Best Snowbird Destinations in Florida

When you're looking for warm weather, sun, and fun during the winter months at an affordable price, you might look for a snowbird hotspot in such places as Arizona, Florida, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, or Texas.

But we think you can't go wrong with the Sunshine State.

Bordering both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, Florida has more coastline than any other state aside from Alaska.

And no matter where you are in Florida, you're never more than 60 minutes from miles of beach and saltwater.

Florida also boasts more than 7,700 lakes and 11,000 miles of rivers.

Outdoor enthusiasts can make use of Florida's 175 state parks, 37 state forests, several national parks, preserves, seashores or monuments, national forests, and a national scenic trail.

Hikers and cyclists can enjoy more than 9,200 miles of trails.

Of course, there are numerous golf courses, theme parks, attractions, and cultural centers in Florida to add to the fun during your warm-weather winter season.

They'll also help entertain your houseguests who might visit when you're snowbirding.

With 20 airports throughout the state and numerous non-stop flights, travel in and out of the Sunshine State is easy on the budget and travel schedule.

For several other interesting facts about Florida, check out this article on visitflorida.com.

But where should you go in Florida when you want to stay for all or part of a snowbird season and not just a two-week vacation? 

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To help narrow down snowbird destinations, we'll turn to a recent report from WalletHub.

Also, see: Affordable Snowbird Destinations in Florida

Best Florida Cities for Snowbirds and Retirees

WalletHub analyzed data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Federal Bureau of Investigations, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Department of Elder Affairs – State of Florida, United States Environmental Protection Agency, TripAdvisor, Charity Navigator, and more to find the most ideal cities in Florida to retire.

A comparison of 120 cities in the state was made across these dimensions:

  • Quality of Life
  • Health Care
  • Activities

Here we're highlighting the top 15 cities in each category and the 15 best Florida cities overall for retirees and snowbirds. We also included the worst 20 Florida cities overall to retire in, according to WalletHub's analysis.

Only two Florida cities made every “best” list – Sarasota and Fort Myers.

These two popular snowbird destinations have a lot in common but also have a uniqueness of their own.

As snowbird residents of beach town Sarasota, we completely agree with its ranking as #1 overall.

Sarasota has miles of sandy beaches and an abundance of activities for land and water lovers alike.

The natural beauty of the white sand beaches of adjacent Siesta Key makes it a popular destination for snowbirds of all ages. 

Sarasota is also an easy drive to Tampa and other popular destinations such as St. Petersburg and Clearwater Beach. 

Fort Myers is another favorite snowbird destination near the gulf coast with amazing beaches, plenty of activities, and a great quality of life for U.S. and Canadian snowbirds alike.

Nearby Sanibel Island also boasts white sand and a low-key vibe making it a popular destination for those enjoying the snowbird lifestyle.

Naples and Marco Island are an easy visit from Fort Myers, and jet-powered catamarans make a day trip to Key West comfortable and fun. 

Both Sarasota and Fort Myers offer airports to make it easy for seasonal travelers and their visitors to escape cold weather and enjoy quick access to the beach.

While staying oceanside or very near it can be costly, there are plenty of affordable homes or rentals within a mile or two of beautiful beaches to keep your cost of living low.

You can find both long and short-term rentals and plenty of active snowbird communities, as well as a welcoming larger city community you can join in.

Four Florida destinations are found on 3 of the 4 best lists:

Boca Raton, Delray Beach, Immokalee, and Miami.

Those looking to become seasonal residents of Florida who desire access to beaches along the Atlantic Ocean versus the Gulf might consider these three popular destinations for snowbirds, Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and Miami.

If you're hoping for a quiet area and are not concerned about being within a few miles of a saltwater beach, Immokalee is worth a look.

Of course, there are several cities you might enjoy wintering in, as well as several you might want to avoid.

These lists can help you narrow down some options depending on what's most important to you.

15 Best Florida Destinations for Active Snowbirds

  1. Sarasota, FL
  2. Tampa, FL
  3. Orlando, FL
  4. Boca Raton, FL
  5. Miami, FL
  6. Fort Lauderdale, FL
  7. Riviera Beach, FL
  8. Keystone, FL
  9. Fort Myers, FL
  10. Pensacola, FL
  11. New Smyrna Beach, FL
  12. West Palm Beach, FL
  13. Delray Beach, FL
  14. Horizon West, FL
  15. Jupiter, FL

15 Best Florida Destinations Based on Overall Quality of Life

  1. Sebastian, FL
  2. Estero, FL
  3. North Fort Myers, FL
  4. Cape Coral, FL
  5. Sarasota, FL
  6. Bradenton, FL
  7. South Bradenton, FL
  8. Bonita Springs, FL
  9. Tamarac, FL
  10. North Port, FL
  11. Immokalee, FL
  12. Fort Myers, FL
  13. Hallandale Beach, FL
  14. Dunedin, FL
  15. Port Orange, FL

15 Best Florida Destinations Based on Available Health Care

  1. Immokalee, FL
  2. Fort Myers, FL
  3. Sarasota, FL
  4. Boca Raton, FL
  5. Miami, FL
  6.  Boynton Beach, FL
  7. Delray Beach, FL
  8. Ocala, FL
  9. Winter Park, FL
  10. Melbourne, FL
  11. West Palm Beach, FL
  12. Palm Beach Gardens, FL
  13. Lake Worth, FL
  14. Altamonte Springs, FL
  15. Clearwater, FL

Top Overall Destinations in Florida for Retirees

Overall Rank CityTotal Score Quality of Life Health Care Activities 
1Sarasota, FL69.66531
2Fort Myers, FL63.171229
3Boca Raton, FL62.695444
4Miami, FL62.483655
5Orlando, FL58.5458223
6Tampa, FL56.3289452
7Sebastian, FL55.6514743
8Fort Lauderdale, FL55.0276296
9Delray Beach, FL54.9266713
10Clearwater, FL54.87201518
11Bradenton, FL54.7161925
12Immokalee, FL54.0511166
13Jupiter, FL53.56272415
14Winter Park, FL53.5126924
15Pensacola, FL52.57385410
16South Bradenton, FL52.0679219
17Bonita Springs, FL52.0181638
18Cape Coral, FL51.8343334
19Melbourne, FL51.10871021
20Estero, FL51.0223841
Source: WalletHub

Worst Places to Retire in Florida

Overall Rank CityTotal Score Quality of Life Health Care Activities 
120Riverview, FL33.3012010291
119St. Cloud, FL34.3233119120
118Brandon, FL34.541169790
117Town ‘n' Country, FL34.6911910959
116Wesley Chapel, FL34.8111577114
115Navarre, FL34.8210311679
114Deltona, FL35.138612057
113Land O' Lakes, FL36.1411384100
112The Villages, FL36.1878108116
111Plant City, FL36.431178969
110Valrico, FL36.8011811037
109Miami Gardens, FL37.289696112
108Homestead, FL37.6210667106
107North Miami, FL37.699974113
106Ruskin, FL38.4411410347
105Fleming Island, FL38.5510158118
104Merritt Island, FL39.177557111
103Apopka, FL39.28738898
102Coconut Creek, FL39.695193110
101Ocoee, FL39.765710489
Source: WalletHub

Final Thoughts

Whether you choose to rent in different locations throughout the years or choose a more permanent snowbird location, Florida has a lot to offer.

For the warmest temperatures during the winter season, you'll want to avoid Northern Florida which can get quite chilly.

While most of the cities on this list are near the coasts of Florida, the central part of the state also has a lot to offer. And you'll still be about an hour or less from sandy beaches no matter where you decide to snowbird.

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