Home to some of the best beaches in the United States, the state of Florida is your perfect summer escape. Whether it's long weekend or an entire weeklong vacation, you'll easily find the ideal spot to clear your mind and refresh from the stress of the daily grind. After all, lounging by the ocean and seeing the blue waters actually makes us happier, some researchers suggest.
With 1,350 miles of coastline, Florida has a lot of options to choose from. Don't worry, this beaches guide will help you choose the best spot whether right here in South Florida, or options a bit further from home.
1. Fort Lauderdale Beach Park
Stretching along the Florida coast for three miles, you'll find all the relaxation you need on the golden sand next to exceptionally clear waters. Open 5 a.m. to midnight, parking can be found nearby in several locations.
The beach provides everything you need to enjoy your time, whether you want to grill, play some volleyball, shoot some hoops or just relax under the sun. The kids will enjoy the playground facilities, and don't worry, there are outdoor showers to clean off the sand. Just off the beach you'll find unique restaurants, vibrant cafes and local shops to buy souvenirs.
2. Carlin Beach Park
Located in Jupiter in Palm Beach County, Carlin is 120 acres and 3,000 feet of soft beach sand, blue waves and so much more. With lifeguards on duty, the beach is open sunrise to sunset and parking is free.
Including an amphitheater and Civic Center, plus facilities for sports and recreation, Carlin has it all. The park also has three large picnic pavilions and several playground structures for the kids to enjoy.
3. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park Beach
If you want a truly picturesque destination, look no further than the shores of Key Biscayne off the coast of Miami-Dade County. Open from 8 a.m. until sunset, entrance to the state park costs $8 per vehicle.
The beach is home to the oldest standing structure in the county, the Cape Florida Lighthouse. The island is also a great spot for fishing or hiking through the greenery. You can grab a bite to eat at one of the park's two restaurants: Boater's Grill and the Lighthouse Cafe. Or if you prefer to bring your own food, pack a picnic and have a BBQ at one of the covered pavilions.
1200 Crandon Blvd, Key Biscayne; 305-361-5811
4. John U. Lloyd Beach State Park
Located in southeast Florida, this beach is an ideal spot for those who like to relax in peace and quiet, away from the crowds.
Visitors can scuba dive in one of the area's enchanting diving sites, kayak along waterways lined with mangroves, or simply lounge by the waves. As one of Florida's most important sea turtle nesting sites, the park also offers a summertime awareness program for visitors to learn about and observe the sea creatures nesting.
5. Lummus Park Beach
Lummus Park is situated along Ocean Drive in Miami Beach from 5th to 15th Street. Always one of the most crowded beaches, this is the perfect spot for those who like to people watch and be seen.
For the young kids, there's a mini playground. But the sand and waves are the main attraction. If you'd like to grab a bite to eat or a cold drink at the end of the day, the bars and restaurants lining Ocean Drive are within easy reach.
1130 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach; 305-673-7577
6. Loggerhead Park
Open sunrise to sunset, these 17 acres and 900 feet of guarded beach – situated in Palm Beach County – are the perfect spot to relax and learn more about sea turtles.
The centerpiece of the beach park is the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, which cares for injured sea turtles that have been rescued along the coast. In addition to the center, the beach includes picnic areas, play structures and a nature trail for hiking. Nearby you can find the historical marker commemorating the 7 ½-mile Celestial Railroad. The historic rail line – Florida's first – once connected Jupiter and Juno Beach.
7. Ocean Reef Park
If you're looking for a relaxing beach destination with lifeguards on duty and free parking, this is the perfect spot for you. Ocean Reef Park is open sunrise to sunset.
The beach is connected via a boardwalk to a shady park area complete with picnic tables, grills and a playground. A short drive south of the beach, visitors can also take advantage of Ocean Mall's restaurants and shops.
8. Siesta Beach
Consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the country, with its white sands, Siesta Beach is located on Siesta Key, just off the coast of Sarasota on Florida's Gulf coast.
Siesta Key is lined with condos, resorts and hotels, perfect for a relaxing vacation by the sea. Just a short drive across the bridge will bring you into the heart of Sarasota, where you can enjoy the city's restaurants, shopping malls and the historic estate of the circus tycoons, the Ringling brothers.
9. Grayton Beach State Park
Grayton Beach is located along the Florida panhandle. With beautiful soft white sand, clear waters and tall dunes, this beach is also considered one of the best in the country.
Visitors can camp at the state park and enjoy exploring the areas tidal lakes and freshwater ponds.
10. Caladesi Island State Park
Look for a remote and peaceful spot to tan and enjoy the waves? Caladesi Island is only accessible by a pedestrian ferry, private boats or a long hike from Clearwater Beach. Once you arrive, you'll immediately realize the journey was worth it.
While the lounging on the white sands and swimming in the clear blue Gulf of Mexico waters are the biggest draws, visitors can also enjoy kayaking or canoeing through the islands mangroves. If you're lucky, you might even spot a manatee. Picnic pavilions, bathhouses and a park concession stand are all on site.
1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin; 727-469-5918