Florida Travel Blog

Travel destinations, beaches, attractions and fun things to do in Florida. 

Documented by RESIDENTS of Florida.

Best Weekend Getaways in Florida

Fun Weekend Vacations in Florida

best weekend getaway in Florida - Amelia Island
The Beaches of Amelia Island.
unique weekend getaway in Florida - St. Augustine horse Carriages
The carriages of old St. Augustine
best weekend vacation in Florida - Key West Buoy
Key West Southernmost Buoy

Our list of over a dozen unique weekend getaways in Florida are unlike any others you will find for these reasons:

  1. These are places we travel as residents, not some website that gathers information remotely.
  2. We have places that few people know about or places that are unique and discovered almost by accident in our travels.
  3. We give you more information for your decision-making process. Things like:
    • Destination name and location
    • Description of the area or what they are known for
    • Best things to do to save you time
    • Places to stay in the area
    • Places to eat – restaurants with a known reputation
    • References to nearby cities for the area in Florida
    • The nearest international airport

No one else does that! That’s because Florida Travel Blog is about Florida – just places we have been!

So, let’s dive into some of the unique weekend getaways in Florida we have found. You can go directly to that destination by clicking on it. Our favorite weekend trips in Florida are marked with an asterisk *.

 

Includes our newest weekend trip to the World Equestrian Center – very unique! You can click on your best weekend getaway in Florida to go directly to it.

best weekend vacation in Florida Tampa History Center
The History Center on the Riverwalk.
unique weekend getaway in Florida - Tampa Riverwalk
The 2-mile Riverwalk in Tampa.

Weekend Getaway to Tampa Florida

Near the Gulf Coast of Florida, Tampa is a vibrant and diverse city with a rich cultural history and a blend of modern amenities. As the third-largest city in the state, Tampa is known for its picturesque waterfront, highlighted by the iconic Tampa Bay.

The Tampa Museum of Art, the Henry B. Plant Museum, and the Tampa Bay History Center provide glimpses into the city’s past and its evolution into a dynamic metropolis. Residents and visitors alike enjoy the lively atmosphere of the historic Ybor City district, famous for its Cuban and Latin influences, vibrant nightlife, and historic cigar factories.

The city boasts numerous parks, including the scenic Bayshore Boulevard, one of the longest continuous sidewalks in the world, perfect for leisurely strolls or cycling along the waterfront.

Additionally, Tampa is home to professional sports teams, including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (NFL), Tampa Bay Lightning (NHL), and the Tampa Bay Rays (MLB), making it a haven for sports enthusiasts.

5 Best Things To Do in Tampa Florida
  • Take a leisurely stroll along the Tampa Riverwalk, a scenic pathway along the Hillsborough River. This 2.4-mile stretch connects various parks, museums, and cultural landmarks, providing a picturesque route for walking, jogging, or biking. Enjoy waterfront views, public art installations, and access to popular destinations like the Tampa Museum of Art and the Glazer Children’s Museum.
  • Experience the thrill of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, a world-renowned theme park that combines wildlife conservation with exciting rides and attractions. Encounter exotic animals, enjoy live shows, and test your courage on roller coasters like SheiKra and Montu. The park’s immersive environments make it a unique and family-friendly destination.
  • Check out the historic
    great weekend getaway in Florida Tampa Ybor City
    Historic Ybor City, near downtown Tamps, is a fun place to spend a day when taking a weekend trip to Tampa.
    charm and vibrant atmosphere of Ybor City. This National Historic Landmark District is known for its Cuban and Latin influences, evident in its architecture, cuisine, and cultural events. Explore the boutiques, art galleries, and cigar shops, and savor the diverse dining scene. In the evening, Ybor City comes alive with a bustling nightlife, including live music venues and dance clubs.
  • Dive into the marine world at The Florida Aquarium, a top-rated attraction that showcases a variety of aquatic ecosystems. From interactive exhibits and touch tanks to captivating underwater tunnels, the aquarium offers an educational and entertaining experience for visitors of all ages. Don’t miss the opportunity to see marine life up close, including sharks, rays, and vibrant coral reefs.
  • Tampa is a sports enthusiast’s paradise, and catching a game is a must-do activity. Whether it’s cheering for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium, the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena, or the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field, attending a sporting event allows you to soak in the local passion for sports and enjoy a lively atmosphere.

These activities represent just a glimpse of what Tampa has to offer. Don’t forget nearby famous beaches, waterfront towns and Disney is 90 minutes away. Tampa is a great weekend getaway for couples.

Florida getaways - Marriott Water Street Tampa
Marriott Water Street Tampa Florida Getaways

Places to Stay in Tampa Florida: One of the best places to stay in Tampa is the Marriot Hotel Water Street. The hotel is on the Riverwalk which has 2 miles of attractions nearby.

Places to Eat in Tampa: One of the famous places to eat in Tampa is the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City. It is the oldest restaurant in Florida. American Social, a short walk from the Marriott, is another eatery people enjoy.

Nearest Cities to Tampa: Orlando is 90 minutes away, Clearwater Beach is 45 minutes away and St. Petersburg is 35 minutes away.

Nearest Airport Airport: Nearest International Airport is Tampa International 15 minutes from downtown Tampa.

weekend vacation in Key West Snorkeling Fort Jefferson
Mallory Square Key West Sunset.
Top restaurants on Anna Maria Island Hurricane Hanks
Key West Snorkeling at Fort Jefferson.

Weekend Getaway in Florida – Destination Key West

If we had to choose, Key West is our favorite go-to weekend getaway in Florida. Always something new, different and uniquely Key West.

Key West, the southernmost city in the continental United States, is a tropical paradise at the end of the Florida Keys. Renowned for its laid-back atmosphere, rich history, and diverse culture, Key West beckons visitors with its turquoise waters, swaying palm trees, and charming pastel-colored architecture.

The island’s unique character is shaped by a blend of Bahamian, Cuban, and American influences, creating a diverse and eclectic community. Duval Street, the main thoroughfare, buzzes with energy, featuring lively bars, boutique shops, and a myriad of restaurants serving fresh seafood.

