10 Best Family-Friendly Beaches in Florida’s Gulf Coast

On the warm beaches of Florida’s Gulf Coast, there are a couple of beaches with gorgeous blue waters and sunsets.

Just like the Atlantic Coast, these beaches appeal to snowbirds seeking peace and quiet, as well as families.

The silky white sand of postcard fame meets the crystal-clear, turquoise water that inspires pictures on Florida’s Gulf Coast beaches.

When it comes to waves, Florida has smaller ones, which makes swimming, snorkeling, and paddle boarding more fun.

Overview

  1. Clearwater Beach
  2. Indian Rocks Beach
  3. St. Petes Beach
  4. Treasure Island
  5. Anna Maria Island
  6. Sarasota Beach
  7. Siesta Key
  8. Sanibel Island
  9. Pensacola Beach
  10. Panama City

Whether you want a remote beach with more sand than people or a more popular strand with water activities and facilities, the Gulf Coast has something for everyone.

1. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater is one of those unique and exquisite beach communities that has it all.

The location, which is located near Tampa on Florida’s west coast, has an average of 361 glorious days of sunshine per year.

It also holds the record for the most consecutive sunny days with 768—that’s more than two years!

It’s no surprise that travelers from all over the world, particularly snowbirds, rush to Clearwater to swim in warm blue waters.

clearwater beach in florida

Warm weather year-round and proximity to two airports make vacationing here a no-brainer.

Temperatures from the low 70s in the winter to the low 90s in the summer.

And the two airports include St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport and Tampa International Airport.

Families can select from a choice of beachfront hotels and beach resorts, as well as a variety of activities for fun things to do with family, at this Florida beach.

Some of our favorite activities to do in Clearwater Beach are mentioned below.

Pier 60

Sunsets at Pier 60 in Clearwater Beach has evening sunset celebrations with street artists, musicians, craftsmen, and a large playground for the youngsters.

clearwater beach in florida

During the summer, families can also enjoy free movies in the park on Friday evenings.

Clearwater Marine Aquarium

Winter, the star dolphin from the film Dolphin Tale, who passed in 2021, had once inhabited the waters of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

At the aquarium, you may see other dolphins and show and learn about all of the other marine animal rescues.

There is also a Summer Glow celebration in the summer months that include extended evening hours, live entertainment, and family fun with free boat tours. Be sure you check them out.

Dolphin Cruise

The Clearwater Marina offers several dolphin-watching cruises on a regular basis. The shark-themed Mega Bite tour boat or the Sea Screamer boat tour are two options for kids.

Fishing

On a 4-hour Florida fishing tour for kids, reel in a big one. You can check out places like Queen- Fleet Tours and others.

pier 60 in clearwater beach

Dalí Museum

A short drive to St. Petersburg can treat families to a tour of the Salvador Dal Museum, which houses the fantastic paintings and other works of the Spanish artist.

2. Indian Rocks Beach

Indian Rocks Beach is a renowned tourist site in Florida. The Gulf of Mexico and the Intracoastal Waterway surround this calm coastal town, making it a fantastic site for family fun and water sports.

From giant water slides and dolphin excursions to visiting local museums and nature centers, there are lots of family-friendly activities to do outside.

Make a reservation for a vacation rental in Indian Rocks Beach today.

Check out the best things to do with kids in the Indian Rocks Beach area.

Splash Around at Splash Harbour Water Park

Splash Harbour, a renowned water slide park with slides to fit every adrenaline rush, is a great way to cool off from the hot Florida sun.

If you’re feeling daring, take a tube trip down Smuggler’s Run, a 42-foot slide that curves and twists in all the right places.

Visit Indian Rocks Beach Nature Preserve

Visit Indian Rocks Beach Wildlife Preserve, which has a boardwalk, a fishing lake, and stunning scenery of the Clearwater Beach Bridge, to teach your kids about nature.

Learn About Floridian History at Indian Rocks Historical Museum

The Indian Rocks Historical Museum is a great source of information about local history.

