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Florida may be known as the Sunshine State, but it might as well rebrand itself as the Shoreline State. With 8,436 miles of shoreline—second only to Alaska, which arguably, has less beach-friendly weather year-round—the peninsula has no shortage of beaches. Still, certain areas (South Beach! Destin! Daytona!) get all the attention...and can get seriously overcrowded. That's why we turned to a few locals to spill the tea on lesser-known spots that are absolutely worth slathering up in sunscreen and planning a road trip. Consider your next beach trip planned.

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1. John D. MacArthur State Park

  • Getting there: 20 minutes from downtown West Palm Beach
  • Why we recommend it: Private island feel, family friendly, water activities
  • Where to stay: Get the best of city and beach by staying nearby at The Ben, Autograph Collection, $400/night
West Palm (and the immediate surrounding areas) boasts 15 percent of its land dedicated to public green space, beaches and landmarks. One of our absolute favorites includes John D. MacArthur Beach State Park, which is considered an environmental treasure. This hidden beach spans nearly two miles with plenty of picturesque (and quiet!) stretches of sand—in fact, it’s so quiet, you’ll feel like you’re on a private island.

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2. Crescent Beach in St. Augustine

  • Getting there: 25 minutes from downtown St. Augustine
  • Why we recommend it: Less touristy, local feel
  • Where to stay: Oceanfront Condo with Heated Pool: Sleeps 4, $138/night
You headed to St. Augustine to soak in its history (it was founded in 1565, after all) and maybe enjoy some fudge or a ghost tour. Once you’ve taken all that in, skip St. Augustine Beach or the long drive to Jacksonville Beach and head straight to Crescent Beach instead. Parking can be a bit limited, but there aren’t as many big businesses dotting the landscape, making for a tranquil escape.

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3. Honeymoon Island in Dunedin

As the birthplace of Hooters, a major hub for the Church of Scientology and oh, often being voted best beach in the U.S., Clearwater gets a ton of buzz. But if you head 20 minutes north, you’ll hit the quieter causeway of Dunedin. At the very end is Honeymoon Island, a dog-friendly state park that’s a bit more low-key but every bit as lovely. There may not be a Surf Style or Ron Jon’s, but once you take in the sunset over the Gulf, we doubt you’ll mind.

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4. St. George Island in Franklin County

If you really want to avoid the crowds, head to St. George Island. The barrier island is just off the Sunshine State’s panhandle on the Gulf Coast, and its strict building codes prevent the area from getting too built up. While this beautiful beach itself is great for swimming and shelling, if you’ve brought your labradoodle, Ruffmona Quimby, along, head to the state park—it’s pet-friendly and there are plenty of trails for you to explore together.

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5. Blue Mountain Beach in South Walton

Sugar sand, aqua water and blackened shrimp tacos (ahem, Red Fish Taco), all in one place? South Walton is as close to living in a postcard as you can get. Beyond the shore itself, the area is known for the Blue Lupine—a blue and purple flowering plant—that covers its dunes and for its robust food scene. Fresh seafood is a given, but the chicken and waffles at Blue Mabel Smokehouse & Provisions aren’t to be missed.

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Courtesy of Discover The Palm Beaches

6. Delray Beach in Palm Beach County

  • Getting there: 40 minutes from Fort Lauderdale International Airport
  • Why we recommend it: The best of city and beach,
  • Where to stay: Aloft Delray Beach, $229/night
Maybe you like a little city life mixed in with your beach day. If so, get thee to Delray ASAP. Its downtown area is right on the beach, so you can ditch hauling a cooler full of soggy sandwiches all day and have a legit lunch (or happy hour), all within walking distance from your tanning spot.

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7. Bahia Honda State Park

Yes, you’ll pay $8 a car to get into Bahia Honda, but frankly, parking at just about any beach will cost you these days. And the views are so, so worth it. There’s a “land that time forgot” quality to the lush greenery, thanks largely to the remains of Henry Flagler’s railroad that juts out into the water—and all of the island’s greenery. It’s an excellent hidden beach to birdwatch, snorkel or while away the day before grabbing a slice of key lime pie.

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8. Juno Beach

Right between Jupiter and West Palm Beach is this quiet little gem of a town. It’s located on a barrier island, giving you some buffer from the Atlantic Ocean’s waves on one side (though, surfers, you’ll want to hit up Juno Beach Park) and unparalleled sunrise views all around. (Just know that from May through October, the beach becomes the densest sea turtle nesting ground in the world.)

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9. Madeira Beach

  • Getting there: 25 minutes from St. Pete
  • Why we recommend it: Boardwalk with local eats and shops, quiet beaches, family friendly
  • Where to stay: Well-Appointed Getaway: Sleeps 7, $148/night
Just west of St. Petersburg on the Gulf Coast is the oh-so-beautiful Madeira Beach. It shares the same super-fine sand and gentle, bathwater-like waters as St. Pete Beach (which was voted best beach), as well as the added draw of the John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk. The boardwalk stretches 1,100 feet, offering all kinds of places to eat and small shops to check out (we’re partial to Mad Beach Brewing). Oh, and if you’re into fresh fish, plan a visit in October, when the weather hovers between 55 and 81 degrees, and the town hosts its annual Seafood Festival.

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10. Navarre Beach

  • Getting there: 2 hours from Panama City Beach
  • Why we recommend it: Fishing, marine science center, gorgeous beaches
  • Where to stay: Updated Condo on the Beach: Sleeps 8, $130/night
If you’re into fishing, exploring or simply working on your tan while reading a book, you’re meant to visit Navarre Beach. It features the longest pier in Florida (1,500 feet), but it’s vendor-free, so you don’t have to weave through a bunch of souvenirs to find a spot to drop a line. While there, be sure to check out the marine science station and Sea Turtle Conservation Center at Navarre Beach Marine Park.

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11. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

  • Getting there: 15 minutes from downtown Miami
  • Why we recommend it: Private island feel, super-quiet beaches, close to restaurants and shops
  • Where to stay: The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, $599/night
No time to get down to The Keys? Don’t worry—Key Biscayne is the next best thing. Right off the shoreline of downtown Miami, Key Biscayne has got all the makings of a private island… right in your backyard. Spend a day here lying on the gorgeously soft sand at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and then grab a bite at the iconic Rusty Pelican. That’s right, the lone lighthouse, built in 1825 at the end of Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, is the perfect scene for a seaside sunset. Staycation? Check.

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