The tropical climate of Florida has long been a draw for tourists and locals alike. Whether seeking a relaxing getaway on a sandy beach or trying to make an impact on the local economy by supporting the arts, there are some truly amazing attractions in and around the state. And, one of those attractions is the abundance of truly tropical beaches along the state’s two coastlines. Atlantic Beach, home to part of the exclusive upscale Atlantic Beach Country Club, and offshore condos are some of the best oceanfront living areas in Florida. Spanish moss-covered trees line the many leafy green pockets, while to the southwest, Tide View Preserve provides kayaking, fishing, and breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico.
Florida Beaches for Spring and Summer
As if that weren’t enough to make day trips to the area worth the visit, it’s also home to over 100 public parks and recreation sites. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission reports that Atlantic Beach and neighboring islands have over 400 species of birds, making bird watching one of the most popular activities here. While you’re sure to see plenty of birds here, don’t miss the opportunity to view sea turtles, too. Between March and November, sea turtle nesting season runs from March through November, which makes it one of the best times to get up close and personal with these magnificent sea creatures. Sea turtles have adapted to life near the shoreline, so you can often watch them nest right next to you.
The most well-known destination on the Florida east coast beaches is the famous Atlantic Ocean. Located right off the Jacksonville Beach boardwalk, this three mile long barrier island offers visitors the chance to enjoy all of the attractions that come with a barrier reef environment. With miles of beautiful sand dunes, coral flats, groves of palms, tropical forests, deepwater reefs, an underwater park, the list of things to do on Atlantic Beach is endless. In fact, it’s not uncommon for locals to construct sand castles and fortresses right along the beach. On sunny days, you can even step onto the sand and tour the fortresses and beaches until your heart’s content!
Located on the far southern end of the Atlantic Coast, Miami is the second largest city in Florida. If you’re heading to the warmer southern parts of Florida, then you’ll definitely want to head to Miami Beach, home of the famous Miami Heat. Located just north of the city, this five mile long beach is lined by dozens of luxury resorts, shops, restaurants, bars, nightclubs, and of course, the ever popular Miami nightclubs. This area has been named one of the top 20 most popular places in the country by Golf Digest Traveler, so you know that Miami Beach is anything but average when it comes to beach culture. On a hot day, you’ll be surrounded by patrons of all ages as the sun begins to heat up the beach.
Just a quick trip north of Miami Beach will bring you to Clearwater Beach, where the nightlife rivals any other place in the United States. Known for its amazing restaurants and incredible seafood, Clearwater Beach is one of America’s premiere seaside towns. Not only does this area offer great restaurants and nightlife, it also boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the state. Unfortunately, due to the construction of a toll bridge across the Intracoastal Waterway, which connects Florida to Georgia, the beautiful beaches and the beautiful Clearwater Beach will be inaccessible to visitors for a period of time. This “closure” is temporary, so we’ll be visiting soon!
Just a short distance from Clearwater Beach is Ft. Myers Beach, which is also one of the most popular destinations for people who like to enjoy the outdoors and beautiful beaches. Ft. Myers Beach is home to one of the more established tourism businesses in the area, so it has a lot to offer visitors, whether you’re looking for cheap airfare, great meals, or just a nice day to hang out on the beach. The main drag is the Historic Gas Lamp District, which offers a variety of shops and boutiques for visitors to peruse.
The last part of our trip took us to Gulf Shores, which is located just east of Miami Beach. Along the way we discovered a great beach town known as Destin, which was founded in the early 1950s and became the first true “mopolitan” community in the Gulf of Mexico. Residents and businesses can be found here because it is a favorite among visitors who travel to the gulf. This area is also rich in cultural heritage, so if you are willing to spend a bit of time exploring, you might even end up finding an old plantation or even a historic estate. We enjoyed several restaurants here during our visit, so if you plan on stopping by, consider checking out the local dining options.
Overall, our brief description of some of our favorite destinations in Florida brought to light a little known destination among locals and tourists alike – the small beach town of Panama City. While we didn’t visit during the height of vacation season, we did make sure to stop by on several occasions, mainly because it is such a beautiful place to go and unwind. There are a multitude of activities available on the beaches of Panama City, including everything from swimming and surfing to hiking and canal boat tours. And while Panama City is certainly not in the same league as larger cities like Miami Beach or Jacksonville, it is a great place for families with small children to enjoy an enjoyable summertime experience.