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Florida off the beaten path – 8 Charming Small towns

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Florida is a state with a lot of diversity. There are quite a few hidden gems that people don’t know about! If you’re looking to explore Florida off the beaten path, to avoid the crowds, there are 8 cute small towns you should add to your bucket list!

Cute house off the beaten path in Florida
Cute towns are perfect for a Florida off the beaten path itinerary!

Planning your trip to Miami last minute?

Let me help you!
Here are our favorite experiences, tours, hotels and more: no need to stress out, we have you covered!
Don’t forget to plan ahead also when visiting Orlando!

Top Activities and Tours in Miami & Orlando:
1. Open-top tour and Millionaire’s Row Cruise
2. Biscayne Bay Evening Cruise
3. Everglades National Park Airboat Tour and Wildlife Show
4. Kennedy Space Center Entrance Ticket
5. Orlando Hop On Hop Off Trolley Pass

Our Favorite Hotels in Miami:
1. Mandarin Oriental
2. Mondrian South Beach
3. Shelley Hotel

Our Favorite Hotels in Orlando:
1. Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
2. Floridays Condo
3. Universal’s Endless Summer Resort

Click to check out the updated rates to rent a car!

white sand beach in Florida
Make sure to visit a few small beach towns in Florida: you’ll be surprised!

Palm-fringed beaches, a contagious laid-back vibe and a gorgeous landscape. These are the best ingredients for any dream trip to Florida. Right?

Yet we’re bombarded with mainstream ideas of where we should vacation: Miami, Orlando, or Fort Lauderdale. Not the ideal places to escape the bustle and hustle of the touristy spots.

The good news is that there is another Florida that has exactly what you are looking for. Including sunshine, charm and chilled out vibes.
Here are eight places to explore that should be at the top of your Florida bucket list!

Heading to Miami? 
Check out our video to see the best ideas for couple activities in Miami (Fl)!

Cute shop in Matlacha, Florida
Matlacha in Florida is a colorful and artful mess: we loved it!

Matlacha – Florida’s Best Kept Secret

Matlacha is at the top of our Florida off the beaten path itinerary ideas. This picturesque little town is perfect for a romantic vacation!

The candy-colored buildings, the coastal village charm and all the old-fashioned shops and restaurants aren’t the only reasons why you should add Matlacha to your Florida bucket list.

Matlacha is considered one of the cutest towns in Florida, thanks to its cool vibe and riotous colors.

There’s just one road that splits the tiny town in two and no fast food restaurants, nor high-rise condos.

All you’ll find in Matlacha are art galleries, super-colorful buildings and fishing boats.

This town is also perfect if you’re looking for instagrammable spots.
Anywhere in Matlacha is a good place to shoot!

Matlacha is located about 20 miles (32 km) south of Fort Myers and can be an easy day trip from Naples or Fort Myers.
You can get there from Miami in about 3 hours if you have rented a car.

My suggestion is to add it to a Florida road trip itinerary, if you’re into exploring all the cute off the beaten path towns!

Click to book your stay in Matlacha (FL)

St. Augustine Lighthouse (Florida)
Do not forget to visit the St. Augustine lighthouse for stunning pictures!

St. Augustine – European Vibes for Your Honeymoon

St. Augustine’s cobblestone streets and vibrant attractions feature a distinctly European vibe, with a coastal twist.

Not only one of the oldest cities in the United States: St. Augustine is one of the cutest small towns in Florida!
It’s one of the must-visit places you should add to your itinerary.

The romantic squares draped in charming cafés and the historical sights make St. Augustine also a good destination if you’re planning your Florida honeymoon off the beaten path.

The city’s iconic landmarks, including the St. Augustine Post Office, the Basilica of St. Augustine, and the Spanish Colonial Buildings, can easily be seen from afar.

You can start the day with a hearty breakfast in the city center, and then just walk down the cobblestone streets.

If the museums aren’t your thing, head over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse for stunning views, or hit the white sandy beaches that span the city.

Click to book your stay in St. Augustine (FL)

Beach houses in St. George Island (Florida)
St. George Island is quiet and pet-friendly

St. George Island – An Unspoiled Paradise in Florida

Nestled in the foothills of the Florida Panhandle, St. George Island is home to pristine white sand beaches, emerald green waters, and quaint vacation rentals.

Although not technically a “town“, this barrier island located off north Florida’s Gulf Coast has that charming small-town feel.

This serene and pet-friendly vacation paradise is one of the last inhabited and unspoiled paradises in Florida.

