Table of Contents
Planning a weekend trip to Florida but not sure where exactly to go yet? With white sand beaches, vibrant cities, and charming beach towns, there are countless options for Florida weekend getaways.
Your choice will come down to what you’re looking for in a getaway location. Are you traveling with family, seeking a romantic retreat, daring to go off the beaten path, or want to get the most bang for your buck? Maybe all of the above!
As a Floridian, I’ve explored popular tourist cities as well as locations that often fly under the radar. To help with your Florida travel plans, I’ve listed my top favorite destinations by location:
- Best Florida Romantic Weekend Getaways
- Best Florida Family Weekend Getaways
- Best Cheap Florida Weekend Getaways
- Best Unique Weekend Getaways in Florida
Without further ado, let me introduce you to the best locations for fun weekend getaways in Florida!
Best Florida Family Weekend Getaways
St. Petersburg is a bustling, vibrant city that active families will love visiting on a weekend trip to Florida! First and foremost, you must explore downtown – there are so fun and free many things to do! After a day of exploring, visit Parkshore Grill for some delectable, classic American fare.
You’ll also appreciate St. Petersburg if you love museums — there are lots of them! Some of my personal favorites are the James Museum of Western Wildlife & Art and the Salvador Dali Museum. Another great one, particularly for kids, is the Great Explorations Children’s Museum.
A highlight of St. Petersburg is Fort De Soto Park in Tierra Verde, which comprises some of the best pristine beaches, nature trails, campsites, and a historic fort.
For a more toned-down weekend getaway location, consider staying at nearby Pass-a-Grille Beach. It’s a quiet beach town with an Old Florida vibe and exquisite beaches.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hampton Inn & Suites St Petersburg Downtown
Orlando, in the heart of Central Florida, is the ultimate destination for a weekend trip to Florida for families. It’s the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” home to Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld.
You won’t be able to experience them all in just a weekend, so you’ll have to use your time wisely. If you already have your heart set on Disney World, you may want to read my EPCOT vs Hollywood Studios to help you decide between Walt Disney World theme parks is better suited for you.
In addition to theme parks, Orlando has over a hundred golf courses, like Grand Cypress Golf Club and two Walt Disney golf courses. Orlando has a great club scene, too, with popular locations like Tier Nightclub and The Beacham. The shopping in Orlando is also well worth a visit – with a world-class mall and outlets.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: JW Marriott Orlando Bonnet Creek Resort & Spa
Tampa is great for couples or families who love the beach and spending time outdoors. Some favorite places for families are Busch Gardens, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, and Sparkman Wharf.
For shopping or a meal, head over to Hyde Park Village. It’s home to one of my favorite taco places, Bartaco! Beyond the food, Hyde Park Village is a delightful, upscale shopping district.
One of my favorite beaches in the Tampa area is Pier 60 at Clearwater Beach. The beach itself is gorgeous and it has a large fishing pier, as well as playgrounds. Stop by early and get breakfast at Another Broken Egg, and/or stay late to enjoy sunsets at the Pier. There is nightly entertainment at Clearwater Beach Pier 60 with local performers, artists, and vendors.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: JW Marriott Tampa Water Street
Panama City Beach
Panama City Beach is the gem of Florida’s Gulf Coast and one of the best weekend getaways in Florida for families. There are lots of exciting things to do, including visiting Shipwreck Island Waterpark. The main attractions here are waterslides, a zipline, a wave pool, a kiddy pool, and a lazy river.
One of the best things to do in Panama City Beach is in the name: go to the beach! I recommend the beach at St. Andrews State Park. It has a playground, boat ramp, and fishing pier. You may also consider camping at the park, if not staying at one of the many beachfront hotels and rentals.
Dedicate an afternoon to exploring Pier Park, a shopping and entertainment center by the beach. Kids will love all the fun stuff to do here: laser tag, a mirror maze, arcade games, a Ferris Wheel, and more.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Marriott’s Legends Edge at Bay Point
Sanibel and Captiva Islands
If you want ideas for Florida weekend getaways for nature lovers Sanibel Island and Captiva Island definitely come out near the top. The beaches here are great for shelling, the waters are great for fishing, and there are lots of nature trails.
One of my favorite beaches, Sanibel Lighthouse Beach, recently reopened after being closed due to damage from Hurricane Ian. This beach, as well as Bowman’s Beach, are exquisite shelling locations. The beaches on Captiva Island, Sanibel’s smaller sister island, are also awesome for shelling.
Also, from Sanibel and Captiva, you can take a ferry or rent a boat and head out to Cayo Costa State Park. It’s very ecologically diverse, with beaches, mangroves, and forests, plus tons of wildlife. You can explore, go fishing in the Gulf or one of the lakes, and also camp overnight.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Tarpon Tale Inn Sanibel
This busy coastal city in South Florida has a bit of something for everyone. The main attraction, however, is definitely Miami Beach!
