Share with your friends


Note: All travel is subject to frequently changing governmental restrictions—please check federal, state and local advisories before scheduling trips.

Your dreams of partying on Daytona Beach or Miami Beach for spring break may yet again be dashed in 2021, but that doesn’t mean you have to sit home all break. Florida offers plenty of sun-soaked beach destinations for those who want to avoid the big party crowds. After all, what more do you need than a few close friends, a pair of flip flops and a piña colada to have a good time?

We’ve rounded up seven off-the-beaten-path Florida beach towns–plus affordable lodging options—where you can put your feet in the sand without having to worry about too many other toes near you!

RELATED: 8 killer spring break vacation rentals

Siesta and Lido Keys

You may be familiar with Siesta Key because of the MTV show, but contrary to reality TV, this is a no-drama zone. Located right over the bridge from beautiful Sarasota, Siesta Key offers white sands, blue waters and island living. You’ll find plenty of beachy bars and restaurants, ice cream shops, and little boutiques. Siesta Key beach is a massively wide white sand beach that almost looks like the surface of the moon at night. Walkable streets offer casual, tiki-style restaurants like Hub Baja Grill. Over on Lido Key, St. Armands is a more upscale town center with eateries, bars, and a little park. An interesting fact about Siesta Key is that it is the preferred spring break destination of the Amish and Mennonites.

Staying right on the beach in Siesta or Lido Key is ideal, but if you want a little more bang for your buck, stay across the bridge in Sarasota. Here, you’ll find more of an urban lifestyle (lowkey urban, mind you) along a beautiful harbor. Either way, you can’t go wrong!

Where to stay: Gulf Beach Resort Motel

Key Largo and Islamorada

We apologize for getting a Beach Boys song permanently stuck in your head, but Key Largo and Islamorada deserve a spot on this list. When you think about the Florida Keys, your mind probably goes right to the southernmost tip of Key West. But Key Largo and nearby Islamorada (where the Netflix show “Bloodline” was filmed) are two low key (see what we did there?) and underrated spots.

The Florida Keys are basically one long road, Route 1 (aka the Overseas Highway), and locals will give you directions based on mile markers. On either side, you’ll find blue water. The beaches here are more rocky and narrow than those on the mainland, but the weather, views and the vibe can’t be beat. Islamorada is the smaller and more off-the beaten-path of the two. You’ll find upscale restaurants and hotels, but also “salt life” local haunts like Hog Heaven and Lorelei’s, which is marked by a massive wooden mermaid. Key Largo is chock full of tiki bars and waterfront restaurants where you can find anything from fresh seafood and a cocktail to burgers, fries and beer. The best part about being out on the Keys is feeling that carefree island vibe and listening to stories from locals (from a distance, of course), who call themselves conchs.

Where to stay: Creekside Inn Islamorada

Sanibel and Captiva islands

Located near Fort Meyers, Sanibel and Captiva islands are little bits of paradise. Here you’ll find untouched beaches sprinkled with seashells. Animal lovers can check out the J.N. Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge where you can catch a glimpse of tropical birds, manatees and alligators. The islands are active with people biking, kayaking, boating, golfing, and fishing. And there’s even something for the history majors in your group: Thomas Edison and Henry Ford were once neighbors on Sanibel, and you can visit their preserved estates. Of course, if you’re just looking to have a cold drink on a hot beach, there’s plenty of room for that, too! Captiva is the quirkier of the two islands. Case in point: One of its attractions is a restaurant called The Bubble Room decorated with funky vintage knick knacks and year-round colored Christmas lights.

When it comes to lodging, your best bet is to stay on Sanibel rather than Captiva as the former is bigger and has more options. But the sister islands are so close together that hopping around won’t be an issue!