Discover how the city earned its name and tour the many rooms filled with one-of-a-kind things, such as “Kahuna,” a tiki god statue that previously greeted tourists to Florida’s Tiki Gardens Restaurant.

Spend the Day at the Beach

When exploring Indian Rocks Beach, a family beach day or two is a necessity. Fill a beach bag with basics, bring a cooler, and travel to Indian Rocks Beach for a day of fun in the sun.

Visit the Birds at Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary

The Suncoast Seabird Sanctuary, which homes over 3,000 birds and is located less than a mile away at Indian Shores, is less than a mile away.

The sanctuary is a non-profit organization that takes in injured, sick, and orphaned birds and gives them a secure and comfortable place to recover and grow.

3. St. Petes Beach

The beach is a great place to start a family vacation in St. Pete/Clearwater, but it isn’t the only place to go.

After you’ve had your fill of sun and sand, visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, go on a swashbuckling pirate cruise, or cheer on the Rays at Tropicana Field.

You’ll discover you’re only scratching the surface of all the family fun this area has to offer.

A Family Resort

A waterpark made of inflatables. A trampoline with bungee cords. RedBeard, the resident pirate.

That’s only a taste of the excitement that awaits them at TradeWinds Island Grand and its sister hotel, RumFish.

Watch dive-in movies in a beachfront pool or toast s’mores by the fire at night.

And, while we’re on the subject of diving, Rumfish’s “Swim with the Fishes” experience allows you to get up and personal with local sea life in a 33,500-gallon tank.

You don’t even have to stay here to take advantage of everything.

a cool Sunset Celebration

Sunsets at Pier 60 transform Clearwater’s bustling Pier 60 into an all-ages festival every evening.

A large playground as well as craftsmen manufacturing and selling their goods, and singers and jesters entertaining.

Check Out A Pirate Cruise

Captain Memo’s Original Pirate Cruise departs every day from Clearwater Beach for two hours of games, dancing on the deck, and possibly a little mystery.

So climb aboard the Pirate’s Ransom for an experience that will please swashbucklers of all ages.

Fly a Kite or Zoom Down a Waterslide

Treasure Island, after all, is a town where there’s likely to be entertainment around every turn.

Exhibit A: a large inflatable water slide near the 104th Avenue parking lot on the beach (across from Publix supermarket).

For a few dollars, the kids (and you!) can ascend the steps and enjoy the thrill of slipping and sliding to the bottom.

Splash Around at the St. Pete Pier

Downtown St. Pete’s greatest and latest outdoor attraction, St. Pete Pier, is just a short drive from the beach areas and offers hours of waterfront excitement. The splash pad is a great way for kids to cool down. Parents can relax at the PCI Beach Bar.

4. Treasure Island

Vacationing with the kids helps to enhance the family bond while also making lifelong memories.

Treasure Island vacation homes include beautiful beach views with a variety of kid-friendly diversions to keep the whole family smiling and entertained.

Visit one of these 5 kid-friendly spots to help your children fully appreciate all that Treasure Island has to offer.

Live Like Pirates

John’s Pass Village and Boardwalk north of Treasure Island provides an immersive pirate experience that includes intriguing pirate tales, face painting, and a lively dance party to keep your small ones smiling while on vacation.

Explore Nature

Visit Boca Ciega Millennium Park, in Seminole County, to enjoy the gorgeous boardwalk and nature trail while staying on Treasure Island.

A 35-foot wooden observation tower provides a holistic view of the beautiful water and green scenery at this wonderful spot.

Enjoy a Round of Golf

Smugglers Cove Adventure Golf offers 18 holes of adventure golf to keep your kids active and entertained during their holiday.

You must navigate through alligators, tunnels, waterfalls, and pirate ships to make a hole-in-one.

Take a Boat Tour

With the Parrots of the Caribbean boat tour, you may see the beautiful scenery and attractions of Treasure Island.

