The Sunshine State is calling! If you need a break by the coast, maybe it’s time to stop dreaming of sand, sea, and sun, and book a real vacation. To help plan your escape, check out our list of ten best Florida beaches offering relaxation and recreation any time of year.

Visit These 10 Beautiful Florida Beaches

1. Clearwater Beach

This welcoming beach lies on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. Offering warm gulf waters, sugar-white sand, and plentiful Florida sunshine, Clearwater Beach makes for prime seaside fun. It is cherished by families thanks to its gentle waves, beach activities, and attractions like the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

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2. Siesta Beach – Siesta Key

Swimmers flock here for some of the finest and coolest sand in the state, calm warm water, and convenient facilities. Siesta Beach is located on Siesta Key, a barrier island minutes from Sarasota, and is a perfect spot for families. In addition to amenities like picnic tables, changing rooms, and playgrounds, Siesta Beach is also prime for beachcombing and kayaking.

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3. Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is a barrier island on Florida’s southern gulf coast offering a serene escape for families and couples. Known for an abundance of seashells, bird species, and “zero traffic lights” (seriously!), it’s a perfect destination for a relaxing crowd-free beach trip without sacrificing the warm clear water and abundant sun you expect from the Sunshine State. Sanibel is perfect for anyone looking to relax and is a must for seashell lovers!

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4. South Beach – Miami

If it’s the bustling vibrant Miami atmosphere you’re after, don’t discount South Beach. This famous Florida beach boasts typical crystal blue Atlantic waters and bright white sand along with less typical views of Art Deco architecture. Known as the American Riviera, South Beach offers stunning photo-worthy art and architecture, A-list shopping, and a buzzing nightlife.

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5. Caladesi Island State Park – Dunedin

Image credit: Dorothy Finley/Flickr CC-BY 2.0

Looking for the polar opposite of colorful South Beach? Why not visit a secluded island only accessible by boat? Caladesi Island State Park offers some of the last unaltered coast in Florida. Swim in the balmy gulf waters, sunbathe on pristine sand, and witness an abundance of natural life while hiking or kayaking around the protected land and waters.

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6. Pensacola Beach – Pensacola

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Located on the Gulf Islands National Seashore along Florida’s panhandle, Pensacola Beach offers family fun and seaside recreation at it’s best. The cerulean waters of the Gulf are bathtub warm and ideal for swimming, boating, surfing, and snorkeling. You might even spot a sea turtle or dolphin!

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7. Fort de Soto Park – Tierra Verde

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Named one of USA Today’s best Florida beaches for families, Fort de Soto Park has earned many other accolades and offers fun and relaxation to fit any family’s style. Whether you just want to chill on the pristine sandy beach or pack your visit with boating, swimming, surfing, and more, this park near St. Petersburg has it all. In addition to sprawling white sands, Fort De Soto boasts a kid-friendly tidal pool perfect for curious future marine biologists.

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8. Lovers Key State Park – Estero Island

This state park, located on a barrier island between Naples and Fort Myers, is a sanctuary for a wide array of wildlife, like bald eagles, manatees, bottlenose dolphins, and much more. It’s equally welcoming to people, with miles of pristine sand and warm turquoise water just begging you to swim, surf, and sunbathe. If you can pull yourself away from the beach, paddle a kayak around the calm waterways or hike the nearby trails.

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9. Pass-a-Grille Beach – St. Pete Beach

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At the southern end of popular St. Pete Beach, you’ll find Pass-a-Grille Beach. In addition to the requisite white sands and crystal clear water, you have the stunning backdrop of the Spanish-style Don CeSar Hotel in the distance. The town of Pass-a-Grille is a quaint and historic beachside community with plenty of shopping and family-friendly eateries and activities.

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10. Fort Lauderdale Beach – Fort Lauderdale

Don’t panic: what was once a Mecca of keg-toting spring breakers has calmed into a chic vacation destination with high-end shopping and dining. Stretches of clean white sand and green-blue waters still beckon for sunbathing and swimming and the iconic palm tree-lined promenade winds along the beachfront, perfect for walking, biking, rollerblading, or just people-watching with an ice cream cone in hand.

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This article was written by Katie Vaughan.