The Sunshine State is a safe haven for retirees of all sorts to flock south towards come winter time, offering a variety of lifestyle options without the heavy financial burdens that come with owning a second home. Whether you are planning Thanksgiving in Florida, Christmas in Florida, or a multi-month getaway, we can guarantee that you'll find yourself wanting to stay longer. Escape to breezy coastal beaches and endlessly swaying palm trees along with an estimated 550,000 snowbirds that take up temporary residence each year along the miles and miles of dazzling white beaches.
Cure those northern winter blues and experience some of the world’s most diverse and stunning coastal scenery by bee lining towards these most affordable snowbird destinations in Florida, ranked from less to more expensive. A boatload of sun, surf, sand, and soft breezes welcomes you patiently. Before you go, make sure that you're aware of these fourteen things to know and places to go in the state, so that your stay is as enjoyable as possible.
Snowbirds, Escape The Cold In These Florida Destinations
1. The Villages
As the most affordable destination with all of Florida’s best theme parks, dining, and shopping options close by, The Villages is the perfect spot for snowbirds on a budget to spend their winters in. The city's location allows you to hop on down to the chaos of Orlando whenever you wish, but also come back to an all-around superb and way more relaxing (not to mention peaceful!) setting, especially if you're in a beautifully-decorated home!!
What’s even better is that there is always warm weather, tons of places to eat, to drink, and to shop at in the town’s main entertainment area, as well as incredibly low cost stay options such as fully furnished and equipped homes and apartments just a block or two from the middle of town for less than $2000 a month with all utilities included! You're also close to some of the very best beaches in the state, so you don't have to leave Fido behind. There’s no need to pay a high price for winter comfort. Make those shivering folks back home jealous this winter by heading on over. Now.
2. Punta Gorda
Boat lovers won't want to leave this water paradise. You'll fall in love with the Charlotte Harbor, also known as the Gasparilla Sound, with calm blue water that you can wake up to each morning when you stay in a house in Charlotte Park. Fly into the Punta Gorda airport, which is an extremely easy way to get to the city, or to larger Tampa, an hour and a half away.
Spend your days walking through the beautiful nature at Charlotte Harbor Preserve Park or enjoying the water on a kayak or boat. If you want to go to the beach, Boca Grande, Captiva and Sanibel are among the best and most beautiful options.
Nothing beats staying so close to the beach at such affordable prices. Most rentals in this area have private swimming pools, which means that you don't have to go far to find relaxation. Alternatively, you can stay on one of the keys in a private cottage, complete with kayaks so that you can enjoy spending time on the water. If you enjoy fishing, you can spend a relaxing afternoon on the Venice Fishing Pier after a morning walk at Caspersen Beach Park.
Want the charm and feel of a small town with the convenience and amenities of the big city? This diverse and eclectic city is chock full of southern hospitality and buzzy new activity all near some of the most beautiful beaches Florida. Its perfect position allows for easy access to a wide variety of things to do, including a wealth of shopping, dining, and recreation opportunities - especially when you stay at this home in the Gulfport Art District. The nearby historic city of Lakeland has even been ranked as one of the best golfing communities by Golf Digest Magazine!
Water lovers will also rejoice knowing that just an hour inland, you can find some of the best fresh water bass fishing venues in the world. So sunbathe the winter away by landing in this amenity-filled city of over one-hundred and fifty parks, seventeen recreational facilities, and very close to the Tampa airport that provides fast service to the rest of the country.
5. Jensen Beach
Right across from Hutchinson Island, Jensen Beach gives you plenty of beautiful, white sand beach options within close range. Visit the Treasure Coast Square, and plan a morning tee-off at Martin County Golf & Country Club when you're not relaxing at your tropical home. Walton Rocks Beach is a perfect place to go if you brought your dog with you on your stay. If you have children or grandchildren, convince them to come visit you so you can take them to The Children's Museum of the Treasure Coast - though, admittedly, you may have a lot of fun just going there on your own!
6. Fort Myers
Right on the Caloosahatchee River, this is the perfect place to take up fishing, canoeing, kayaking, or even rowing if you've never tried it before. Check out the Fort Myers River District (the old downtown area) on a Friday night for Art Walk, when all the galleries stay open late for visitors. This is also a great place to grab a bite to eat if you'd like to take a break from cooking at home (even if your vacation rental has gorgeous spaces.)
