The Sunshine State has many interesting places to visit on a weekend from beautiful beach resorts to theme parks and cute small towns. In this post, you will find some great ideas for your next weekend getaway in Florida.
14 Amazing Weekend Getaway Ideas in Florida
Recommended by Rachel from Average Lives
Fort Lauderdale is in the south-east of Florida and is a fantastic destination for a weekend getaway because of its laid-back attitude. The city has so much to offer, from beautiful beaches, food delights, and so many exciting things to do. It is located only a forty-minute drive from Miami and will be a much cheaper trip than the big city.
The city is often called the Venice of America due to its canals. Therefore, one of the best things you can do is go on the water taxis to discover the best bars and restaurants on the canal side. Also, you cannot come to the city and not discover Fort Lauderdale’s beautiful beaches.
The best ones include Dania Beach, Hollywood Beach (check out the boardwalk), North Ocean Park, and Hallandale Beach. After, explore the Downtown Hollywood Mural Project, where you will find incredible art murals from international artists.
This area is also full of independent stores selling vintage delights and delicious food. Undeniably, Fort Lauderdale is the place to be for a weekend break in Florida. It is a hidden gem!
Recommended by Margie from DQ Family Travel
Visiting the Florida Keys makes a great weekend getaway from Miami. One of my favorite places in the Keys is Marathon, which is much quieter than Key West and Key Largo. While it does have a very small airport, it is a very easy 2-hour drive down from Miami.
Marathon has plenty to do during a weekend getaway! Visitors can rent kayaks, go on a snorkeling and scuba adventure, and even go on a fishing charter. If you’re looking to relax on a beach, then Sombrero Beach is a small local beach that has relatively no waves and canal access for a smooth paddleboard ride.
The Turtle Hospital is another popular location in Marathon to visit, as you can learn about the rescue and rehabilitation of injured sea turtles. Another spot for learning about marine life and feeding rays and sharks can be found at the Florida Keys Aquarium Encounters.
One of my favorite things to do though is to take a walk or bike a short section of the Old Seven Mile Bridge to enjoy the scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico.
You will definitely have worked up an appetite after exploring this quaint town and the water, so be sure to eat at one of the best restaurants in Marathon, Keys Fisheries, for some fresh local catch and a sunset view.
Recommended by Claudia Tavani, My Adventures Across The World
Miami is an ideal destination for a short Florida getaway, and a perfect mix of urban sights, beaches, fantastic nightlife, and delicious food finds.
Start your weekend by taking a look at one of the many excellent museums and art galleries: the Institute for Contemporary Art is a great combination of state-of-the-art building and interesting exhibit, with pieces by artists such as Picasso.
For more art, head to Wynwood District where you will find lots of street art, and then make your way to Miami’s famous Art Deco District – you are probably better off taking a guided tour to take in all the best sights.
A cruise from Miami Downtown will take you to Biscayne Bay and Millionaire’s Row, where you can marvel at the beautiful villas of the rich and famous.
If you need to chill, Miami Beach and South Beach are the best spots in town: both have a great beach, a waterfront perfect for walking, running, and biking, and lots of excellent bars and restaurants.
Recommended by Elle of 5 Suitcases
If you enjoy outdoor activities, you should consider a weekend getaway to Jacksonville. There are lots of amazing things to do in Jacksonville! It is home to the largest urban park system in the country and encompasses 80,000 acres of parks including 3 National Parks, and 7 State Parks.
One of our favorite parks is the Timucuan Preserve. The park includes Big Talbot Island and Little Talbot Island, which are a part of the North Florida Keys. Big Talbot Island features one of Jacksonville’s best-kept secrets; Blackrock Beach. The Mars-like beach is named after the soil formations that create an out of this world experience. The beach is covered with fallen sun-bleached trees that help to create a photographer’s paradise.
While you’re in the area, we also suggest spending some time at Huguenot Beach, one of the few Florida beaches that you can drive on. The adjacent Fort George Inlet is our favorite place to paddleboard or kayak. If you’re a history buff, consider a visit to nearby Kingsley Plantation.
Jacksonville also features several historical sites, museums, and incredible restaurants making it the perfect place to get away for the weekend!
Recommended by Tiffany Smith from Pennies, Places and Paws
Tampa, Florida is a great place to go for a weekend getaway. This
city lies on the Gulf of Mexico and is home to several beaches and
numerous attractions that will satisfy your every whim. The Tampa Museum of Art is just one of the many museums available in the city.
