Looking for the best weekend getaways in Florida? Great you have come to the right place!
One of the best things about the Sunshine State is that there are so many places to see in Florida, which means, even for the local, there are tonnes of great activities and places to explore on the weekend.
If you are wondering what to do in Florida this weekend, stop looking as we have you covered with the 20 best weekend getaways in Florida which are totally worth the effort.
20 Unique Weekend Getaways in Florida
Located an hour north of Jacksonville, Amelia Island is a quaint little town with a plethora of historic sites to visit. Fort Clinch Park which houses the Amelia Island lighthouse, built in 1838, is the oldest standing lighthouse in Florida.
In addition to its history, this charming town offers a wide variety of boutiques with unique gifts, local flair bistros, and 5-star restaurants. There are excellent lodging options to select from, whether you’re wanting an old fashioned bed and breakfast, or an amazing oceanfront extravagant hotel with all the amenities, Amelia Island has it all.
During your stay indulge in a horse-drawn carriage ride through the streets and get a first-hand glimpse of the historic barrier island. Be sure to stop and visit Fernandina’s Fantastic Fudge. Their fudge recipe dates back to 1887 and is made in a copper kettle. Whatever your niche is, you can find something special on Amelia Island.
Book your stay at Amelia Island here.
St. Augustine was founded by Spanish explorers in 1565 which makes it one of the oldest inhabited communities in the United States. Known for its romance, quaint villages, and cobblestone streets, St. Augustine is a weekend getaway destination for history buffs, young and old.
During your visit, take a stroll back in time on historic Henry Street. It is the main street that runs through old St. Augustine. There you will find museums, restaurants, and several shops to explore, and if you enjoy history, take a tour of Castillo de San Marcos National Monument.
This historic fort is one of the two remaining structures built out of sand and shell called coquina which could withstand cannonballs. To this day, cannonballs are still lodged in this fortress’s walls. After that, experience the overview of St. Augustine on a trolley tour, and if you’re daring, schedule a haunted ghost tour at night. Enjoy all that St. Augustine has to offer.
Book your stay at St Augustine here.
Sarasota, Florida, located just south of Tampa Bay, is known for its pristine beaches, resorts, and various amenities. Whether you prefer laying on the beach, working on your tan, or spending time exploring the many museums and art galleries, Sarasota has it all for the perfect weekend getaway.
There are 40 miles of coastline available to explore including the six barrier islands. There you can take a stroll, look for shark teeth, or just relax. In addition, Sarasota has 1400 restaurants, so finding a specific cuisine won’t be an issue. For those that enjoy the nightlife, Sarasota will not disappoint. Pubs, nightclubs, comedy clubs, and rooftop lounges are just a few options, some featuring live music and outdoor seating.
In addition, Sarasota has a wide variety of tours and attractions including boat rides through untamed waters, exotic animal encounters, and tree canopy tours amongst others. If you’re a couple looking for that perfect romantic getaway, or a family seeking a fun adventure, look no further than Sarasota.
Book your stay at Sarasota here.
Everglades National Park
When you think of Florida, you think of alligators and how cool it would be to see one, the Everglades National Park will deliver that adventure to you. Whether you schedule an airboat ride through the untamed waters or stroll along the Tamiami Trail which is located in the 720,000 acres Big Cypress National Preserve, you are bound to see several varieties of wildlife, including alligators.
If you’ve seen the movie “The Orchid Thief” a book written by Susan Orlean and then made into a movie featuring Meryl Streep and Nicholas Cage you’ll want to visit Fakahatchee Strand National Preserve where the famous Ghost Orchid is located and mentioned. In addition, this famous site also offers the chance to catch a glimpse of black bears, and the evasive black panther.
Furthermore, a must-see in the Everglades National park is the Smallwood Store, located on Chokoloskee Island. Step back in time as you enter this 1906 establishment with an abundance of artifacts and stories of the past. It’s not just an ordinary store, it’s a history lesson.
Book your stay at Everglades National Park here.
A weekend getaway on Sanibel Island might just be what the doctor ordered. Stay in one of the many cottages located near the beach or in a fabulous hotel. Enjoy yourself by participating in several varieties of water activities including kayaking, canoeing, boating, and waterskiing. Or if you prefer leisure over sport, fishing and shelling is an option.