 Visitors can explore landmarks like the Southernmost Point Buoy, which marks the southernmost tip of the continental U.S., and the historic Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum, where the famed author once lived.

Key West offers an array of outdoor activities, from snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters of the Florida Straits to relaxing on sandy beaches like Fort Zachary Taylor State Park Beach. Sunset celebrations at Mallory Square are a daily ritual, drawing crowds to witness the breathtaking sunset over the Gulf of Mexico, accompanied by street performers and live music. Key West stands as a captivating destination that enchants visitors with its unique blend of island charm and cultural allure.

Top 5 Things To Do in Key West

Key West offers a diverse range of attractions and activities, blending tropical beauty, historic charm, and a vibrant cultural scene. This is one of our favorite Florida getaways. 

Here are five of the best things to do in Key West:

  • Join the lively Sunset Celebration at Mallory Square, a nightly gathering where locals and visitors alike come together to witness the breathtaking sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Street performers, artisans, and food vendors create a festive atmosphere, making it a must-visit for a quintessential Key West experience.
  • Explore the iconic Duval Street, the bustling heart of Key West’s historic district. Lined with colorful Victorian homes, boutique shops, art galleries, and lively bars, Duval Street offers a vibrant and eclectic atmosphere. Don’t miss landmarks like Sloppy Joe’s Bar, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway, and the historic Key West Lighthouse.
  • Visit the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
    weekend trip to Key West Hemingway Home
    Ernest Hemingway’s home in Key West is one of the top attractions – see the six toed cats still there!
    , where the renowned author lived and wrote for more than a decade. Explore the lush gardens and see the six-toed cats that roam the property. The guided tour provides insights into Hemingway’s life and his impact on Key West’s literary history.
  • Dive into the crystal-clear waters surrounding Key West with a snorkeling or scuba diving excursion. Explore the vibrant coral reefs and encounter a diverse array of marine life. Popular spots include the Dry Tortugas and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
  • Take a day trip to Dry Tortugas National Park, accessible by ferry or seaplane. This remote paradise is known for its pristine beaches, historic Fort Jefferson, and excellent snorkeling opportunities. The secluded nature of the park provides a tranquil escape from the bustle of Key West.

These activities capture the essence of Key West’s unique blend of natural beauty, history, and lively culture. Whether you’re drawn to the vibrant street life, historic landmarks, or the underwater wonders of the coral reefs, Key West promises a memorable and totally fun experience for a weekend vacation in Florida.

Florida getaways - Pier house
Florida Getaways – Pier House Key West

Places to Stay in Key West: Our favorite is the Pier House at 0 Duval Street. Some of the more affordable hotels are on Roosevelt on the east side of the island. The expensive places to stay in Key West tend to be near Duval Street. We have stayed at all of these various locations on our Key West Florida weekend getaways and suggest the Pier House or the Opal Resort & Marina if available and your budget allows.

Places to Eat in Key West; Our favorite restaurant is Louie’s Backyard on the southwest side of the island near the southernmost buoy. A & B Lobster House, Pepe’s and Half Shell Raw Bar are all good options.

Nearby Cities to Key West: Since Key West is last in a string of islands, there are no major cities nearby. Marathon is 50 miles east and Miami is 160 miles away.

Nearest Airport: Key West International Airport on the Island. You can find reasonable fares for weekend trips to Key West at Silver Airways and American Airlines.

Lowest Airfares to Florida
weekend pool at hilton2
Hilton Resort Marco Island Pool.
weekend trips in Florida JW Marriott Beach.
JW Marriott Resort Marco Island Beach

Weekend Getaway to Marco Island Florida

Marco Island, a shimmering barrier island off Florida’s southwest coast, beckons with fluffy white sand beaches lapped by turquoise Gulf waters. Lush mangroves and tropical foliage paint a picture of paradise, while charming resorts and elegant restaurants promise a touch of luxury on your weekend away in Florida.

Whether you seek sun-drenched days spent building sandcastles with family, exhilarating kayak adventures through hidden coves, or romantic evenings soaking in fiery sunsets, Marco Island delivers the perfect weekend getaway in Florida.

Embrace the laid-back island vibe, explore vibrant coral reefs teeming with marine life, or tee off on championship golf courses. From luxurious pampering at world-class spas to dancing under starry skies, Marco Island weaves a spell of unforgettable memories on the sun-kissed shores of Florida.

Things To Do In Marco Island Florida
  • Dive into the crystal-clear Gulf waters at Tigertail Beach, renowned for its shallow lagoon and calm atmosphere. Build sandcastles with the kids, kayak through mangroves, or simply bask in the warm sunshine on Collier-Seminole State Park’s shores. Don’t forget to witness a breathtaking sunset, painting the sky in fiery hues.
  • Embark on a snorkeling or diving adventure at Keewaydin Island, a secluded natural paradise teeming with tropical fish, vibrant coral reefs, and playful sea turtles. For a unique experience, visit Dolphin House, a submerged sculpture and marine habitat attracting playful dolphins.
  • Immerse yourself in the lush mangroves on a guided kayak tour. Glide through tranquil waterways, spot fascinating birds like herons and pelicans, and discover the hidden beauty of this vital ecosystem. Paddle by Collier-Seminole State Park’s mangrove maze or explore Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve for an insightful eco-adventure.
  • Take a jet ski or parasailing tour for an adrenaline rush, soaring across the turquoise waters and soaking in breathtaking coastal views. Cast a line on a deep-sea fishing trip or embark on a thrilling shark
    weekend trip to Marco Island - Alligators in Everglades
    Marco Island is just a few miles from the Everglades where you could see plenty of these guys! Check out our Everglades posts.
    encounter tour (from a safe distance of course!). Rent a catamaran or pontoon boat for a family adventure exploring hidden coves and sandbars.
  • Pamper yourself at one of Marco Island’s world-class spas, like the Marco Beach Ocean Resort’s Spa Bali, offering rejuvenating treatments in a serene setting. Savor exquisite seafood at upscale waterfront restaurants like The Snook Inn or indulge in a romantic sunset dinner at Quinn’s on the Beach. Explore the vibrant shops and art galleries in Marco Town Center for souvenirs and treasures.
  • A must-visit on your weekend trip to Marco Island Florida is the Marco Island Historica Society, a modern museum of the history of southwest Florida.