If you are looking for thrills, look no further than Tampa Busch Gardens for roller coasters and wildlife. There are also numerous festivals throughout the year, a favorite being the pirate-themed Gasparilla festival full of artwork, parades, and even a pirate invasion of the city.
Tampa is also home to three major league teams: The Buccaneers, Lightning, and Rays for the sports fans looking for a professional game. In the evenings there are several theatres and comedy clubs for your entertainment. There is so much to do, you may have to visit several times!
Recommended by Gabby Abbott of Journey To The Destination
Clearwater Beach, Florida is often considered to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the US, making it the perfect weekend getaway! There are plenty of fantastic things to do at Clearwater Beach, including visiting the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, sailing on a pirate ship, playing mini-golf, or riding on a jet ski.
Not only does Clearwater beach have plenty of fun things to do, it also is the place to go for shopping and delicious restaurants. I recommend checking out Frenchy’s South Beach Cafe for fantastic seafood, Ryan’s Island Cafe for a yummy breakfast, and Surf Style for some new beach attire.
If relaxing is more your speed, Clearwater beach has clear, blue water, soft white sand, and amazing resorts. Pack your beach umbrella, a cooler full of snacks, and a portable speaker for a chill day at the beach. If you get lucky, you might even spot a dolphin!
Walt Disney World, Orlando
Recommended by McKenna Hurd of One More Step Travels
For many, a trip to Florida means either relaxing on the beach or visiting Walt Disney World in Orlando!
Disney World is the largest Disney park in the world, encompassing four different theme parks, two water parks, over two dozen resorts, a shopping center, and more!
Magic Kingdom provides the classic Disney experience, with Cinderella’s castle, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in Fantasyland, and other attractions that transport visitors to the world of their favorite Disney movie. Each night ends with an enchanting firework show.
If you have more than one day in Disney World, plan to visit the other three parks: Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
Epcot is known for its World Showcase where you can experience eleven different countries in one day! Go on the Soarin’ Around the World ride, and then grab a bite to eat at an international restaurant.
Hollywood Studios has Toy Story Land and a massive Star Wars area, as well as classic rides, such as Tower of Terror.
Animal Kingdom is an awesome place for animal lovers, with immersive rides and shows centered around Disney’s beloved animals and creatures. Highlights include Avatar’s Pandora, Expedition Everest, and the Kilimanjaro Safaris.
Anna Maria Island
Recommended by Liz Stanford from Spend It Like Stanford
While Florida is known for hot spots like Miami and Orlando, it’s worth spending a weekend in one of its beach destinations that will leave you feeling like you visited another country. Located about an hour south of Tampa is the little city of Anna Maria Island that boasts some of the best beaches in the United States.
Without any commercial hotels bombarding the beaches or a restaurant chain in sight, you’ll quickly adjust to island time with the laid back and small town feel that Anna Maria offers. Easily spend a weekend here soaking up the sun at Bean Point, the best beach spot on the island, followed by a sunset dinner at Sandbar.
If you are looking for a more active weekend getaway, make sure to book a kayak tour, rent bikes, or shop along the many boutiques on Pine Ave.
Recommended by Nicole from The Abroad Blog
Key West, Florida is one of the most underrated vacation destinations in the United States. For starters, it’s home to the world’s third-largest coral reef, and the only alive coral reef in the United States, meaning it’s one of the best spots for diving in the world!
The best way to see the reef is via a boat tour, which will take you 7 miles off the coast. If you’re looking to do some off-shore snorkeling, head to the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Want a beach day? Head to Smathers Beach.
The Florida Keys aren’t known for their beaches, but Smathers won’t disappoint with its white, soft sand and abundance of dancing palms. Key West has some of the best nightlife in Florida. Head to Duval Street at night for dinner, followed by a fun bar crawl! Duval and the adjacent streets are also full of quaint boutiques to shop at as well.
I highly recommend extending your weekend getaway in Key West to a Florida Keys road trip to see Key Largo and Islamorada as well!
Recommended by Pauline from BeeLoved City
Located on the Gulf Coast, St Petersburg is one of the most lively and vibrant cities in Florida. If you are looking for a fun weekend destination, it will be perfect for you!
