Planning a trip inside the Sunshine State and looking for the best weekend getaways in Florida? This comprehensive list has the best locations for any traveler.
While Florida is rather large, coming in at 500 miles long and just over 160 miles wide, we were able to break down the best weekend trips in Florida not to miss to make your planning easier.
Weekend Getaways In Florida: 14 Weekend Trips In Florida Not To Miss
Where else can you eat frozen key lime pie dipped in chocolate, on a stick? That tells you everything you need to know about Key West: the city is thriving.
Key West is one of the best weekend getaways in Florida. The city is the southernmost point in the United States and a stunning drive from Miami (if you want to drive the three hours).
The city always feels like a smaller, more mature version of New Orleans. Duval Street is similar to Bourbon Street just tailoring to a more mature crowd and not quite as rowdy. Guaranteed, every single night the street is popping and you are going to have a great time.
The white sand beaches and stunning blue water in Key West makes for excellent beach days, snorkeling, sailing, and just spending time catching a tan. If you are looking for the ultimate relaxing getaway, you should try the spas and get pampered.
Two things you absolutely have to do in Key West are: eat stone crabs and visit the Ernest Hemingway House and see the six toed cats.
Orlando – One of the MOST popular weekend getaways in Florida
Orlando is one of the most popular destinations for weekend getaways in Florida. Visitors come from around the world to enjoy the city’s signature theme parks like Disney World and Universal Studios. Each of these attractions has multiple parks, resorts, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment districts within them. It takes more than a single weekend to visit either Disney or Universal, but they each have can’t miss highlights.
Disney’s newest feature is the Rise of the Resistance in Hollywood Studies, a Star Wars based ride that lasts for almost a 1/2 hour. Animal Kingdom’s highlight is the immersive virtual reality of the Flight of Passage. Epcot contains the World Showcase, which is particularly delicious during the Wine and Food Festival. The Magic Kingdom holds the classic Disney characters that kids know and love.
Universal Studios is the mecca for Harry Potter fans everywhere. The Wizard World of Harry Potter stretches across both the Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. In fact, a two-park pass is required to take the Hogwarts Express between them. Universal also hosts Halloween Horror Nights, which is a frighteningly good time.
There are so many romantic things to do in Orlando that a trip to Orlando can go far beyond the parks. The proximity to sandy beaches and sparkling freshwater springs allow visitors to escape the crowds and discover nature. Urban aficionados will enjoy the upscale dining of Restaurant Row in Doctor Phillips, the energy of Orange Ave and Lake Eola, and the elegance of the Winter Park Chain of Lakes. There is never a lack of entertaining options in Orlando.
If you are looking to spa in Orlando, the Ritz-Carlton has a stunning 22,000+ square foot location with a multitude of offerings on their menu and rooms.
The Gulf of Mexico’s Captiva Island, an hour’s drive from Fort Myers over a causeway stretching into the sea, is a world away from the theme parks of Florida. This is the Florida of herons fishing, of dolphins playing in the wake of your boat, of sunsets and shell beaches. Popular with weekenders arriving by yacht, the island has an upmarket, nautical yet barefoot vibe.
One of the main attractions of Captiva is its wildlife. Families of manatees live in the marina and come right up to the dock. Herons, egrets and pelicans perch on the boardwalk and vie for the best fishing spot. From here, take a ride out to Pine Island Sound and watch dolphins surf alongside your boat. Visit the J N Ding Darling Wildlife Reserve on Sanibel Island to spot alligators and protected wildlife. You’ll no doubt collect many souvenirs from Captiva and Sanibel’s famous shell beaches and the Captiva sunsets are legendary.
Stay at South Seas Island Resort for its pool, sea school with marine biologists, restaurants and water slides. If you’re sailing, you can also pay to use the facilities. Alternatively book a beachside cottage to be right on the sand.
Captiva is one of the perfect weekend getaways in Florida to feel the wind in your hair, the shells beneath your feet and see Florida’s nature and wildlife at its best.
Where Jo Goes
Miami is often referred to as the “magic city” and with good reason – a weekend trip to Miami, if done properly, is sure to spice up your life with a little magic. From the beaches to the cuisine to the culture, there’s something for everyone in Miami.
When traveling to Miami you simply cannot miss the beaches. The tropic blue hues of the water paired with the white sand and coconut palms can make anyone feel as if they’ve hopped on an international flight to the Caribbean. While visiting South Beach (and it’s hot spots of Espanola Way, Lincoln Road and Collins Avenue) is a “must do” in Miami – if you’re looking to save a bit on the inflated tourist prices for food and drinks, check out the up and coming neighborhood of Brickell and downtown with heaps of dining options, many of which overlook Biscayne Bay.
Wynwood, known as the “art and soul” of Miami is not only a great place to spend a lazy day walking around to scope out dozens of murals, galleries and museums but is also a great neighborhood to grab a bite to eat. While Miami can be known for its night-life and fast paced lifestyle (with reason! The club scene in Miami is infamous and renting a Ferrari to pull up to a club in Miami is extremely common) Miami can also be a place to have a laid back weekend.
