It’s nice to know that no matter where you live in Central and Southwest Florida, you’re never more than an hour away from a beach. And what beaches we have!
Our state is home to some of the nation’s top-rated shores, with soft white sands, unparalleled sunsets, wildlife viewing, and tranquil waters. From the speedster areas at Daytona to the unspoiled sands on Don Pedro Island, the beaches here offer something for everyone. And many of our more centrally located cities, like Winter Haven and Lakeland, are within striking distance of both built-up shores with luxury hotels and swanky bistros as well as more tranquil, undeveloped stretches of sand.
On the Gulf Coast, Siesta Beach, just 15 minutes from downtown Sarasota consistently ranks among the top beaches in America. It’s hard to believe that you can live in a vibrant metro area, hit one of the world’s best beaches to catch the sunset after work, and still be home for dinner.
If you happen to live in Tampa, Clearwater or St. Petersburg, you are in luck, as well. Caladesi Island State Park, a short ferry boat ride away, offers unspoiled sands that transport you to another world, far from the bustle of urban life. But there are also loads of accessible beaches that cater to people as well as shorebirds, with boardwalks, concessions, water-side dining, and plenty of opportunities to get sporty, on or off the water.
Even urban Orlando residents have an easy time finding sand and surf. Cocoa Beach is one of our most iconic surfer beaches, and it’s an easy drive from the city. Its soft white sands and quieter vibe make it an ideal spot for families with children, retirees, and anyone looking to escape the crowds.
And for urbanites who prefer more pristine and remote regions, Canaveral National Seashore, our state’s longest unspoiled beach, is just a bit further east. It’s a barrier island that provides sanctuary to a multitude of plant and animal species, including endangered sea turtles.
Whatever your mood, wherever you live, you are sure to find a beach near you to search for shells, run your dogs, read pulp fiction, play beach volleyball, or simply soak up the sun and feel the wind in your hair.