Where to stay: Kona Kai Motels

Vero Beach

About 45 minutes from Port St. Lucie is the lowkey town of Vero Beach. Known for its peaceful beaches and proximity to McKee Botanical Garden, Vero is the perfect vacation for nature lovers and loungers alike. Fun fact: Gloria Estefan owns a hotel here. A must-see when you’re in Vero beach is the beachfront Driftwood Resort; as the name implies, the facade is built out of pieces of driftwood washed ashore. The quirky hotel certainly adds a lot of visual interest to the beach, but its history is interesting, as well. It was built in 1935 by Waldo E. Sexton. According to the resort’s site, “Waldo has been called ‘one of the most colorful persons that Florida has ever known,’ an ‘imaginative entrepreneur,’ and an ‘outrageous, old time eccentric.’ He moved to Florida in 1914 and began his legacy that includes several buildings still standing in Vero Beach today and was an integral partner in the development of McKee Jungle Garden, also in Vero Beach.”

Speaking of McKee Botanical Garden, make a pitstop here for  grammable photo ops. Aside from all the subtropical flora and fauna, you’ll find a “stickwork” sculpture called “Grand Central.” It’s a series of massive tunnel-like sculptures made of natural materials that you can walk around in.

Where to stay: Prestige Hotel Vero Beach

Amelia Island/Fernandina Beach

Amelia Island is a 13-mile stretch of sandy on Florida’s Atlantic coast. It’s a “secret” little spot about 45 minutes from Jacksonville known for calm, uncrowded beaches. The city of Fernandina Beach is one of the most popular destinations on Amelia Island. Fernandina Beach has a quaint little downtown seaport area that was once a spot for bootleggers and pirates. Here, you’ll find quirky little shops, restaurants and historic architecture within walking  (or scooting) distance to the beach. And if you want to dine with your feet in the sand, head to the Sandbar. Amelia Island is also a golfers’ paradise, so pack your clubs and head out to the links with your pals.

Where to stay: Seaside Amelia Inn

Anna Maria Island

If you’re looking for a beach bum-style vacation complete with white powder sand, turquoise water, and tropical drinks, this is your spot. Located about 90 minutes south of Tampa, Anna Maria Island is an oasis on the Gulf, a sleepy little spot, so don’t expect to find Daytona-style beach parties here. Most people drive around in golf carts, so even the traffic moves slow. You will, however, find tiki bars and local haunts, like The Ugly Grouper, with live music and fresh seafood. There are two long piers on the island where you can enjoy a bite to eat or some fishing. If you’re lucky you’ll catch a glimpse of some manatees or manta rays! And you’ll definitely see your fair share of pelicans and other seabirds, along with hermit crabs and sand dollars—they’re everywhere on this island.

Like other islands in the area, lodging right on Anna Maria Island can get a little pricey, but there are deals to be found. If you really want to save a few bucks, you can stay in the city of Bradenton, which is just a quick drive over the bridge to the beaches of Anna Maria.

Where to stay: Anna Maria Island Inn


In the Florida panhandle about an hour from Panama City Beach, is the much calmer alternative of Seagrove (part of South Walton). Clear turquoise water, white sands and spectacular sunsets are all hallmarks of this beach getaway on the Emerald Coast. It’s a great little laid back spot for groups who like to explore nature, as well as chill on the beach. Massive oaks and magnolia trees offer shady spots to relax when you’re not soaking in rays. Have a meal at the quirky eateries along scenic Highway 30A like Cowgirl Kitchen or Seagrove Village MarketCafe, which has been “serving deep fried love since 1949.” One of the must-see attractions in the area are the dune lakes. According to Walton County’s website, “Walton County is home to 15 named coastal dune lakes along 26 miles of coastline. These lakes are a unique geographical feature and are found only in Madagascar, Australia, New Zealand, Oregon, and here in Walton County.”

Where to stay: Sunny Travels

Tagged: Beach, Cheap City, USA, Cheap Tips, Destinations, Florida, Top 10 list, Types of Travel

Note: CheapTickets compensates authors for their writings appearing on this site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.