20 Best Weekend Getaways in Florida in 2023

20 Best Weekend Getaways in Florida in 2023

The Sunshine State is known for its beautiful beaches and weather, and what better way to enjoy these two things than with a weekend getaway? You could head to the theme parks in central Florida or drop down to the Florida Keys in south Florida. Perhaps you want delicious food. Or maybe you wish to sit on white sand beaches and admire swaying palm trees. Whatever you are craving, these Florida weekend getaways are the best choices – we’ll be sharing the best of the best places to visit in Florida. Get ready for fun facts and inspiration galore; with these weekend getaways in Florida, you are in for a treat.

Best Weekend Getaways in Florida, 2023

Are you ready to take a closer look at the best weekend getaways in Florida? Whether you are craving a romantic getaway or an amusement park break with your family, these unique weekend getaways in Florida have lots to spark your interest. For the sake of this guide, we will assume that you’ve already visited Miami, and we’ll introduce you to some lesser-visited destinations as well as standard city recommendations. Where should you stay for a weekend in Florida? Here’s our hot take.

1. Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale Beach Park at sunrise

Who doesn’t love a bit of Fort Lauderdale? And if you are looking for top weekend getaways in Florida, it is easy to see why this city ranks among the most popular options every time. The city is home to Fort Lauderdale Beach and has a thriving arts and culture scene. If you want a city that has distinct ‘pocket’ neighborhoods to choose from, Fort Lauderdale is brilliant. You can head to the historic canal region, aka ‘Venice of America’, or enjoy Mission-style homes and live music in the inland neighborhood of Sailboat Bend. You also have tons of beaches to choose between – making Fort Lauderdale one of the most exciting places to visit in Florida.

Best Beaches in Fort Lauderdale Delray Beach

Fort Lauderdale is super convenient if you want a getaway from Miami. Draw yourself away from South Beach and Miami Beach, heading less than an hour up the coast by car. You can also catch public transport from Miami to Fort Lauderdale in less than two hours, and there’s an airport to use. Check out the 15 Best Beaches in Fort Lauderdale

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2. Amelia Island

Best Beach Resorts in Florida Omni Amelia island Resort

Amelia Island is drop-dead gorgeous with a beach town appeal. Remote, wistful feeling, and full of opportunities to connect with nature, Amelia Island is one of the most unique weekend getaways in Florida. Many would-be visitors overlook this fabulous barrier island destination, and its highlights are relatively unsung. But those who can see past the confinements of the ‘regular tourist trail’ are rewarded with white sand beaches and one of the best Florida weekend getaways. This island has everything from luxury hotels to golf courses and even shark teeth scattered along its beaches, left untouched thanks to the lack of crowds. For a beautiful getaway, Amelia Island is ideal.

To get there, you’ll need a car. Amelia Island is located on Florida’s Atlantic Coast, approximately a 45-minute drive from Jacksonville. Once you arrive, you can navigate the island mainly on a pedal bike to unplug from the outside world – driving included.

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3. Walt Disney World

Walt disney World Resort in Orlando Florida

Regarding fun weekend getaways in Florida, a weekend trip to the Walt Disney World Resort in central Florida hits the spot. This is the theme park of all theme parks; one of the world’s most famous places to visit. Walt Disney World, of course, sits in the sprawling city of Orlando. And with a weekend, you’ll have more than enough time to explore its four theme parks with dozens of different rides, shows, and character meet-and-greets. Visitors typically book one of the on-site resorts for the ‘ultimate’ experience. Walt Disney World is one of the most classic options for Florida getaways, and it is impossible not to love the cheesy yet wholesome atmosphere. Check out: 11 Best Theme Parks in Florida To Visit

It is an absolute breeze to get to Walt Disney World, with Orlando running domestic and international flights worldwide. You can also drive quickly to Orlando from most places in Florida or make the most of the state’s excellent Greyhound network if you prefer public transport. Read more: Top 10 Roller Coasters in Florida

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4. Honeymoon Island State Park

Weekend Getaways in Florida Honeymoon Island State Park

Another one of the most unique weekend getaways in Florida is the beautiful Honeymoon Island State Park – fittingly named with over four miles of white sand beach. This stunning barrier island state park is home to little more than a nature center and a few cafes, meaning you’ll have to stay nearby and venture in during the day. This isn’t an issue, though, as there are plenty of hotel options immediately after you exit the bridge onto the mainland. If you fancy a getaway where you can stay directly next to one of the most pristine Florida state parks, Honeymoon Island State Park is your best choice.

