Florida’s Most Walkable Towns

These 2 Pedestrian-Friendly Cities Offer a High Quality of Life and Promote Better Health

Can you live in Florida without a car?

Studies show that people who live the longest healthiest lives have one thing in common. They get plenty of exercise every day, and they don’t even own exercise equipment. They don’t belong to a gym either. They do live in communities where walking almost everywhere they want to go is just a natural part of their every day life. If they need to go to the store, they walk there. To visit friends, they walk.

So these people are getting the required daily exercise for excellent health that doctors are always preaching about, without even having to think about it. If you live in the typical American suburb, this is impossible to do, so you usually must buy exercise equipment (that usually just collects dust) or you join a gym (and then never go). If you’re going to move to Florida, or anywhere really, why not choose a community where you could live without having to use your car? It would be better for the planet and your waistline.

We have identified towns in Florida where you can get your daily exercise, naturally, by walking or biking instead of driving everywhere, and hopefully you’ll live a longer healthier life like the people in those studies. Our criteria was simple. The town must have a good mix of residential and commercial properties, so that residents can safely walk almost every where they need to go on a daily basis. The town also must be safe. Unfortunately, Florida’s violent crime rate is higher than in most our states. Regularly walking in towns with high crime rates is not something that I would suggest my family and friends do. So I don’t want you to do that either. High crime rates disqualified many possible walkable towns and cities from making this list.

Florida’s Most Pedestrian-Friendly Towns and Crime

The Florida towns and cities that may be walkable, but did not make my list because of higher crime rates are: Delray Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Hollywood Beach, Key West, Pensacola and St Augustine. If you’re a business person in one of these towns that believes this is unfair because only part of the town has a crime problem, I understand your perspective. You have a business interest in people relocating to your town. BUT, look at it from a buyers perspective. If there are multiple towns that offer similar benefits, but some have lower crime rates and some higher, why should anyone move to a town with a higher crime rate? Especially if they’re going to be out there walking around every day.

Here Are Florida’s 2 Best Most Walkable Downtown’s with Videos!

In no special order…

#1 Dunedin, Florida

walkable town Dunedin Florida

This great little area just north of Tampa and St Petersburg has made just about every positive list we’ve put out lately. The data for this area is just so positive compared to other places in Florida, including affordability.

However, in a small town like this with fewer properties for sale, it wouldn’t take much of an increase in interest to boost prices. Dunedin is a small safe friendly town with a sense of community, which is rare in the extremely transient state of Florida.

This area has received numerous awards from national publications such as “Best Walkable Small Town” and “#1 Best Beach in America”. This pedestrian and pet friendly town should be at the top of your list if you want to live in one of Florida’s most walkable towns.

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florida move guide book cover and discription

#2 Fernandina Beach, Florida

When a town has “beach” right in the name and it’s being called out for having a wonderful walkable downtown, you know it’s something special. What more could you want in a place to live in Florida than to be by the beach, with a thriving walkable down town, and just a short driven to big city amenities? This great little place in Florida is just over the border from Georgia, so road trips back home for holidays are less of a hassle. The cost of living is about average for the sunshine state so it’s not cheap, but I think it’s a bargain compared to what you have to pay to live in many other similar locations in Florida. If you’re driving to Florida to scout out new places to live and are looking for a great downtown, why not spend the first night here ?

Yes We have a Video of Fernandina Beach Florida for You Too!


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Ron Stack “That Best Places Guy”

  • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.

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Where Are the Best Places to Live in Florida for Just About Everyone?

26 thoughts on “Florida’s Most Walkable Towns”

  1. I visited Fernandina Beach, about a little over a year ago. I really liked it, but would not consider it a thriving downtown, by any means. The best part of it was sitting outside at a cafe and watching the beautiful sunsets. The beach was okay. Living near the Jersey Shore, our beaches are quite beautiful in areas like Long Branch (Pier Village),Spring Lake, Sea Bright and many more. It just gets cold in the winter and these are some of the reasons why one would want to move to Florida. 🙂
    Still in search of a place that has a thriving walkable, safe downtown, and beautiful sunsets!

    • The Jersey shore is filthy and disgusting in my opinion. The only time it thrives is 3 months in summer when it’s clogged with traffic and people. The rest of the year its like a ghost town. It’s so depressed most of the year casinos in Atlantic city can’t even make it and go bankrupt. Fernandina Beach thrives so much in the winter it gets just as crowded as Jersey. The difference is, it has enough business 12 months a year to stay open, unlike the trashy Jersey shore. If you are looking for a more walkable thriving safer downtown than Fernandina Beach in Florida, you have unrealistic expectations.