7. Fort Pierce
Ocean Drive goes from downtown Fort Pierce out to an incredible, long beach on an island. You can choose to stay close to the action or right on the water in Fort Pierce without having to sacrifice being far away from any attractions. Many accommodations feature incredible views of the water
The name says it all - and the beach isn't too crowded, so you'll feel completely at peace, especially when you stay right on the beach. The Hollywood Broadwalk is a nice beachfront walk that you can take to spare your legs from walking too much in the soft sand, and is a lovely place to enjoy the sunset.If you are planning an extended stay, take some time to visit the Anne Kolb Nature Center, where you can learn about local flora and fauna that make the area so beautiful. The dog beach is a great place to go with your pet. You might also enjoy the Yellow and Green Farmers Market in nearby Hollywood, where you can get to know local farmers and try cooking with produce from nearby.
9. Cape Coral
With abundant sunshine during the days and balmy cool breezes during the nights—not to mention endless opportunities for tranquil waterfront living—this one’s got everything you’ll need to rid yourself of unnecessary winter shivers. Head down to a blissfully warm haven for all the winter-weary, where you’ll find a more than vibrant and friendly costal community boasting over 400 miles of canals with waterfront palaces and docks, as well as boating, fishing, and water sport options all in the heart of Southwest Florida. Stay on a canal so that you can relax and get the peaceful feeling of the water right from your own home.
Fantastic R&R awaits within 114 square miles of natural reserves, lakes, beaches, and rivers, which all offer opportunities for parasailing, kayaking, sailing, canoeing, snorkeling, jet skiing, fishing, beach-combing, or just plain old sun soaking. Stare in awe at dolphins leaping out of the water this Christmas instead of looking drearily out a frosted window pane at an ongoing snow storm. Cape Coral is one of the fastest growing areas in Florida and truly captures small town living at its best. The clear blue waters of the Gulf of Mexico is calling.
When you think of Bradenton, the first things that come to mind are probably easy access to beautiful beaches and waterways. However, what if we told you that some of the greatest attractions here are the South Florida Museum and Bishop Planetarium? This is a great place to visit on a rainy day, or if you feel like you need a midday break from the sunshine. It is also a great place to go with children or grandchildren from your lovely historic home.
When you're not relaxing on nearby Bradenton Beach or Longboat Key, consider visiting the Robinson Nature Preserve, where you can walk or bike on peaceful trails surrounded by lush nature. This is a great place to go in the first few days of your trip as you slow down to the pace of a tropical lifestyle.
11. Cape Canaveral
You can imagine walking in the footsteps of famous astronauts like John Glenn, Neil Armstrong, and Buzz Aldrin when you walk down the beach here. Learn all about NASA's history of famous launches at Kennedy Space Center, where you can see what it was like to walk on the moon and be on the space shuttle.
When you're not relaxing on the back patio of your beautiful vacation rental, walk at Jetty Park, go on a dolphin or whale watching tour, or go on a brewery tour at Florida Beer Company for a taste of some handcrafted brews.
With easy access to beaches and some of the best golf courses in the state of Florida, Naples should be high on your list if you love to play golf, or want to learn, especially when you stay in a vacation rental right on a golf course.
Plan to visit the Naples Botanical Garden at least once while you're there. It is a large and expansive property with lush, green native flora. Bring a book or a picnic lunch and enjoy the serenity of the park. Third Street South is the best place to find great restaurants, and visit on Friday evening for a chance to walk through the art galleries when they stay open late.
13. Treasure Island
When the houses in Treasure Island were being built, heavy emphasis was placed on being close to the water. No matter where you stay in Treasure Island, you'll have easy access to beaches and waterways, which is perfect for anyone who loves fishing or water sports. Stay in an old-style cottage close to the beach so you can enjoy more time in the sun and sand.
Treasure Island is also well-known for its spas, so plan to spend a spa day (or two) at local favorites like Paradise Massage and Day Spa or Jacqueline's Salon and Day Spa before enjoying a waterfront seafood lunch or dinner at Caddy's On The Beach.
14. Madeira Beach
Known for its soft sand, Madeira Beach is the perfect destination for anyone who wants to live life at a slower pace and spend lots of time in the water. A beachfront vacation rental like this one is ideal for your long-term stay. This is one of the best places in all of Florida for boat sightseeing tours, so make sure to go on a sunset cruise or a dolphin or whalewatching tour. You might also consider learning how to SCUBA dive here - the life under the water is beautiful, and it is an incredibly peaceful activity.
If you decide to stay in Davenport this winter, there's no need to worry about advanced planning - the Central Florida Visitor Information Center is right in town to give you the best advice on where to go. If you enjoy golf, this is one of the best places in Florida to go. If you're staying for awhile, make sure to visit Cenote Day Spa for a relaxing massage after a great game of golf and breakfast at Nothing Fancy Cafe before returning to your villa with a private pool.
Fancy a walk on the beach? Cocoa Beach and St. Pete Beach are both very close, and fantastic destinations for a day trip or weekend away. Orlando is also close if you'd like to take your children or grandchildren to a special trip at Disney World.