This is just a taste of Marco Island’s endless possibilities. Marco Island is one of our best weekend getaways in Florida.

Places to Stay on Marco Island: Our favorite place is the JW Marriott Resort on Collier Avenue. However, as their rates went up we have recently been staying at the Hilton Resort just a few steps away from the Marriott.

Places to Eat in Marco Island: You must try the fun and food at the Snook Inn. The best steakhouse is Ocean Prime across the street from the Hilton Marco Island Beach Hotel.

Nearby Cities to Marco Island: Marco Island is just 25 miles southwest of Naples, 110 miles west of Miami and 180 miles south of Tampa, Florida.

Nearest Airport: There is a small airport in Naples and a larger International Airport in Fort Myers 55 miles away.

best weekend getaway in Florida St. Augustine Fort Castillo
Fort Castillo in St. Augustine is from the 1600s.
weekend St. Augustine Lightner Museum
Lightner Museum in St. Augustine is a must-visit.

Weekend Getaway in Florida – St. Augustine 

St. Augustine, Florida, breathes history from its cobblestone streets. Founded in 1565, it’s the oldest continuously inhabited European settlement in the U.S., a tapestry woven with Spanish conquistadors, pirates, and colonial charm.

Wander through Castillo de San Marcos, the mighty stone fortress guarding the Matanzas Bay, a sentinel of Spain’s colonial dreams. Explore cobbled alleys lined with colorful 17th-century buildings, their wrought-iron balconies adorned with bougainvillea, whispering tales of pirates and hidden treasure.

Indulge in culinary delights, from fresh seafood paella to savory tapas, while live music spills from hidden courtyards.

Step into the Lightner Museum, a Gilded Age mansion transformed into a dazzling world of art and antiques, or lose yourself in the enchanting Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Beyond the old city walls, pristine beaches beckon with turquoise waters and soft sand, inviting you to trade history for seaside bliss.

Paddle through serene mangrove forests, spot playful dolphins dancing on the waves, or tee off on championship golf courses. From ancient whispers to modern delights, St. Augustine welcomes you to write your own chapter in a story that stretches back centuries.

Things To Do In St. Augustine Florida
  • Visit Castillo de San Marcos and Spanish colonial history at this imposing stone fortress. Explore ramparts, tunnels, and cannons, and learn about conquistadors and pirates who shaped St. Augustine’s past. Guided tours and reenactments bring history vividly to life!
  • Get lost in the charming labyrinths of St. Augustine’s historic district. Admire colorful Spanish architecture, discover hidden courtyards,
    weekend getaway to St. Augustine - oldest house
    We highly recommend you visit the Oldest House in St. Augustine. Dating back to the 1600s, it shows the harsh life of the times.
    and browse unique shops brimming with local crafts and souvenirs. Don’t miss The Colonial Quarter, a living history museum where costumed interpreters transport you back in time.
  • Escape the city and embrace beach bliss. Bask on the soft sand of St. Augustine Beach or Vilano Beach, swim in turquoise waters, or try your hand at paddleboarding or surfing. For a serene escape, head to Anastasia State Park, which offers miles of unspoiled coastline and diverse ecosystems.
  • Embark on a scenic sunset cruise on the Matanzas Bay. Witness the sky ignite in fiery hues as the sun dips below the horizon, and keep an eye out for playful dolphins frolicking alongside the boat. It’s a magical experience perfect for couples or families.
  • Augustine boasts a vibrant nightlife scene with a twist. Take a spooky ghost tour through haunted alleys and graveyards or delve into the mysteries of paranormal investigations. After your thrills, refuel with delectable cuisine at charming cafes or upscale restaurants. Savor fresh seafood, local specialties, and delectable tapas.
  • A must-visit on your weekend vacation in Florida is the Lightner Museum in downtown St. Augustine. This is a historical structure with a magnificent story and history.

These are just a few of the countless experiences St. Augustine offers. Choose your adventures, wander hidden alleys, and soak in the timeless charm of this ancient city. Remember, the best discoveries are often the ones you stumble upon in your own exploration! 

We suggest that St. Augustine is one of the best weekend vacations in Florida. You can also consider the oldest town in Florida a great couple getaway in Florida. The Casa Monica Hotel is a romantic hotel if Florida that makes a great weekend trip for couples.

Places to Stay in St. Augustine: Our favorite hotel is the Casa Monica. It is an historic hotel in downtown within walking distance of all the sights.

Places to Eat in St. Augustine: For fine dining, our favorite is the Old City House Inn. Don’t miss the Prohibition Kitchen on St. George, the main shopping district. The prohibition has great food and TVs for sports.

Nearby Cities near St. Augustine: Jacksonville is just 40 miles north and Orlando is 105 miles southwest. Gainesville is 75 miles west and Miami is 310 miles south.

Nearest Airport: Jacksonville International Airport is 57 miles north.

nice weekend getaways in Florida - St. George Island sign
Cross the Bridge to St. George Island paradise.
family weekend getaways in Florida - St. George uncrowded beaches
Uncrowded beaches are the norm on St. George.

Weekend Getaway to St. George Island, Florida

St. George Island, a narrow barrier island sprinkled with sugar-white sand and vibrant wildlife, beckons adventurous spirits and sun-seekers alike. Its 28-mile stretch off Florida’s Panhandle promises a laid-back island escape where nature reigns supreme.

Breathe in the salty air, feel the rhythm of the waves against your toes, and let the worries melt away. This is a unique weekend getaway in Florida with just you , the island and lot’s of relaxation.

For those seeking solace in nature’s embrace, St. George Island delivers. Dr. Julian G. Bruce State Park, stretching across the island’s center, is a haven for birdwatchers and hikers. Trek through sun-dappled forests, kayak through serene salt marshes, and spot playful dolphins frolicking offshore.

The untouched and uncrowded beaches offer miles of blissful solitude. Build sandcastles with your family, cast a line, and reel in the fresh catch of the day, or simply let the soothing ocean soundtrack your relaxation.