      • The area she is speaking of in NJ is gorgeous! Clean, safe, great schools. It is very expensive and winters are sometimes long, but I dearly love and miss the Jersey Shore

  2. My family and I are looking to move to Florida. I am aware of the very high crime rate so I want to do my best to find my family a safe location to live. I was offered an amazing job in Lake City, which seems to be ranked pretty high as far as crime (as in high levels of crime). Are there any towns within that area that are recommended? Or major areas to avoid? Thank you!

    • Hello Liz,
      You are right about Lake City. For a small town of around 13,000 people, the murder rate is about 300% higher than the national average. The chance of being assaulted is roughly 400% higher than elsewhere in the country overall. There are around 300% more property crime victims in Lake City Florida than the US overall. Mayberry R.F.D. it is not.

      There isn’t a town or city anywhere within commuting distance of that place that’s on any of our best places to live in Florida lists, walkable or otherwise. What would be better, research to find the best place to live for your family and get the best job you can there? Or let a job determine where your family will live? Only you can answer that.

      If the answer is move for a job because it’s that great and you know it will always be there for you as long as you need it, and it’s in Lake City Florida, then commuting to the even smaller town of High Springs Florida about a half hour away may be your best bet. Low crime, and slightly better quality of life scores than the rest of Florida including cheaper homes. BUT, like most of this part of Florida, it’s very southern and this is a very small town. Everyone knows everyone else’s business. If you aren’t from the south, you’ll have to determine if it’s the right fit for your family and you will have to learn how to say y’all correctly. Of course, you should probably read this post too. Good luck Liz.
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      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  3. How about St. Petersburg? It has high walkable scores and seems like a lot going on albeit a bit expensive right downtown.

  4. Lived in Dunedin for nearly 10 years and then 4 years ago moved to Cape Coral, FL when I married. Trust me when I say my husband hears at least once a week how much I miss it. It is perfect if you love the beach as I do. To go to the beach here you have to pay bridge fees and then parking fees which are steep. Dunedin was frequently having festivals, antique shows, holiday activities and cutest shops and great food in downtown. I miss it so much! All it needed was a Publix grocery store in the downtown area.

    • How about everyone stay away. We have enough of the Northerners coming here being rude and not knowing how to drive. FYI I love the Jersey shore. I have heard it has gone to hell. Such a shame.

      • I’m from Chicago. I’m a very nice person and I don’t dive, so I won’t be bothering you. Just need to get away from our harsh winters.

    • Can you actually walk from Dunedin to the beach? That is really what I am looking for first.. that doesn’t require a multi-million dollar home and walking to amenities is a big plus.

    • DUNEDIN FLORIDA is the PERFECT place to Live Work and Play!!!!!!! I can`t wait to get there…

  5. I live in NYC and would rather face thugs than snakes, alligators, the heat and let’s not forget the horrible healthcare.

  6. I’m 89 and living in a modest condo in Stuart, FL and went car-less a year ago. I can walk to
    a Fresh Market, dining out, two high-end thrift stores and a high-tech library. Sunrise over the Indian River is a short walk and although I used to ride the five miles to the seashore on a bicycle – now only peddle the few miles to downtown theaters or to catch a sunset over the St. Lucie River on my recumbent trike. Only guessing – but feel we’re one of safest and affordable communities in the state and for me – over the past thirty years – it’s been paradise!

    • Hello Ed,
      Hey thanks for sharing your story on how moving to Florida 30 years ago has worked out well for you. I, and I’m sure almost anyone who reads it would love to be out there biking, walking and enjoying life every day like you when we are 89 years old. I can also appreciate how positively you feel about Stuart.

      You are right, Stuart Florida is definitely among the cheapest places to live in Florida. Even after the huge run up in Florida real estate prices over the last few years, home prices in Stuart are below the national average and are roughly 30% lower than Florida’s median price as I write this in December 2017.

      Stuart however, is not a place that we recommend moving to today. We feel if people are going to spend a lot of money, time and go through the inconvenience of moving several hundred miles or more, they should move to a best place in Florida that is both affordable and safe. Unfortunately, the property crime rate in Stuart is now far higher than the national average, and the violent crime rate is about even with the national average. To be recommended on this website as a best walkable (pedestrian friendly) Florida town, both crime rates must to be below the national average as reported by the FBI. All of the places on this website meet that criteria and most have crime rates far lower than the national average. In addition, we feel the risk of violent crime rising in the future in Stuart Florida is high.