As a highlight of your weekend getaway, you might want to head over to Captiva Island, located a very short distance from Sanibel Island. There they offer short cruises for an affordable price including a sunset cruise and wildlife sunset cruise where you will experience the local wildlife, including dolphins, birds, and other species.
Some of the sunset cruises offer live music and cocktails to enjoy while consuming the fabulous views of open water and the setting sun. After that, dine in one of its many restaurants and eateries, then end the perfect day with a moonlit stroll on the beach.
Book your stay at Sanibel Island here.
Bienvenido a Miami (Welcome to Miami) is a city full of adventure and the hottest nightlife scene in all of Florida. If you like to dance and party all night long, this is the weekend getaway for you. This city offers historic hotels, the newest beachfront resorts, and luxury glamping.
Experience the lively atmosphere at the famous South Beach, or tempt your taste buds with the local Caribbean-inspired cuisine. If you enjoy shopping, the Miami Design District has it all. In addition, get a taste of Miami’s culture by visiting the Knight Concert Hall for some extraordinary live music while experiencing the concert hall’s nostalgia.
At night the city comes alive with light and music of all genres, including showcasing its Latino culture with dancers and traditional rock your socks off Latin music. Everything in the main part of the district is within walking distance, however, bicycle rentals and other sorts of transportation are available.
Book your stay at Miami here.
Tampa offers a wide variety of activities during a weekend getaway, including several theme parks, aquariums, and picture-perfect beaches. A little slower-paced and less crowded than Miami, but there is a wide variety of things to do.
Historic Ybor City is a must-see while visiting Tampa. There you can schedule a walking tour which includes plenty of food and wine tasting, all while learning the history and culture of the village. It is also home to one of the oldest cigar-making families in the United States.
Other forms of entertainment include taking a ride on a Tiki Boat cruise. Bring your drinks and enjoy a cruise floating by downtown Tampa on the Hillsborough River, cruising on an outboard-driven, floating Tiki Bar.
Wind up the evening dining at one of the many fabulous restaurants, or dance the night away at several of Tampa’s nightclubs. With so many things to do and see, it’s sure to be a memorable experience.
Book your stay in Tampa here.
Ocala National Forest
Attention nature lovers wanting that special experience of untrampled land with scenic views and an abundance of wildlife, the Ocala National Forest is the perfect weekend getaway for you. Explore this natural wonderland by hiking, kayaking, canoeing, and boating, or cool down in one of the four crystal clear natural springs like Silver Springs State Park which maintains a steady temperature of 72 degrees.
In the Ocala National Forest, there are 600 ponds and lakes, several streams, and 2 rivers that line the boundaries of the park. In addition, there are 100 miles of trails for hiking and backpacking, plus ½ mile boardwalks for shorter hikes.
Motel lodging is available nearby, but to really experience the beauty of the national forest, take advantage of one of three venues of camping sites, primitive, dispersed, and developed. A majority of the sites are first come first serve without reservations and only a few require booking online.
Book your stay in Ocala National Forest here.
Ginnie Springs, a privately owned park, is a weekend getaway destination for water activities including scuba, kayaking, snorkeling, tubing, and paddle boarding. Bring your diving and snorkeling gear to explore the many underwater caverns the park has to offer. A constant water temperature and clear visibility make it ideal for viewing underwater wildlife; it has also been regarded as one of the world’s best freshwater diving sites.
As a privately owned park, tubing down the Sante Fe river has few restrictions. Alcohol is permitted during the one-hour tube ride that leads to a natural spring. Among other things, they allow any size tube or raft to be used and rentals are available.
Camping is another favorite activity at the park, it offers 122 sites with water and electricity, or if you prefer a more primitive approach, there are several sites to pitch a tent next to one of the many springs. The sites are on a first-come, first-serve basis. One of the best weekend trips in Florida.
Book your stay in hotels near Ginnie Springs.
Located on the Gulf side of the state, Naples, Florida offers an abundance of activities to do on the weekend. Naples is considered a very high-end city, full of wealth, country clubs, and yachts but is still highly affordable for visitors.
Take a stroll down the glamorous 5th Ave for unique shopping and dining or hop aboard the Naples water taxi, which stops at all water destinations in downtown Naples. Bistros and delis are abundant, with outdoor dining available. Or, explore the many other options such as the Naples Zoo, Botanical Gardens, and the Naples Pier; or if you’re feeling adventurous, Naples offers parasailing over the gulf and jet pack adventures at Captain CJ’s.