St. George Island caters to more than just beach bliss. Explore the island’s charming village, where colorful cottages and laid-back cafes line the streets. Browse quirky shops for local treasures, savor fresh seafood at waterfront restaurants, and catch live music spilling from hidden courtyards.

Take a scenic drive along the island’s only road, stopping to admire charming lighthouses and sweeping ocean vistas. As dusk paints the sky with fiery hues, gather around a crackling bonfire on the beach, sharing stories and laughter under a blanket of stars.

St. George Island is a place where time slows down, where the rhythm of nature sets the pace, and where memories are built one seashell at a time. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the greatest adventures are found in the simplest pleasures, waiting to be discovered on the shores of this unique weekend getaway in Florida.

Things to Do on St. George Island
best weekend vacation spots in Florida - St. George lighthouse
The lighthouse on St. George Island is one of the must-see attractions.

Here are the top five things to do on St. George Island:

  • George Island boasts stunning white-sand beaches with clear Gulf waters. Spend your days relaxing on the beach, soaking up the sun, and enjoying the gentle waves. The island’s main public beach, St. George Island State Park, offers miles of uncrowded shoreline, perfect for beachcombing, shelling, and swimming.
  • Explore the iconic St. George Island Lighthouse, a historic landmark that offers panoramic views of the Gulf of Mexico and Apalachicola Bay. Climb to the top for breathtaking vistas, learn about the island’s maritime history, and enjoy the surrounding Keeper’s House and museum.
  • Discover the island’s waterways by kayaking or paddleboarding. Rent equipment or join guided tours to explore the calm waters of Apalachicola Bay and the Apalachicola River. Paddling allows you to experience the natural beauty and diverse ecosystems of the area.
  • Explore the city of Apalachicola less than 10 miles away. This historic city is full of quaint shops, fun restaurants, and remnants of oyster houses when these mollusks were prominent here.
  • George Island offers excellent opportunities for fishing. Whether you prefer surf fishing along the shoreline, casting from the St. George Island State Park fishing pier, or chartering a boat for deep-sea fishing, the island is a paradise for anglers. The surrounding waters are teeming with a variety of fish species.

These activities highlight the natural beauty and outdoor recreation opportunities that St. George Island has to offer. Whether you’re seeking relaxation on the beaches, exploring historic landmarks, or engaging in water-based adventures, St. George Island provides a tranquil and scenic weekend getaway on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

Places to Stay on St. George Island: Many people stay at the Buccaneer Inn on the Island and others choose VRBOs. We have generally stayed at the Gibson Inn in Apalachicola and our friends love camping in the State Park on the island.

Places to Eat on St. George Island: One place you must try is Weber’s Little Donut Shop – it seems everyone on the island is lined up at Weber’s for warm donuts. Other places include Mango Mike’s and the Blue Parrot.

 Nearby Cities to St. George Island: Tallahassee Florida is 80 miles north, Panama City is 75 miles northwest, and Pensacola is 210 miles west.

Nearest Airport to St. George Island: Tallahassee International Airport is 80 miles north.

Crystal River manatees
Crystal River is famous for swimming with manatees
weekend crystal river kings bay
View of Kings Bay in Crystal River.

Weekend Getaway to Crystal River Florida

Located on Florida’s Nature Coast, Crystal River is a hidden gem, where gentle springs nurture a magical connection with manatees. These gentle giants, affectionately nicknamed “sea cows,” find solace in the warm spring waters, drawing curious visitors year-round. Witness mothers nuzzling their calves, playful encounters between juveniles, or simply marvel at their graceful underwater ballet.

Beyond manatee encounters, Crystal River offers a load of activities for every adventurer. Explore lush mangroves on an eco-boat tour, spotting playful otters and vibrant birdlife.

For thrill-seekers, kayak through the dramatic Kings Bay, paddle beneath lush canopy tunnels, and emerge in hidden lagoons. At dusk, gather on the waterfront and witness colorful sunsets paint the sky, a perfect end to a day in this enchanted oasis.

Crystal River is more than just a destination; it’s an experience. It’s about connecting with nature in its purest form, about forging a bond with gentle giants, and about creating memories that will last a lifetime. So, head to the crystal-clear waters, discover in the vibrant ecosystem, and let the magic of Crystal River come alive on a weekend getaway in Florida.

Things To Do in Crystal River
weekend trips in Florida - Crystal River Plantation Inn
We recommend the Plantation Inn for a place to stay in Crystal River.

Crystal River is renowned for its crystal-clear spring waters, diverse wildlife, and outdoor activities. This is our best affordable weekend getaways in Florida.

Here are the five best things to do in Crystal River:

  •  Crystal River is one of the few places in the world where you can have the unique experience of swimming with manatees. Take a guided tour to snorkel with these gentle giants in the warm, spring-fed waters of Kings Bay. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is a popular spot for manatee encounters, especially during the cooler months when the manatees seek refuge in the warm springs.
  •  Visit Three Sisters Springs, a natural wonder and a designated manatee sanctuary. Explore the boardwalks and scenic trails that lead to the springs, providing excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing. Nearby is Hunter Springs, another natural spring that feeds Kings Bay and the river.
  •  Paddle the waterways of Crystal River by renting a kayak or canoe. Explore the scenic rivers, estuaries, and coastal areas that make up this unique ecosystem. The lush vegetation and diverse wildlife, including birds and fish, create a peaceful and memorable experience. If you choose, there are many boat tours and boat rental companies that can provide a do-it-yourself tour of the area. You can rent just about anything for the waterways from the Plantation Inn Adventure Center.
  • Head to nearby Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park, where you can observe and learn about Florida’s native wildlife. The park features a variety of animals, including manatees, alligators, and even a hippopotamus. Take a wildlife boat tour for a chance to see manatees and other aquatic species. We believe Homosassa Springs State Park is one of the best in Florida. 
  • Crystal River offers fantastic opportunities for fishing enthusiasts. Join a fishing charter or try your luck from the shore. The area is known for its abundant fish species, including redfish, trout, and tarpon. Local guides can provide insights into the best spots and techniques near Crystal River.

