While tourists flock to Florida’s popular cities like Miami, Orlando, and Tampa, the state is home to some fabulous, underrated towns that are well worth a visit too. Consider visiting one of these destinations to get a bit more off that well-beaten path and away from the biggest crowds.
Vero Beach on the Atlantic coast is a laid-back town just two hours from Orlando. It’s home to beautiful stretches of beach frequently visited by turtles and pelicans, with calm waters to splash around in at places like Wabasso Beach Park. Enjoy the tranquility with a lack of tourist crowds making it ideal for peaceful strolls. In the historic downtown, the streets are lined with enticing art galleries, boutiques, and eateries serving mouthwateringly fresh seafood. At the McLarty Treasure Museum discover why the area is known as the “Treasure Coast.”
There’s so much to do in Fort Myers that you might find yourself dreaming of making a move, searching through the Fort Myers houses for sale. It’s a water-lovers’ paradise, surrounded by fresh and saltwater providing the opportunity for swimming, kayaking, paddle boarding and just about every other water sport imaginable. There’s plenty of wildlife to watch too, including dolphins and manatees. The state’s famous gentle giants can be seen up close between during the winter months in Manatee Park, which also offers kayak and canoe rentals. You’ll find countless pristine white sandy beaches, lush parks and preserves along with city attractions. The historic Fort Myers River District is the downtown hub with all sorts of eclectic shops, antique stores, galleries, and restaurants. There’s so much to do here that you might find yourself dreaming of making a move, searching through the Fort Myers houses for sale.
Amelia Island offers a tranquil slice of paradise far from the crowds, allowing visitors to become immersed in unspoiled nature. Just 30 miles from Jacksonville, enjoy wide swathes of pristine white beaches along the Atlantic, including opportunities for horseback riding on the sand. Explore Fernandina Beach’s historic downtown with 50 blocks of cobbled streets lined with grand Victorian-era buildings, stopping to sip a drink at Palace Saloon, the oldest saloon in the state. Take a trolley tour to learn about the area’s 4,000 years of history and even visit a well-preserved Civil War-era fort at Fort Clinch State Park.
Just north of Clearwater, the historic waterfront town of Tarpon Springs is a true hidden gem. It’s known for its Greek roots with plenty of great eateries serving tasty classics like authentic Greek pastries, including fresh-baked baklava. Known as the “sponge capital of the world,” you can explore its famous sponge industry and enjoy the antique stores, art galleries, and specialty shops that are housed in buildings that date back to the late 19th-century.
Fort Walton Beach
Fort Walton Beach on the Emerald Coast is famous for its award-winning beaches, tucked between Panama City and Pensacola boasting 24 miles of powdery soft white sands framed by a stunning emerald-hued sea. It’s the perfect place to spend the day relaxing in the sun, parasailing, boating, swimming and more. Visitors can enjoy close encounters with penguins, alligators, and dolphins at the Gulfarium Marine Adventure Park, visit the Emerald Coast Science Center with its interactive exhibits and the Indian Temple Mound Museum with Native American and prehistoric Temple Mound artifacts. Those who are interested in military history may want to explore the Air Force Armament Museum which showcases the history of aircraft, rockets, missiles, bombs, and guns that were used by the U.S. Airforce in World War II as well as in the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf Wars.