Whether you’re a lifelong resident of Florida or planning your first visit, these lovely small towns should be on the top of your list of things to see. Each one has its own rich history, unique charm, and lots of natural beauty. Pick any one (or several) of these and make your travel plans today.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Mt. Dora
One of our better-known small towns, Mount Dora offers a glimpse of Old Florida, even though it's only an hour outside of Orlando. Bed and breakfasts, antique shops, unique restaurants, and gorgeous historic homes are some of its biggest attractions.
This friendly little fishing town in the Panhandle produces some of the best seafood in the state (and 90% of our oysters). As if that weren't enough, nearby St. George Island is true hidden gem.
Dunedin in Pinellas County has a lot to offer packed into a small city. It has fascinating Scottish roots and traditions, as well as a popular Mardi Gras celebration. If you visit, check out the historic Jazz Age hot spot, the Fenway Hotel, and Florida's oldest microbrewery, Dunedin Brewery. Also, don't forget to spend a day at one of the best beaches in Florida at Caladesi Island State Park.
4. St. Augustine
Though its surrounding areas have become quite popular, America's oldest city has maintained its small size and a lot of its historic authenticity. Highlights include many museums, restaurants, and spectacular examples of architecture, as well as the oldest fort in the country and an alligator farm.
5. Tarpon Springs
Visitors can't help but fall in love with the old world charm of this Greek sponging town located about 45 minutes from Tampa. Historic buildings, antique stores, and a scenic waterfront make this a perfect vacation spot.
6. Winter Park
This small city in Central Florida has some of the coolest museums, parks, gardens, shopping, historic sites and festivals in the area.
7. Fernandina Beach
Those of us in North Florida already know and love this town, located on Amelia Island. Of course there is a lovely beach, but the quaint historic downtown, with upscale shopping and dining, really earns it a place on our list.
This city in Volusia County has tons of lovely historic buildings, like the Athens Theatre seen here, which was built in 1921. Its nickname is "The Athens of Florida," and it's home to the Museum of Art - DeLand and Stetson University.
Though technically not a "town," this planned community in Walton County with its cookie-cutter beach houses was the setting for the 1998 film The Truman Show. Seaside doesn't look like most of the other towns on this list, with their historic homes and shops, but it does have its own prim charm.
Stuart, located north of Palm Beach on Florida's Treasure Coast, calls itself the Sailfish Capital of the World. Fishing isn't the only thing to do here, however. Visitors will swoon for the historic downtown, neat museums, and every kind of water activities imaginable.
11. Lake Placid
Lake Placid is famous for a few things (which is a lot for such a small town). This town in Highlands County is known as the Town of Murals, as well as the Caladium Capital of the World. If you don't know what a Caladium is, just look them up. If you're from Florida, you'll definitely recognize them. Oddly enough, there's also a clown college here. There's really something for everyone.
This town is just, well, nice. If you're thinking of moving to the state, consider this town in the Panhandle. It's home to interesting wildlife, friendly folks, and the famous Boggy Bayou Mullet Festival.
13. Cedar Key
Cedar Key is a beloved and historic city about an hour southwest of Gainesville. This tiny city with charming shops, restaurants, and bed and breakfasts is a wonderful place to experience Old Florida.
Not only is this town in the Panhandle cute as a button, it has historic or natural beauty everywhere you turn. Don't miss Florida's tallest waterfall at Falling Waters State Park or the majestic creatures at the Seacrest Wolf Preserve.
This brightly colored town (technically a census-designated place) is one of the five communities of greater Pine Island. This charming Old Florida town of fewer than 700 people has unique boutiques, seafood restaurants, and art galleries to delight visitors of all ages.
This small town near Gainesville will delight anyone who loves antique and vintage finds. This town is rich in history and the home of one Florida's best state parks, Paynes Prairie Preserve.
17. DeFuniak Springs
This town is located between Pensacola and Tallahassee and is full of small-town charm. It features many beautiful Victorian homes and the state's oldest library still in operation.
Have you been to any of these towns? What are your favorite small towns in Florida? Please share your comments with us below!