16 Top-Rated & Best Beaches Near Tallahassee, FL Right Now

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By Erin
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Staying in Florida’s state capital and want to visit the best beaches near Tallahassee? You’re in luck because there are beaches not too far from the city itself.

If you don’t mind a road trip, that’s even better β€” some of my favorite Florida Panhandle beaches are just off 30A.

No matter your vacation plans, I’m confident this guide will help you make the most of your time in Tallahassee!

Photo collage of sunsets and lighthouse and walking path to beaches near Tallahassee.

How Far Is Tallahassee From the Beach?

When planning a beach trip with my family, I find one of the first things I look at is the distance. Depending on my hectic schedule, this can quickly narrow down multiple options.

While Tallahassee isn’t a coastal city, it isn’t too far from the beach. The nearest beach to Tallahassee is St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge, which is approximately 19 miles away.

Shell Point Beach and Mashes Sands Beach are also close in distance at 28 and 37 miles from Tallahassee, respectively. They’re also free to visit, making it one of the best free things to do near Tallahassee.

Use the interactive map provided to see how long your favorite beach destination is from your location. If you can spare the time in your schedule, you’ll get more of your traditional beach experience a little further away.

Below I’ve outlined the closest beaches to Tallahassee in order of distance. I also include many helpful tips to decide which beach to visit a breeze!

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St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge at St. Marks

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge at St. Marks - Photo of the lighthouse

πŸ–οΈ Location: 1255 Lighthouse Rd, St. Marks, FL 32355
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 19 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: $5

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is the closest beach to Tallahassee. It contains 43 miles of protected shorelines, divided into three sections.

The biggest and most popular is the St. Marks Unit, which has the best beaches in the refuge. It has restrooms, a historic lighthouse, and extensive hiking and biking trails. It’s also a perfect beach for bird watching. For those looking for the closest beach with picnic facilities and plenty of fun things to do, this is your place.

β›Ί Pro Tip: If you want to camp here, you have to either get a special permit for backcountry camping or stay at the campground located just across from the refuge’s main gate.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Lodge at Wakulla Springs

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Shell Point Beach

gulf of mexico sunset with birds flying and clouds in the background

πŸ“ Location: 117 Beaty Taff Drive, Shell Point, Florida 32327
πŸ›£οΈ Distance from Tallahassee: 28 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free!

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Shell Point Beach has lots of amenities for a fun-filled beach day. There’s a kayak launch, a playground, a volleyball court, picnic pavilions, and a nearby boat ramp. There are also, of course, public restrooms and a parking lot. 

What I love most about this beach is the calm waters with many crabs and sea shells. Depending on the time of year, you can wade out in the shallow water, and there’s a nice sandbar. However, there can also be quite a bit of seaweed covering parts of the beach at times too.

Shell Point is a peaceful and laid-back community. There is usually plenty of parking available. I recommend packing a picnic since there aren’t stores or restaurants nearby. So if you’re looking for a traditional beach experience, Shell Point Beach is not the best fit.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Lodge at Wakulla Springs

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Mashes Sands Beach

birds flying above the beach with the Gulf of Mexico in the background.

πŸ–οΈ Location: 901 Mashes Sands Road, Panacea, FL 32346
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 37 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free!

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Across Apalachee Bay from Shell Point Beach is Mashes Sands Beach more remote and has fewer amenities (but they do have clean restrooms). This more rustic and private beach is great for taking couple or group photos since you won’t be bombarded with onlookers.  

Because it’s so secluded, wildlife is abundant, and it’s an excellent place for fishing. There is a boat ramp nearby, too. Mashes Sands Beach is a good spot for fishermen, but its definitely an acquired taste for swimming since the waters are murky and there is a lack of waves. For a typical beach day with more amenities, you’re better suited for one of the other beaches near Tallahassee.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Magnuson Hotel Wildwood Inn 

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North End Beach in Bald Point State Park at Alligator Point

alligator point with beach view and a red bucket in the distance.

πŸ–οΈ Location: 146 Box Cut Road, Alligator Point, FL 32346
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 39 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: $4

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Bald Point State Park has three beaches: North End Beach, Sunrise Beach, and Maritime Hammock Beach. 

In my opinion, North End Beach is the nicest, with plenty of amenities including restrooms, picnic pavilions with grills, and an observation deck. In terms of accessibility, there’s a Mobi-Mat, as well as beach wheelchairs that you can reserve. 

