These Beach Towns Were Made for Walking

By: Lauren Tjaden

ADD TO FAVORITES
Prefer to leave the car behind? In Seaside, on Hollywood’s Broadwalk, on Lido Key in Sarasota, on tiny Captiva Island, or on the brick streets of St. Augustine, that’s no problem.

Prefer to leave the car behind? It’s no problem in the Sunshine State.

These beach getaways are among Florida’s most walk-able.

Stroll through the pastel-hued dwellings, quirky stores and delicious restaurants in Seaside, an enclave so delightful it played the perfect town in the movie The Truman Show. Indulge in a vintage beach vacation on Hollywood’s Broadwalk. Or escape to Lido Key in Sarasota, where the only thing missing is stress. Discover an offbeat sliver of paradise on tiny Captiva Island, or relive history on the narrow brick streets of St. Augustine, the nation’s oldest city.

Seaside was designed to reflect a simpler time, when meals were shared, stories entertained and walking was how people got around. Snuggled against the Gulf on Northwest Florida’s Emerald Coast, this charming enclave is famed for playing the perfect town in the movie “The Truman Show.” It’s a peaceful place, brimming with pastel-hued houses, picket fences and one-of-a-kind shops and art galleries. Scoop up local offerings at the farmer’s market; spoil yourself with fresh seafood on the deck of Bud & Alleys; cap off the evening with a performance at the Seaside Repertory Theatre. Everything is within easy reach, including the pristine sugar-sand beach, where you’ll want to spend some quality time building sand castles and wondering at the turquoise waters.

Lido Key has everything except the stress. Located in the Gulf of Mexico in Sarasota, the tiny, upscale island boasts an abundance of nature and watersports as well as a trolley. The fun starts in St. Armand’s Circle, a paradise for strolling shoppers. Amble through courtyards and antique statues to treasure hunt in more than 130 stores. After shopping, indulge in crusty Cuban bread at Columbia, lobster bisque at Cafe L'Europe, or ice cream at Scoop Daddy's. And don’t forget the beaches. When you mosey through the sugar sand, take off your sandals. Your toes will think they’re in heaven.

Escape to Captiva Island, a laid-back sliver of paradise nestled on Florida’s southwest Gulf coast. The oh-so-tiny hamlet, located just a few waves north of its sister island of Sanibel, has a slightly off-kilter, magical feel. Discover a giant frog crouched in the garden of Jungle Drums Gallery; search for miniature starfish on the shell-strewn shores; or fall under the spell of red velvet cake at the Bubble Room, a restaurant where it’s Christmas all year long – and all within strolling distance. And remember to sample a grouper sandwich at RC Otters, which is particularly tasty when enjoyed outside under the shade of an umbrella. The island embraces biking, birding, sailing, and water sports of all kinds.  

Golden-sand beaches are just the tip of the sandbar in St. Augustine, a bustling town sprawled against the Atlantic a splash south of Jacksonville. You’ll walk in the footsteps of Ponce de Leon as you explore the narrow, brick streets of the nation’s oldest city, brimming with unique shops, diverse restaurants and grand architecture. You can relive history at the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, shiver your way through a ghost tour, or treasure hunt in the antique shops lining San Marco Avenue. Not-to-be-missed is a tour of the Castillo de San Marcos, a massive stone fortress towering against the water. If you feel like giving your tootsies a break, discover the city on a turn-of-the-century horse and carriage ride.  Or rent a bike, scooter, moped, or electric car.

If you’re looking for a classic Florida beach experience with a vintage feel, Hollywood Beach has your flip-flops written all over it. Stretched along the golden sands of the Atlantic between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, this getaway boasts a two-and-a-half-mile-long thoroughfare dubbed the ‘Broadwalk,’ ideal for walking, biking, or rollerblading.  Discover delectable restaurants in every imaginable flavor, sway to live music or relax with a tropical concoction. Your whole gang will be smiling: family fun includes playing on the swings, building sand castles and splashing in the whimsical dolphin play fountain. To discover historic downtown Hollywood and unique ArtsPark at Young Circle, hop on the Hollywood Trolley. It’s only 1 per ride per person, and children five and under ride free.

Remember to put your best foot forward — and start exploring!

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