Winters coming with those freezing temperatures and snow storms and a good number of Americans will begin thinking about where to escape. It’s what they count on in Florida with its hundreds of miles of sandy beaches lined with palm trees and lapped by crystal turquoise waters. If you’re thinking about a Florida beach vacation here’s some tips on what to consider.
First, Florida is not all warm tropical weather all the time. The state has three primary temperate zones:
- A sub-tropical zone with mostly warm winter months that includes the Florida Keys, Miami through Palm Beach on the Atlantic coast and Marco Island up to Tampa on the Gulf.
- A moderate zone with cool evenings and nights through the Winter months that stretches from the sub-tropical zone north for 50 to 100 miles.
- A mild temperate zone with a climate stretching through Northern Florida that can see average winter days in the 50° to 60° range and where frost is not uncommon.
The Panhandle – This piece of Florida is a popular vacation destination but its season actually runs from Spring to Autumn because of its mild temperate zone location. Also because there are no major airports nearby it is often a summer driving vacation destination for Southeastern families and Spring Breakers.
A stretch of Florida coast heading east from the Alabama line that features some of the cleanest, whitest sand in the whole world, gorgeous Gulf waters and frequent sunshine. Centered on Destin this stretch of Florida coast is one of the state’s most affordable beach areas. Along with stretches of resort hotels and beach communities Destin also offers some remarkable state park beaches like June White Decker Park and Crystal Beach.
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach’s 27 miles of beautiful white sand Gulf beaches offers a range of accommodations. Because of its resort vibe and wide selection of activities and restaurants it’s a popular Spring Break destination and a Summer family vacation destination.
The Treasure Coast
The best moderate Winter beaches are mostly found on the central East Coast and include wildlife refuges, long barrier island beaches, the Space Coast all withing easy driving distance of Orlando.
Famous for its wide expanse of white sand beach Daytona also draws Spring Break crowds, a biker week and the famous Daytona 500 race. It also has the advantage of the theme parks of Orlando only an hours drive away. If your looking for a bit more action than just lounging on the beach this city has a lot to consider.
The unincorporated “town” of Merritt Island is located on Florida’s largest island and is adjacent to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and also serves as the home of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with its launch activities and the popular Visitors Center. Located on the north end of a stretch of coast that includes Palm Bay, Melbourne, Titusville, Vero Beach and Hutchinson Islands there’s a lot to take in.
West Palm Beach South to Miami includes the beautiful beaches of the Fort Lauderdale area, the excitement of Miami’s South Beach and incredible diving and sport fishing.
Located on a strip of land south of Boca Raton and North of Miami between the Florida Everglades and the Atlantic Ocean, it includes towns like Pompano Beach, Hollywood and Dania Beach. This area draws Winter vacationers to its warm weather, white beaches and crystal clear waters all surrounded by the excitement of a major metropolitan city.
Miami and Miami Beach
This world class city has a decidedly Latin vibe with it famous South Beach, incredible resort hotels and magnificent beaches. You could spend a month here and never run out of things to do.
The Florida Keys draw boaters, sport fisherman scuba divers and snorkelers to its warm clear waters. Hundreds of islets, islands and quays (keys) stretch south from Miami to Key West but if you are looking for fantastic beaches this isn’t what you are looking for with one small exception.
Key Colony Beach
Located just east of Marathon this small town features one of the best beaches in the Florida Keys. The beach stretches for less than a mile in front of a row of classic beach motels but you are only minutes away from the attractions of Marathon, Islamorada and about 50 miles from Key West.
Florida’s Southern Gulf Coast includes another hundred plus miles of fantastic beaches. After crossing through the Everglades from Miami on the Gulf Coast you’ll discover a number of famous islands and beach resorts. Starting in the south is Marco Island, farther north is Sanibel and Captiva and in between is the upscale beach town of Naples. Traveling north along the coast are great beaches at Sarasota, St. Petersburg, Clearwater and Dunedin along with stretches of sany barrier island beaches.
Wall to wall with golf courses, gourmet restaurants and fancy boutiques, Naples is a seriously upscale Florida beach town. While the luxury resorts and fancy restaurants can make Naples seem a bit expensive there are moderately priced accommodations to be found and luckily, the beautiful beaches are free to enjoy. Watch for the frequent dolphins swimming near the beach and visit Naples’ iconic fishing pier.
Great beaches and one of Floridas best places for shelling. Shell hunting there even has a name – the Sanibel stoop. Like its sisters, Marco and Captiva, Sanibel has a laid back feel that benefits from its sense of being off the beaten path. Perfect choices if you are trying to just get away.
Tampa Bay Clearwater Beach
Another major metropolitan center is Tampa Bay with its string of white sand beaches the area also offers major attractions like the Florida Aquarium, Busch Gardens, the Dali Museum and some of the best Sunsets anywhere. At Clearwater Beach’s Pier 60 watching a breathtaking sunset is a popular pastime. The 1,000-foot pier with its lights draws anglers here at night to fish.
When those Winter winds start blowing, remember Florida has an antidote waiting for you.