Extra Idea: Crystal River Archaeological State Park: Explore the archaeological and historical aspects of Crystal River by visiting the Crystal River Archaeological State Park. This site preserves pre-Columbian Native American burial mounds dating back over 2,000 years. Learn about the region’s indigenous history and the people who once inhabited the area.

These activities showcase the natural beauty, wildlife encounters, and recreational opportunities that make Crystal River a unique weekend trip in Florida on Florida’s Gulf Coast. Whether you’re seeking adventure on the water or a chance to connect with nature, Crystal River offers a diverse range of experiences.

Places to Stay in Crystal River: We highly recommend very affordable Plantation Inn. This waterfront hotel is the center of water sports fun on Kings Bay. They have charter fishing captains, a dive center and boat tours.

Places to Eat in Crystal River; Our favorite burger is at St. Johns Tavern in downtown Crystal River. Near to The Plantation Inn is Granny’s, a great little breakfast place. For seafood, Head to a place called Seafood Sellers.

Nearby cities to Crystal River: Tampa is 75 miles south of Crystal River, Orlando is 90 miles east and Clearwater Beach is 80 miles southwest.

Nearest Airport: Tampa International Airport 90 minutes away.

weekend away in Florida - Cocoa Beach Pier
The center of activity in Cocoa Beach.
weekend away in Florida - Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center is a must-visit.

Weekend Getaway to Cocoa Beach Florida

Cocoa Beach, Florida, stretches along the Atlantic coast, a vibrant pulse of sunshine, surf, and spacefaring dreams. Imagine the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop, a towering monument to wave-chasing, beckoning you with boards and beach gear. Nearby, the majestic Cocoa Beach Pier juts out, a bustling hub of fishermen, souvenir shops, and hungry pelicans.

But Cocoa Beach isn’t just about sun and sand. It’s a gateway to the cosmos, brimming with the spirit of exploration. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is nearby, where rockets pierce the sky and dreams take flight. Witness spacecraft that touched the moon, stand beneath towering Saturn V rockets and ignite your own sense of wonder.

Cocoa Beach is the surfing capital of Florida where you can chase waves and chase stars, where the salty breeze whispers tales of surfers and astronauts, and where every day promises an adventure. So, grab your surfboard, your sense of wonder, and let the vibrant pulse of Cocoa Beach wash over you.

Things To Do in Cocoa Beach Florida
best weekend getaway in Florida - Cocoa Beach Rikki Tiki Tavern
Don’t forget the Rikki Tiki Tavern at the end of the Cocoa Beach Pier.

Cocoa Beach, situated on Florida’s Space Coast, is known for its beautiful beaches, outdoor activities, and proximity to the Kennedy Space Center. This beach town makes a nice weekend getaway in Florida.

Here are the top five things to do in Cocoa Beach:

  1. Enjoy Cocoa Beach Pier and spend time at the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, which extends 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The pier offers a variety of entertainment, restaurants, and shops. Enjoy stunning views of the ocean, try fresh seafood, and experience the vibrant atmosphere. Fishing is also popular from the pier for those looking to cast a line. Don’t forget to visit the Rikki Tiki Tavern!
  2. Surfing and Water Sports make Cocoa Beach a prime destination. The consistent waves make it a favorite among surfers of all levels. Numerous rental shops along the coast offer equipment for surfing, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Consider taking a lesson to learn or improve your skills.
  3. Explore the nearby Kennedy Space Center, a must-visit for space enthusiasts. Discover the history of space exploration, view space shuttles and rockets, and even witness a rocket launch if the timing is right. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers interactive exhibits and educational experiences.
  4. Visit the world-famous Ron Jon Surf Shop, one of the largest surf shops globally. This iconic store is not just for surfers; it’s a destination in itself, featuring a wide range of beachwear, surf equipment, and souvenirs. Even if you don’t shop, the vibrant atmosphere makes it worth a visit.
  5. Relax and unwind at Lori Wilson Park, a scenic beachfront park with amenities like picnic areas, walking trails, and beach access. It’s a great spot for a family day out, with playgrounds for kids and the opportunity to explore the natural beauty of the area.

These activities highlight the diverse range of experiences Cocoa Beach has to offer, from beachside relaxation to space exploration. Whether you’re a nature lover, water enthusiast, or history buff, Cocoa Beach provides a mix of recreational opportunities for a memorable weekend retreat in Florida.

Places to stay in Cocoa Beach: La Quinta Inn & Suites and the Days Inn by Wyndham are both near the Cocoa Beach Pier where all the action is.

Places To Eat in Cocoa Beach Florida: There are a number of bars and café’s at the Pier with stunning views. Other options include the Cocoa Beach Fish Camp, Joanne’s Café and Q’s Crackin Crab.

Nearby Cities to Cocoa Beach Florida: Orlando is 60 miles west, West Palm Beach is 135 miles south and Daytona Beach is 85 miles to the north. Cocoa Beach is a great weekend trip if you are near Orlando.

Nearest Airport to Cocoa Beach: Orlando International Airport is a little over an hour away from Cocoa Beach Florida.

Beaches Packing Checklist
great weekend getaways in Florida - Seaside Beach
View of the beach at Seaside.
fun weekend getaways in Florida - Seaside Town Center
Seaside Town Center is shops and cobblestones.

Weekend Getaway in Seaside Florida

Seaside, Florida, won’t be on many lists of best weekend getaways in Florida because they don’t know Florida like residents who travel Florida consistently. This town on the Emerald Coast is like a pastel-hued dream painted on sugar-white sand.

This charming beach town, born from the New Urbanism movement, ditches towering hotels and wide avenues for intimate squares, colorful cottages, and winding pedestrian paths. The air carries the scent of salt and sunscreen, sprinkled with the laughter of children building sandcastles and couples strolling hand-in-hand.

Life in Seaside unfolds at a gentle pace. Explore the town square, a vibrant hub of cafes, bookstores, and ice-cream shops, their awnings offering shade from the Florida sun. Water sports highlight the beaches or simply sink your toes into the soft sand and let the turquoise waves lull you into tranquility.

