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

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

Many of the most popular destinations in the Sunshine State, such as Orlando and Miami, can feel crowded with millions of tourists.

But these five less crowded destinations in Florida are perfect if you’re seeking a laidback vacation.

Manatee in Crystal River, Florida

Amelia Island

One of the best underrated beach destinations in Florida is Amelia Island. This peaceful beach town is located about 40 minutes north of Jacksonville, close to the Florida and Georgia border.

It’s the southernmost of the Sea Islands, a chain of Atlantic Coast barrier islands 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 on the beach.

Amelia Island Florida

Mexico Beach

Another underrated beach destination in Florida is Mexico Beach. This laidback beach town is located on the aptly-nicknamed Forgotten Coast on the Florida Panhandle.

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

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

Mexico Beach Florida

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’ll find Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, a natural shelter to many manatees.

One of the coolest things to do in Crystal River is to go snorkeling or scuba diving with manatees, observing these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

Although you won’t find typical “beaches” in 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 Florida

Gasparilla Island

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

It was recently named the best beach town in the U.S. by Travel + Leisure because of its charming, laidback island vibe. Located about 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 via bicycle or golf-cart. It’s known for its great beaches, as well as for being the tarpon fishing capital of the world.

Gasparilla Island FL

Big Pine Key

Finally, Big Pine Key is one of the best beach destinations in Florida for amazing scenery and few crowds. It’s part of the Florida Keys, a string of tropical islands off the southernmost tip of Florida.

Being located towards the furthest end of the Keys, a 2 hour and 45 minute drive from Miami, Big Pine Key is a paradise for nature-lovers. 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 great beaches, where you can often spot dolphins, and a nature preserve at Bahia Honda State Park. It’s also a great spot for snorkeling and scuba diving.

Big Pine Key, Florida

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