journey on the sand. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also book a boating excursion or go snorkeling. If that isn’t quintessential Florida beauty, we don’t know what is.

5. St. Pete Beach


Connecting lower Tampa with St. Pete, the Sunshine Skyway Bridge is a breathtaking introduction to this area of Florida. Once you’re in St. Pete, you’ll have the best of both worlds: beach and city—all in one place. In fact, downtown St. Petersburg is less than ten miles from St. Pete Beach. And since there’s virtually no traffic in the area, the drive is less than 15 minutes. What might surprise you is this seaside town is home to an impressive collection of museums and galleries, including the Salvador Dali Museum, the Chihuly Collection and the Museum of Fine Arts. The city also has several parks and nature preserves, including Fort De Soto Park, which is home to a historic fort, beautiful beaches and abundant wildlife.

6. Amelia Island


Amelia Island is everything you could ever wish for in an upscale beach town. It’s home to a Ritz-Carlton hotel (if you’re into that kind of vacation), but there’s also more than 13 miles of super-quiet beaches, adorable bed-and-breakfasts, next-level golf courses and a quirky historic district (with ghost tours!). In fact, there’s more than 400 years of history packed into this island, with influences from Spanish, French, and British cultures. Explore historic sites, such as Fort Clinch State Park and the Amelia Island Museum of History.

7. St. Augustine


To explore Florida’s rich history, you must make the trip to St. Augustine. Dating back 450 years, this northern Florida town is as charming as it is old (we mean that as a compliment). Situated on the Matanzas River, this European-inspired city marries cobblestone-lined streets and Spanish forts with bright palm trees and sparkling shorelines. Home to several historic attractions, make it a point to visit the Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, the St. Augustine Lighthouse and the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. If you can’t swing a trip to Rome or Spain, this Florida spot may be the next best thing (within driving distance, of course).

8. Key West


Colorful pastel-painted beach houses, swaying palms, Ernest Hemingway’s historic home and the rowdy bars of Duval Street—there’s just nothing like Key West (and the seven-mile bridge you must take to get there). Enjoy outdoor activities like snorkeling, diving and fishing in the crystal-clear waters, and browse all the galleries and museums showcasing the work of local artists. Don’t forget to indulge in fresh-caught seafood, Caribbean-inspired cuisine and tropical key lime pie.

We know it seems counterintuitive to ask you to turn your back away from the beach and toward the buildings, but in this case it makes total sense. The Art Deco District in South Beach is one of the most incredible sights in the state. After all, the neighborhood is home to the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world (!!!). The buildings in the area date back to the 1920s and 1930s and have been meticulously preserved and restored, creating a unique and beautiful streetscape. Pro tip: See it all for yourself with a walking tour.

10. Islamorada


Can’t swing a trip to the Maldives this year? The four islands of Islamorada are a close Florida equivalent. With a beachy, small-town vibe, there’s nothing like watching this kind of sunset every evening on vacation. (Pro tip: If you want to pair a view like this with the most delicious seafood in Florida, head to Lorelei Restaurant and Cabana Bar. You’ll literally eat dinner on the sand facing the water. Gorge.)

11. Everglades


One of the world’s most diverse ecosystems is hidden in plain sight inside Florida’s swamplands. Scope out alligators, manatees and panthers on an hour-long airboat ride, which begins and ends at Everglades National Park. You’ll journey deep inside the area’s tree-canopied landscapes, stopping every few minutes to spot wildlife and get some history from your local tour guide. The Everglades is also a popular spot for hiking, biking, and kayaking as well as fishing, camping, and picnicking in one of the many scenic locations throughout the park.

12. Stiltsville


About a mile south of Cape Florida, you’ll find a cluster of seven pastel-colored wood-frame houses. Dating back to the 1930s, the now-vacant houses were known to host wild parties during Prohibition. Nowadays, the houses sit quietly in the middle of the open waters—it’s truly a sight to be seen. If you’re nearby, embark on a fascinating guided tour from Deering Estate.

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Located just west of Key West, this stunning national park is made up of seven islands, plus protected coral reefs. Garden Key is the largest of these islands and home to Fort Jefferson, one of the country’s largest 19th century forts that was also used as a prison for about a decade. No surprise given its name, but you can find an abundance of marine life here, including sea turtles that nest here each year. Take in all the natural wonders of the park by swimming and sightseeing around the area. Just know that it’s pretty remote—you can’t access the park by car and cell coverage is patchy at best.

14. Micanopy


At just over a mile long, Micanopy is Florida’s self-proclaimed antiques capital. It’s known as a rural, sleepy town just south of Gainesville, which is why it earned the nickname of “the little town that time forgot.” With a population of about 600, the busiest road (Cholokka Boulevard) is lined with typical Florida architecture, old oak trees covered in Spanish moss and antique storefronts. Surrounded by lush forests, sparkling lakes and beautiful natural landscapes, you can hike, bike or kayak in the nearby Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park or take a scenic drive along the nearby country roads to enjoy the picturesque scenery.

clarissa buch

Miami Editor

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Focused on food, lifestyle, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, Bon Appétit, and...