It always rates as one of the top beaches in the U.S., due to its uncrowded expanses that people love to hit for tanning and shelling.

Thanks to the low-density zoning and strict building codes, St. George island will never be one of the crowded Florida top spots. Which is what makes this place so special.

This cute beach town in Florida is a natural escape and offers a lot of recreational opportunities. Especially if you love the great outdoors.

From kayaking, diving and golfing, to historical tours, bird watching and fishing.
There’s so much to do!

Click to book your stay in St. George Island (FL)

Palm Beach in Florida (USA)
Palm Beach in Florida is the perfect day trip from Miami!

Palm Beach – Amazing Day Trip From Miami

Palm Beach boasts an incredible array of natural beauty.
The crisp, clean mountains, beautiful parks, and picturesque beaches are irresistible to the travelers who make it there.

This hidden gem in South Florida is the perfect day trip from Miami. If you have rented a car, it’ll take you only a bit more than 1 hour to get to Palm Beach.
The drive along the coast is also a sight to behold!

Home to a picture-perfect waterfront and an impressive selection of art galleries, Palm Beach is also where you can attend many festivals and seasonal events.

If you’re planning to add it to your Florida off the beaten path itinerary, make sure to check out what festivals are in town when you visit!

Unlike other small towns in Florida, Palm Springs has a bit of a luxury vibe.
Worth Avenue is the “luxury shopping street” you should go to if you’re looking to shop at the designer boutiques.

Or even better, grab your bike and ride along the Lake Trail for a glimpse of the island’s lavish estates.

We were left speechless when we saw some of the dream houses at Palm Beach!

Click to book your stay in Palm Beach (FL)

Pastel colored beach chairs in Sanibel (FL)
Sanibel is famous because its beaches are covered in shells

Sanibel – The Florida Babymoon Destination

Sanibel is a tiny island and a city in Lee County, Florida.

Not only is it a great day trip from Fort Myers or Cape Coral. It can also be the perfect Florida getaway for a quiet babymoon!

Sanibel island is in fact your go-to for a quiet vacation, which includes a mix of beach fun and nature.

The shabby-chic vibes and casual style will also provide a lot of great photo spots for your Instagram!

Due to the fact that it’s one of the few islands that run perpendicular to Florida’s coastline, Sanibel is basically covered in shells.

Every beach is a great place to go for shell-collecting. Which is also a romantic couple activity, if you ask me!

The locals call the act of shelling “Sanibel Stoop“. It has become one of the must-do activities on the island!

Sanibel can be considered one of the cutest beach towns in Florida.
Make sure to add it to your itinerary if you love gorgeous beaches, wildlife refuges and hiking.

Click to book your stay in Sanibel (FL)

Girl posing in Islamorada (Fl)
Islamorada is the perfect stop along the drive from Miami to Key West!

Islamorada – The Florida Keys Secret Gem

If you’ve never seen the beauty of Florida’s rugged Atlantic coast, you must visit Islamorada.

While it’s one of the most famous islands you’ll see along the drive from Miami to Key West, not many people stop there for a short vacation.
Consider it one of the places you should add to your Florida off the beaten path itinerary!

Islamorada is home to more than 30 miles (48 km) of stunning shoreline and several popular beaches.
This tiny island is also loved by the honeymooners for its spectacular sunsets.

The island is known also as the sport-fishing capital of the world. But fishing is definitely not all there’s to do. There’s plenty more to keep you entertained during your visit!

Ocean adventures like snorkeling, sailing and diving are king there.
There’s also plenty of shops, entertainment and fine dining

Watch our Miami to Key West Video Itinerary: it includes all the best stops along the way!

Do you want a few examples?
Robbie’s is one of the main highlights on Islamorada, known as one of the most entertaining stops in the Florida Keys!

At Robbie’s you can hand-feed massive tarpon, stock up on handcrafted Florida souvenirs or sip a cocktail at the Hungry Tarpon Bar.
They’re famous for their Trailer Trash Bloody Mary, by the way!

If you have added Islamorada to your Florida bucket list, by all means, make sure you stop at the Islamorada Shrimp Shack!
This little place serves a yummy dish: Shrimp and Grits

The Key West pink shrimps are sautéed with peppers and onions in a creole sauce, and served on a bed of grits.
Believe me, you’ve never had anything this good!

Click to book your stay in Islamorada (FL)

Historical building in Amelia Island (Fl)
The Fernandina Beach’s Old town district is gorgeous!