Miami Beach has exquisite white sand beaches that are divided into different sections. South Beach is the most popular beach, but I prefer the one right beside it, South Pointe Beach. It’s more relaxed and has an area for kids with a playground and splash pad.
Miami has a down-to-earth side, with plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy nature. You can go hiking through Everglades National Park or snorkeling and scuba diving in Biscayne National Park.
There is a thriving arts and culture scene in Miami, with plenty of museums to explore. Philip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science is a kid-friendly museum that has both an aquarium and a planetarium. I also love Golf Coast Railroad Museum, dedicated to preserving railroad history. It’s located right beside Zoo Miami.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Mandarin Oriental Miami
Sarasota is a chill town on Florida’s west coast. It’s not too busy but still has everything you need.
If you’re into art, visit the Ringling Museum of Art. It has 21 galleries with art of varied origins, from European to Asian. A visit to Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium is also sure to pique the interest of kids and adults alike.
Siesta Key is home to Sarasota’s best beach: Siesta Beach. The sand here is made of pure, fine quartz that is incredibly soft and white. There are well-maintain kids’ playgrounds and lifeguards on duty. Siesta Key Village is one of my favorite places to visit after a day at Siesta Beach.
Casey Key is a short trip south of Siesta Key. Visit the Historical Spanish Point outdoor museum or hit the beach and bike trails at Oscar Scherer State Park.
🛌 Recommended Sarasota Hotel: Art Ovation Hotel, Autograph Collection
Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island is one of Sarasota’s most popular barrier islands. It has a beach town vibe but it’s quite busy, so be prepared for traffic and crowds, especially at the most popular beaches, like Coquina Beach and Manatee Beach.
There is one beach, however, that doesn’t get as crowded: Bean Point Beach (one of my personal favorites). There’s not much else but the powder-white sand and clear, turquoise water.
Pine Avenue is just to the east of Bean Point Beach. It’s where all the action on Anna Maria Island happens (outside of the beaches). There are tons of shopping and dining opportunities, as well as a pier, a museum, and tour operators. I recommend taking the family out for a parasailing adventure or a dolphin cruise!
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Anna Maria Beach Resort
Palm Beach & West Palm Beach
Palm Beach is home to some of the richest folks in Florida, but it can be a great vacation spot for anyone. My family always visited Singer Island when I was a kid, just a few miles north of Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.
Within Palm Beach itself, I love John D MacArthur Beach State Park. From there, you can go boating to the quieter Munyon Island.
Palm Beach and West Palm Beach have tons of history, which you can see at places like Flagler Museum, Palm Beach County History Museum, and Norton Museum of Art.
There are plenty of shopping and entertainment streets to explore. such as Worth Avenue in Palm Beach and Clematis Street in West Palm Beach. For a local dining experience, head to Green’s Pharmacy. It has an old-fashioned luncheonette inside.
If you’re looking for a luxury weekend getaway, you’ll want to consider The Breakers. I’ve stayed there twice, and you can’t beat the hotel’s historic charm and Atlantic Ocean views. Book a reservation at the nearby Flagler Steakhouse – it’s my personal favorite for surf and turf!
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Breakers Resort
Florida Romantic Weekend Getaways
St. Augustine is a destination near and dear to my heart — I had my honeymoon there! The romantic atmosphere here is unmatched, and I still love to visit.
St. Augustine is a historic town with nearly 500 years of history, evident in its architecture and cobblestone streets.
One place where you can really see this history is St. George Street. This is a historic street with lots of shops and eateries. Take a stroll and browse antique shops, then enjoy a fresh Cuban lunch at The Cuban Cafe & Bakery. At dinnertime, head over to Anastasia Boulevard for homestyle Southern seafood at O’Steen’s Restaurant.
You can’t talk about a coastal town like St. Augustine without mentioning the beach, too. The best beach here is in Anastasia State Park. It’s on a peninsula across from downtown St. Augustine. It’s a great beach for surfing!
🛌 Recommended St. Augustine Hotel: Casa Monica Resort & Spa, Autograph Collection
The Florida Keys
The Florida Keys offer an idyllic island vacation without going too far from the mainland. The leading destination here is Key West.
Key West has been home to many influential figures throughout the years. You can tour some of the historic homes, including the Ernest Hemingway Home & Museum. There’s an impressive lighthouse across the street.
Much of the action in Key West is on Duval Street, a strip lined with shops and bars. Hemingway apparently loved Sloppy Joe’s bar, as do I! It’s a lively spot with a sports bar vibe and live music every night.
