The Best Beach Alternatives to Miami

Miami is one of my favorite cities to head for a girl’s weekend. It has fun clubs, great restaurants, tons of cute Miami hotels, and obviously, the beach.

But there’s so much more to Florida than Miami. There are cities and small towns, islands and isolated beaches all at a lower price tag and with way fewer tourists.

Boca Raton

Boca is the perfect place to holiday with your gal pals. It has everything that Miami has, but is much smaller and easier to walk around. There’s tons of high-end shopping, a few great malls, and the beach is perfection. There are Boca Raton hotels for every budget, too – from simple motels to classy boutique B&Bs.

One of my favorite things to do in Boca is to go Gumbo Limbo. This turtle conservation center is doing so much to help grow the population of sea turtles in Florida and while it’s free to enter, they accept donations of every size. I don’t always love these sorts of places because they end up feeling like a zoo, but I think they do a pretty good job of ensuring that the animals on site are treated with care and respect.

Nearby Gumbo Limbo is one of the best-preserved reef parks along this coast, Red Reef Park. It’s literally right on the beach and you can swim out and see so many colorful fish. If you’re looking for a good beach to do some sunbathing away from any swarms of kids, this is a great beach to head to.

beaches in florida

Delray Beach

Delray is a small town with the amenities of a big city. Besides being one of the best beaches on this list (in my opinion), Delray Beach also has tons of awesome restaurants that aren’t crazy expensive. It’s less of a place for holiday-makers and more of a town where locals live, which I love.

Head to Atlantic Avenue in downtown Delray to go shopping for everything from designer sunglasses to cheesy beach bags and t-shirts. It’s also where you’ll find most of the best restaurants in town. I love strolling down here and snapping photos of all of the art-deco buildings. It’s such a colorful beach town.

beaches in florida

Jacksonville

Jacksonville is another place that most tourists skip out on but is such a great city for a beach getaway. Head east of the downtown area to Amelia Island, Black Hammock Island, and Jacksonville Beach. This whole area is lined with great boardwalks for jogging, really tasty seafood restaurants, and super quiet beaches.

Jacksonville is split in half by the St. John’s River and on both sides of the river is a really cute Riverwalk where you can find tons of restaurants and museums to pop into. The Cummer Museum of Art is also worth a few hours of your time. It was a private collection and has some seriously beautiful pieces from around the world.

fort lauderdale florida

Fort Lauderdale

Most people who fly into southern Florida aim for the airport here. It’s one of the cheapest to fly into and the Tri-Rail system makes it easy to head straight out to somewhere else.

I dare you to stay in Fort Lauderdale. Leave the airport and go straight to the beach. Fort Lauderdale is one of those places you find people who talk about “back in the day” when they used to come to Fort Lauderdale and “it used to be so different.”

It was one of the first Florida beach destinations to attract out-of-state visitors. Now it’s really built up along the beach with tons of Fort Lauderdale hotels and tiki bars. I kind of love it. Especially with a big group of friends. It’s the perfect place to party the night away without spending a fortune. It’s pretty easy to find a hotel here with a swim-up bar.

clearwater florida

Clearwater

Want to explore the Gulf Coast of Florida? Definitely, head to Clearwater. The water is bright blue and it is some of the whitest sand I’ve seen in the Sunshine State.

My absolute favorite thing to do in Clearwater is visiting the Marine Aquarium. This aquarium is not your usual, animals-caged-in kind of place. They are dedicated to rehabilitating injured dolphins and sea turtles and setting them free again into the wild. It is such a great organization.

I love all of the hotels along the island. They give you a 360-degree view of the Gulf and most have awesome infinity pools. You can’t really choose wrong in Clearwater if you book a place along Mandalay Avenue.

Where’s your favorite Florida beach destination? 

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