Avoid the crowds!  These are the 5 most underrated destinations in Florida this summer

Avoid the crowds! These are the 5 most underrated destinations in Florida this summer

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Want to avoid the crowds in Florida this summer? Check out these five underrated destinations for a relaxing getaway!

Woman walking on the beach in FloridaWoman walking on the beach in Florida

After breaking all-time tourism records in 2023, Florida is already on track for another record year. According to an article in the Citrus County Chronicle, a whopping 40.6 million visitors traveled to Florida in the first three months of 2024.

Many of the Sunshine State’s most popular destinations, like Orlando and Miami, can feel overcrowded with millions of tourists.

But these five less-crowded destinations in Florida are perfect if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation.

Manatee in Crystal River, FloridaManatee in Crystal River, Florida

Amelia Island

One of Florida’s best underrated beach destinations is Amelia Island. This quiet coastal town is located about 40 minutes north of Jacksonville, near the Florida-Georgia border.

It is the southernmost of the Sea Islands, a chain of barrier islands off the Atlantic coast in the southeastern United States. Unlike Florida’s more popular beach destinations, Amelia Island remains something of a hidden gem and its beaches are never too crowded.

In addition to spending time relaxing on the beach, you can take a bike ride on one of the island’s many trails, visit Fort Clinch State Park to learn about history, or go horseback riding along the beach.

Amelia Island FloridaAmelia Island Florida

Mexico Beach

Another underrated beach destination in Florida is Mexico Beach. This laid-back coastal town is located on the aptly named Forgotten Coast in the Florida Panhandle.

This largely undeveloped region is home to beautiful Gulf Coast beaches, such as Mexico Beach, just 45 minutes from the more popular Panama City Beach.

At Mexico Beach, you’ll find beautiful white sand beaches with crystal clear turquoise waters, delicious fresh seafood restaurants, and some of the most incredible sunsets in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s the perfect place to go if you want to get away from it all.

Mexico Florida BeachMexico Florida Beach

crystal river

Crystal River is one of the most unique destinations in Florida because the area is fed by natural springs. This is where you will find the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, a natural refuge for many manatees.

One of the most interesting things to do in Crystal River is to snorkel or dive with manatees and observe these incredible creatures in their natural habitat.

Although you won’t find the typical “beaches” at Crystal River, this coastal destination offers several crystal-clear natural springs where you can swim, kayak, snorkel, or scuba dive. It’s about 1 hour and 10 minutes from Tampa, or 1.5 hours from Orlando.

Crystal River FloridaCrystal River Florida

Gasparilla Island

Gasparilla Island is one of Florida’s best island destinations, perfect for escaping the crowds and enjoying a slower pace of life.

It was recently named the best coastal city in the US by Travel + Leisure for its charming and relaxed island atmosphere. Located approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes from Fort Myers, Gasparilla Island is a small island with only one town, Boca Grande.

Most visitors get around the island by bicycle or golf cart. It is known for its great beaches, in addition to being the world capital of tarpon fishing.

Gasparilla Island FLGasparilla Island FL

large pine wrench

Finally, Big Pine Key is one of the best beach destinations in Florida for its incredible scenery and few crowds. It is part of the Florida Keys, a series of tropical islands off the southern tip of Florida.

Located towards the far end of the Keys, a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Miami, Big Pine Key is a nature lover’s paradise. It’s often overshadowed by nearby Key West, which is about 40 minutes away, but Big Pine Key is a destination in its own right.

It has excellent beaches, where you can often spot dolphins, and a nature reserve in Bahia Honda State Park. It is also a great place for snorkeling and diving.

Big Pine Key, FloridaBig Pine Key, Florida

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The opinions expressed here are solely those of the author, not of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included in the publication.