Smathers Beach is the largest beach, with a gorgeous, extensive stretch of white sandy beachfront. Spring break tends to bring in huge crowds, though.
A much more peaceful option is Dry Tortugas National Park. It’s made up of seven remote islands west of Key West. It takes just over 2 hours to get there, either by boat or seaplane. I think it’s worth the trip, though. It’s so undeveloped and pristine.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Hyatt Centric Key West Resort & Spa
Rosemary Beach & Scenic Highway 30A
Rosemary Beach is one of several beach communities along the scenic highway 30A, between Destin and Panama City Beach. It’s one of my top Florida weekend getaways for couples.
Rosemary Beach has an incredibly charming atmosphere, with cobblestone streets and European-inspired architecture. It’s a walkable town, so I recommend walking or biking unless you’re going far enough to really warrant a drive. Lots of hotels and rentals provide you with bikes for your stay. There are so many fun things to do on 30A – so definitely don’t skip seeing the nearby towns!
Start the day at Amavida Coffee & Tea for a quaint brunch and coffee, then head to the gorgeous beach. The beach at Rosemary Beach is strictly private to residents and overnight guests. You can light bonfires on the beach, or get a bonfire company to take care of all the setup and clean up for you.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: WaterColor Inn & Resort
At its largest, Amelia Island is just 13 miles long and 4 miles wide. There’s so much to do here, though, especially on the northern end. This is where you’ll find Fernandina Beach, which has a vibrant downtown area.
Take a stroll down and around Centre Street (yep, British spelling still intact) and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a different era! This historic district is home to the Palace Saloon, one of the oldest bars in Florida. Espana is a Spanish restaurant in the same area that is great for date night.
Main Beach is the most popular beach, but it can get quite crowded. If you’re looking for something more quiet and intimate, try Peter’s Point or Amelia Island State Park.
Amelia Island is the only state park in Florida where you can enjoy horseback riding on the beach!
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Las Olas Boulevard in downtown Fort Lauderdale is one of the main entertainment districts, with tons of shops, restaurants, and clubs.
Fort Lauderdale has tons of museums. Visit the Historic Stranahan House Museum, the former home of a Fort Lauderdale pioneer at the turn of the 20th century. The NSU Art Museum is absolutely worth a visit, too.
Consider taking a trip out to the outskirts of Fort Lauderdale to visit Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, a little beach town with quieter beaches than the main city area. There are also coral reefs offshore, where sea turtles are common.
In Fort Lauderdale itself, visit Loggerhead Park and Vista Park. They’re two local favorite beaches that are often off the radar of visitors. Crowds flock to the popular Fort Lauderdale Beach Park.
🛌 Recommended Fort Lauderdale Hotel: Lago Mar Beach Resort & Club
Naples is a perfect mix of everything you’d want in a beach town: vibrant but not busy, tourist-oriented but not touristy, and upscale but not cold.
First of all, get breakfast or brunch at the classic Hampton Social or the French-inspired La Colmar Bakery & Bistro.
If you’re an art lover, visit The Baker Museum and The von Liebig Art Center. If shopping is more your style, take a stroll down Fifth Avenue South, lined with everything from luxury brands to antique shops.
On a visit to Naples, spend some time on Marco Island or Keewaydin Island. These two barrier islands have some of the most pristine beaches in the area. Keewaydin Island is the more secluded, only accessible by boat. There aren’t any amenities, but it’s so peaceful. It’s also the only pet-friendly beach in the Naples area.
While I love Naples, it is one of the more expensive cities in Florida for vacation these days. If budget is an issue, Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach are a short drive away.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Inn on Fifth in Naples
Cheap Florida Weekend Getaways
I’ll admit, a Florida vacation can be more pricey than most states. Especially at Disney, and some of the more pricey cities like Naples, you can spend a pretty penny. Don’t let that deter you from visiting Florida. There are plenty of other options for cheap Florida weekend getaways.
New Smyrna Beach
You don’t need to break the bank if you’re interested in Florida weekend getaways. Lesser-traveled locations like New Smyrna Beach offer much of the same comfort at a much lower price tag than some of the other places on this list.
Experience the town’s culture at museums like the Ponce de Leon Inlet Museum & Lighthouse. You can experience nature everywhere, including the Marine Discovery Center.
Grayce Kenemer Barck North Beach Park is my top recommendation for beaches in New Smyrna Beach. It’s one of the few free beaches in the area with good amenities.
If you’re a surfer, you’ll love anywhere in New Smyrna Beach. The waters along the city’s shore have great wave action.
