Florida’s panhandle is well-known for its warm weather, plethora of native wildlife, and laid-back atmosphere far from the major cities of Orlando and Miami in other parts of the state. With a long stretch of coastline, there is no shortage of sandy beaches in north Florida.
So, what are the best family beaches in north Florida?
- Grayton Beach
- Henderson Beach State Park
- Pensacola Beach
- St. George Island
- Navarre Beach
- Clearwater Beach
- St. Augustine Beach
- Amelia Island
- Jacksonville Beach
- Crescent Beach
- Topsail Hill Preserve State Beach
- Main Beach
- Fort Walton Beach
- Panama City Beach
The rest of this article will highlight each of these beaches and tell you all you need to know for your next family beach vacation.
1. Grayton Beach
Located about 20 miles from Panama City Beach and adjacent to many state forest reserves and parks. Its status as a protected reserve makes it one of the most pristine beaches on our list, with clean sands and a laid-back atmosphere in this coastal community.
Grayton Beach even holds a Blue Wave Beach certification, which claims that the beach has met all national standards for cleanliness, health, safety, and ecologically sound practices according to the National Clean Beaches Coalition.
This beautiful beach and its coastal community have a lot to be proud of!
2. Henderson Beach State Park
This serene beach, with its emerald waters and soft white sands, is a relaxing place for the whole family. Swim, sunbathe, take a nature walk, or simply relax on the sand, Henderson Beach State Park is a wonderful vacation destination.
3. Pensacola Beach
The warm, inviting atmosphere and sense of community visitors report are just some of the reasons why Pensacola Beach is such a popular north Florida destination. With its pristine sands and turquoise waters, it is perfect for creating family memories.
The beach is great to visit any time of year, whether you are on summer vacation with your kids or if you’re a snowbird flocking to escape the cold northern winters. If you visit in the wintertime, you’ll likely spot dolphins from the shore.
4. St. George Island
One of the best pet-friendly beaches in northern Florida, St. George Island has soft sands and crystalline waters perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying the waves.
It is also a great location for fishermen, who can enjoy fishing from the shore or rent a paddle boat or kayak to venture out further to reel in a great catch.
5. Navarre Beach
Navarre Beach, marked for its quiet atmosphere and uncrowded shores, is a perfect place for families seeking to unwind and create special memories. The calm waters and soft sands are perfect for children of all ages, who will enjoy hours of fun splashing in the crystal waters, hunting for shells, and building sandcastles.
6. Clearwater Beach
Despite its high number of annual visitors, Clearwater Beach remains clean and pristine. A part of the city of Clearwater, this beach lies close to restaurants and other attractions in the town.
If you are feeling adventurous, the city of Tampa lies just across the bay from Clearwater, making this beach an ideal place for those who prefer to stay close to other attractions and amenities.
7. St. Augustine Beach
Located in Anastasia Island State Park, St. Augustine beach has the same clean, untouched scenery that you can only get from a protected state park.
Explore the beach along the coast and don’t forget your binoculars so you can catch a glimpse of some of north Florida’s native wildlife.
8. Amelia Island
Located north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island has plentiful attractions and small-town charm. Don’t forget to check out their many unique shops and Fort Clinch State Park to learn more about the exciting history of this small north Florida island.
9. Jacksonville Beach
This coastal paradise with its wide shores and clean waters is part of the city of Jacksonville, offering the best of both worlds. If you are visiting, you don’t need to travel far from your Jacksonville hotel or local restaurants to enjoy some sun and surf.
10. Crescent Beach
Offering full amenities such as restrooms, showers, pavilions, and picnic tables, this beach has everything a family would need. Attentive lifeguards add extra reassurance to parents of young children.
The beach’s hard-packed sand makes Crescent Beach ideal for biking, running, or playing a game of beach volleyball.
11. Topsail Hill Preserve State Beach
The unique white quartz dunes of this beach lend to its beautiful appearance. Topsail Hill Preserve State Park is not as crowded as many of the entries on our list, making it the perfect location for families who like their privacy as they unwind and create memories with one another.
The state park includes not only the shore, but also pine forests, wetlands, and scrubland, giving visitors the opportunity to enjoy every aspect of its unique ecosystem.
12. Main Beach
Known mainly for the plethora of shark teeth and beautiful shells hiding within its soft sand, Main Beach is a great location because you don’t have to pay for parking. Its amenities are clean and well-maintained, and its wide shores are perfect for young children.
Enjoy a picnic in the sand and cool off in the gorgeous emerald waters.
13. Fort Walton Beach
Located on the Gulf Coast, this family-friendly beach is perfect for fishermen, swimmers, kayakers, and beachgoers of all kinds. With its soft sands and well-maintained amenities, it is a great option for your family’s next beach getaway.
14. Panama City Beach
With no shortage of things to do in this warm and friendly beach town, Panama City Beach offers a memorable experience to visitors and locals alike.
With many visitors reporting the locals as friendly and approachable, Panama City Beach offers everything in one place, so you don’t have to drive from city to city for a great vacation experience. Enjoy local cuisines and outdoor fun in Panama Beach before heading down to the sandy shores and going for a swim in the crystal-clear waters.