Secluded Beaches & Quaint Towns Abound In The Sunshine State
Before the COVID-19 crisis, a significant number of travelers spent a lot of seeking out secluded destinations away from the crowds where the could isolate, have romantic moments with their significant other or just to be in a peaceful place to relax.
Those places still exist and make for excellent vacation spots when we once again feel comfortable enough to get back on the road. Or in an airplane.
With that in mind, PubClub.com has started a series of posts about places where one can go to get that space from other tourists. This article looks at the 10 best social distancing travel destinations in Florida.
1.) The Florida Keys
This spot made PubClub.com’s 10 Best Social Distancing Travel Destinations In The USA, and as pointed out there yes, there’s a lot of traffic on the Overseas Highway but there’s also enough places to stop along it that you can be all alone. I know, I drove up and down it for three days not too long ago and I kept hoping to find people to talk to, but mostly was by myself.
2.) Key Biscayne
I always love going here whenever I’m in Miami. You drive over the Rickenbacker Causeway (which is such a Florida thing to do, driving over a causeway) to an area nobody seems to go to anymore. They are all heading to Miami Beach but this is much more scenic. Well, aside from the scene of people watching in South Beach, of course. Just pull up pretty much anywhere along the causeway, a strip of land with water on both sides and plop down on the sand. Go swimming. Or paddleboarding. Stick a fishing pole in the water. Have a picnic lunch. Take a nap. Stay for dinner if your cooler isn’t empty. Have a beer (if someone else is driving). Then take a drive and see how the rich folks are holding up at the Ritz Carlton.
Link: Key Biscayne Guide
3.) The Everglades
You’re as likely to see as many gators here as people. One of my travel bucket list items is to go screaming through the Everglades on of those boats with the huge fan on the back of it. I saw where to do that while driving across Highway 41 at the top of the preserve, but was on the ove and did not have time to stop. I did pull over a couple times and saw a few alligators. By the way, there are also American crocodiles here; the visual difference is in their snout; gators are more rounded.
4.) Tarpon Springs
Besides having a really cool name, Tarpon Springs is a good place to toss out your anchor because of its Greek community and unique Florida attraction: sponges. In the early 1900s, Greek sponge divers discovered natural sponge beds and a community was born. While you will hardly think you’re in Mykonos, Dodecanese Boulevard along the Anclote River is the place to be here for the experience and Greek restaurants. From a social distancing standpoint, this village is a less-traveled place north of the busy St. Pete/Clearwater area.
5.) Punta Gorda
This place is so off the beaten path that I had never heard of it until we started talking to its PR person about featuring it on an upcoming episode of the PubClub/MenWhoBlog Virtual Happy Hour livestream show. It’s just up Highway 41 and I-75 from Fort Meyers and is known as a fishing and boating paradise with a lot of great restaurants. It does not have a beach, which certainly makes it unique among Florida destinations on the water.
Link: Punta Gorda Guide
6.) Ponte Vedra Beach/St. Augustine
The birthplace of America! The Fountain Of Youth! Beaches and golf courses! A pirate ship that sails! St. Augustine is America’s oldest city yet it’s hardly its most crowded. More relaxed than most touristy Florida towns, it has Jacksonville to the north and Daytona Beach to the south to sop up a lot of those visitors, so what you are left with is a quaint downtown with a dynamic restaurant scene, the St. Augustine Distillery, the Black Raven pirate ship (I hear it can turn into a swashbuckling party at times) and a lot of social distancing space. Adjacent Ponte Vedra Beach offers a lot of isolation as well as a lot of frustration if your golf game is anything like mine. But you can’t stay mad for long if you’re here.
7.) Siesta Key
Okay, so some dude named “Dr. Beach” consistently names this as the best beach in America. We obviously have different criteria for such things, and one of mine is people and a lively social scene. This is why Siesta Key makes this list (I mean the name has “siesta” in it for cryin’ out loud). It does have blinding white beaches so typical of the Florida Gulf Coast, but it’s location – south of Clearwater/Tampa with no major city really near it – make it remote enough to where you can find a lot of seclusion. Take a bike ride over canals (yes, canals) and along the water past Sarasota over to Ledo Key. My family loves this place.
8.) Cocoa Beach
Test your age. Remember the 60s comedy series “I Dream Of Jeannie?” Larry Hagman before “Dallas?” Surely you’ve seen it in reruns. Well, this is the town where the astronauts lived (the real ones, too) and it’s one of those old Florida beach towns that retains its original character. For some reason not a lot of tourists ever visit Cocoa Beach– unless its out of curiosity to check out Ron John’s Surf Shoe, which advertises on the interstate billboards the very second you arrive in Florida – and they are missing some cool ocean-front restaurant/bars. It also makes for a great launching pad to go to the Kennedy Space Center, something that’s bigger now than it has been in decades now with the SpaceX Dragon program.
Link: About Cocoa Beach
9.) Perdido Key
Now that you want to get lost, how about a place that means “lost island” in Spanish. Perdido Key is a barrier island that stretches from Pensacola into Alabama. Perdido Key Beach is somewhat of a suburb of Pensacola and as far as things to do, there’s a lighthouse (I like lighthouses for some reason), the National Naval Aviation Museum (Pensacola is home to the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels and sometimes you can look up in the sky to see them training) as well as walking through a nature preserve, kayaking through a peaceful lagoon and the usual beach activities.
Link: Perdido Key Guide
10.) St. George Island
Look – another lighthouse! And bring your pet. This is a pet-friendly location with camping and nature trails in St. George Island State Park, an ideal social-distancing place to hang out for a few days. Protected by low-density zoning and strict building codes, St. George Island a tranquil beach community with no high rises or chain stores. What, no high rises on a Florida beach!?
Link: St. George Island Guide