Cities Journal

Top 20 Small Cities In Florida

5. Destin
Photo credit: Rene Rivers / Flickr

12. Destin

People from all over the Southern United States gravitate towards the next place on our list – Destin – when they are vacationing. The city is nestled atop an effectively man-made island, between Choctawhatchee Bay and Gulf of Mexico.

The city grew dramatically over the last 20 years but it is still a relatively small town, with around 12,000 permanent residents. However, the condo complexes and vacation homes make this number grow by epic proportions, with nearly 5 million visitors coming down to the area over the course of one year.

The main attractions of the area are the spectacular beaches and emerald ocean water which are responsible for the moniker Emerald Coast. The very special sand that you will find at the Emerald Coast comes down from Appalachian Mountains and it has an almost sugary quality to it.

Destin, however, offers plenty on its own as well. It has a number of attractions, museums as well as two zoos. The Gulfarium is a particularly popular attraction, giving visitors the chance to learn more about the Gulf ecosystem.

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  • LA Toon

    Actually it is EDINBURGH not Edinburg, which sounds German 🙂

    • Redsfanx

      German? Edinburgh is Scottish.

  • clifton

    You don’t know the problems of the Dunedin,the beach is full of rocks going down honey moon Island which is control by the state.Having no commercial signs drive up 580 there you will find Ace hardware and Mc Donald’s,This city does not support manufacturing and are forcing out the businesses out that are the back bone of this city which it was founded on.Yes you have a bunch of cute stores and restaurants…if you plan to by a home here you can bet the city will be up your business on everything you want to do to your home and property.NO thanks to the ridiculous codes here in this city and they spend your tax dollars on wasteful things like the fire department that thinks they need a fire boat which will not be used or maned all the time….there is a lot of problems out of your view.

    • Annette Caldwell

      Oh whew glad we bought our home in Oldsmar instead.

      • Redsfanx

        I’m glad we live in San Antonio, a real Florida small town, in eastern Pasco County 33 miles northeast of Tampa.

    • Dan

      The fire department seems to get new trucks and a bigger budget every year. For that one fire they put out every five or six years…

  • nick

    The article about The Villages is extremely misinformed. For one, health is not a concern as many people there have STD’s and numerous other health issues. Also, the housing association there, and well as ALL city government there act like Nazis. Florida is shit and this page needs to stop lying about things, and omitting other important things.

    • Senor C O Jones

      For one, health is not a concern as many people there have STD’s and numerous other health issues. This sentence makes absolutely no sense. No sense at all!!! The place sounds like one huge waiting room to die.


        its actually really nice and practically zero crime, its clean, everything is new, and you cna really relax there with yoru family at one of the squares, that remind me of disney, if you not having sex with grandma nicks stupid comments wont really matter. lol

        • Senor C O Jones

          No way man. I am having sex with my wife. Whoa!!!!!!!!!!!!

        • fhqwhgus

          Hmm. Punctuation is important. Otherwise, you’re “having sex with grandma nicks stupid comments.”

    • Redsfanx

      The Villages is not a small town but has a population of 100,000 plus. The HOA’s are very arbitrary and the area is new with plenty of golf but no style or personality. It is popular with New Yorkers and other Easteners and elder sex seems to be a big item.

  • nick

    Also, Daytona Beach is not only dangerous(numerous gang sets reside there) bit but its also not even a small town. Its a mid sized town full of assholes.

    • Senor C O Jones

      especially on race week. Woo Hoo!!!!!!!!!!!

  • There are many much nicer small cities and towns in Florida. Glad that they were not mentioned.

  • Gregg Brennan

    Who wrote this? Whoever it is doesn’t know a damn thing about Florida and/or has never been here. Rich people live in PALM BEACH, and Manalapan, which are out on the barrier island, not WEST Palm Beach, which is inland.

  • fhqwhgus

    Yeah, I also find the article’s opinions to be highly suspect.

    The title says “small city,” but Daytona Beach isn’t exactly a “small city,” the urban area has a population of 349,064. It’s the principal city of the Deltona–Daytona Beach–Ormond Beach, FL metropolitan statistical area, which was home to 590,289 people in 2010. St. Augustine is a “small city” that should have been included. According to the 2013 census, it has 13,679 residents, compared to Daytona Beach’s 60,000+. St. Augustine’s entire urban area had a population of just 69,173 in 2012.

    Additionally, St. Augustine’s already set up as a tourist spot due the fact that it is the oldest European-established settlement within the borders of the continental US, having been founded in September 8, 1565. And it features some very unique and interesting landmarks, such as: Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the US. The Bridge of Lions, built 1925-1927, which features a pair of gorgeous Medici lions and spans the Intercoastal Waterway. And Zorayda Castle, a massive residence that was inspired by a 12th-century Moorish Alhambra Palace, built in St. Augustine in 1883 by Boston Millionaire, Franklin W. Smith.

  • Taylor

    Dunedin is NOT out in the country.. I was looking for country towns in Florida and I live near Dunedin and it is not a country like setting.

  • HiThere

    Hi All!
    I would like to warn anyone who is looking for a “small town” getaway, this website is full of lies. I live in Vero Beach, FL and recognized right away the Theatre Plaza in 14th Ave. All I can say is that the photographer must have taken this photo at 4:00 in the morning. Vero Beach is a conjested, commercialized town with a pinky nails worth of culture. The traffic will make you pull your hair out, and there are still many empty buildings (eye sores) from businesses that never recovered from the recession. Do you homework and don’t rely solely on a website that has apparently never spent a week in any of the towns they write about.

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