Near the entrance of the beach, there’s a fishing pier where the river opens into the ocean.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: St. James Bay Golf Club

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Dog Island

Dog Island Beach view from Carrabelle, Florida

πŸ–οΈ Location: 390 Gulf Shore Dr, Carrabelle, FL 32322
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 48 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free (excluding transportation)

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Dog Island is a small barrier island off the shore of Carrabelle. It’s only accessible by ferry or boat, since it’s roughly 3.5 miles off the coastline. You can’t bring your car over on the ferry, so be prepared to walk. The Dog Island Ferry & Charter Service runs Friday through Monday, and you need to call at least 24 hours prior to reserving a space with Captain Rusty.

Also, since there are no public amenities on Dog Island, bring everything you need. That said, Dog Island is one of the most peaceful beach areas near Tallahassee!

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: St. James Bay Golf Club

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Carrabelle Beach

Carrabelle, FL has one of the best beaches near Tallahassee FL - showing water views

πŸ–οΈ Best Beach Access: 1786 Big Bend Scenic Byway Coastal Trail, Carrabelle, FL 32322
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 54 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free!

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Carrabelle Beach is popular and easily accessible, being located just outside the city of Carrabelle. There’s lots of parking, as well as restrooms, showers, and plenty of picnic tables. It’s definitely one of the best dog-friendly beaches in the area, welcoming leashed pets.

While in Carrabelle make sure to visit the Crooked River Lighthouse. This historical beacon reaches 103 feet tall, providing a rewarding panoramic view of the Gulf of Mexico. Be warned, the ascent can be quite strenuous and becomes significantly heated in the midday sun.

Despite these considerations, I highly recommend Crooked River Lighthouse, and don’t miss the quaint gift shop and museum.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: St. James Bay Golf Club

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Keaton Beach

Keaton Beach Fishing Pier Phot

πŸ–οΈ Location: 20969 Keaton Beach Rd, Perry, FL 32348
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 79 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free!

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Keaton Beach is a small, very quiet beach that you may very well have for yourself when you visit! There are restrooms, picnic pavilions with grills, a playground, a big fishing pier, and a boat ramp.

πŸ¦ͺ Pro Tip: Though it’s usually never crowded, Keaton Beach sometimes attracts crowds during scalloping season (July to September)

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Express in Perry

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Hagens Cove

πŸ–οΈ Location: Hagens Cove, Florida, Perry, FL 32348
πŸ›£οΈ Distance from Tallahassee: 80 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free!

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Hagens Cove is even quieter than Keaton Beach and has less amenities. However, there are picnic pavilions, a small boat ramp, and an observation tower. There’s also a restroom, but it is a pit toilet with no running water.

Hagens Cove is also a lesser-known most of the Tallahassee beaches, so it’s ideal if you’re looking for a secluded spot with wide open views of the pine islands. Visitors that like to kayak, paddleboard, and fishing are the perfect fit for Hagens Cove. While there is a little sandy beach, you got to visit based on the tides to fully appreciate it!

Pro Tip: Hagens Cove is a very popular spot to wade for scallops during the season.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Holiday Inn Express in Perry

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St. George Island State Park at St. George Island

St George Beach shows beach houses and beach-goers in the distance.

πŸ–οΈ Location: 1900 E. Gulf Beach Drive, St. George Island, FL 32328
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 83 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: $6

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

St. George Island State Park is located on a barrier island with nine miles of pristine beaches on the Gulf of Mexico. This Florida State Park encompasses a total of 1,962 acres on St. George Island.

With its undisturbed turquoise color water its no wonder why St. George Island State Park was ranked the #1 beach by Dr. Beach in 2023. It’s one of the best beaches for shelling and beachcombing.

St. George Island State Park has campsites with water, electricity, restrooms, showers, and a playground. There is also a primitive campsite without any amenities. Shelters with covered pavilions and grills are located on the beach and can be reserved.

Remember, being a state park, it’s not a manicured beach like Clearwater Beach. St. George Island State Park is a nature lovers’ haven with sand dunes and remote beauty at every angle. If you’re able to stay on the island, even better! You’ll certainly appreciate the amazing sunsets!

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: St. George Inn

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Cape San Blas

Cape San Blas beach photo with sea oats blowing in the wind with calm water.

πŸ–οΈ Best Beach Access: Salinas Park Gulfside, 280 Cape San Blas Rd, Port Saint Joe, FL 32456
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 99 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free!

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Cape San Blas is a quiet, idyllic stretch south of Port St. Joe. Some of the best beach areas here are in Salinas Park, specifically Salinas Park Gulfside. Here, you’ll find restrooms, picnic areas, picnic tables, grills, and a playground. 

