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Boomer Florida Vacations

Updated on October 3, 2014
Treasure Island at sunset
Treasure Island at sunset

Where to Go, What to See in Florida

Boomers may be looking for a vacation that will give them the opportunity to relax and unwind. They may want to check out some potential retirement communities. They even may want to visit aging parents or other relatives, but have some private time to connect with their spouse. This lens will give you some ideas about where to go.

A Miami native, I've lived in Florida most of my life. I'm a boomer born in 1955, so I share places to go that appeal to 50-something folks -- places to relax, places to sightsee, and even places to shop.

Florida is a diverse state, so you'll find quiet places to relax away from the crowds as well as crowded places filled with tourists form around the world. The choice is yours. Maybe you want to do some of both...

The surf at Clearwater beach
The surf at Clearwater beach

About Florida's Beaches

Florida's beaches are gorgeous. From the quiet shores on the northwest Florida coast to the sun-drenched beaches of the Florida Keys, Florida has a lot to offer beach goers of all palates.

Okay, okay. I may be prejudiced. But I love beaches and I have visited beaches in the Caribbean and Hawaii as well. I find Florida's beaches more convenient and in many cases similarly stunning.

Frankly, I have enjoyed them all. I'll give you my rundown on Florida beaches.

Miami -- You'll find these beaches crowded. There's lots happening. And the water is saltier because it's the Atlantic Ocean. Locals like to go to south beach, Crandon Park, or drive up to Hollywood Beach to get away from it all.

Pensacola -- Quietwater Beach is in the thick of things. You'll find a more tranquil experience in the Panhandle, but this is the center of the action for Pensacola Beach. Head towards Navarre for more privacy, or to go to the Gulf Island Natural Seashore. Perdido Key is the most convenient for folks arriving from Alabama and points west. These beaches are all on the Gulf of Mexico.

Destin -- Destin is gorgeous. It's part of the so-called Emerald Coast along the Gulf of Mexico in Florida's Panhandle. Henderson Beach was my favorite many years ago before it was developed. Now it's a bit more crowded to be sure, but it's a beautiful area.

Cocoa Beach -- Yep, The sands really are a light cocoa brown here. That's what stands out in my mind about Cocoa. It's a great place to check out when you are sightseeing at Cape Canaveral or Orlando attractions not far away. This is an Atlantic Ocean beach, so expect the water to be saltier than on the western coast along the Gulf of Mexico.

St. Petersburg Beach -- Along the central Gulf Coast of Florida, the St. Petersburg area offers some great beaches for folks who want amenities but not quite all the hustle bustle. Treasure Island has a number of public bathing areas including Sunset Beach on the north, where there's a beachside restaurant, and the less trafficked private beaches close to John's Pass on the northside. John's Pass has a number of restaurants, shops, and boats which go out on excursions, making this a great place to put on your travel itinerary. If you are looking for a restaurant for a special evening, try the historic Don Cesar.

Bradenton Beach -- If you are looking for a bit more privacy in the Central Gulf Coast area, head for Bradenton. Coquina Beach is my favorite there. I was introduced to it by friends in 1985, and I still keep going back. Be sure to stop by the Gulf Drive Cafe right on the beach. It's a winner.

Clearwater Beach -- This is where the action is, especially for the college crowd. If you want some privacy, you might run from here. BUT Clearwater Beach also has a wonderful fishing pier that offers you a unique bathing experience. Yep, you can soak in the shade. Admittedly it's a narrow strip, but you'll find folks hanging out underneath it for the shade. So go during the week, or go early, and stake your claim. It's cool. Clearwater also has lots of shops, so if you want to take home some Florida goodies, this is a great place to go.

Sanibel Island -- Sanibel is a great place to go if you like to ride bicycles. Bicyclists are everywhere, There is also a great nature presure and beaches are distinctive. When I went I saw red seaweed and a live starfish. Pretty cool.

Panama City Beach -- If you are heading to the Florida Panhandle from the east, this is the first beach you'll hit that's part of the premiere Panama City-Pensacola area known for its gorgeous greenish-blue waters and crystal white sands, with some sea oats. Like Pensacola, you can expect this area attracts larger crowds than the points in between.

South Walton County Beaches -- This is a great area and the state has preserved some beaches for us, among them Grayton Beach State Park. This area is known for its lovely sand dunes. You may want to rent a cottage near the beach for a restful respite. Want to play golf? Try the popular Sandestin Resort.