      People moving to Florida who are looking for a town where they can walk to amenities would be wise to consider not only what a Florida town is like right now, but also what it might look like in 5 years and beyond. With high population growth, a Florida city can change quickly and be almost unrecognizable in just 5 years. Will it still be safe to walk anywhere in the near future or will crime in the news cause people to stay indoors or drive out of fear. Although there aren’t many, we feel there are other walkable towns in Florida that will likely be safe well into the future and are a much better choice for people thinking of moving to Florida today and hoping to be able to enjoy a place for 30 years into the future, like you did.

      In addition, Stuart is in, or close to being in the 10 mile evacuation zone of an aging nuclear power plant that sits on the coast where it could it could be struck by a major hurricane. After what happened in Japan to a nuke plant on the coast, we don’t recommend moving to several hundred miles to Florida just to end up living next to a nuclear power plant. Again, there are far better places to chose.

      Thanks you for the comment Ed, and I wish you many more years of safely walking, biking and enjoying life!
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      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
      • Hi Ron, Thanks for the accurate and detailed response. Immediately after I sent my post – I Googled crime rates for Stuart and was shocked to see we rate just one click short of one of the most crime-ridden of similar coastal communities in Palm Beach county just south of us.
        This reveals the sad fact that city and town crime demographics seldom distinguish neighborhoods. Case in point – in Stuart I’m happily at the center of a radius of a mile or so of well-lit shopping and neighborhood where I feel safe walking or trike-ing. Beyond that perimeter are a patchwork of communities that range from very high, middle and low income demographics. In regards to the aging nuclear power plant – in the new normal – I accept the reality of impending risks like we all must with the threat of islamist terrorism and climate change, hurricanes in Florida, wildfires in California, tornadoes in Oklahoma, earthquakes in the mid west, floods along the Gulf Coast, nuclear misslel strike in Hawaii – threats ad infinitum – including old age and death but no question – your resource is a big help for anyone relocating to Florida.

  7. If Winter Park is off the list .. do you have a replacement? Surely there must be more than 3 towns .. no? What about Delray Beach? I’m concerned about Fernandina Beach, because anything you’d want to do culturally, requires a trip to Jacksonville.

    • Hello Eve,
      Florida is almost totally absent from sites that rate places for walkability. To be named as a “best” place on this website, places must have a crime rate lower than the national average. It’s hard enough to find pedestrian-friendly towns in Florida but when you add in the requirement of being able to walk without fear of crime, it becomes real difficult. You asked about Delray Beach. Both property and violent crime rates there are almost double the national average and have gone up approximately 10% year over year 2015-2016. Most people looking to move to Florida intend to stay long term, but how livable will places like this be just 5 years from now? Good luck Eve.
      _____
      Ron Stack

      • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
      • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
      • Unfortunately, there’s a strong correlation between crime rates, and towns that have a walkable downtown area, with lots of shops & restaurants. It’s hard to find smaller cities anywhere on/near the coast in any state south of NY, that have a walkable downtown AND have single family homes within walking distance to shopping. Many of the towns that are walkable, only have high density housing closest to the downtown area. Finding the right place is exhausting!

        • Hello Eve,
          I have researched cities and towns across the US over the last decade for my books and websites and there is not a strong correlation between walkable downtown’s and crime. Fernandina Beach and Dunedin in the article above are 2 excellent examples. Both are walkable downtown’s and have property and violent crime rates far below the national average.

          Demographics and household income area better indicator. I can look at the demographics of any town and tell you what the crime rate is likely to be. For instance, a town in Florida or anywhere with a high number of residents over 65 years of age will likely have lower crime rates than towns with a median resident age of only 25. A town with a low average household income will likely have a higher crime rate than a town with a high average household income. Towns with a high number of residents who own their homes (few rentals) tend to have lower crime rates.