As the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky in a color spectrum of hues, gather around a crackling bonfire on the beach and lose yourself in the crackling flames and starry sky. In Seaside, every day is an invitation to reconnect, unwind, and create memories that linger long after the sand brushes off your toes. This is one of our most beach-oriented weekend destinations in Florida.

Things To Do in Seaside Florida
good weekend getaways in Florida - Seaside WaterColor Inn
The view from the beach back at part of the WaterColor Inn.

Seaside is along a 28-mile stretch of a Florida Scenic Highway that has beaches, state parks and quaint communities. Here are just a few things you may do at Seaside Florida:

  1. Embrace this architectural gem as you wander through the quaint town square, marveling at the pastel-hued cottages, picket fences, and whitewashed buildings. This unique pedestrian-friendly environment invites you to slow down and savor the architectural charm. Don’t miss the iconic Seaside Post Office or browse for souvenirs in the charming shops.
  2. Have a beach bay in the picture-perfect white sand and turquoise waters of Seaside Beach. Build sandcastles with the kids, take a refreshing dip, or rent a paddleboard for a fun coastal adventure. For a unique twist, sign up for a guided “Seashell Safari” and learn about the fascinating creatures that call these shores home.
  3. Rent a bike and cruise along the scenic beach road, enjoying the gentle sea breeze and picturesque views. Peddle past Airstream Row, where vintage trailers offer delicious food and local crafts.
  4. You can also cycle to nearby Grayton Beach State Park which is one of the best in Florida. The sand dunes and beaches are unique or explore the scenic coastal villages. Don’t miss this unique park on your weekend trip in Florida.
  5. Seaside doesn’t disappoint when it comes to entertainment. Experience the magic of the Seaside Amphitheater, an open-air cinema where you can watch classic films or new releases under the starry sky. Pack a picnic basket and cozy up for a unique movie night under the Florida moon.
  6. Venture down the road to Deer Lake State Park for a nature trail hike and wildlife search in the wooded areas or identify the many bird species found there.

Tip: Don’t miss the Seaside Farmers Market happening every Wednesday and Sunday. Browse an array of fresh produce, handmade crafts, and local delicacies while soaking in the lively atmosphere.

Remember, these are just a few of the many things Seaside has to offer. With its friendly ambiance, charming shops, and endless beach activities, this picturesque town promises a memorable Florida weekend getaway for families, couples or day trip seekers.

Places to Stay in Seaside Florida: We highly recommend the WaterColor Inn in Seaside. This stunning hotel and resort offers a boardwalk to the uncrowded beach, two exceptional restaurants, large pools, and views you only see on postcards!

Places to Eat in Seaside Florida: Besides the superb Fish Out of Water Restaurant at the hotel, the Scratch Biscuit Kitchen just a courtyard away is also excellent.

Cities Nearby Seaside Florida: Destin to the west is just 25 miles away and Panama City Beach is 30 miles east. Both are playgrounds for adults and families.

Nearest Airport to Seaside Florida: Destin-Fort Walton Beach Airport is 40 miles away.

weekend Amelia Island Fort Clinch
Fort Clinch is a must-see on Amelia Island.
good weekend getaways in Florida - Fernandina Beach Shops
Browse the local shops in Fernandina Beach.

Florida Weekend Getaway to Amelia Island 

One of our best weekend vacations is Amelia Island, a large island off Florida’s northeast coast. The island whispers tales of pirates and posh resorts, wind-swept beaches and vibrant history. This barrier island stretches 13 miles, cradling two distinct personalities.

On the northwest corner of the island, Fernandina Beach, the historic heart, charms with Victorian gingerbread houses lining shady streets and quaint shops brimming with local treasures. Fort Clinch State Park, with its imposing stone fortress, echoes with whispers of Civil War battles, while the Amelia Island Museum unravels the island’s fascinating past.

Venture to the south island past mossy oaks and hidden lagoons, and Amelia Island transforms into a haven of luxury. Plush resorts grace Atlantic Coast beaches, each a symphony of soft sand and turquoise waves.

Championship golf courses, world-class spas, and gourmet restaurants pamper and entice. Whether you seek sun-drenched bliss on the shore, a romantic sunset cruise, or a dive into Amelia Island’s rich tapestry of stories, this versatile island promises an unforgettable escape. We believe this is one of the best weekend vacations in Florida.

Things To Do on Amelia Island
good weekend getaway in Florida Amelia Island Palace Saloon
The Palace Saloon is the oldest bar in Florida.

Amelia Island, located off the northeast coast of Florida, is known for its historic charm, uncrowded beaches, and outdoor activities.

Here are the top five things to do on Amelia Island:

  • Explore the charming Historic Downtown Fernandina Beach, characterized by Victorian architecture, boutique shops, art galleries, and a variety of restaurants. 
  • Visit Fort Clinch State Park, a well-preserved 19th-century fortress that offers a glimpse into Florida’s military history. Explore the fort, walk or bike the scenic trails, and enjoy fishing or birdwatching. The park also features a beautiful beach and campground.
  • Relax on the coastal beaches of Amelia Island. Main Beach Park and Peter’s Point Beachfront Park are popular choices, providing sandy shores, gentle waves, and opportunities for beachcombing. Enjoy water activities such as paddleboarding or simply bask in the sun.
  • Discover the island’s natural beauty by embarking on kayaking or nature tours. Explore the salt marshes, tidal creeks, and maritime forests while observing wildlife. Guided tours are available for those seeking informative and immersive experiences.
  • Explore the Amelia Island Museum. Discover how Native Americans, the French, English and Spanish imparted their various cultures into the area. After the museum venture over to the Palace Saloon, the oldest continuously operating bar in Florida.

These activities showcase the diverse offerings of Amelia Island, from its historic sites to its natural beauty and recreational opportunities. Whether you’re interested in cultural exploration, outdoor adventures, or simply unwinding on the beach, Amelia Island provides a delightful blend of experiences for visitors.

Places to stay on Amelia Island: If you want luxury and outdoor recreation, try the Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort. Enjoy golfing on championship courses, relax at the spa, and explore the resort’s nature trails. For a more affordable place to stay on Amelia Island, the Hampton Inn & Suites in Fernandina Beach is perfect.

