From the lovely secluded tropical islands of Anna Maria Island to the sooth the soul to the big city beaches with mega amenities, it won’t be hard for find a beach that ticks all your family’s beach needs, as Florida has approximately 1,200 miles of sandy shores, with no two alike. Whether your family prefers small island hideaways or bustling beaches with boatloads of activities, it’s easy to find a kid-friendly destination with silky sand, blue skies, and warm surf to cap off the perfect family vacation. When choosing a beach, consider location and your family’s interests. Generally, Gulf of Mexico beaches have pearly white sand and calm waves and Atlantic beaches have golden brown sand and waves for surfing. Check out our picks for a few of the best beaches Florida has to offer for families.
Situated on Florida’s West Coast about 35 minutes from Tampa, Clearwater Beach is a kid-friendly destination for many reasons: calm surf, powder soft, white sand that stays cool on your feet, and nearby family attractions. Shops and restaurants anchor the pedestrian-friendly waterfront where Pier 60 has free nightly sunset festivals featuring street performers, musicians and artisans.
Fort De Soto Park
With soft sugary sands, the warm, clear water of the Gulf of Mexico and brilliant sunsets, Fort De Soto Park makes for a fantastic beach getaway. Protected by a sandbar, the North Beach has a large lagoon that doesn’t get above three feet deep, making it the perfect place for children to swim.
Bike, skate or jog the 7-mile paved nature trail or kayak through lush mangroves. Keep a look out for pelicans, heron and egrets – year-round residents of the park. Dolphins are often spotted from the Gulf fishing pier and sea turtles nest along the beach in summer.
A historic fort built for the Spanish-American War has old cannons and jail cells, giving the kids (and you!) plenty to explore.
Park amenities include canoe, kayak and bicycle rentals, a food concession, picnic areas and outdoor showers.
Anna Maria Island
South of Tampa Bay on the west coast of Florida lies Anna Maria Island. This seven-mile stretch of paradise has six beaches, each with old Florida charm. The entire island is surrounded by a sugar-sand coastline where loggerhead turtles like to nest. Dolphins and manatees are often spotted in the emerald waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
You won’t find high-rises, theme parks or water slides here; Anna Maria is a simple island where fishing, bird watching and kayaking reign.
The city of Anna Maria, a quiet residential community at the northern tip of the island, has an abundance of rental homes and cottages. Charming family stores and cafes line the quaint streets of the village.
Named for the colorful mini seashells that line the beach each morning, Coquina Beach is located on the southern tip of Anna Maria Island, near Sarasota. Kids of all ages enjoy scooping up the coquinas and other seashells along the shore.
A short distance from downtown Sarasota, Siesta Key is a barrier island off the central western coast. Shallow water, water sports and sand comprised primarily of quartz (keeping it cooler on the feet) rank Siesta Key among the best beaches in Florida for families. Various lodging options, restaurants, beachside picnic areas, and playgrounds make this kid-friendly destination a good choice for a family vacation
Located along Florida’s Space Coast an hour’s drive from Orlando, Cocoa Beach is named for its soft cocoa-colored sand and known for its friendly waves. Designated the east coast surfing capital, you’ll find veteran surfers alongside beginners riding the waves.
Driving into town along Highway A1A takes you by plenty of souvenir shops – you can pick up that pink flamingo you know you’ve always wanted. The shop you shouldn’t miss is the massive two story Ron Jon’s Surf Shop. Here you’ll find anything and everything you’ve ever wanted for your favorite beach activities including surfboards, swimsuits and sunscreen. Beach rentals offer surfboards, boogie boards, beach umbrellas and stand-up paddleboards.
A landmark since 1962, the Cocoa Beach Pier has bars, restaurants and gift shops. The kids will enjoy the Dinosaur Store on the Cocoa Beach Causeway, with its selection of dinosaur teeth, shrunken heads and arcade games.