After a day at the beach and exploring the historic streets, visit McKenna’s Place NSB for dinner. It’s a lively sports bar with an American seafood menu.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: SpringHill Suites by Marriott New Smyrna Beach
Dunedin tends to fly under people’s radar when it comes to Florida weekend getaways. However, I love to share how awesome this city is for those who love great food and nightlife. It’s affordable, charming, and artsy, with tons of history, culture, and nature.
Dunedin has a strong Scottish heritage, which you can delve into at the annual Highland Games or Dunedin History Museum. The Dunedin Fine Arts Center is the heart of the local art scene and has a section for kids that includes free activities.
Nature enthusiasts will find peace in Dunedin’s outdoor offerings, particularly Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park. These tranquil islands have stunning beaches, nature trails, and historic ruins. Within Dunedin itself, you can make your way by foot, bike tour, or e-bike along the Pinellas Trail.
🛌 Recommended Hotel in Dunedin: Meranova Guest Inn Dunedin
I mentioned Marco Island briefly earlier, but it deserves its own section. This barrier island near Naples is the perfect weekend getaway for nature lovers and beach lovers alike.
Briggs Nature Center is a great location for nature lovers, where you can take guided tours and observe wildlife from a boardwalk without disturbing the delicate ecosystem.
My favorite beach in Marco Island is Tigertail Beach. It’s part of Tigertail Beach Park, which also offers tours. Tigertail Beach is Marco Island’s top shelling destination, especially towards the north at Sand Dollar Spit.
The Snook Inn and Sale e Pepe are the two top restaurants in town. The former is more casual while the latter is more upscale, but both serve mouthwateringly fresh seafood.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: Marco Ocean Beach Resort
Unique Weekend Getaways in Florida
As a Floridian, I’ve noticed that some visitors mistake Florida for being just cities with theme parks and beaches. While both are definitely significant to the Sunshine State, Florida is also home to the Horse Capital of the World and other unique locations. So, if you’re looking for unique Florida experiences, this list is for you.
Ocala isn’t a city that you often see on lists of Florida weekend getaways. It tends to fly under people’s radars but I grew up here, so I’ve experienced firsthand just how awesome it can be!
Above all, Ocala is a paradise for horse lovers. There are over a thousand horse farms in the region. A few can be toured, and you can take a scenic drive past some of the best ones in Central Florida.
The city is also home to the World Equestrian Center, the most extensive equestrian facility in the US. Events like dog shows, volleyball, and cheerleading are hosted here, too.
Anyone who loves the outdoors will love Ocala. One of the best things to do here is visit Silver Springs State Park. You can explore the park and the springs on your own or take a glass-bottom boat tour to see the extraordinary ecosystem that the springs are home to.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: The Equestrian in Ocala FL
River Ranch, known officially as Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo, is a dude ranch. It’s located on 1,700 acres of tamed wilderness, just a 1.5-hour drive south of Orlando. For secluded Florida getaways, this one is ideal for those that love horses and nature.
You can enjoy hiking, horseback riding, trap shooting, meeting animals at the petting farm, and much more. The Kissimmee River winds through the ranch, giving you the opportunity to rent a boat or join a fishing tour.
There’s an adventure park that all ages will enjoy, with a zipline, mechanical bull, and short golf courses. Plus, every week there’s the Saturday Night Rodeo. Watch bull riding, barrel racing, calf roping, and more.
Round out the night with a drink at the saloon before returning to your accommodation. Your options range from primitive camping to luxury glamping.
If you’re looking for a unique weekend getaway, River Ranch is ideal for animal and nature lovers.
St. George Island
St. George Island ranks near the top of my list for quiet getaways in Florida. It has miles upon miles of quiet, uncrowded shores that make an ideal Florida weekend getaway. There are only a few hotels; your main choices of accommodation are rentals, including beach cottages.
The highlight of the island is St. George Island State Park. It has an untouched beachfront, a campground (for modern and primitive camping), a playground, and nature trails.
Nature enthusiasts will enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking, and paddle boarding their way around the varied landscape of St. George Island. There are mangroves, marshes, forests, and dunes. Make a stop at the historic lighthouse, the Cape St. George Light.
Have a hearty seafood meal at Blue Parrot Oceanfront Cafe or cool down after a day of adventuring with a sweet treat from Aunt Ebby’s Ice Cream.
🛌 Recommended Hotel Nearby: St George Inn at St George Island
Final Thoughts on the Best Florida Weekend Getaways
In conclusion, Florida’s rich and diverse cities offer a rewarding escape for every traveler. While I listed my favorite Florida weekend getaways, you’ll find there is a lot more incredible places yet to be discovered.
Whether it’s exploring the arts, enjoying a local brew, or diving into the crystal clear water, the memories created will linger long after your footprints in the Florida sand have faded.