TripAdvisor has released the 2015 Travelers’ Choice Top Beaches in the US. Or what could otherwise be called “Florida’s best beaches and some others.” The Sunshine State cleaned up this year, boasting nine beaches on the list of 25 – more than any other US destination.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise. Florida has long been a traveler’s paradise, with its powdery white sands, bright azure waters and endless sunny skies. The appeal likely starts with its year-round warm weather, but Florida’s unbiased attractions – family-friendly theme parks, watersports, romantic scenic tours, exquisite dining and nightlife – help maintain its stance as a top US beach destination for all types of vacationers.
While luxury resorts and hotels get the public attention, there’s actually more vacation rentals available in many of these Florida beach destinations – often at a more affordable rate. So you can save money while you de-stress, and experience the same comforts and amenities of home.
If you’re planning your next Florida vacation, we recommend checking out the breezy beachfront condos and rental homes in these top beach destinations, as voted on by TripAdvisor travelers.
Bragging rights goes to Siesta Beach! The Siesta Key sands took the top spot on the list. The draw of Siesta Beach, like most Florida beaches, is the sugar-white sand and laid-back atmosphere of the Siesta Keys. “A pristine beach that never seems to end. A photographer’s dream,” says one reviewer.
“A place in the sun that warrants returning again and again.”
Siesta Beach vacation home renters find that guests thoroughly enjoy the “best of both worlds” vibe. Vacationers can choose to kick back with their butt in the sand and not a worry in the world, or venture just minutes to popular Sarasota for busier activities like museums, art, restaurants, theater and even baseball spring training.
Average price for a 2-bedroom vacation rental for a week: $1,350
Average price for 2 rooms at a 3-3.5-star hotel for a week: $4,027
Vacation rental savings: 66%
Recount! Recount! That’s what Saint Pete Beach is thinking after it narrowly missed the top spot. But runner-up is nothing to be ashamed of, especially when travelers claim it’s “one of the most beautiful beaches [they] have ever set foot on.”
With ideal accommodations for families, Saint Pete Beach also has a calm surf good for toddlers and young children. Between the outdoor recreation, top-notch shopping and one-of-a-kind local cafes, there’s something for everyone in this coastal city.
Average price for a 2-bedroom vacation rental for a week: $1,056
Average price for 2 rooms at a 3-3.5-star hotel for a week: $3,038
Vacation rental savings: 65%
Rounding out the top five is Pensacola Beach, a haven known for its natural and historical sights. One must-see is the National Aviation Museum, featuring over 150 vintage aircraft, flight simulators and an IMAX Theater. There’s also the 19th century military base Fort Pickens and the Pensacola Lighthouse – the oldest of its kind on the Gulf Coast.
Hotels are limited in Pensacola Beach, but the vacation homes are a plenty, and being perfectly located on the sandy shoreline you’re only steps to that emerald green ocean.
“You’re never far from anything in Clearwater – bars, malls, activities, nature walks and of course the beautiful beach,” says one reviewer of this old-fashioned family beach destination.
Aside from its rich heritage, calm demeanor, and quaint waterfront homes, Clearwater Beach is noted as one of the best places in the world for dolphin watching.
Average price for a 2-bedroom vacation rental for a week: $1,174
Average price for 2 rooms at a 3-3.5-star hotel for a week: $2,613
Vacation rental savings: 55%
To try and explain the allure of Saint Augustine Beach would not do it justice. This top-rated Florida beach has received some of the highest praise by TripAdvisor travelers. “It sparkles like diamond dust,” says one impressed vacationer. “A little piece of heaven on Earth.”
“Saint Augustine Beach is a secret that’s becoming less well-kept,” claims another traveler.
Saint Augustine vacation rental guests often state that the morning walks to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic are the most memorable occasions of the whole trip.
“It’s the friendliness of the people,” says a Saint Augustine Beach home renter. “[They’re] happy to stop and chat with a complete stranger…I guess it conveys a relaxed attitude on everyone, like how you feel on a Caribbean island.”
The Spring Break Capital of the World rounds out the top ten best US beach destinations. During March and April, some 100,000 college students bring their sunglasses and flip-flops to the shores of Panama City Beach. The affordable oceanfront condos offer the young travelers an ideal stay in the center of all the action.
Average price for a 2-bedroom vacation rental for a week: $1,450
Average price for 2 rooms at a 3-3.5-star hotel for a week: $4,097
Vacation rental savings: 65%
Surrounded by hundreds of barrier and coastal islands, Fort Myers Beach offers a unique exploration experience to families and friends alike. Kayak through 40 miles of the Great Calusa Blueway or walk out your vacation home’s back door for instant beach access, with world-class shelling and marine wildlife.
Average price for a 2-bedroom vacation rental for a week: $1,111
Average price for 2 rooms at a 3-3.5-star hotel for a week: $3,081
Vacation rental savings: 64%
Though far from Hollywood, California, this Florida beach is just as stunning. Palm trees line the shoreline and the sand squeaks beneath your feet. After a relaxing day of sunbathing or lounging by the private pool of your Hollywood Beach vacation home, hit the family-friendly boardwalk with live music, fresh seafood restaurants and local shops.
Average price for a 2-bedroom vacation rental for a week: $1,334
Average price for 2 rooms at a 3-3.5-star hotel for a week: $2,405
Vacation rental savings: %45
Set in arguably the hottest – that is, most lively – city in the US, South Beach is an incredible experience for mature vacationers looking to have some fun. Don’t let the tabloids sway your judgment, either.
As busy as the beach is, it’s also extremely vast and goes on for miles.
That’s a lot of walking if you’re trying to spot Leonardo DiCaprio or Justin Timberlake. But at least the soft sand feels like pillows under your feet. And with a Miami beachfront condo, you’re never far from the action.
Average price for a 2-bedroom vacation rental for a week: $2,809
Average price for 2 rooms at a 3-3.5-star hotel for a week: $3,292
Vacation rental savings: 15%