Places to Eat on Amelia Island: The Salty Pelican has casual pub food near the waterfront. One of the best Mexican restaurants in the state is Peppers Cocina on Centre Street. When we were at Amelia Island last, anew restaurant was very good called the Boat House. It was in Fernandina Beach near the harbor.

Nearest Cities to Amelia Island: Jacksonville is just 40 minutes south. It should be noted that Savanah Georgia is just 2 hours to the north. We have used Amelia Island as a weekend trip on our way to visit Savannah.

Nearest Airport to Amelia Island: Jacksonville International Airport is 45 minutes away.

weekend Tarpon Springs boat
Typical working sponge boat in Tarpon Springs.
Family weekend getaways in Florida - Tarpon Springs Art
Artwork is important to the Greek culture.

Weekend Getaway to Tarpon Springs Florida

Tarpon Springs, situated along the Gulf of Mexico in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, is a picturesque and culturally rich community known for its Greek heritage and vibrant waterfront.

One of the most distinctive features of Tarpon Springs is its historic Sponge Docks, a waterfront area where visitors can experience the city’s Greek influence. Stroll along Dodecanese Boulevard, lined with charming shops, restaurants, and bakeries offering traditional Greek pastries..

The Greek influence in Tarpon Springs is deeply ingrained, with the city boasting one of the largest Greek populations in the United States. The community celebrates its heritage through festivals, such as the Epiphany Celebration in January, which includes the traditional Blessing of the Waters ceremony.

Visitors can also explore the Tarpon Springs Aquarium, showcasing marine life from the region, or visit the St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral. With its charming atmosphere, waterfront beauty, and cultural richness, Tarpon Springs offers a unique and immersive experience for those seeking a taste of Greek heritage in a Florida setting.

Trarpon Springs is considered one of the best weekend vacation spots in Florida.

Things To Do in Tarpon Springs
weekend trips in Florida - Tarpon Springs Sponges drying
Sponges drying along the docks of Tarpon Springs.
  • Stroll the Sponge Docks and discover boat tours, allowing visitors to explore the scenic Anclote River and Gulf of Mexico, and witness sponge divers demonstrating their craft.
  • Taste the Greek food this town is known for. From the delicate pastries to the luscious seafood, this is a perfect weekend getaway for foodies.
  • Visit the Tarpon Heritage Museum. Learn about what brought this Mediterranean culture to the west coast of Florida. The history of Tarpon Springs is a story of a culture making a town.
  • Take time to relax at a nearby beach. Fred Howard Park is off the beaten path but offers unmatched views of Anclote Key and the Gulf.
  • If you want an adventure from Tarpon Springs for the family, pack your day bag and head to Honeymoon Island and the ferry that will take you to one of the best beaches around Tarpon Springs, Caladesi Island.
  • Visit the Greek shops along Dodecanese Blvd. that offer handcrafted jewelry and souvenirs.

These are just a few things to to in this massive area. For a more detailed list, you can find it here.

best weekend vacations in Florida - Tarpon Springs Rust Bellies Waterfront Grill
Rusty Bellies is our favorite seafood restaurant in Tarpon Springs at the end of the docks.

Places to Stay in Tarpon Springs: The Tarpon Inn is the best hotel near the Sponge Docks. Many of the national chain hotels are on US Route 19 just 5 miles away.

Places to Eat in Tarpon Springs: For seafood, you must try our favorite, Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill. However, if you really want the Greek experience, try places along the docks like Hellas Bakery, Mykonos, or Dimitri’s – all exceptional Greek restaurants.

Cities Near Tarpon Springs Florida: Tampa is just 30 miles away and Clearwater Beach is 45 minutes to the south. Orlando is two hours to the east.

Nearest Airport to Tarpon Springs: Tampa International Airport is 30 minutes away.

weekend vacation spots in Florida - Naples 5th Ave
Upscale shopping on 5th Avenue in Naples.
best weekend getaways in Florida
The Naples Pier and Beach is place to be at sunset.

Weekend Getaway in Naples Florida

Naples, Florida, on the southwestern Gulf Coast, is like a picture of coastal elegance and tropical serenity. Swaying palm trees line sugar-white sands and turquoise waves, while upscale boutiques and art galleries beckon along Fifth Avenue South.

This southern paradise caters to both sun seekers and luxury demanders. Sink your toes into the warm sand at Vanderbilt Beach, kayak through mangrove tunnels teeming with wildlife, or tee off on championship golf courses. In the evening, dress up for a delicious waterfront dinner overlooking the fiery sunset, followed by live music spilling from hidden courtyards.

Beyond the beaches, Naples offers a treasure trove of cultural delights like the Naples Art Museum, showcasing masterpieces from the Renaissance to contemporary times.

Wander through the Naples Pier, a bustling hub of fishermen, musicians, and breathtaking ocean views. In Naples, every day is an invitation to savor the simple pleasures of sun and sand, embrace cultural delights, and create memories that linger long after your tan fades, plus indulge in some of the best shopping in Florida.

Things to do in Naples Florida
weekend getaway in Naples Florida - Riverwalk Restaurant
The Riverwalk Restaurant on the Gordon River at Tin City is one of the best restaurants in Naples.

Some of the top things to do in Naples Florida are:

  • If beaches are your thing, explore Vanderbilt Beach, located to the north of Naples, one of the must-visit beaches in Naples is Vanderbilt Beach. This long stretch of sandy paradise offers ample space for sunbathing, picnicking, and beach volleyball. If you’re lucky, you might even spot dolphins playing in the distance.
  • If culture is you passion, visit The Baker Museum, located within the Artis-Naples complex, The Baker Museum houses an impressive collection of contemporary art. From thought-provoking sculptures to breathtaking paintings, this museum is a must-visit for art enthusiasts.
  • If you’re a nature lover, a must-see is the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. This preserve should be on your itinerary. This 13,000-acre park is home to a diverse array of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and a variety of bird species. Take a walk along the boardwalk, which winds through the swamp, and immerse yourself in the beauty of this unique ecosystem on the edge of the Everglades.
  • Visitors from all over the country come to Fifth Avenue South. This historic downtown district is known for its upscale shopping, dining, and entertainment. You’ll find boutique stores, art galleries, jewelry shops, and more. It’s a great place for leisurely strolls and luxurious shopping. Naples is known for it’s shops.
  • While there are many more attractions near Naples, Florida, our suggestion is to try a tour of the Everglades. See Mother Nature’s creations up close and personal, Visit the Big Cypress Swamp, Everglades National Park or the nearby Collier Seminole Sate Park. Each will give you sights you have never seen before – even if you have visited a hundred times, the sights are never the same.
    weekend getaway in Naples - Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
    One of the must-see attractions in Naples is the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary.

