Florida is a state full of diversity. North, south, east, and west all have places and people that make the entire state feel like a trip to Disney. Beyond the predominant tourist zones of Orlando and Miami, Florida has a plethora of picturesque small towns for you to wander around. Here are the 10 most beautiful small towns in Florida for you to discover.
Located on the shores of Lake Dora, this small town was founded in 1880 and still maintains an old world charm. Downtown Mount Dora is a historical district that has a number of antique shops. Mount Dora also holds a number of festivals throughout the year, such as a music festival in February and a craft fair in October. Furthermore, Mount Dora is known as the Bass Capital of the World, and is an excellent small town to bring your fishing pole.
Ever wonder what Florida was like before Disneyland changed the course of its history? Welcome to Cedar Key on the Gulf of Mexico, a place known for birdwatching, kayaking, and a rich artistic culture. The town hosts two festivals annually: the Cedar Key Fine Arts Festival in April, and the Annual Cedar Key Seafood Festival in October. Whether you find yourself in Cedar Key for these popular festivals or decide to go off-season, you will find yourself in a wonderful place to relax and escape the bustle of bigger cities.
Dunedin is one of the oldest towns on the west coast of Florida and is mostly known for its Scottish population. The downtown area also has a unique Scottish flair. Throughout the year, there are a number of cultural festivals, but the biggest would be the Dunedin Highland Games in April. For those seeking a place to honeymoon, Dunedin has expansive white-sand beaches and actually encompasses Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park. Kayaking, bird watching, fishing, and more!
Just 2 hours north of Tampa Bay, the town known as Crystal River is a beautiful town situated on the Nature Coast. Here, you will find one of the purest spring fed water systems. While the main attraction is kayaking and snorkeling, the rivers feeding into the coastline are home to a number of endangered manatees. The Rainbow River is also close by, giving you the opportunity to swim amongst fish, turtles, aquatic plants, and other marine life. For some golfing and dining, be sure to check out the Plantation at Crystal River, a 232-acre eco-friendly resort that’s been around for 50 years.
Serene beaches and an underestimated history, Fort Myers is the ideal location for those looking for captivating nightlife and equal parts discovery. The historic district has bars for all personalities, art galleries, and trend-setting restaurants. However, the biggest highlight for history buffs would be the homes of Thomas Edison and Henry Ford that you can visit. Check out Edison’s laboratory and the Ford garage then take a walk on the beaches.
Spiritualists will find Cassadaga, the psychic capital of the world, to be paradise. The community in Volusia County is home to an overwhelming number of clairvoyants and mediums, as well as a number of New Age cafes, bookstores, a spiritual hotel and even similarly themed post office. If you want to find a smorgasbord of spiritual and metaphysical books, Native American goods and candles, and stones for a Reiki practice, put Cassadaga on the list!
In this list, Boca Grande is the most affluent community that has a lovely downtown for shopping and boasts some of the best tarpon fishing around. For those looking for something a bit more relaxing, take a boat ride out to the barrier reef island, Cayo Costa, and find yourself a private beach. Stroll the beautiful grounds of the Gasparilla Inn and Club, or you can even learn more about the landmark lighthouse at the Boca Grande Lighthouse Museum.
Also known as the “Village of Islands,” this small town is actually several spread across a number of islands in the Florida Keys. Obviously, fishing is a favorite pastime here, and you can participate in fishing tournaments throughout the year. There are also a great number of waterfront restaurants that will cook what you catch for a small fee. Other than fishing, you can lounge on pristine beaches, try dozens of water activities, and soak up the sun. Islamorada might just be nirvana.
The small fishing town called Apalachicola is located in the panhandle. Anglers and outdoorsy folk will enjoy the quaint size of the town and the hospitality. Many of the buildings date back to the 1830s, as well. Throughout the year, you can catch oysters or add to your wisdom the rich fishing history of Apalachicola in the Historic District before sinking your teeth into fresh seafood. There is also the miles of untouched beaches on nearby St. George’s Island, where you can soak up some sun. Or take a trip to Tate’s Hell State Forest or the Apalachicola National Forest.
For retirees and those looking for a truly chill location, Venice is a perfect place to visit. The Italian-themed downtown has a number of restaurants and boutiques for shopping, or you can ride your bike over the bridge to the Island of Venice, where you will find a number of public beaches. Join in the crowds that come to hunt for fossilized shark teeth while you’re at it. Throughout the area, there is also an abundance of bike paths, boat ramps, and golf courses.