Florida is a top destination state in the United States, known for its coastal gems and alluring beach towns. And the lucky residents who call Florida home have so many options for weekend trips that don’t take much time or break the budget. With mild year-round weather, there’s really never a bad time for a Florida road trip! Here are some of the best Florida weekend getaway ideas that everyone in your family will enjoy.
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At the very end of the keys lies Key West, which has a laid-back vibe and a friendly atmosphere with countless shops, restaurants, and bars. This is a fun weekend getaway if you enjoy water sports because there are lots of local guide companies that’ll take you snorkeling, parasailing, or on a glass-bottom boat tour to see the wonders beneath the ocean’s surface. Key West is known for its great selection of hotels and resorts, so you’ll be spoiled for choice.
Located in the northeastern part of Florida, Amelia Island offers exciting things to do for travelers of all ages. It’s north of Jacksonville and has over a dozen miles of beaches and a nice historic district. Here you’ll find Victorian-style homes, Spanish moss hanging from the tree, and lots of history about Florida culture. If you’re looking for fewer crowds and cheaper accommodation rates, skip the summer and visit Amelia Island in fall or winter. Top things to do and see here are Fort Clinch State Park, the Amelia River Cruise, and looking for shark teeth along the beach. Amelia Island has more than its share of quaint B&B’s and romantic vacation rentals, but if you’re looking for a luxurious resort-style experience, then you’ll find it at the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. It’s one of the world’s top golf resorts according to Conde Nast Traveler and has an award-winning Kids’ Camp for the little ones, but there are adults-only areas as well.
Tampa has become a favorite destination among foodies because there is an exciting culinary and cultural scene that’s growing by the year. One recommended place to stay is called Epicurean Hotel, which is a food-themed hotel with cooking classes. To explore the city’s arts and culture scene, visit the Tampa Museum of Art, the Florida Aquarium, and the Tampa Bay History Center. Other fun things to do here is going to the beach at Fort De Soto Park, the Big Cat Rescue wildlife sanctuary, and the Cuban Sandwich Festival.
To switch up your routine and change the pace of your weekend, head to Key Largo, considered a slice of paradise in the Florida Keys. This is the northernmost island of the Florida Keys so it’s easily accessible and just an hour’s drive from the airports in South Florida. There is a national park and two state parks here, with beautiful scenery and lots of native flora and fauna. Essential places to visit on your weekend getaway are John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park, and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Even if you’ve never gone diving before, this is an excellent place to learn because there are experienced local guide companies that’ll show you everything you need to know.
Lake Okeechobee spans over 700 square miles and is the largest lake in the state of Florida. Come here on a weekend to get your boating, fishing, and picnicking fix. Hiking and biking are also popular weekend activities here if you’re looking to get some exercise with your family. After spending your days out on the lake, visit the friendly town of Clewiston, which has local fishing guides and resorts. You can tour a local farm here or visit the annual Sugar Festival if you visit in April. LaBelle is another nearby town to visit that hosts a Swamp Cabbage Festival in February to celebrate the pioneer food that grows from Florida’s state tree. And at the north end of the lake lies the town of Okeechobee, which has a campground along the Kissimmee River and is known for its Speckled Perch Festival and Okeechobee Cattlemen’s Rodeo.
St. Petersburg is one of the Florida cities that has a little bit of everything for everyone: a beach, history, art, and attractions for the kids. This city has undergone an arts and cultural revival and is famous for being home to the Salvador Dalí Museum. Head to the Grand Central District for antique shopping, the 600 Block for an artist hub with lots of restaurants and bars, and Fort De Soto for beautiful beaches. The Chihuly Collection on Beach Drive is definitely worth a visit for art lovers as well. It’s easy to combine a weekend trip to St. Pete’ with a visit to other nearby beach towns as well, such as Treasure Island, Madeira Beach, and Redington Shore.
Marco Island is an uninhabited island that is a pure getaway for a weekend that’s still within the Florida borders. It’s near the Everglades and spans about six miles with a beach that looks towards the Gulf of Mexico. There are a few miles of beachfront and some oceanfront development for guests to enjoy. One fun way to spend a weekend is to take a wave runner tour of Marco Island and the surrounding islands.
Located in central Florida, Mount Dora is a charming town that is unlike many other parts of the state. In an otherwise very flat place, Mount Dora is perched atop a hill and is next to a lovely lake. It’s an ideal place to visit for fisherman because Mount Dora is known as the bass capital of the world. For everyone else, it’s a way to slow down the pace of life, even if only for a weekend. Aside from the lake itself, fun things to do in town include the Mount Dora Museum of Speed, Renninger’s Antique Center & Farmer’s Flea Market, the Amy Sellers Art Gallery, and the Modernism Museum.
Sanibel and Captiva Islands
Outdoor lovers will fall in love with these two islands that are remote, relaxing, and full of wildlife and adventure. You won’t even need to board a ferry because these islands are accessible by bridge. Come here to go kayaking and bird watching. Nature photographers will be in heaven when they visit the Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Shelling is also a popular activity here, and even if you don’t find the shells you’re looking for, there’s a shell museum and plenty of gift shops nearby. Recommended places to stay are the Casa Ybel Resort and the South Seas Island Resort, and the island’s restaurants are known for fresh and delicious seafood.
Winter Park is a small town that often gets overshadowed by Orlando, its neighbor to the south. But this is a wonderful place to visit for the weekend if you love to shop. You’ll find famous brand names and local boutiques to explore here. This is also a pretty dog-friendly town, so it’s fun to bring your pup along to walk around and visit the park.
Homosassa is known for one big thing in Florida: manatees! This is one of the rare places in the world where you can see and even swim with manatees up-close and personal in the warm waters of Homosassa Springs and the Crystal River. The Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a great place to begin your weekend trip and learn more about these fascinating and lovable creatures. Local guide companies offer snorkeling tours where you can hop off a boat to swim with the manatees, or you can bring your own kayak to paddle alongside them as well.
But of course, no list of Florida weekend getaways would be complete without mentioning Miami. The Miami Design District is worth browsing if you love fashion and art. One contemporary art museum to see is the Pérez Art Museum Miami, although there are many to check out if you have time. Art lovers will enjoy staying at the James Royal Palm, which is beautifully decorated and partners with artists for programs and events. Recommended restaurants include Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, and travelers who love to dance will get a thrill out of the South Beach club scene.