The spectacular views of the glittering water, along with the eye-catching shore-side architecture, create a visual spectacle that your children will remember for years.

Play At The Arcade

Whether you’re playing for fun or you’re just a good gamer, Fun Center Treasure Island, in Seminole County ensures that everyone in the family has a good time. Fun Center has something for everyone with its vast selection of arcade and carnival-style games.

5. Anna Maria Island

Wildlife boat trips on the ocean, kayak tours, pier and charter fishing, and trekking through nature parks with different maritime landscapes.

These are just a few of the magnificent and fascinating outdoor activities available on Anna Maria Island.

Your family can enjoy freedom and comfort during your next outdoor trip with so many roomy and fairly priced Anna Maria Island vacation rentals.

Kayak Eco Tours

Kayak trips, which are offered all year, are a great activity for families because they are highly safe and allow you to get up close and personal with the island’s scenery and wildlife.

Dolphin and Manatee Watching Tours

The dolphin and manatee viewing cruises are extremely thrilling, as they take you on high-speed rides around the waters surrounding Anna Maria Island, ensuring that you will witness dolphins swimming and playing.

Swimming at the Beach

Anna Maria Island features some of Florida’s safest public beaches, complete with lifeguards, family-friendly amenities, and breathtaking ocean views without being obstructed by tall structures.

Hiking at Nature Parks

Anna Maria Island is encircled by some of the world’s most magnificent seaside nature parks, with restored and protected habitats and woods that are home to the region’s amazing natural fauna.

Visiting the Pier

On Anna Maria Island, the Rod and Reel Pier and the Historic City Pier are two conveniently accessible family attractions where you can take in magnificent views of the water.

Fish right off the pier, eat wonderful fresh seafood, chat with friendly local fishermen, and buy presents and souvenirs.

6. Sarasota Beach

Is Sarasota on your list of places to visit with your family in Florida?

We discovered that this charming small corner of southwest Florida has a lot more to offer than just sun and sand – though those are wonderful, too!

Travel south to Sarasota, Florida, to enjoy the beauty of the city.

Explore the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art

The Ringling is Florida’s State Art Museum and home to one of the country’s most important art and cultural collections.

It all started nearly a century ago, with circus magnate John Ringling and his loving wife’s mutual passion for Sarasota, Italy, near Venice, and art.

Stroll through Downtown Sarasota

When you need a getaway from the beach, downtown Sarasota offers three fantastic activities: shopping, people-watching, and touring.

Obviously, you won’t have much time for shopping, but the charming atmosphere and friendly greetings from the local owners will leave you impressed.

Enjoy the Beach at Lido Key

Between Longboat Key to the north and Siesta Key Beach to the south is Lido Key Beach. North Lido, Lido Beach, and South Lido are its three beaches.

North Lido, although being a public beach, is more private, with 3,000 feet of beautiful white sand.

There’s also a nature trail where you can wander about in relative peace. In the ocean, you might even spot a dolphin or a manatee!

Visit Historic Spanish Point

The major archaeological site and historical museum in Sarasota are Historic Spanish Point. Prehistoric mounds, a pioneer farm, natural paths, boat cruises, and Bertha Palmer’s gardens are among the attractions.

Need to brush up on your knowledge while in the Sarasota area? This location has it!

Learn More at Mote Marine Laboratory

The Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is one of those rare attractions that are both instructive and enjoyable. See sharks, manatees, and sea turtles, as well as over 100 other marine creatures.

Take the family to the Sarasota Jungle Gardens

This is one of those places where you can see alligators, flamingos, and panthers in a safe and fun environment. The 10-acre park also has an array of birds, snakes, and other reptiles.

Visit Myakka River State Park

One of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks, Myakka River State Park is a must-see for nature lovers. Canoe or kayak down the Myakka River, go on a safari tour, or try one of the many hiking trails.

7. Siesta Key

Siesta Key is a barrier island off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico, known for its pristine beaches.

Looking for fun activities for the whole family in the Siesta Key area?

