15 Charming Small Towns in Florida

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Florida is so much more than just its famous theme parks and beaches. It is tucked away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities and trust us when we say that you will find some truly charming small towns here, each with its own unique vibe and hidden treasures. Here are 15 small towns that are the heart and soul of Florida. 

Mount Dora

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Just beside Lake Dora, this little town is known for its antique shops and annual festivals. It is a historic downtown in an amazingly scenic location. It is perfect for leisurely strolls, with buildings that take you back in time. You can enjoy boating and fishing on the lake, making Mount Dora a versatile destination for both culture and recreation.

Cedar Key

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Far away from bustling tourist centers in Florida, Cedar Key offers a glimpse of a laid-back lifestyle. The Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge, a sanctuary for birds and wildlife, surrounds this serene island city. Today, it is a haven for artists, nature lovers, and anyone seeking serenity. The place is filled with seafood restaurants and art galleries.

Matlacha

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The Matlacha is an extremely vibrant and colorful island community located on the Gulf Coast near Fort Myers. Just a bridge away from the mainland. We like to call Matlacha a paradise for artists, for all its buildings are painted in bright colors and local art displayed everywhere. The “Fishingest Bridge” is a popular spot for anglers, while kayakers and paddleboarders can explore the surrounding waters. 

Islamorada

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Situated in the Florida Keys, Islamorada is more than just a single island. It is a village of six immensely beautiful islands known for their coral reefs, clear waters, and abundant marine life. It is also very popular for sport fishing because the area offers deep-sea, reef, and flat fishing. It has numerous art galleries and seafood restaurants that enrich the local culture. 

Crystal River

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Crystal River is the only place in the U.S. where you can legally swim with manatees. The town is centered around the river and its spring-fed tributaries; the crystal-clear waters make it ideal for snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. Another attraction is the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, which is a protected habitat for the West Indian Manatee. 

Sanford

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Sanford is sited on the southern shore of Lake Monroe. A lot of people call it the “Historic Waterfront Gateway City.” And rightly so. The downtown area has some Victorian-era architecture, gourmet restaurants, craft breweries, and a vibrant arts scene. You will also love the Sanford RiverWalk, which is a scenic waterfront trail and offers views of Lake Monroe and the St. Johns River, perfect for a leisurely walk or bike ride. 

New Smyrna Beach

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New Smyrna Beach is a paradise for surfers. It has a cool and chill vibe, and a beautifully rich history. With around 13 miles of sandy beaches, it is perfect for surfing, sunbathing, and beachcombing. You can also explore the historic Flagler Avenue and Canal Street which offer charming boutiques, galleries, and dining options. 

Venice

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We all know Venice for being the “Shark Tooth Capital of the World”. It is a dream spot for anyone into fossil hunting. The town somewhat looks like a slice of Italy with its renaissance-style buildings and streets. You can bike or walk for miles along the Venetian Waterway Park and Legacy Trail, enjoying the views and fresh air.

DeLand

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DeLand has a vibrant downtown feel to it. Almost a mix of art, culture, and history. The murals and museums, such as the Museum of Art—DeLand, show us the artistic side of the town. While the Gillespie Museum takes you back into Florida’s geological history. It is close to the St. Johns River, perfect for boating and fishing. 

Sanibel Island

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Famous for its shell-covered beaches, Sanibel Island is a natural paradise. The island’s strict development codes have preserved its natural beauty and laid-back atmosphere. The J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge is great for spotting birds and kayaking. Shelling is big here, thanks to the island’s position. It is all about loving nature and keeping things quiet and peaceful.

St. Petersburg

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It is bigger than a small town but has that close-knit community feel with unique shops and eateries. The waterfront parks and the Salvador DalĂ­ Museum add to its cultural vibe, and the Sunken Gardens are a green escape in the city. St. Pete is artsy, with events like the Second Saturday ArtWalk. 

Anna Maria Island

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Anna Maria is a barrier island on the Gulf Coast of Florida. We love it for its white sandy beaches and crystal-clear waters. Although it maintains a low-key feel with no high-rise buildings, we love the unobstructed sunset views and early evening walks. The main attraction of this town is its simplicity, offering a peaceful retreat with beautiful beaches, friendly locals, and a slow pace of life.

Fernandina Beach

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Located on Amelia Island, Fernandina Beach is rich in history. From its days as a bustling port to its well-preserved Victorian architecture, it has come a long way. The hub of restaurants and the most happening things in the town is on Centre Street. It houses the Palace Saloon, which is the oldest bar in Florida. 

Apalachicola

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This cozy town is famous for its tasty oysters and laid-back lifestyle. The downtown area is filled with historic buildings and waterfront parks, telling the story of the past as a busy port and center for the seafood industry. The annual Florida Seafood Festival celebrates this heritage, attracting visitors for a taste of local cuisine and culture.

Rosemary Beach

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Inspired by the architecture of the West Indies, Rosemary Beach is a planned community that highlights walkability, architectural beauty, and community engagement. The cobblestone streets, lush green spaces, and Gulf-front location offer a luxurious yet relaxed atmosphere. The town center features boutique shopping, fine dining, and family-friendly activities.

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