While you’re there, be sure to check out the beachfront dining scene. Several fine cuisine dining restaurants are steps from the sand, offering the perfect ambiance with slow rolling waves and moonlight. Lastly, end the evening with a romantic, barefoot stroll on Vanderbilt beach, where the water is calm and the sand is silky smooth.
Book your stay in Naples here.
Marco Island is a small barrier island close to Naples and is accessible by car. It offers luxury resorts and beachside bungalows. Though the island is fairly small there isn’t a shortage of activities. If you enjoy fishing, Marco Island has day trip fishing charters available. If you prefer to stay on dry land, rent a scooter and explore the island at your leisure.
Take a tour with Captain Koz’s Island Boat Tours or as a family join in an interactive excursion at Pirates of Marco Island. Pirates of Marco Island also offers a sunset cruise on an actual pirate ship. Sit back and relax with a cold rum drink while watching the sunset into the gulf.
If you like to golf, JW Marriott offers 2 private-resort championship golf courses and is exclusive to resort guests. These 2 courses have 36 holes combined and are located in the middle of pristine wetlands where wildlife such as the bald eagle, alligator, and blue heron can be spotted.
Book your Marco Island Hotel with the help of this list.
St. George Island – a Top Weekend Getaway in Florida
St. George Island, one of the best rated weekend getaways in Florida, is located on the northern gulf coast of the Florida panhandle. It is connected to the mainland by a 4-mile long bridge. This barrier island is a popular bird-watching area and known for its variety of fresh seafood which is showcased at many of the waterfront restaurants.
There are plenty of nature trails for hiking, a 17-mile paved bike path, and off-road trails to explore. St. George is also home to the Cape St. George Lighthouse, test your stamina with a 92 stairs climb to the top for some magnificent, breathtaking views of the island.
Reserve a seat on one of the many charter boats available for fishing, island hopping, or touring. Learn to stand up paddleboard or participate in one of their beach yoga sessions at Island Stand Up Paddleboard and Yoga.
Lodging options include a few hotels on the island or a vacation rental. Several of the owners on the island rent out their homes and condos to guests. A great mini vacation in Florida.
Book your stay in St George Florida here.
Florida Keys Road Trip
Looking for an adventure? A Florida Keys road trip might be the perfect weekend getaway. Travel over the 113 miles Overseas Highway that connects the various key islands by bridges, the longest being 7 miles.
Key Largo is known for its snorkeling and diving. The best place to go is the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. After that head on down to Plantation Key where you will find beachside restaurants and bars. Dine outside under the palm trees, steps from the water in this casual laid back atmosphere.
Also in Plantation Key check out the Rain Barrel Village and Sculpture Gallery for an original, eclectic shopping experience. There you can purchase original souvenirs and keepsakes. A giant red lobster sits in front of the village making it difficult to pass by.
Lastly, feed a Tarpon at Robbie’s, in Islamorada which is known as the “sport fishing capital of the world”. But be careful, the Pelicans just might have their way with your fish before you get a chance to feed.
Book your stay in Florida Keys here.
Kelly Park/Rock Springs
Kelly Park, a natural oasis filled with charm and intimacy. It is home to the popular Rock Springs where you can lazily meander down the crystal clear river on a tube or raft. It is mostly shaded with overhanging trees. Paddleboarding and kayaking are also permitted outside the tubing area. Tube and kayak rentals are available outside the park.
There are 7 miles of hiking trails and camping is available near the park. Be sure to bring your camera as you will want to capture all the natural beauty the park has to offer. Other activities include nature walks, bird watching, swimming, snorkeling, and horseback riding near Rock Springs Run.
Though the location may seem remote, restaurants and stores are located just 30 minutes away. Make sure you pack some snacks and drinks before you enter the park as they will not allow you to leave and return.
Swim with the Manatees in Crystal River
Crystal River offers one-of-a-kind experiences and close encounters with one of the gentle giants of the river, the Florida Manatee, also referred to as the sea cow. Reserve a spot on one of the many boat tours available. These tours allow you to get up close and personal with these mammals, whether it be swimming, snorkeling, or just reaching down over the boat for a better look. A guide is available with a camera to catch these memorable moments.
In addition to swimming and interacting with these creatures, you may also catch a glimpse of other local wildlife, including alligators, black bears, panthers, and turtles. Tours are generally half and full days, some include breakfast and lunch.
