The Most Walkable Towns in Florida for Retirement

Category: Best Retirement Towns and States

June 1, 2016 — Easy walkability to town, parks and lakes, and shopping were top considerations for retirement living when we surveyed our members 3 years ago. To help you find places that meet that criteria we have identified 10 Florida towns where it is easy and a joy to walk around in.

Some people’s vision of a Sunshine State retirement conjures up a bleak landscape of strip malls and busy highways. The reality is that Florida also has some of the most livable towns in America. Towns where you can live downtown or close to it, and walk to everything that is important to you, day or night. In fact, in most of these Florida towns the walking is so good that you could even survive without a car.
activeadultcommunity-walking

Our Top 10 Florida Walkable Towns
It is no coincidence that the towns that are best for walking tend to be ones designed before the advent of the automobile. Or that planned communities are usually more walkable than ones that developed haphazardly. To develop this list we used data from StateofFloridaliving.com, along with our own research.

#1 Dunedin
This great little town just north of Tampa and St Petersburg still celebrates its Scottish heritage. It has a concentrated and interesting downtown that is easy to walk through. In a State known for its beaches, the easily accessible public beaches here are some of the best. There is a 39 mile bike/walk trail system running through town.
See a Video of Dunedin Florida

#2 Winter Park

Downtown Winter Park

The heart of this walkable town near Orlando is Park Avenue. It is aptly named, as Winter Park claims it has more park space than any town in Florida. The walkable main street includes retail and public civic buildings, art galleries, a private liberal arts college (Rollins), museums, a park, a train station, a golf course country club, a historic cemetery, and a beach and boat launch.

#3 Fernandina Beach
Situated at the very top of Florida on the Atlantic Ocean (just above Amelia Island), this town has a wonderful and walkable downtown. There are great restaurants and shops. Best of all if you live in one of the cute neighborhoods you can be downtown with just a few steps.

4. Delray Beach
We love Delray Beach for so many reasons. At the end of the main street is an amazing stretch of public beaches and dunes. Take a boat tour on the Intracoastal…Enjoy the interesting restaurants filled with interesting people of all ages…Live downtown in a condo above the many cool shops… or Take in a concert or a museum. Above all you can walk anywhere with ease.

5. Fort Lauderdale
The downtown scene in Fort Lauderdale is full of high energy. Luxury shops and great restaurants abound. You can easily get around on foot, or commute on a ferry (or your own boat!) along the Intracoastal. There are great beaches too.




6. Hollywood Beach.
Hollywood is just south of Fort Lauderdale. It enjoys about 60 parks, seven golf courses, and beaches that run for miles. Hollywood Beach is famous for the great boardwalk that extends about 2.5 miles along the Atlantic Ocean.

7. Key West Once the wealthiest city in Florida, Key West citizens have created fortunes over the centuries from shipwreck treasures, turtles, sponges fishing, and cigars. Most recently its economy is based on the tourist trade and folks looking for a warm and artsy place to spend the winter. You can walk or bike anywhere on this small island with nice bike lanes and drivers who look out for pedestrians. “The Conch Republic” attracts artists, musicians, and people of every type under the rainbow.

8.Jensen Beach
This little town just north of Stuart on Florida’s East Coast is what we would consider funky – interesting and just a little rough around the edges (see our lists of other FL Funky Towns in the Further Reading section below). There are some fun restaurants and shops. Many people live in the surrounding RV and mobile home parks, which offer an inexpensive way to live with views of the Bay and barrier islands.

9. St Augustine.

St. Augustine

This old town is the longest continuously occupied European settlement in the U.S. – established in 1565 by the Spanish. It has been under 4 flags – Spanish, English, Confederate, and U.S. – some more than once! Located on Florida’s northeast coast and south of Jacksonville, it has residential neighborhoods near the compact downtown area. St. Augustine is very popular with tourists.

10. Venice
Crossing back over to the other side of the State, Venice is a planned city with a compact downtown surrounded by small scale neighborhoods. You can walk from the downtown to the beach in just a short time. Unlike many Florida towns, if you live in an active development out of the town center you can stil enjoy this walkable community when you visit downtown.

More about walkability and where you retire
A lot goes into being walkable community. There is more than just having a compact downtown or quiet pedestrian streets. A primary consideration is how safe it is to walk there – are the sidewalks wide and smooth, are there barriers between cars and pedestrians, are crosswalks set up well with the right equipment, do drivers respect pedestrians’ right to cross (particularly at marked crossings without stop lights)? Also, a city might be great for walking during the day, but if the downtown becomes deserted at night, it is not such a great place to be on foot. The AARP Public Policy Institute reported that about 40% of U.S. adults (age 50 and older) are concerned that… “their neighborhood is not pedestrian-friendly (Harrell et al, 2014)”.

Bottom Line
If being able to walk around in your town, both for leisure and for the essentials of life, check out these towns and others that score high for walkability. Visit and spend some time there before you decide. Walkscore.com is a good resource for finding that out more about specific towns and even neighborhoods.