Salinas Park, and pretty much anywhere on the cape, is great for fishing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. There are also tours that offer horseback riding on the beach!

πŸš— Pro Tip: There isn’t much parking at Salinas Park Gulfside, but you can park across the street at Salinas Park Bayside.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Pasando Tiempo Beachfront

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Sunset Park at Mexico Beach

Sunset Park at Mexico Beach

πŸ–οΈ Location: 9434 US-98, Port St Joe, FL 32456
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 99 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Free!

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

The sand along the shores of Mexico Beach is made up entirely of soft, fine quartz. This means it’s got some of the prettiest beaches near Tallahassee!

There are a few beaches in town but Sunset Park is a local favorite. After being ravaged by Hurricane Michael, the beach reopened in 2022 with new and improved amenities. These include a sheltered area with restrooms and picnic tables.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Port Inn and Cottages, Ascend Hotel Collection

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T.H. Stone Memorial St. Joseph Peninsula State Park

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park Beach photo of white sandy beaches and Gulf of Mexico

πŸ–οΈ Location: 8899 Cape San Blas Road, Port St. Joe, FL 32456
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 107 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: $6

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park, beautifully tucked into the heart of Florida, provides a wonderful destination for swimming and fishing enthusiasts, while also offering a breathtaking spectacle of mesmerizing sunsets. This nature-filled getaway is a fantastic value for families and adventurers alike, with a nominal admission fee guaranteeing a full day of memorable activities and relaxation.

In addition to these offerings, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park boasts an extensive trail system that winds through diverse habitats, perfect for hiking or birdwatching. For water sports enthusiasts, the park’s location on the Gulf of Mexico allows for exciting activities such as kayaking, paddleboarding, scuba diving, and snorkeling.

The park stands out with its rich array of indigenous wildlife. Nature lovers will appreciate the efforts to protect unique species like sea turtles and the rare St. Andrews beach mouse, whose habitat has found a safe haven within the park’s boundaries.

St. Joseph Peninsula State Park also boasts well-maintained facilities for its visitors. It provides clean restrooms and showers, perfect for freshening up after a dip in the clear waters. You’ll also find picnic shelters equipped with grills.

Furthermore, St. Joseph Peninsula State Park is a fisherman’s paradise. A dedicated fish cleaning station simplifies the post-catch process, and a well-kept boat ramp is conveniently located for those with a penchant for offshore fishing or boating. For those who might have forgotten their gear or who crave a quick bite, there is a concession stand offers a wide range of snacks, beach supplies, and even fishing and boating equipment rentals.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Port Inn and Cottages, Ascend Hotel Collection

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St Andrews State Park Beach at Panama City Beach

St. Andrews State Park view of the boardwalk and Gulf of Mexico sparkling in the distance.

πŸ–οΈ Location: 4607 State Park Lane, Panama City, FL 32408
πŸ“Distance from Tallahassee: 113 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: $8

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

St. Andrews State Park Beach has 1.5 miles of beach, with boardwalks over the well-preserved dunes. The waters are great for surfing and you can buy scuba and snorkeling gear at the park. There’s a boat ramp and a fishing pier, too.

While you’re there, take a ferry out to Shell Island, which is even more serene and untouched. You can also rent a kayak or pontoon boat and take yourself there.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Marriott’s Legends Edge at Bay Point

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Panama City Beach

aerial view of Panama City Beach

πŸ–οΈ Beach Access 58: W Park Dr, Panama City Beach, FL 324133 πŸ“Distance from Tallahassee: 133 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Pier visits are a daily fee of $4

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Just over a two-hour drive southwest of Tallahassee, past Florida’s tranquil and charming countryside, lies one of the more touristy gems of the Emerald Coast, Panama City Beach.

Panama City Beach offers an immersive, family-friendly experience with lots to do. The city center beach and the 1,500-foot-long Russell-Fields Pier add to its charm.

It is the perfect vantage point for panoramic views of the coast but also a haven for fishing enthusiasts who can pay a small fee of $7 to catch their luck at catching various types of fish. To walk the pier costs $4. You walk it multiple times within a day, if you like to see the sunrise and sunset with no added fees.

Adjacent to the beach is Pier Park, a bustling hub of fun and entertainment. This sprawling complex houses many beachfront restaurants, shops, and amusement rides for the whole family to enjoy.

Panama City Beach is not just a beach near Tallahassee. It’s a place with endless fun and natural splendor, which explains why it is a favorite spring break destination.