Many of the restaurants boast laid back vibes, there are dozens of great spas to choose from and simply the strolling the beaches and marinas to catch a sunset in Miami can prove relaxing! From a relaxed beach vacation to a “ball out” trip – a weekend trip to Miami truly gives the traveler the opportunity to have any kind of trip that they want.
Get Lost with Jackie
Previously considered a haven for seniors, St. Petersburg’s recent renaissance draws visitors of all ages. Beautiful gulf coast beaches, vibrant art, and culinary delights offer a perfect weekend getaway.
The shiny new St. Petersburg Pier, with it’s $92 million dollar renovation, will open soon with 26 acres of parks to bask in the sun, walk, bike, swim, enjoy live music, eat, or grab a drink at the rooftop tiki bar.
World-class beaches are everywhere. Pack a picnic and take a short drive to Honeymoon Island State Park. From there hop on the ferry to Caladesi Island State Park. Spend the day kayaking, bird watching, shelling, or relaxing on the pristine beach. For a lively scene, visit Madeira Beach for the many shops and restaurants on John’s Pass Village And Boardwalk.
St. Pete’s art scene is booming. Writers, musicians, and artists have flocked to the area for decades and there are seven arts districts to explore. The Dali Museum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of Salvador Dali’s work. Street art takes center stage at the SHINE St. Pete annual mural festival in October.
The eclectic food scene will also surprise you. Stillwaters Tavern on Beach Drive features American dishes with locally-sourced ingredients. The Canopy Rooftop Lounge offers a great view, seasonal dishes, and delicious signature cocktails. Punky’s Bar and Grill on Central Avenue is popular with the LGBT crowd for its fun atmosphere, great cocktails, and tasty appetizers.
St. Petersburg welcomes diversity and encourages new ideas. But you can still enjoy a classic large Florida resort experience at the Don CeSar Hotel (aka “The Don”) or the Vinoy Renaissance Resort and Golf Club.
Whether you want to energize or relax, St. Pete’s the place to design your own perfect weekend getaway.
With its location on the panhandle, and Florida’s westernmost city, Pensacola is a great city to visit as there are many activities and things to do on a weekend. Palafox Street is considered one of the best streets in America and has an array of cafes, shops, good trucks, restaurants and boutique shops.
Fishing is one of the most popular activities to do in Pensacola and chartering a boat to go is easy. Many times, visitors who go on fishing charters are able to see a variety of fish and one of the best and most surprising animals, dolphins!
A visit to the National Naval Aviation Museum is a great place to learn about the history in one of the largest aviation museums in the United States. A visit to the Pensacola Lighthouse and Museum is also a great destination for those who want to learn about the area’s maritime history. The climb to the top is fun, though if going with children, they must be 44 inches or taller to climb up.
No visit to Pensacola would be complete without a visit to its white sandy beaches. Gulf Islands National Seashore is one of the cleanest beaches in Florida and federally protected. It has an abundance of sea life that never disappoints. Pensacola Beach is another great beach as is Opal Beach where you have pavilions where you can easily bring your own supplies and grill.
Even though Tampa is one of Florida’s largest cities, it still makes for a great weekend getaway and has something for every kind of traveler.
For adventurous travelers and roller coaster enthusiasts there’s Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. For the outdoorsy explorers Tampa’s location on Tampa Bay is perfect for kayaking, river tubing, fishing, sailing, and so much more.
If professional sports is of interest, Tampa is home to the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning, the NFL’s Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and just a short drive from Major League Baseball’s Tampa Bay Rays. For animal lovers, Tampa boasts a great aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and such interesting spots as the Tampa Electric Company’s Manatee Viewing Center–one of the many cool tours to take in Tampa. And for history lovers there’s a WWII cargo ship open for tours and historic Ybor City–America’s original Cuban neighborhood.
Tampa’s Ybor City is worth a day itself as you can tour the entire neighborhood and all its historic sites, eat at the country’s largest and oldest Spanish restaurant, tour a cigar factory, and even spend some time on official Cuban land in José Martí Park.
Additionally, Tampa is a growing metropolis with great dining, nightlife, entertainment, and festivals with tons of beautiful outdoor space to spend your weekend. Don’t miss the street murals in Tampa Bay while out wandering!
My Wanderlusty Life
Located on Florida’s Nature Coast on the western Gulf Coast, Crystal River is one of the most popular weekend getaways in the Sunshine State. This is the Florida many travelers never see, and a landscape truly worth exploring.
Make the trip to the Nature Coast, for a taste of Florida off-the-beaten-path! you will love Crystal River since it isn’t as popular as the other weekend getaways in Florida, and you can enjoy it for yourself!
Cocoa Beach is one of the best low-key weekend trips in Florida. It’s sleepy, seaside town in Eastern Florida is facing the Atlantic Ocean. Cocoa Beach is within an hour’s drive from Orlando, so it’s very easy to get to and one of the funnest weekend getaways in Florida.