Relax on the beach, go fishing inshore or offshore, play a round of mini-golf, go kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, boating, or try something new like stand-up paddleboarding!

Siesta Key Village is a popular shopping and dining destination for families with children.

On this beautiful island, you’ll find a variety of street fairs, festivals, sights, and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

Stunning Beaches

With its beautiful white quartz sand that stays cool to the touch, Siesta Beach is a popular destination for swimming in the gulf, building sandcastles, and tanning.

Crescent Beach and Turtle Beach are two other fantastic beaches in the region. Playgrounds and picnic tables are available at both Siesta Beach and Turtle Beach, making them ideal for a family outing.

Exploring Siesta Key

Kayaking, parasailing, boating, and snorkeling are all popular watersports at Siesta Key.

The Adventure Tiki at Tropical Breeze Resort not only provides bike rentals and cycle chairs, but also facilitates the booking of fishing expeditions, kayaking excursions, and other activities with local specialists and tour agencies.

Fishing with the Family

Fishing is another fun family activity that can be done right off the Siesta Bridge, which connects Siesta Key and Sarasota.

There are plenty of opportunities for deep-sea fishing, bridge fishing, and surfcasting, as well as over 1000 kinds of fish in the lakes, streams, and bays.

Whether you pick a guided charter or prefer to find a nice fishing place yourself.

Dolphin and Whale Watching

Large dolphin populations may be seen in the seas of Siesta Key, and watching these graceful and playful creatures is a wonderful experience that the entire family will appreciate.

8. Sanibel Island

A family vacation to Florida is often associated with Disney, but this isn’t the only thing you can do!

Sanibel Island (and neighboring Captiva Island) are packed with entertaining, family-friendly activities, suggesting that it’s worth venturing outside of Orlando for a vacation.

Find Your Perfect Shell

Sanibel Island is a shell hunter’s paradise, with beaches boasting over 60 distinct types of seashells.

The attitude known as the “Sanibel stoop” will be forgotten as kids engaged with the natural treasure hunt for hours.

Go Dolphin Spotting

Bottlenose dolphin sightings are guaranteed on a 90-minute cruise on the Lady Chadwick with Captiva Cruises (based on neighboring Captiva Island).

In the waters of Pine Island Sound, you can see these marine creatures leaping and frolicking.

Enjoy a Sanibel Scoop

It’s a Sanibel tradition to stop by Pinocchio’s Italian Ice Cream. The wonderful handcrafted Italian gelato at this quirky shop on Sanibel’s east end is legendary.

Visit a Lighthouse

The lighthouse stands 98-foot tall on Sanibel Island.

While you won’t be able to see the light, there is a fantastic shelling beach, a fishing pier, and a nature trail on the property.

The lighthouse’s history will fascinate children and adults. A must-do family selfie is perfect here!

Ferry to Cayo Costa State Park

Cayo Costa State Park, with its nine miles of unspoiled sand, pine forests, oak-palm hammocks, and mangrove swamps, is a great place to visit if you’re looking for unspoiled beaches.

Swim, snorkel, or book a ranger-led kayak excursion or hike while you’re there. Tickets range in half-day or full-day beach and shelling cruises.

9. Pensacola Beach

Are you ready to relax and unwind? A trip to Pensacola could be just what your family needs to welcome warmer weather and a fresh spirit of adventure.

Greater Pensacola, as well as Pensacola Beach and Perdido Key, are all part of the Pensacola Bay area.

Pensacola stands out as a location for families wishing to spend their vacation on the Gulf Coast because of the diversity of activities available – from beaches and history to museums and more.

Enjoy The Beach

The beach is the most popular activity in Pensacola. With over 20 miles of gorgeous white sand and emerald green ocean, the beach provides free enjoyment, entertainment, and relaxation for everyone.

Lying on a towel and sunbathing are some of our favorite activities.

Visit Peg Leg Petes

Peg Leg Petes is not only a great seafood restaurant, but it also has an outdoor pirate playground for the kids.

