Daytona Beach is one of a kind. Get stuck in to the many activities on offer, from surfing and parasailing to rock climbing and beach volleyball. You’re also a stone's throw away from Florida’s huge rollercoasters, with Orlando’s theme parks just over an hour’s drive from the coast. Walt Disney World Resort, anyone? Back on the beach, if you’ve rented a bike or a car, there are 16 miles of white sand you can actually drive on – we think it’s worth doing for the bragging rights alone. Party animals should book to visit in late March or April to experience Daytona’s party side – it’s one of the USA’s biggest Spring Break spots.
When it comes to laid-back white sand beaches, St Pete Beach has you covered. Not only are there watersports on offer, but there’s also plenty of space to soak up the sun. This spot is on one of Florida’s barrier islands – strips of sand parallel to the shore – so it generally attracts fewer tourists. And, if you decide you want something quieter, head to one of the other clusters of coastline surrounding St Pete. Just 10 minutes south by car you’ll find Tierra Verde, home to Fort De Soto Park. This Gulf Coast beach is ideal for families, history lovers, and fitness fanatics. Kids can run off steam at the pirate ship playground and tidal wave pool, and there’s also the historic fort and museum, which comes complete with cannons. Plus, runners and rollerbladers alike can explore the park’s trails.
Clearwater Beach has scooped more than a few awards in its time, due to icing sugar sands and – as the name would suggest – clear waters. Anglers cast off of Pier 60, while families flock to the free evening festival. Expect to see magicians, jugglers, and musicians at the celebration, and find plenty of cafes and shops along the boardwalk to keep you amused during the day. Head 10 minutes north of Clearwater and you’ll hit the quieter Caladesi Island State Park. Catch the ferry from nearby Honeymoon Island State Park to spend an afternoon kayaking, hiking nature trails, or paddling in the Gulf waters.
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Take a look at our Florida holidays, and for more on The Sunshine State, read about the best things to do in Orlando. Or, if beaches are more your thing, find out about the best beaches in Italy, Greece, and check out our list of the best quietest beaches in the world.
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Get a real life Lion King experience with a stay at where Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge giraffes and zebras roam freely right outside your window.
You can relax in poolside cabanas with the Gulf of Mexico in sight at the .
The snow-white sands of are right outside the front doors of this hotel. Lively Pier 60 and its surrounding restaurants is close by, too.
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