Close to the stunning beaches of Manasota Key, Englewood is the perfect location for anyone who loves the beach but wants to be close to great restaurants and evening activities. You'll enjoy beach days at Stump Pass Beach State Park, Englewood Beach, and Manasota Key Beach, and starting your morning with a walk on the sand. Maybe you'll even get into a routing where you wake up early enough some mornings to see the brilliant sunrise!
You can stay only steps away from Lemon Bay to maximize your time at the beach, and enjoy theater shows at Lemon Bay Playhouse and the Englewood Event Center. Say cheers with a glass of wine at Beach Road Wine Bar and Bistro, and make sure to try the Lobster Bisque at Mango Bistro.
17. Ormond Beach
Guess what you'll love most in Ormond Beach? That's right - Ormond Beach! This is one of the most popular beaches in Florida for photography because of its natural beauty. You'll have to make time to watch the sunset on the beach, perhaps even with a glass of wine from your oceanfront home.
If you enjoy riding your bicycle, this is a great destination for you. Locals and visitors to Ormond Beach love The Loop, a winding road that is perfectly flat and 26 miles long. Look for Bald Eagles through the thick forests and lush foliage.
18. Bonita Springs
Located in Southwest Florida, Bonita Springs is home to Bonita Springs Public Beach, with brilliant blue water that will stop you in your tracks when you arrive. Shoppers will delight in this vacation rental, which is right across from southwest Florida's largest shopping mall. You will also enjoy being close to tennis courts and the swimming pool from this community.
Make sure to visit the Everglades Wonder Gardens, an enchanting and lush space full of Florida's native plants. Head an hour north for a day trip to Sanibel Island, which has charming shops and great restaurants as well as stunning beaches.
19. Cocoa Beach
The name evokes a dreamy, tropical paradise - and that's exactly what you'll find in Cocoa Beach. You may already love kayaking and canoeing, but if you haven't tried it much before, this is the place where you will want to start to make it part of your daily routine. You'll also be close to Cape Canaveral and Orlando here.
Enjoy a cocktail on the Cocoa Beach Pier, and consider going on an eco tour of the area, since you will be close to many natural preserves. Stay in a charming cottage right near the beach to make the most of each day in the beautiful weather.
Snowbirds have been heading on over to this coastal city of over 130,000 residents for decades upon end, because it is so easy to stay close to the beach and downtown. Located in Broward County, the Floridian favorite is nestled between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, offering miles of Blue Wave Certified Beaches that provide a tropical setting for those wanting to escape the harsh cold of winter. There’s something for everyone to enjoy, including never-ending sun, sand, ocean, and activities to take part in, and you're close to some of Florida's best beaches for families. Bicyclists, runners, and hikers can set their own pace along six miles of coastline, boutique hotels, charming shops, cafés, and stellar places to eat at all facing the ocean.
Splurge over at the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, a promenade boasting over two miles of car-free enjoyment. Or why not just savor the charming character of a unique beachside town while lounging in one of the comfy sun beds or cabanas available for rent? And for those craving something even wilder, no one does it better than Hollywood. Get a whiff of South Florida’s bustling international music and culture scene with live jazz, blues, rock, Latin, and R&B shows that play throughout the night at an array of hot nightlife hangouts in the local area.
21. St. Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach - the actual beach - won TripAdvisor's Travelers' Choice Award in 2016. Couples, families, and friends all love this beach, and it's not hard to see why: You can be close to the beach and close to your boat there, with an abundance of water activities and eco tours to choose from.
The Corey Avenue Sunday Market is a fantastic place for you to buy your weekly fruits and vegetables, as well as local honey and artisan items. Don't leave without visiting the Key West Shrimp Company, where you can try the area's best fresh shrimp and fish at reasonable prices. If you want to live life like a star for a night, try the Treasure Island Casino Cruz, which goes out on the water for a dinner on board, complete with your favorite casino games!
22. Vero Beach
Bring your bike to this beach town, which is flat and easy to explore. If you like the idea of falling asleep to the sound of the waves crashing on the shore, this rental is for you - you'll have prime beach access as well as two kayaks and a stand up paddleboard to enjoy using.
Indian River Lagoon is where most people enjoy water activities, but we have a feeling that you will also love Riverview Park (on the shores of the Indian River) and the quiet and removed Ambersands Beach. Vero Beach has many different art museums and galleries, so prepare to be inspired when you visit this beautiful city.
Start the day with a walk down Clearwater Beach, and then come back to your cottage with a view of the water to make brunch. (Alternatively, you can try the pancakes at Basimo Beach Cafe.)
Visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to get up-close and personal with dolphins and other colorful sea creatures. For the perfect glass of wine to enjoy with a beach sunset, visit local Aspirations Winery for a surprisingly delicious sampling of locally-created wines.
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