Small towns in Florida come with ample surprises in little packages. The state is one of the most popular places for RVing. Major destinations like Orlando, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale are often on traveler’s routes. But it’s the small towns that are worth a stop. Keep reading to learn why.
9 Best Small Towns in Florida
We’ve come up with a list of nine small towns in Florida that we recommend adding to your road trip. They have something for everyone. Take a look.
1. Havana, FL
Havana is in the northern Florida Panhandle, just 14 miles outside of Tallahassee. With a population of fewer than 2,000 residents, it’s unique and charming. The small town is known for its art galleries, antique shops, and other specialty shops.
Havana’s main street is where it all takes place. From shopping to holiday events and community gatherings, you’ll wonder if you’re in another world. It’s quaint and full of antique boutiques.
In addition to its 30 or more shops, Havana has many historical buildings and homes. After being incorporated in 1906, settlers named the town Havana for the shade tobacco grown in the area. You can visit the Havana History and Heritage Society to learn more.
2. St. George Island,FL
St. George Island is on the quieter end of the Emerald Coast. It’s a barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico. People enjoy visiting to get away from the crowds that other beach towns in Florida bring. Low-density zoning and building codes protect it, so there are no high rises to get in the way of your ocean view.
St. George Island State Park sits on this island. You can visit for the day or camp at the park. It’s a great destination for hiking, swimming, kayaking, fishing, and more. There’s also a chance you might get to see dolphins from the beach on the Gulf side of the island.
For those traveling with pets, the state park is pet-friendly. Unfortunately, dogs aren’t allowed on the beaches. However, they are allowed on the island’s beaches outside of the park.
Marathon sits in the Florida Keys. It’s just a little over halfway to Key West from Key Largo. The town sprawls across 13 small islands.
Key West seems to get the most airtime when you think of the Keys, but small towns like Marathon can offer a lot. The city draws fewer crowds and gives you a real sense of what the Keys are like. In addition, you can access the water in multiple places and partake in nearly every kind of water sport.
Marathon also has shops, grocery stores, places to fuel up, and RV parks. And it’s home to the ever-popular Curry Hammock State Park. You can camp in the state park with the beautiful turquoise water only steps away from your site.
One of our favorite attractions in this small town in Florida is the Dolphin Research Center. You can visit the sea life that lives here and learn about the ongoing research at the center.
4. Palm Beach,FL
Palm Beach sits on the Atlantic coast of Florida, about 45 miles north of Fort Lauderdale. It’s one of the more upscale small towns in Florida. The town gives off a tropical beach vibe.
Palm Beach draws golfers from near and far. Their slogan is “We’re Florida’s Golf Capital®.” There are more than 160 golf courses in the area, including one designed by Jack Nicklaus.
The weather in Palm Beach offers life outdoors year-round. There are also lots of fairs and festivals. In addition, you’ll find numerous shops and restaurants throughout the town.
5. Cedar Key,FL
Cedar Key is an island city on the northwest coast of Florida. It’s a small group of islands known for its trails, bird watching, and rich history. If you want a unique experience in nature, this is the place to go. Writers, artists, and adventurers flock to Cedar Key for the unspoiled environment.
There’s plenty to do in this small town if you’re looking to stay active. The beach, swimming, and kayaking make the top of the list for many. You can also charter a boat to fish in the Gulf.
Cedar Key Historical Society and Museum is also a main attraction in the town. Artifacts and genealogical records in the museum date back to 1842. Displays illustrate the importance of rail and how the seaport functioned during the Seminole War through the Civil War.
You can RV to Cedar Key. There are five campgrounds. Take note that cars, bicycles, and golf carts share the roads.
6. Anna Maria Island,FL
Anna Maria Island connects to Bradenton,FL, via a bridge. The island sits in the Gulf of Mexico, about 50 miles south of Tampa. It has a laid-back island vibe with pristine beaches and fresh seafood. Plus, you’re almost guaranteed to see dolphins swimming in the cove between the island and mainland.
Anna Maria Island offers about every water sport imaginable. Activities like parasailing and kayaking are popular. There are vendors throughout the island to rent gear from or take a tour. You’ll also find great eats after all that exploring. Local seafood and farm-fresh dishes are plentiful. If you go fishing and catch something, many restaurants will prepare your catch for you.
The island has a free trolley to take you around to beaches, shops, restaurants, and more. You can hop on and off as many times as you want. Trolleys loop the island from Coquina Beach on the southern tip in Bradenton Beach and up to the City Pier in the City of Anna Maria on the north end of the island. They run daily and arrive in approximately 20-30 minute intervals.
Micanopy is a small town in Florida’s north-central interior. It sits on the freshwater Tuscawilla Lake and has fewer than 700 residents. Ancient oak trees with Spanish moss line the town’s narrow streets. It has an old-world, Southern vibe.
Taking a stroll through Micanopy’s historical district puts you up close with its rich and dramatic history. Hernando De Soto first encountered a Timucua Indian Village there in 1539. During the Seminole War, nearby sugar plantations and homesteads burned to the ground, and families fled to Micanopy, barricaded with log pickets. As a result, many of the town’s historical homes reflect the agricultural prosperity of the past. Today, the small town seeks to protect its history with searches for artifacts in residents’ yards. The Micanopy Native American Heritage Preserve also protects an Indian mound in the town.
Micanopy is also home to Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park. The park provides unique experiences, such as wild-roaming bison and horses. There are around 300 species of birds in the park, too, if you’re a bird watcher. And there are alligators and other wildlife throughout the perverse. Paynes Prairie has eight trails, including a 16-mile paved trail and a 50-foot high observation tower for stellar views.
8. Ybor City,FL
Ybor City sits in the heart of Tampa. The eclectic neighborhood is known for its boutiques, vintage shops, and trendy eateries. And there’s a ton of history rolling back to the 1920s.
If you like history, you’ll love the Ybor City Museum. The museum informs you of the culture that still exists in the area from early Spanish immigrants. It also has a cigar tour. There’s no smoking required on the tour, but it’s well worth the history lesson, and you get to go inside a 19th-century house.
Ybor City is a foodie’s dream. You can choose from Cuban, breweries, and more. There are also annual food festivals, like the Cuban Sandwich Festival. Ybor City also comes alive at night. People from all over Tampa flock to nightclubs in this trendy neighborhood. And you can hop on a streetcar to transport you to restaurants and shops. The TECO line is Tampa’s historic streetcar.
9. Vero Beach,FL
Vero Beach sits on the Atlantic coast and is about 80 miles north of Palm Beach. The small town has a classic old-time Florida vibe. With a citrus industry past and outstanding beaches, it’s an excellent place to relax and enjoy life.
One of the most popular activities in Vero Beach is going to McKee Botanical Gardens. You can see thousands of tropical plants and beautiful water features throughout the gardens. There are also classes to learn about gardening and more. And you can even take a yoga class in the gardens.
If you get tired of the beach, there are a couple of museums worth exploring. Vero Beach Museum of Art is a great option for art enthusiasts. And the McLarty Treasure Museum presents some exciting artifacts.
As you can see, small towns in Florida pack in a lot of adventure and sightseeing. Stopping at one or more of the towns we listed can enrich your next venture into the area. We love the variety of beach towns and unique historical landmarks. Are you ready to get out there and visit small towns? Which would be the first on your list?