Fabulous family-friendly beach getaways share some qualities. The shores are gradually sloping, so your little ones can wade in and out of the water easily, and the waters are shallow. They feature ample restrooms and showers as well as attentive life guards. They offer plenty to do, for everyone from tiny tots and teens to mom and dad. And it’s as obvious as fins on a fish that affordable accommodations are a must.
These Florida beaches offer all of this and more. Read on to see which ones sound like your family’s perfect cup of sunshine.
Lively Clearwater Beach, on the Central West coast, greets you with parasailing adventures, rides on Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise and stunning views from Pier 60. Its luscious sugar-sand and clear, shallow waters make for the perfect family playground. Plus, it’s a great place for mom and dad to relax. Nightly sunset celebrations at Pier 60, countless water sports and family-friendly resorts promise to keep your whole crew entertained.
While you’re in the area, make sure to splash over to Clearwater Marine Aquarium to see Winter the Dolphin, star of the movie Dolphin Tale.
Farther south on the Gulf, award-winning Siesta Key boasts activities like water sports, snorkeling and beach volleyball; a charming village brimming with affordable restaurants and shops; and the convenience of a trolley. Erin Duggan, communications director for the Sarasota CVB, says, “Siesta Key is a great spot for families because it offers such a variety of things to do, right at their fingertips.”
The beach itself is spectacular. It features a concession stand, picnic facilities, rentals and a playground. The water is calm, clear, and emerald-hued, and the sand is 99 percent pure quartz crystals, making it one of softest, coolest, whitest beaches your toes will ever encounter.
In northeast Florida, historic Amelia Island is a laid-back destination that boasts miles of wide, quiet, Atlantic beaches. The whole gang will love kayaking the pristine waters, horseback riding on the beach and discovering history firsthand at Fort Clinch State Park. Accommodations range from affordable hotels to quaint B&Bs to upscale resorts. As Gil Langley, president and CEO of the Amelia Island TDC, points out, “Both the Ritz-Carlton and Omni Amelia Island Plantation offer amazing children’s programs, giving parents quality, guilt-free time to explore on their own.”
Make sure to visit Fernandina Beach’s unique shops and eateries. And don’t leave without indulging your sweet tooth at Fernandina’s Fantastic Fudge.
This vibrant, affordable northwest Florida destination is home to 27 miles of stunning, white-sand beaches, which mean there’s a Gulf-front room with your family’s name on it. President and CEO of the Panama City Beach CVB Dan Rowe says, “We offer something for everyone – from our array of family-friendly restaurants and enriching eco-adventures to exhilarating water sports and interactive attractions.”
There’s more: Pier Park offers a staggering 1 million square feet of shopping and entertainment, including the kid-friendly Miracle Strip at Pier Park featuring classic amusement park rides and a butterfly garden. Plus, the city’s event calendar is overflowing with family-friendly happenings.
The family atmosphere of this famed Central Florida destination is just as exciting as its car racing tradition. Throw your gear in the car and drive out to snag your perfect beach spot. Or opt for the car-free beach. Recreational vendors are often located right on the beach, making for ultimate convenience. As Daytona Beach CVB spokeswoman Tangela Boyd explains, “They offer everything from snacks to sunscreen and experiences that include bicycle, scooter, boogie board and ATV rentals, and even surfing lessons.”
Other family favorites include the Daytona Lagoon water park, the Marine Science Center, Ponce Inlet Lighthouse & Museum -- and, of course, Daytona International Speedway.