Amelia Island – The Relaxing Florida Getaway

Welcome to Amelia Island, one of the most beautiful islands in the entire Jacksonville area.

Not only it’s one of the most picturesque islands in the Sea Islands chain. Amelia is also considered one of the cutest beach “towns” in Florida!
This is the perfect place to spend a few days relaxing off the beaten path.

Visit Fernandina Beach’s Old Town district, check out the historic shops, and enjoy some of the island’s best food at trendy restaurants that line the streets.

To top it off, Amelia brims with thriving wildlife and outdoor activities. You can explore on foot on a kayak or even on a charter boat!

Click to book your stay in Amelia Island (FL)

Lake Defuniak in Florida (USA)
DeFuniak Lake is one of the only 2 perfectly round lakes in the world

DeFuniak Springs – The Fairytale Town

Many people know the Panama City Beach area because of Destin and the spring breakers.
Yet there’s a Florida off the beaten path destination that is well hidden away in the north.

As you drive on the US-90, you’ll find yourself cutting through a cute Victorian town.
It caught us by surprise, because it felt almost out of place in Florida. And yet there we were. DeFuniak Springs. A cute little gem we’d never heard about!

DeFuniak Springs can be considered one of the charming, nice little towns in Florida where you can go for a quiet vacation. Away from the crowds.
Especially if you’re into old-world beauty and nature.

Home to Lake DeFuniak, one of the two spring-fed lakes in the world that is nearly perfect round (the other one is in Switzerland). This town is super popular during the holidays.

The landscape surrounding the lake gets heavily decorated and it reflects in the water.
Hence why the locals say it’s the “Christmas Reflections” show.

On sunny days (remember to add sun lotion to your Florida packing list!) you can grab a bike and cycle through Circle Drive Historic Center. Here you’ll find stunning Victorian homes: perfect for your IG feed!

DeFuniak Springs is a paradise for every photographer. Even the lake is freckled by pine trees and Victorian homes. So the whole area truly feels like stepping into a fairytale!

Click to book your stay in DeFuniak Springs (FL)

Girl having breakfast in a cute cafe in Florida
Need some cool pics? The cute towns in Florida are perfect for an IG photo session!

How to explore  Florida off the beaten path – Useful Tips

Planning a trip to visit Florida off the beaten path might not be just as easy as visiting super popular places like the Disney parks in Orlando or the romantic spots in Miami.

If you truly want to avoid the super crowded destinations, you should make sure to prepare your itinerary well in advance.

Many small towns in Florida only have houses for rent or, if you’re lucky, a single hotel. Not even that big.
This means you will need to book a room well in advance, to be able to sleep in a Victorian fairytale village, or in an artsy, colorful little town like Matlacha.

The first thing to do is to write down your itinerary. It will help you to know when exactly you want to visit each town.
Make sure to start at least 3 months in advance

Florida is gorgeous every day of the year, but the summer months are not the best time to visit. Aim to book your vacation between February and May.
It won’t be too hot or humid and it shouldn’t rain!

Watch our video to see the best of Key West in Florida!

Colorful chairs in a beach town in Florida
Visiting a small beach town in Florida means one thing: relax!

I hope this list of the cutest towns in Florida off the beaten path helps you choose the right destination for your next trip! 

Even though some are more popular than others, they all guarantee a wonderful time combining beach, entertainment, and nature.

Have you ever visited any of these cute towns in Florida? Do you know some other destinations in the state worth checking out?

You might also like:
30 Unique Florida Souvenirs you’ll love
Disney World Tips for Beginners
Best cheap eats at Disney World in Orlando
Road Trip from Miami to Key West
Fun things to do in Miami for Couples
USA Babymoon Ideas on a Budget
56 Gorgeous Places to take Pictures in Miami
Florida Packing List for Every Season
Florida off the beaten path: 8 cute towns
12 Florida Bucket List Places to Visit
Guide to the best time to visit Florida
17 Amazing Florida Road Trips
18 Romantic Getaways in Florida on a Budget

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Travelling Dany – Danila Caputo

Danila Caputo is a bilingual travel writer living in between Naples and the Amalfi Coast (Italy), graduating from the University of Naples Suor Orsola Benincasa in Foreign Languages and Literature. She travels and works with her husband Aldo, photographer and videographer. Their blog chronicles their adventures around the world, their love for the USA (where they have family), Italian/European culture and tips on how to be responsible travelers. You can find out more about their latest trips and their life on Youtube, Instagram and Facebook.

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