Some of the top-rated activities include scuba diving, snorkeling in Shell Island, or dolphin tour and sunset cruise.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn at Panama City Beach

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Seaside Beach

Photo of Seaside, FL beach with turquoise color water

πŸ–οΈ Best Beach Access: Seaside Pavilion, E County Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 146 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: Rental costs $80 & up

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Along Scenic Highway 30A, you’ll find sugar-soft, white sand beaches, and turquoise water. The beach at Seaside is one of the most pristine and peaceful places in the Florida Panhandle. Plus, there’s so much to do in Seaside!

The only caveat is that visiting this exclusive, chic beach is a bit expensive. Seaside, Florida, is primarily a private beach with public access near the pavilion. To rent beach chairs will cost around $80 & up, and you must reserve them in advance.

Remember that parking is also pricey, but you’ll get a uniquely beautiful experience and, in my opinion, is well worth the cost!

πŸŒ… Pro Tip: Seaside is where the film, The Truman Show was created. You’ll get to see Truman Burbank’s (Jim Carrey) home and other architectural details from the show.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: WaterColor Inn & Resort

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Grayton Beach State Park at Santa Rosa Beach

Santa Rosa Beach

πŸ–οΈ Location: 357 Main Park Road, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459
πŸ“ Distance from Tallahassee: 147 Miles
πŸ’Έ Admission Fee: $5

Why This Beach Is Worth Visiting

Another great 30A beach destination is Grayton Beach State Park. Being inside a state park, the beach is protected and well-maintained. Amenities here include restrooms, a shower facility, picnic pavilions, and a boat ramp. 

If you want to set up a tent or bring your RV, there’s a campsite here, too. For boating and paddleboarding, you have a choice of either the Gulf of Mexico or Western Lake, a rare coastal dune lake.

🏨 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse

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Helpful Tips for Visiting Tallahassee Beaches

Lets Go to The Beach Photo Collage 1

Before embarking on a beach trip from Tallahassee, here are some tips to keep in mind to ensure you have a safe and stress-free beach day:

  • Check the weather. The climate in and around Tallahassee is subtropical. This means you can expect mild, warm weather but sudden rain showers and even thunderstorms can be expected, especially in the late spring and summer months.
  • Know whether your pet will be welcome. Lots of the beaches near Tallahassee are dog-friendly beaches but not all are.  Those that are dog-friendly often only welcome leashed dogs.
  • Watch for wildlife. Florida is teeming with wildlife. Admire the wonder of nature but also keep an eye out for alligators and jellyfish. Be mindful not to disturb sea turtles or pick sea oats; both are protected by the Florida Department of Environment Protection.
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πŸ† Top Picks for The Best Beach Beaches Near Tallahassee

Lets Go to The Beach Photo by Canva

Best Beaches Near Tallahassee for Families

πŸ† Verdict: St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge

For family-friendly fun at Tallahassee beaches, head to Shell Point Beach or St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. The beach offers plenty of amenities, including a playground, a volleyball court, and a kayak launch. 

St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge is another great option, especially for outdoorsy families. Both locations are relatively close to Tallahassee, so the kids won’t get impatient and restless on the ride there.

Least Crowded Beach Near Tallahassee

πŸ† Verdict: St. George Island State Park

Dog Island, accessible only by boat, doesn’t draw in as many travelers. So this is a top choice if you’re looking for an ultra private beach experience.

However, if you’re looking for the overall best least crowded beach, you’ll want to head to St. George Island State Park at St. George Island. It’s more accessible and there are hotels to make it an ideal weekend getaway.

Best Tallahassee Beaches for Nightlife

πŸ† Verdict: Panama City

For an electrifying beach vacation, head to Panama City Beach. It’s right in the city center and has pristine white sand beaches. Plus, you have nightlife options in close proximity, along with many bars, restaurants, hotels, and more!

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Final Thoughts on Beaches Near Tallahassee

While Tallahassee may not be a coastal city, there are plenty of beautiful beaches nearby worth visiting. I hope I’ve helped you decide which is best for your next beach vacation.

For a long weekend, I would definitely pack my bags for Seaside or Santa Rosa Beach off of 30A. I prefer the laid-back but upscale vibe of Seaside and its neighboring cities these days. However, in my younger years, Panama City Beach was my top pick because of all it offers!

Whether you need the closest beach or something with amusement parks nearby, one of these best beaches near Tallahassee is sure to fit your needs.

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Authored By: Erin
Welcome to Erin’s Travel Tips, a Florida Travel Website. I specialize in unique family travel destinations, outdoor getaways in Florida and beyond! I’m a proud Floridian who loves a good cup of coffee, boating, and of course, traveling with my family to some of the most interesting places in the world.

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