Florida has long been considered the tourist’s ultimate destination. Between Walt Disney World, pristine beaches, and sprawling metros like Miami and Orlando, there’s something for everyone. Frequently overlooked, though, are Florida small cities and beach towns offering tropical landscapes and quaint local businesses.
As travel picks up again, many are looking to avoid large crowds and tourist traps. Here is our list of the Top 5 small Florida towns to add to your statewide bucket list:
#5: Jensen Beach
Situated on Hutchinson Island in southeast Florida, the ‘pineapple capital of the world’ boasts wide white sand beaches that marine life like sea turtles and dolphins call home.
Unfettered by high rises or construction, Jensen Beach is lined by buildings painted in pastel colors, art galleries, local eclectic shops, and sidewalk cafes. Outdoor activities like surfing, sailing, fishing, kayaking, and paddleboarding take center stage in this small town.
Outside of downtown, you can find the Indian Riverside Park and the Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast, making this the perfect weekend getaway for all ages.
#4: Jupiter Island
This town of just 803 people is home to the highest per-capita income in the country and offers weekend refuge for celebrities like Celine Dion and Olivia Newton-John.
Oriented around nature, Jupiter Island lies right next to the renowned Blowing Rocks Preserve where you can find unique geological formations and pods of manatees just off the shore.
Also nearby is the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, where visitors can observe and encounter rehabilitated Florida wildlife and flora.
Jupiter Island is dotted with upscale trendy restaurants that cater to the palates of anyone who visits.
#3: Safety Harbor
Located close to Tampa Bay, Safety Harbor is full of small-town charm while being near the amenities of the big city.
Safety Harbor offers some of the best fishing spots in the state, home to big-game fish like swordfish, marlin, and tarpon.
Safety Harbor is the home of the historic Espiritu Santo Springs, or “Springs of the Holy Spirit”, a natural mineral spring. Its waters were given this name in 1539 by the Spanish explorer Hernando de Soto, who was supposedly searching for the mythical “Fountain of Youth”. Prior to the Spanish exploration of Florida, the Tocobaga and Timuquan tribes are believed to have fished and bathed in the spring’s waters.
Quaint is often used to describe the fishing village of Apalachicola, located in Florida’s panhandle. Located serenely on the emerald coast of the Gulf of Mexico, this small town has a well-deserved reputation for delicious seafood.
The Gulf’s warm, calm waves ensure pleasurable water sports for all visitors, including families, along unspoiled beaches.
The National Forest and Tate’sHell State Forest are both filled with hiking trails for the outdoor explorer. History enthusiasts can explore over 900 historic structures that date back nearly 300 years.
Nearby St. George Island is a picturesque island housing a lighthouse and local eateries.
# 1: Matlacha
Looking for that classic Florida feel? Matlacha might just be the spot fill that niche.
The duality of the town’s bohemian artists and traditional fishermen makes for a lovely hidden gem.
Matlacha, pronounced mat-la-shay, is the best-kept secret of the art world, looking straight out of a postcard with vibrant colors and unique adornments on each building in the downtown area.
With traditional Florida cottages, interesting art galleries, and an ambiance that can otherwise be difficult to find and experience. Kayaking, paddleboarding, swimming, and dolphin spotting are common activities.