Florida Keys -- The less trafficked Florida Keys are a great place to get away and commune with nature. Enjoy Florida's parks and/'or head all the way to Key West where you can enjoy the southernmost beach in the United States, Hemingways home and other famous landmarks. There's a great coral reef to see off of Key West, but if you have a tendency to get seasick, don't risk it without ginger of some seasick medication.

Sarasota Beaches -- Just south of Bradenton, this is a great place to go for quality shops and a quieter beach experience. Lido Beach has a pool too.

By the way, I took this photo at Clearwater Beach.

Destin, Florida

Boomer Recommended Destination: St. Petersburg

St. Petersburg is known as a city for retirees. It has earned its reputation with good reason. Centrally located, St. Petersburg is convenient to north and south Florida locations as well as the Orlando resorts. Probably in part because of its reputation as a city for retirees, it attracts more retirees.

It's a great destination if you're considering retiring to Florida, if you want to check out the beaches after visiting attractions in Orlando, or even Busch Gardens in Tampa. It's a city with a slower pace, with history and charm.

Interested in houseboating?

Boomer Recommended Destination: Miami

If you are flying into the state, why not fly into Miami? It's a major gateway with plenty of flights, plus you can hop a cruise ship there, enjoy a Caribbean-style vacation without leaving our shores, or rent a car and drive to Key West.

Miami is a bustling city with lots to do. Be sure to visit its impressive downtown, for years a great place to buy fabrics. Calle Ocho is a must to see street with Cuban businesses. You'll want to try the Cuban restaurants, where you'll find palomilla, or cubed steak, with frijoles negros, black beans, and arroz blanco or white rice. You may want to try the cafe con leche, or strong Cuban coffee with milk, and pasteles de guayaba, or guava pies.

Miami is a sprawling city. So make sure you get navigational help.

Sunrise over the Atlantic
Sunrise over the Atlantic

Head for the Open Sea

Lots of cruise boats leave from the Florida coasts; the bulk of them leave from the ports of Miami and Fort Lauderdale. So it's a natural to pair a visit with relatives on a cruise vacation. Cruises appeal to all ages, so you can cruise together or by yourselves and extend your vacation with a visit inland. The bulk of your cruise ships go to the Caribbean or the Bahamas.

Besides Miami and Fort Lauderdale, you can hop a cruise ship out of Tampa or out of Port Canaveral on the east coast near Cocoa Beach. Try the Cocoa port if you want to spend time at Orlando attractions, then sail together with your grandchildren. You'll find cruises that cater to families, allowing parents and grandparents time to explore on their own, workout in the gym, or soak in the spa.

Boomer Recommended Destination: Orlando

Orlando hardly needs a mention here, it's such a popular place for folks of all ages. You can write your own ticket here, hopping from theme park to theme park. There is good flight service into Orlando, which enjoys a great central location, making it a great starting point, central point, or ending point for your vacation.

Orlando is a short jaunt to Tampa-St. Petersburg, making it easy to combine with a Gulf Coast vacation. But it also is close to Cape Canaveral, long a favored destination for space lovers. Orlando also is about four hours from Miami.

A Boomer Book

Don't Let an Old Person Move into Your Body

Don't Let an Old Person Move Into Your Body by Jim Donovan. $7.99 from
Learn how to make the rest of your life, the best of your life. International best-selling author and baby boomer, Jim Donovan, says, “Aging is biological. Getting old is a state of mind.” If you’re ready to challenge the stereotypes about aging and learn to live your life with passion, purpose, power, and prosperity, this book’s for you.

Cheryl Rogers
Cheryl Rogers

About the Author

I'm a Florida native born and raised in the Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. I later lived in the Pensacola/Fort Walton Beach area. Now I make my home in Tampa.

A beach lover, I love sharing my knowledge of Florida beaches and other interesting places to see in Florida.

I am also a boomer who loves to write and take photographs. I decided to become a writer when I was a child after becoming enthralled with Nancy Drew Mystery stories. Now I write mystery and adventure stories of my own for children: The Bible Camp Mystery series. They feature a former New York gang leader, Chet Harrigan, who does his best but encounters lots of unforeseen challenges in the Central Florida backwoods.

You can learn more about me by visiting my website, where I publish a free, online magazine sharing the latest kingdom-building books.

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