Natural beauty and historical charm are some of the quaint characteristics of Florida small towns that are often forgotten about. Instead of the tourist hotspots like Orlando or Miami, plan a family vacation that the kids will love and save some money doing so. Blessed with unspoiled landscapes, palm-fringed beaches, and a contagious laid-back vibe, these cities are hidden gems. Read what makes them so special and how they welcome families.
7 Florida Small Towns That Are Perfect For Traveling With Kids
I recommend deep diving into some research before planning your family vacation – especially when it comes to where to stay. Lodging with kids requires stays beyond your typical hotel room sometimes. Vacation rentals and suites are usually what you’re looking for when you want some space to spread out. Avoid local Bed & Breakfast spots with kids, as they aren’t kid-friendly options usually.
Home to a picture-perfect waterfront, bustling entertainment, and vibrant neighborhoods, Palm Beach is a bit of a hidden gem in South Florida. The city has a luxury vibe, but there are plenty of great dining spots, street art and water activities that are perfect for families.
Bring your family’s bikes (or rent some) and ride along the Lake Trail for a glimpse of the island’s lavish estates. Plan a day of shopping and dining on Worth Avenue that even offers shops that specialize in kids clothing. Or rent a boat and cruise along the water for some amazing views and plan a picnic on the boat.
Don’t forget to check out what festivals are in town during your visit as the city’s event calendar is always filled with an outdoor festival to accompany the great weather.
The Breakers Palm Beach offers family-style suites and has their own private beach. Take part in snorkeling, kayaking, scuba diving and family golf lessons. They even offer an on-site kids’ club, called the Beach Club, that’ll keep the kids entertained while you get some time to yourself.
Featuring a distinctly European vibe with a coastal twist, St. Augustine is one of the cutest Florida small town! It’s a must-visit for one simple reason: It’s the oldest city in the United States.
St. Augustine’s quaint streets and attractions bring to life the history of Florida, while also featuring modern entertainment and lots of beach goodness for those who like to mix things up. They’ve got cobblestone streets, romantic squares draped in charming cafés, and a myriad of historical sights to explore throughout the day. Talk about Insta-worthy for your tweens and teens.
Families can explore the historical Castillo de San Marcos, check out a few museums and climb to the top of St. Augustine Lighthouse for the most stunning views. One of my favorite family-friendly St. Augustine attractions is the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. They rescue animals and offer educational opportunities for kids, plus a great zip line, where you can see the entire park from a bird’s eye view.
Everyone thinks of Key West, but it’s one of the least family-friendly Florida Keys. Avoid that tourist trap and head to Islamorada! The island of Islamorada is located in the spot where barrier reefs, saltwater wilderness, and the nature of Everglades National Park meet. Of all the Florida small towns on this list – this is my favorite spot to visit with my own kids!
The island is dubbed the sport-fishing capital of the world, but if fishing is not your cup of tea, there’s plenty more to keep your family entertained during your visit.
Ocean adventures are king here (think snorkeling, sailing, and diving to name a few!), but you’ll also find plenty of shopping, family-friendly dining (seafood, we’re looking at you) and white sand beaches.
There are so many Islamorada resorts that offer two-bedroom style suites and plenty of vacation rentals to pick from. Your family can have a full kitchen and all the amenities of home you typically use.
One of Florida’s biggest secrets, Matlacha is a picturesque little town that brims with candy-colored buildings and coastal village charm. It’s located in SouthWest Florida, near Naples and it’s super photogenic.
Reminiscent of Old Florida but with a burst of colors splashing every scene, the main thing to do at Matlacha is to slowly stroll its streets in search of artsy stalls, fresh seafood, and laid-back beach vibes. You can easily add a day trip to Matlacha from Fort Meyers, Naples, Punta Gorda and Marco Island. So if spending your entire family vacation in a small town doesn’t sound interesting – just plan a day trip from a major city!
Sanibel Island may be tiny, but what it lacks in size, it makes up for with wonderful things to do during your stay!
Thanks to the fact that it comprises gorgeous azure beaches, a national wildlife refuge, and hiking trails winding through marshes, Sanibel is your go-to if you’re into quiet vacations that have a touch of adventure. Moreover, its downtown’s shabby chic vibes and casual style will have you wishing you could stay just a little longer.
Being one of the few islands that runs perpendicular to Florida’s coastline (most run parallel), Sanibel’s beaches are covered in shells. Shell-collecting has become the island’s claim to fame, and joining a “Sanibel Stoop” (as locals call the act of shelling) is a must-do activity while here.
Sanibel is also known for being pet-friendly, so you don’t have to leave your family dog at home. It’s one Florida small towns that you definitely want to put on your list if you travel with your dog. They’re welcome on the beach with leashes that are no longer than 8 feet long. Plus, the island has so many great lodging options where your furry friends are welcome.
Located in the greater Jacksonville area, Amelia Island is one of the most beautiful islands in the Sea Islands chain. While here, explore the island’s slightly ritzy vibes by strolling through Fernandina Beach’s charming Old Town district, check out historic shops spread all over, and try the island’s excellent foodie scene at the trendy restaurants that line the streets.
To top it off, the island brims with nature activities and thriving wildlife, all of which you can get to know on foot, on a kayak, or even on a charter boat! Amelia Island offers every type of lodging from luxury resorts to camping on the beach.
I love the Ritz Kids activities offered at the Ritz Carlton Amelia Island. They’ve got a pirate tuck-in, which is a bedtime story, complete with treats and treasure. Milk and cookies are delivered to your room by a pirate, a princess and our resort mascot Amelia, a seven year old Blue & Gold Macaw. How cool is that? They even have an indoor pirate camp-in which turns your suite into a fun pirate hide out!
Did you know that there are only two naturally round spring-fed lakes in the world? One in Zurich, Switzerland and the other in Northwest Florida’s DeFuniak Springs. The lake is freckled by pine trees and exquisite Victorian homes, making the entire scene look straight from a fairytale.
Victorian vibes are the norm at DeFuniak springs. This cozy little town is perfect for a quiet vacation, especially if you’re into old-world charm beauty and nature. The maritime and military museums of the area offer great educational activities for kids.
Bring your family’s bikes and travel Circle Drive Historic Center. You’ll come across beautiful homes and experience close encounters with nature. The city is also nearby to Ponce De Leon Springs State Park and that makes a great family day trip activity.
No matter if you’re planning a day trip or visiting all of these adorable Florida small towns, we hope that enjoy exploring them as a family. Your next adventure, with kids, doesn’t have to be a tourist trap. There’s plenty of fun to be had in the smaller cities of the sunshine state!