Many cruise ships embark on their journeys from Cocoa Beach. It’s also considered one of the most affordable vacation destinations in Florida!
Cocoa Beach is known for its calm peaceful waves. For this reason, it’s a popular spot with families. At Cocoa Beach, you must visit the Cocoa Beach Boardwalk for amazing seafood and unforgettable panoramic views of the stunning clear waters.
Near Cocoa Beach, there are many great opportunities to experience wildlife. Whether you’re into bird-watching or kayaking with manatees. You’ll be sure to spot manatees at the Manatee Sanctuary Park!
Cocoa Beach also offers opportunities to enjoy wind and waterspouts. You can golf or try your hand at deep-sea fishing! Nightlife consists of laid back restaurants and jazz clubs.
If you visit Cocoa Beach, you must also check out the Kennedy Space Center. It’s an incredible museum and landmark for kids and adults alike! You’ll be able to see what rocket launchers and spaceships looked like up close. Also, you’ll learn about NASA and the history of space travel.
Amelia Island is a not quite the secret gem of Northeast Florida. If you’re looking for amazing weekend getaways in Florida in the area, then it’ll be tough to find one better than this. Amelia Island has pristine beaches, a quaint downtown, gorgeous resorts, and a few pieces of American history all rolled into one compact package.
There are three places on the island that you absolutely have to see during your trip. The first are the beautiful beaches on the Atlantic. If you’re staying at one of the beach-side resorts, then you won’t have to go any further to find a nice patch of sand. However, if you’re staying off the beach, then you should head up to Fort Clinch State Park and visit the beach there. It’s going to be less crowded and left in a more natural state which is perfect for a quiet getaway.
While you’re up at Fort Clinch State Park, you might as well checkout the eponymous fort. Built in 1847 and garrisoned during the Civil War, the fort remains in fantastic condition. Staffed nearly year round by historical reenactors, this piece of Florida and Civil War history is sure to be a hit with the whole family!
Finally, make sure to check out the historic city of Fernandina Beach. Head on down to Centre Street to browse the local shops and art galleries. Once you get tired, stop into one of the many restaurants like, Brett’s Waterway Cafe, which sits along the Amelia River. If you’re thirsty then make sure to see the friendly faces at the Palace Saloon, which is the oldest continuously operating bar in Florida!
Amelia Island is packed full of charm and you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere else like it in all of Florida!
South Beach is the southernmost point of Miami Beach in South Florida. It is a wide beach with honey colored sand and crystal-clear water. As inviting as the beach is, there are lots of equally appealing attractions and activities in the surrounding neighborhood.
The avenue directly in front of the beach is Ocean Drive. This broad avenue is the center of the area’s art deco architecture the neighborhood is so famous for. The hotels and buildings that front the avenue are perfect examples of the architectural style that defined the 1920s and 30. The city ensures that any new construction meets the Art Deco guidelines to maintain consistency of style.
During the daytime you can visit the area’s museums, trendy shops, and historical buildings. Here you can also visit Gianni Versace’s former mansion. At night, the area transforms into its iconic neon-infused nightlife with a wide variety of restaurant options from the classic Joe’s Stone Crab to ethnic take-out heavens with every cuisine option imaginable.
Runners and fitness enthusiasts will appreciate the landscaped walk that rings the beach, marina, and Southpoint Park. This walkway makes for one of the best self-guided Miami walks.
South Beach offers so much to the visitor that there is something for everyone. It can be a wonderful mini beach vacation in a heavenly location.
Founded in 1565 by Pedro Menendez de Aviles, St. Augustine is America’s oldest city and one of the best weekend getaways in Florida. With miles of beaches, a quaint downtown area, and tons of attractions, St. Augustine is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.
Spend some time getting to know the history of the city on an Old Town Trolley Tour. You can park your car in the morning and use the trolley to ferry you around to all of St. Augustine’s must-see attractions. Your driver will give you an overview of the city, and point out particular points of interests. Hop off at Flagler college and tour the grounds, or take a stroll along the water and visit Castillo de San Marcos Fort. Other historical sites include the Colonial Quarter and Lightner museum.
If you want some flavorful history, check out Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, The Old Jail, or the St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum. If chills and thrills suit you, take a ghost tour.
For some off the wall attractions, visit the Alligator Farm or check out Ripley’s Believe it or Not Museum.
Don’t forget to spend some time outdoors. Rent a surfboard at Surf Station or just relax on St. Augustine’s fabulous beaches. See downtown St. Augustine from a pontoon boat, or aboard the Schooner Freedom. You can even rent jet skis. Walk up the St. Augustine lighthouse to get a great view of the city.
Grab some food and drinks on and around St. George Street. Whetstone’s Chocolate factory, St. Augustine Distillery, and San Sebastian Winery all offer tours of their facilities. Enjoy pizza at Pizalleys, American Fares at the Ice Plant, fresh, healthy food at the Floridian, and some dessert at The Hyppo.
Finish off your night on St. George street for some unique shopping, souvenirs, and photos.
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