As far as swoon-worthy beaches are concerned, there’s no denying it: Florida is spoiled with options. Second only to Alaska in its length of total coastline (with, hands down, way better weather), the Sunshine State boasts everything from family-centric, sugar white-sand paradises to island escapes where happy hour is, well, every hour.
Chances are you have a favorite getaway—an old faithful you tend to return to year after year. But if you’re looking to branch out from the norm next year, Airbnb has a suggestion for you. In its annual roundup of the next big travel destinations worldwide, the vacation rental site named one Florida getaway (among just three U.S. cities) to its list of the 20 hottest places to visit in 2020. And, unlike many sizzling destinations along the Florida coastline, you won’t find any nightclubs and mega-resorts here—just miles and miles of deliciously uncrowded beaches.
Sound like a dream? Welcome to Cape Canaveral, a sliver of a barrier island along Florida’s aptly named Space Coast. Famously home to NASA’s launch HQ—along with one of the busiest cruise ports in the country—the beach town has attracted a steady stream of rocket enthusiasts since the dawn of the Apollo missions. (With the highly anticipated launch of NASA’s Mars Exploration rover next summer, 2020 will be no different.)
But there’s much more to experience along Cape Canaveral’s 72 miles of white-sand shores—particularly if the idea of a water-centric vacay appeals to you. Flanked by the Banana River on one side and the Atlantic on the other, the small town offers everything from stellar kayak tours through bioluminescent waters to wildlife excursions where you can get up close and personal with dolphins and manatees. A few miles north of the bustling port, Canaveral National Seashore is another can’t-miss attraction with 58,000 acres of untouched natural dunes and coastline.
While the town maintains a quieter existence, post-beach hangouts are never hard to find. Park your car at Port Canaveral and you’ll have your pick among a slew of casual, open-air eateries serving up fresh catch right from the boat. Just down the street, beer aficionados can sip on recognizable brews at the Florida Beer Company, famous for their widely distributed Key West Sunset Ale. And a few miles south of that, Cape Canaveral’s surf-centric neighbor, Cocoa Beach, offers a heartier menu of watering holes ranging from relaxed to raucous.
Ready to plan an extended vacay to this Sunshine State city? If Airbnb’s calculations are correct, you might want to go soon, as Cape Canaveral might not be a “hidden gem” much longer. Besides, is there anything more appealing than a kick-off-your-flip-flops winter escape in Florida? Swoon.