After that, take an exciting Everglades-style airboat tour on the Withlacoochee River where you will be exposed to more wildlife, or just enjoy skimming across the water in this flat bottom boat that exceeds speeds up to 45 mph.
Many exciting events take place in Daytona Beach; Bike Week, Spring Break, Race Week, and Octoberfest are just a few. A weekend getaway during these times would be exciting, to say the least with unlimited activities and sightseeing.
However, if you aren’t planning on a visit during these venues, there is still plenty to accomplish in a weekend. Let’s start with one of the world’s most famous beaches, equipped with a boardwalk and amusement-themed rides. Driving is permitted on the beach for miles which makes it easy to explore.
Another great option is the Daytona Speedway museum which features the history of the track and race cars. The racetrack is home to the Daytona 500, and sometimes you can get a glimpse of drivers testing their vehicles.
For food and drink, The Ocean Deck does not disappoint. Located directly on the beach, it offers a casual dining atmosphere with live Reggae music. Walk right from sand to table and enjoy some great food after spending the day on the beach.
Book your stay at Daytona Beach here.
Orlando and the Theme Parks
Orlando, located inland, is home to several theme parks, all within proximity of one another. Disney World, aka the magic kingdom, is one of the most popular theme parks in Orlando, great for families as well as couples. Next to Disney World is Epcot Center, where you can experience international culture without getting on a plane. The park is dedicated to human achievement including technological advances.
Universal Studios is another innovative theme park with lifelike participation in movies and shows. All the rides and 4D theaters are tv show or movie-themed. Universal Studios also showcases movie sets where you can witness a live-action stunt show equipped with explosions and excitement. Unlike the other theme parks, you can grab a beer at one of the pubs or bars as they are available inside the park.
Accommodations for lodging are available at most of the theme park resorts and early entry to some of the parks is a bonus if you stay on site.
Book your stay in Orlando here.
Jacksonville is a top music and art destination. Specializing in traditional Rock and Jazz music, with events almost daily. Tour the historic architecture and highrises of the city and explore the picture-perfect beaches and waterways by land or boat.
In addition to art and music, Jacksonville is a prime location for “Foodies”. If you like to eat, there are a plethora of restaurants and eateries located within walking distance of downtown.
Museums are also abundant in Jacksonville, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Museum of Science and History are a few worth checking out. If you rather participate in nature activities be sure to visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens or the Catty Shack Ranch Wildlife Sanctuary.
A must-see in Jacksonville is the Riverside Arts Market, similar to a farmers market but also includes artisans showcasing and selling their work. There you will find unique, custom-made items for purchase.
Book your stay in Jacksonville here.
Destin, Florida, known as the “World’s luckiest fishing village”, offers a wide variety of attractions and activities to suit any taste, including fishing on guided charters or the Okaloosa Fishing Pier.
Take a stroll down the Harborwalk Marina and enjoy waterfront shopping along with several eateries, and watersport rentals, or reserve a seat on one of their dolphin or aquatic cruises. The Harborwalk Marina also has weekly fireworks and live music. It’s one of the best locations for entertainment selections.
If you enjoy water parks, you’ll love Big Kahuna’s. This ginormous waterpark features 40 waterpark attractions including several thrill rides, a lazy lagoon, and a miniature golf course.
White sands, 30-foot Dunes, and warm gulf waters can be found at Henderson Beach State Park. Swim and bask in the sun all day, or camp at one of the 60 campsites that are just a stroll on a boardwalk to the beach.
Book your stay in Destin here.
Cape Coral is located on the Gulf of Mexico and is close to several attractions and area beaches. The tropical ambiance of the city is spectacular with 400 miles of waterways, and several white-sand beaches to choose from including the Yacht Club Beach and a hidden gem known as Lover’s key.
Lover’s Key is a special place to visit, especially if you are looking for privacy and fewer people. A small tractor that hauls several open train cars, transports you through the tropical growth to the beach. There you will find private coves to relax and enjoy nature.
After that, test your skills with a scavenger hunt at the Cape Coral City Scavenger Hunt by Operation City Quest. Locate a list of objects in the city by using an app, and complete challenges along the way for points. It’s an ideal way to familiarize yourself with the city.
Lastly, dine at one of Cape Coral’s abundant waterfront restaurants, or check out the Wicked Dolphin Distillery where all their variety of drinks are made from Florida sugarcane. Tours are available to learn the techniques of distilling and making alcohol.
Book your stay at Cape Coral here.