They can explore the playset, swings, and slides while you wait for your food.

Once you’re seated, enjoy fresh seafood with a view of the Gulf of Mexico.

It has become very popular for many locals and tourists who want to stay and dine! You can’t miss this place!

Adventure in water activities

With a variety of water sports rentals, you may get out of your usual environment and savor the area’s magnificent emerald surf.

pensacola beach

Paddleboarding and kayaking are popular local activities for exploring the area and interacting with marine life.

Gulf Islands National Seashore

There are a number of public access sites on Pensacola Beach, but if you want to camp or learn about history, visit Fort Pickens, which is part of the Gulf Islands National Seashore.

Relax on the serene beach and take in the natural grandeur at the ruins of a Civil War fort.

Amusement fun & attractions

Arcades, go-carts, mini-golf, and other similar activities pique my interest.

Vacation is beckoning to me with arcades, go-carts, mini-golf, and other similar activities (bonus if it helps wear the kids out).

Pensacola offers a wide selection of fun things to do

Zoo

The Gulf Breeze Zoo is about a 20-minute drive east of Pensacola Beach.

Families will enjoy strolling among the displays, learning about the numerous creatures, and, if they like, feeding a few of them, thanks to the park’s size of over 50 acres. Inside the zoo, you can pay for giraffe food!

10. Panama City

In Panama City Beach, boredom is hard to come by for families.

It is, in fact, more fascinating than Panama City, it’s inland equivalent.

Although Panama City has a lot of fantastic things to do with kids, this seaside town has a lot more family-friendly characteristics.

We’re also assisting you in planning a great holiday by compiling a list of the finest fun activities to do in Panama City Beach with kids.

Although, one thing to note is that spring break can definitely get crazy here for young people.

Avoid the madness during spring and plan accordingly.

Shipwreck Island Waterpark

Shipwreck Island is unrivaled when it comes to family pleasure. This famous park offers nonstop splashy excitement for teens, adults, and children with a range of exciting age-friendly slides and water attractions.

Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum

When it’s raining at Panama City Beach, you might be wondering what to do with your kids.

Then don’t forget to add Ripley’s Believe It Or Not to your list of things to do in Panama City Beach with kids.

Over 500 strange and weird exhibits await you as you explore this indoor museum.

A vampire killing kit, a sculpture of automobile parts, and shrunken heads are some of families favorites.

Did we mention that it has a lot of interactive hands-on features?

Panama City Beach

On this 27-mile stretch, you can enjoy a few free activities for the price of zero dollars, which is everyone’s favorite price.

Relax on the beach and soak up the beach atmosphere to take a break from your daily grind.

You can also go snorkeling and swimming in its crystal clear seas.

Gulf World Marine Park

You’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim with a group of adorable dolphins at Gulf World Marine Park.

During your stay, interact with sea lions, stingrays, penguins, sea turtles, and other animals at the park.

SkyWheel Panama City Beach

On a comfortable gondola, SkyWheel takes you more than 100 feet above the Gulf Coast.

After taking in the breathtaking views from the observation wheel, you can explore the park’s other attractions.

Aside from the wheel, there’s a ropes course and a mini-golf course for the kids.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a family-friendly beach vacation, look no further than the Gulf Coast of Florida.

With miles and miles of white sandy beaches and crystal clear waters, there’s something for everyone here.

And don’t worry – we have plenty of ideas to keep your little ones entertained!

So grab your sunscreen and pack your bags – we can’t wait to show you around.

Have you been to any of these amazing beaches? Let us know in the comments below!

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Jess and Jeanette
About Jess and Jeanette

Jess and Jeanette are two sisters who created Unseen Beaches. This beach travel site was inspired by their family beach vacations while growing up. Helping you discover the best U.S. beach destinations worth visiting, staying, and eating.

unseenbeaches about us pic

Hi! This is Jess and Jeanette. Two sisters & beach travelers. We built this blog to share our travels in hopes of helping you plan your next beach vacation. Cheers! ❤️

 

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