          You are absolutely correct about walkable downtown’s with lots of shops and restaurants being surrounded by high density housing. Malls in the suburbs surrounded by single family homes on their own lot have a high density of businesses, which takes a high daily number of customers to support them financially. Huge ugly parking lots must be built to accommodate all of the cars needed to bring shoppers to spend money at all those stores to keep them in business. In walkable downtown’s with lots of businesses, those shoppers must come from high density housing within walking distance. Almost all of the great walkable downtown’s were built before the automobile took off and suburbs and malls were built. Housing located in historic wakable downtown’s that survived urban sprawl and are now thriving are rare and in high demand, causing prices to rise. Yes, sometimes exactly what we want, exactly where we want it, is hard to find. Good luck Eve.
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          Ron Stack

          • Want to be certain if moving to Florida is right for you or your family? You’ll know after reading the Florida Move Guide.
          • Is there a better state to relocate to or a better retirement lifestyle for you than moving to Florida? You’ll know after reading How to Retire Happier.
  8. MY HUSBAND AND I ARE EXTREMELY HOMESICK FOR FLORIDA. WE CAN NOT STAND GEORGIA. PLEASE PLACE ME ON YOUR LIST TO RECEIVE NEWSLETTERS.

  9. Naples is a safe area but has gotten far too congested..I live in beautiful CT, but weather is horrible. Cold winters, lots of rainy gray days, and summers can be more humid then Florida. Have been searching for a small town not too far from my son in Hollywood , but looks like i will be staying put.
    As a senior from a small town, the traffic is far too much for me..but Imhate being so far away and alone..oh well I guess there is no utopia..

  10. If you find a friendly, thriving safe walkable small town in Florida, I’d like to know where it is. All the coastal and small towns in the FL Panhandle are getting overpopulated & creating huge traffic and crime issues. Panama City Beach and Pensacola are both on the top most violent cities in America!
    Living cost have risen; housing selling @double to triple times prices of 2-3 yrs ago, new sales/property taxes rising with increased population, grocery & gasoline costs up.
    New construction has not resumed because even fixer upper old houses with mold on swampland are selling at ridiculous prices, many $500k & up. This is worst than the Recession. If you have FL property to sell, you are making a killing right now (better than the stock market), but not a good time to buy.

  11. Southern Florida has changed dramatically from the years I lived there (Coral Gables, Coconut Grove, West Palm Beach and Stuart.) Yes part of my memories are affected by age, “mood” of country as a whole, socioeconomic conditions, politics and primarily – GROWTH and EXPENSE. Almost brings tears to my eyes how denigrated the quality-of-life have fallen in Southern Florida, and I hear this from acquaintances still there who range from lower middle-class to very financially comfortable. About half of people I knew and kept in touch with over the decades, have left Florida. Some went to Colorado, Utah, two to the Northwest, one couple to Virginia and one unmarried old friend moved back to New York (the Mid-Hudson Valley). I realize others without my perspective of years, as well as other determining factors with disagree with my opinion. That’s fine as we have our perspectives. I just wish I could place some of the younger demographic in a time machine and take them back to Coral Gables , Coconut Grove of the early to mid-eighties. Heavens what a difference it was back then for the better in most all ways. Lastly I think along with warmer weather from colder seasonal temperature places that draw folks to Florida, a huge attraction is tax savings. That’s so obvious, what’s not obvious is how so much better quality-of-life used to be in South Florida. The tax savings I could happily live without, but the degradation of quality-of-life, be it congestion on roads, cost-of-living increases – those are not negotiable in seeking a better life for many. We used to hear and say, “You’ve got sand in your shoes, you’ll be back.” Not me. Not anymore. I’d rather spend my vacation dollars on stays near the Central coast regions of California. Not to live there,as even if I could afford to, California also has changed so much and not for the better in many ways, though few places in US match the variety of awe-inspiring places to vacation/discover that California offers. I’m retired military and lived in eight US states and two countries in Europe. My opinion as widowed man nearing seventy. Political discussions I avoid like the plague, and I speak only from my life experiences of beauty in nature and quality-of-life. P.S. Key West has slid a great deal. Use to be special, not so much anymore, but OK for a weekend visit off season. All the best, Barry

    • Barry, I understand your statements. My childhood was spent in So. Florida and since I was 15, have lived in a few countries and now in VA/MD. I have longed for warm weather again for years. I don’t like the congestion of Miami – its not the place I grew up in anymore but I am happy to have a place anywhere in FL where the temps are not in the 30’s and 40’s all winter. I want to walk or bike everywhere, like I used to. And SUNSHINE (but next to water not interior FL) The challenge is finding an “affordable” home walking or biking distance to the beach (on either coast) and regular amenities. But I am determined. So I am waiting for the right time.

    • Thank you for your honest perspective on Florida living. I am on the East Coast, and since retiring, Iam a widow too, age 69. been thinking of moving to Florida, if only for the winter months. But as the saying goes “theres no place like home” so maybe I will stick with my Jersey beaches!

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