For further reading
Our Members Speak: Easy Walkability Is a Top Retirement Priority
Florida’s Most Walkable Towns and Cities
Part I: 10 Funky Florida Towns
Funky Towns in Florida, Part II
BikeWalkAlliance 2016 Benchmark Report
Bicycling.com’s Top 50 List

Comments? In your experience are these good towns for walking? Are there some we missed? How about great towns for walking in other states? Please share your thoughts in the Comments section below.




Posted by Admin on June 1st, 2016

13 Comments »

  1. If you walk or bike ride in Fort Lauderdale you will have to dodge all the bums laying around 2 miles from the center of the city.

    by Jill Young — June 1, 2016

  2. What?? No Sarasota?? Miles of walkable streets downtown, an iconic bridge that hundreds walk over every day – and the beaches…

    by Teresa Peck — June 1, 2016

  3. As stated in the article, Delray Beach has a very walkable downtown and center city. There are many condos and some houses in this area, but they can be pricey. Further west and south of downtown, there are very affordable condos, especially active adult communities. These are just a few minutes’ drive to downtown Delray and the beach. There is some on-street parking, but it can be scarce. However, there’s usually plenty of parking in downtown lots and some multi-story garages. Some of the city-run lots are free (by the great Delray Beach Public Library, for example). You can also catch the free trolley at the town’s Tri-Rail station. It runs all along the main street (Atlantic Avenue) to the beach and back. You can get on and off at the many stops as you please.

    For people who haven’t been to Downtown Delray, seeing it comes as a delightful surprise. It’s reminiscent of a small town from the 40’s or 50’s, with lots of palm and shade trees lining several blocks. Among other throwbacks to that era, there’s an operating hometown-style drug store, office and art supply, well-stocked newsstand and several independent and chain coffee houses. Of course, there are now 50+ restaurants in the walking area ranging from cheap eats to gourmet, and everything in between. Also many galleries and boutiques.

    I don’t work for the Chamber of Commerce; I’m just glad we chose Delray Beach for our retirement home. We got a nice 2 bedroom, 2 bath condo in a 24-hour manned/gated garden-style community with lots of amenities and activities. For well under $100,000.

    by Clyde R. — June 1, 2016

  4. Clyde – Thanks so much for your comment. I’ll be visiting Delray Beach in early September and am really looking forward to it. I have a friend who retired there and loves it.
    I’m curious – how long ago did you buy your condo?

    by Carol — June 2, 2016

  5. Obviously who ever did your ratings didn’t visit downtown St. Petersburg. Something must be wrong with your rating system. I’m starting get suspect about your evaluations. I’ve been to many of your top rates cities and I’m interested how St. Petersburg could get omitted, compared to the ones selected. Very disappointed.

    by Ed D. — June 2, 2016

  6. Carol, We bought our condo two years ago in June 2014. Prices have generally gone up maybe 10-12 percent since then, but still quite reasonable. Check realtor.com and put in zip code 33484. You’ll see some nice condo units under 100k.

    by Clyde R. — June 2, 2016

  7. Clyde,
    What’s the name of your community? I’d love to check into it.

    by Sandy — June 2, 2016

  8. Sandy, We bought in Kings Point in Delray. It was built in the late 1970’s and was targeted toward middle class folk in the NY metro area. It has simple, but well-kept buildings and landscaping. Not pretentious or “keep up with the Joneses” kind of place. None are more than two stories (w/elevators) and almost all are “corner” units w/balcony or porch. Those who originally bought are aging out and a somewhat younger 55+ generation is moving in, like us: late 50’s – late 60’s+. Lots of big amenities and two Robert Trent Jones golf courses. kingspointdelray.com. Other 55+ developments in this part of Delray Beach include Lakes of Delray, Villages of Oriole, Floral Lakes and others.

    by Clyde R. — June 8, 2016

  9. Clyde I read that Kings Point has been flooded in the past. Is this the case? How many miles are you from the beach?

    Thank you in advance for your input.

    The Pepe’s

    by Skip P — June 9, 2016

  10. We have owned there two years and to my knowledge there has been no flooding in units during that time. Water has accumulated in some streets during heavy rains, but has drained quickly. There was a very heavy rain in early 2013 or 2014, I believe, that was centered directly over Kings Point and caused some units to take water. This was one of those 100-year type floods. Best bet is to check with a realtor familiar with the development about any particular unit. Previous flooding is part of a seller’s disclosure requirements, but you would want to know for sure. Or buy on the second (top) floor like we did and don’t worry about it (no flood insurance required). There’s an elevator and no neighbors above you.

    by Clyde R. — June 10, 2016

  11. Skip P.- Forgot to say how many miles from the beach. Between 4 and 5. An easy 10-12 minute drive usually. Definitely away from any surge flooding from a hurricane.

    by Clyde R. — June 10, 2016

  12. Clyde thank you for your informative and prompt response.

    The Pepe’s from TX

    by Skip P — June 11, 2016

  13. One further word about Kings Point. There is also a 55+ development in Margate, FL, by the name of Kings Point, but my comments are about the one in Delray Beach. The Margate Kings Point is in Broward County, about 5-10 miles southwest of the Delray Kings Point, which is in Palm Beach County.

    by Clyde R. — June 12, 2016

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