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7 Florida Gulf Coast Resorts for Every Vacation Type

AAA/Inspector 76
By AAA Travel Editor Katie Broome
September 21, 2020
From the pristine white quartz sand of Clearwater Beach to the world-class golf facilities near Naples and Marco Island, Florida’s Gulf Coast dazzles with things to do under impossibly sunny skies. With equally stunning sunsets and average winter temperatures around 72 or 73 degrees, it’s no surprise that these beachfront locations draw throngs of vacationers and pleasure-seekers year-round.
Here are some of the best beachfront hotels on Florida’s west coast that have earned AAA’s Best of Housekeeping designation in 2020, a prestigious honor given to accommodations that are in the top 25 percent of AAA Diamond-designated properties for their cleanliness and condition. To see our picks for beach resorts on Florida’s opposite coast, see Impressive Beach Hotels on Florida’s East Coast.
(Remember to practice safe social distancing and adhere to local health and safety requirements; the AAA COVID-19 Travel Restrictions map is a handy tool for navigating the current rules and regulations for various destinations across the U.S. and Canada.)

Clearwater Beach

Shephard's Beach Resort

Clearwater Beach, Florida
Good for: Live music and a festive atmosphere
If live music and (socially distanced) dancing get you in vacation mode, Shephard's Beach Resort offers plenty of both. During the day, the place to be is the lagoon-style swimming pool, where the Tiki Beach Bar & Grill hosts live entertainment on an outdoor stage. When the sun goes down, the party continues with local bands and DJs by the pool and even more music and dancing indoors at the resort’s two-level nightclub, Wave, where you can reserve a table or booth. Guest rooms have layouts and configurations for every type of traveler; some have full-size fridges, while others have walk-in showers, wet bars and balconies overlooking the pool and outdoor stage.
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Fort Myers Beach

Best Western Plus Beach Resort

Fort Myers Beach, Florida
Good for: A family vacation on a budget
At the north end of Estero Island, Best Western Plus Beach Resort has a prime location within walking distance of the Fort Myers Beach Pier and Times Square, a popular place for fishing, shopping, dining and general people-watching. All rooms at the Best Western Plus Beach Resort face the Gulf of Mexico and include private balconies, kitchenettes (with full-size refrigerators) and complimentary breakfast each morning. On the beach side is a shaded, tropical courtyard with shuffleboard courts, a heated pool, gas grills, a picnic area and a lawn with Adirondack chairs facing the ocean. An extra perk? The resort is pet-friendly (as is Fort Myers Beach).
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Longboat Key

The Resort At Longboat Key Club

Longboat Key, Florida
Good for: A luxurious splurge
Fresh from a major renovation in 2020, The Resort At Longboat Key Club promises a true Gulf Coast getaway in luxurious surroundings. Whether you arrive by car or by boat (the resort offers a full-service, deep-water marina for vessels as long as 150 feet), leave your worries behind at check-in. Stylish guest rooms are decked out with tasteful nautical décor, shiplap walls and white marble breakfast bars. The sprawling grounds feature nearly every activity under the sun, with 45 holes of golf, 20 tennis courts, a spa, a salon, heated pool and six restaurants and lounges to choose from.
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Marco Island

AAA/Inspector 420

JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort

Marco Island, Florida
Good for: A luxury family vacation
Whether you’re traveling with kids or seeking an adults-only slice of paradise, the JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort aims to please. This South Florida resort earned the AAA Inspector’s “Best of Family-Friendly” distinction in 2020 for its beach, multiple swimming pools (one with a waterslide and mini spray park) and on-site restaurants (especially the gaming emporium with miniature golf and duckpin bowling). A $320 million project completed in 2019 added the Lanai Tower, open to adults only with Balinese-inspired suites, glass balconies overlooking the ocean, a private rooftop pool and personalized concierge service using text messaging. For active guests, the resort offers two private golf courses — both are just a short drive away — plus beach yoga, watersports rentals and excursions to Everglades National Park.
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Marco Beach Ocean Resort

Marco Island, Florida
Good for: A celebration or anniversary trip
Attention to detail is paramount at the Marco Beach Ocean Resort, an oceanfront hotel perfect for anniversary getaways and special celebrations. Beautifully appointed guest rooms include private balconies, marble bathrooms (with separate walk-in shower and soaking tub) and fully equipped kitchens. (A dishwasher and full-size refrigerator come standard with two-bedroom suites.) Attentive staff go above and beyond to make guests feel at home, from a 24-hour concierge service to the fine dining experience at Sale e Pepe, the hotel’s AAA Four Diamond designated restaurant. Guests are treated to delightful traditions like a complimentary smoothie each day at 3 p.m. and the ringing of a captain’s bell at sunset.
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AAA/Inspector 420

LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort

Naples, Florida
Good for: An indulgent escape
With an atmosphere described as “Floridian elegance,” LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort provides a splurge-worthy escape with its lagoon-style pools, spa, pristine private beach with attendants and exclusive 18-hole golf course (open to resort guests and members only). Numerous upgrades are available to take your vacation to the next level — consider a poolside cabana rental that includes deliveries of chilled towels and sorbet treats, a night of s’mores and champagne by the fire pit or a sunset dinner for two right on the beach, courtesy of BALEEN, the resort’s AAA Three Diamond designated restaurant.
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Treasure Island

AAA/Inspector 76

Treasure Island Beach Resort

Treasure Island, Florida
Good for: A modern beach getaway
With just 77 rooms and suites, Treasure Island Beach Resort is the most intimate of the properties on this list and also the newest. Opened in 2016, the resort offers sleek modern rooms (some with kitchenettes) and an ideal location just 2.5 miles north of downtown St. Pete Beach. Glass-railed balconies in select guest rooms and on the pool deck ensure your view of the beach — and the Gulf Coast’s legendary sunsets — remains unobstructed. The resort’s casual restaurant serves up gourmet burgers, salad bowls and handcrafted cocktails.
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Start Your Next Vacation with AAA

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