St Pete is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the Sunshine State. St Pete Beach is an all-time favorite but make sure to also head to Fort De Soto State Park to discover some hidden gems. If you are planning on spending a lot of time at the beach, St Pete Beach, Treasure Island, or Madeira island will be the perfect place to stay.
Downtown St Pete also has a lot to offer, especially if you are a foodie or culture lover. You will find loads of museums and art galleries including the Dali Museum. Central Avenue is full of cute cafes and restaurants. For a delicious Cuban sandwich, swing by Bodega.
Finally, don’t forget to book a ticket to go see a gig at Jannus Live. It’s an open-air music venue. It’s quite unusual and a true Florida experience.
Recommended by Disha Smith from Disha Discovers
There are so many amazing weekend getaways in Florida and Destin is one of them. Located in the Panhandle, Destin is brimming with fun things to do for every kind of traveler and it draws in visitors from all over the world.
Destin is home to gorgeous beaches with emerald-colored water and powdery white sand. Thus, it’s a popular stop on Florida road trips and it’s an all-around sought after destination in the state. Destin is brimming with an amazing restaurant scene especially when it comes to fresh seafood. It also has many luxurious beachfront condos and beautiful accommodation options.
Some of the best things to do in Destin include taking a stroll through Harborwalk Village. This area is filled with shops and waterfront restaurants. Deep-sea fishing is also a popular activity. Be sure to take a sunset dolphin watching tour as it’s simply magical. Lastly, a visit to Crab Island is a must. This is a submerged sandbar and there are floating vendors here.
Recommended by Shannon from adventuringwithshannon.com
One of the best weekend getaways in Florida is Universal Studios! Universal Studios is famous for its crazy rides, roller coasters, and most importantly, Harry Potter World. Universal actually consists of two separate parks, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure, that are combined by the Hogwarts Express ride.
Inside the parks, you can experience Gringotts, Diagon Alley, Platform 9¾, and Hogwarts itself! If you aren’t a Harry Potter fan, there is still plenty for you to do too.
There is the Marvel Universe section which boasts the Hulk roller coaster, there is the “Lost Island” with Kong and the Jurassic Park ride, and there is so much more just waiting for you to experience. Universal is the perfect family getaway because the parks have something for everyone.
There is Dr. Suess land for the young ones and the nightlife at City Walk for those of partying age. Make sure that you use a Florida Packing List so that you don’t forget anything for your Universal getaway! If you want to go on an adventure and feel the thrill of the coasters, then Universal Studios is the getaway for you.
Recommended by Rebecca McKellips from Whetever Packs Your Bag
Naples, FL was founded in 1886, and still remains the perfect weekend
getaway, from it’s beautiful soft sandy beaches, to the wonderful
shopping and dining. Naples has everything you could want for a
Driving West from Interstate 41 can lead to so many beautiful beaches,
but three beaches that are a must visit Lawdermillk Park, Naples Pier,
and Clam Pass Park.
If beautiful outdoor shopping is more up your ally, three must hits
are 5th Avenue South, Mercato, and Waterside Shops. All three
epitomize the wonderful options for shopping the Naples can provide.
Feeling touristy, then you should take one of the beautiful
sightseeing tours The Naples Princess has amazing dinner cruises, or
you could rent a boat or jetskis for the day.
The food in Naples is to die for, you can’t go wrong with anything on
3rd Street South, but if you are feeling more high roller then check
out Hyde N Chic Restaurant, it is a hidden gem, serving coursed
options and you can decide how decadent it becomes!
Sanibel and Captiva Island
Recommended by Karen from Somewhere Down South
One of the most idyllic places in Florida are the two small islands of Sanibel and Captiva. They are often named as one place and are connected to one another by a short bridge. These small Florida islands are the perfect choice for your weekend getaway whether you are looking for a romantic escape with your partner, to take a family trip or just to relax and enjoy nature.
Sanibel and Captiva are known for the multitude of pristine shells that cover their beaches and therefore are a favorite of shell collectors around the world. The ocean side of the islands has clear, warm, and typically calm waters and the bayside has an abundance of wildlife. You will not run out of things to do during your time on these beautiful Florida islands.
You can fish in either the gulf or the bay, kayak, bike, try stand up paddleboarding, take a nature tour, go bird watching, golf or you can choose to do nothing at all. These islands are perfect for relaxing and represent some of the best that Florida has to offer!