Naples has many more things to do related to its waterfront setting and natural beauty. This makes Naples one of the best weekend vacation spots in Florida.

Places to stay in Naples Florida: Since you have entered into a world of luxury, the best hotel is The Ritz-Carlton Naples. This luxurious beachfront resort offers top-notch amenities, including a spa, golf courses, and multiple dining options. For regular visitors like us, we stay at the more affordable Bayfront Inn, which is on the Gordon River near the center of town.This is our go-to hotel if we are just passing through town. It has easy walking paths to Tin City and downtown.

Places to Eat in Naples Florida: There is an endless selection of excellent restaurants in Naples Florida. We can only tell your our favorites such as the Riverwalk in the Tin City shopping complex. The Tommy Bahama Restaurant in downtown is good and Ocean Prime Steakhouse on 5th is very good. Our selections of restaurants in Naples on the water is extensive.

Nearby Cities in Florida to Naples: Fort Myers is 45 miles to the north and Miami is 120 miles to the east.

Nearest Airport to Naples: While Naples has a small airport, the largest international airport nearby is the Southwest Florida International Airport in Fort Myers 45 minutes away.

weekend getaway in Florida - WEC
The arena and hotel The Equestrian.
weekend getaway in Florida - WEC Lobby
The impeccable lobby of the hotel at Christmas.
Bonus Unique Weekend Getaway in Florida we just experienced!

The World Equestrian Center in Ocala Florida

The newest 5-star hotel in Florida recently debuted in a 300 plus acre setting of the World Equestrian Center. The hotel called The Equestrian is everything you would expect is a luxury hotel. Clean rooms, wide hallways, exquisite decorations, fabulous restaurants, and superb service – all at a price less than half of what we have paid at other luxury hotels.

So what is the draw and what is there to do? The hotel is surrounded by a half dozen arenas and several dozen modern horse barns. These aren’t just stables for any old horses. These are championship jumping horses from 17 different countries around the world.

In fact, the hotel is built in front of an arena covering several acres where all day horses and their riders compete for time. The area has grandstands for viewing the riders – or you can watch the action from your hotel room with a view of the arena!

Things to Do at The World Equestrian Center
weekend vacation in Florida - WEC Toy Store
The huge toy store at WEC has some very large occupants!

While there are many things to do in the Ocala area, here are some of the things to to on the premises of the WEC:

  • Watch magnificent horses compete for times, money and prestige at the arena in front of the Equestrian Hotel. It is quite a sight to watch the riders put the horses over jumps as tall as the horses.
  • Visit the dozens of shops in the courtyard by the arenas. From tack for the horses to clothing, jewelry, leather goods and hats – there is plenty of shopping to do.
  • Visit, which may be the largest, toy store in a hotel. This store is as much for kids as it is for adults looking for life-sized decorations for their home. From 12-foot stuffed giraffes, talking full size lions, animated bears down to the most popular stuffed animals. Most amazing display of toys we have ever seen.
  • Eat in the 5-star Stirrups fine dining restaurant or in one of the casual restaurants around the arena. One of our favorites was the Yellow Pony Pub & Garden in the hotel. A Pub atmosphere with upscale bar food.

While our weekend vacation in Florida was unique, we found so many things to do that we vowed to return for even more fun.

Cities near the WEC: The WEC is in Ocala and 82 miles from Orlando to the southeast. From Tampa the WEC is 100 miles and from Jacksonville it is 105 miles.

Nearest Airport to WEC: Ocala has a medium-sized airport that may accommodate you and Gainesville Airport is 35 miles away. Orlando at 85 miles away is by far the largest.

The video shows the all-day action and beauty of competitive horse jumping.

Tips on How to Choose the Best Weekend Getaway in Florida For You

 
  1. Know Your Vibe: Florida offers a diverse escape for every personality. Craving beach bliss? Seeking romantic serenity? Whisk your love to secluded Amelia Island or charming St. Augustine. Prefer outdoor adventures? Kayak through the mangroves of Marco Island or hike the trails of Big Cypress National Park. Identifying your desired atmosphere is key to narrowing down your options.

  2. Balance Budget and Amenities: Florida caters to various budgets. Luxurious resorts pamper in Naples or Key West, while budget-friendly options like St. George Island offer charming cottages and vibrant outdoor life. Prioritize must-have amenities like waterfront access, family-friendly activities, or spa treatments, and choose a destination that complements your spending comfort.

  3. Consider the Season: Florida’s weather varies throughout the year. Winter offers sunshine and cool breezes in the south, while summer brings the heat and potential for hurricane season. Spring blooms with wildflowers and pleasant temperatures, while fall sees lower crowds and stunning foliage in northern regions. Choose a destination that aligns with your ideal weather and crowd preferences.

  4. Travel Time and Convenience: Factor in travel time and mode of transportation. If flying in, prioritize destinations directly accessible from your starting point. Consider driving distances if planning a road trip, and remember weekend traffic can be intense in popular areas. Opt for convenient locations near airports or major highways for a smooth getaway.

  5. Beyond the Beach: While Florida’s beaches are a major draw, explore hidden gems! Immerse yourself in the vibrant art scene of Tarpon Springs, discover the fascinating history of St. Augustine, or paddle through the bioluminescent waters of Cocoa Beach. Look for unique experiences that complement your beach days and create lasting memories.

Remember, the best weekend getaway in Florida is the one that caters to your specific desires and priorities. Do your research, be flexible, and embrace the spontaneity of Florida’s endless possibilities. Happy travels!

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