Top 5 Family-Friendly North Florida Beaches

    By Gary McKechnie

    If you want a quiet beach where you can take your family and still be close to shops and conveniences, here are five north Florida beaches to check out.

    1. Grayton Beach

    About 20 miles west of Panama City Beach, this is a historic coastal community where the state has preserved a huge swath of the beach and you can rent half a duplex at Grayton Beach State Park for just about $120 a night. What’s great about Grayton is that the state park (and the small walkable village adjacent to it) looks like it must have looked 100 years ago. The beachfront is undisturbed. 

    2. Pensacola Beach

    On a barrier island that’s part of the 160-mile long Gulf Islands National Seashore, the section of Pensacola Beach due south of Pensacola is intersected by Highway 399, which travels along the coast between here and Navarre Beach. This stretch is far removed from the city and the longer you drive the more places you discover where you can pull over and claim your section of private beachfront.

    3. St. George Island

    Located just a few miles from historic Apalachicola, St. George Island is reminiscent of an old-fashioned seaside resort from the 1950s. Because it’s off the beaten path and because it takes a little more effort to get here, there’s a quiet pace and a relatively uncrowded feeling with a smattering of restaurants and grocery stores and shops. Picture perfect.

    4. St. Augustine Beach

    Just south of St. Augustine on Anastasia Island, here you’ll be close enough to the historic city to partake in activities, but far enough from town to enjoy the peace and quiet. Don’t miss Anastasia Island State Park – it’ll have everything you need. Another option is just a few miles north of St. Augustine. Cross over a long bridge along A1A and you’ll land at Vilano Beach; right on the water and with an assortment of small hotels.

    5. Amelia Island

    North of Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a wonderful destination for art, antiques, and shopping (you’ll find most of this in the quaint shopping district) as well as bed and breakfasts, historic Fort Clinch State Park, a history museum, and wonderful restaurants. Their North Florida beaches are plentiful.