It is easy to see why people love this Florida getaway. The combination of white sand, hiking trails, and wildlife such as manatees, eagles, and dolphins is mesmerizing. It is also easy to reach, just 20 minutes from Clearwater by car, and located on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

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5. Crystal River

Weekend Getaways in Florida Crystal River

Crystal River proves you don’t need scuba diving to get the most out of a Florida getaway. This coastal city is mainly known for one thing: its West Indian manatee population. These lazy, loveable creatures are nicknamed ‘sea cows’ and drift peacefully through the waterways around Crystal River. Their main dangers are boat propellers, and their only method of defense is to swim – albeit slowly – away. These adorable creatures have garnered celebrity status, and animal-loving visitors flock to Crystal River, hoping to see them on boat tours and snorkeling excursions. Crystal River is easily one of the best unique weekend getaways in Florida if you want a wild animal encounter.

Crystal River is located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, approximately a 5-hour drive from Miami and a 2-hour drive from Orlando. It is a little out of the way, so we’d suggest hiring a car if you don’t have one already. And to see the manatee, you’ll have to book an official tour.

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6. New Smyrna Beach

Weekend Getaways in Florida New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach might not even register as a potential weekend getaway when you look at a map of the Florida peninsula. Yet this tiny city on Florida’s Atlantic Coast has a huge personality. New Smyrna Beach is not only a surfing hub for those looking to catch some waves for the weekend but also has tons of historical sites. Its Canal Street Historic District is a hive for the creative, with galleries, independent shops, and cafes. There’s also the New Smyrna Museum of History and the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum. If you fancy a surfing destination that packs a historical punch, New Smyrna Beach is a beautiful, lively contender amongst the best weekend getaways in Florida.

New Smyrna Beach is best accessed via car and is just an hour’s drive from Orlando. It is centrally located along the Atlantic Coast. It provides excellent day trip access to the Kennedy Space Center and Daytona Beach. Read more: 10 Unique Things to Do in Central Florida

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7. Marco Island

Weekend Getaways in Florida Marco Island Beach

Marco Island is pretty darn glitzy. Think golf courses, yachts in marinas, and towering resort hotels. It is cut off from the mainland, attached only by bridges, for an isolated and exclusive atmosphere. It balances that beautiful line between resort luxury and conservation scenery for nature lovers. If you want resort comforts with natural views, it is one of Florida’s best unique weekend getaways. Marco Island might not be as windswept or ‘wild’ feeling as Amelia Island or Honeymoon Island State Park. Still, it does provide a comfortable base amidst barrier island scenery. Florida getaways don’t get much more relaxing.

Reaching Marco Island is a 30-minute drive from central Naples, a major city along Florida’s Gulf of Mexico shoreline. You’ll need a car, and you’ll be driving across scenic overwater highways to reach your accommodation on the island.

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8. Fort Myers

Weekend Getaways in Florida Fort Myers

Fort Myers is far more than just a gateway to weekend getaways in Florida. Most visitors pass straight through Fort Myers to visit Sanibel Island. And while we are not slating beautiful Sanibel Island with all its fascinating seashells, those who want to challenge the status quo for Florida getaways should pause briefly in Fort Myers before rushing onwards. Fort Myers is really historical, with the beautiful River District, iconic Edison & Ford Winter Estates, and nearby Cape Coral Museum of History. If you want a day on the beach, Fort Myers Beach is just a 30-minute drive away.

Fort Myers is just a 50-minute drive from Naples or a 2.5-hour drive from Miami. So, reaching this historical Gulf Coast city will be easy. We like its underdog appeal and the quality handful of attractions in its city center. It is the perfect compromise if you have a half group wanting a beach getaway and half wanting a city break.

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9. Tampa Bay

places to stay in florida tampa bay busch gardens

Tampa Bay is a massive harbor and inland water area surrounded by the major cities of Tampa and St. Petersburg, plus a handful of waterfront towns. Rather than separating out the different places to stay around Tampa Bay, we will look at this region as a whole. The Tampa Bay region is brilliant for seafood, is closely located near manatee viewing opportunities, is fantastic for fishing, and has the cities to give you that urban getaway experience.

Let’s quickly look at where you should base yourself around the bay. To summarize, Tampa is where to stay for Cuban and Spanish influences in historic neighborhoods and many cultural and museum-style attractions. St Petersburg is where to stay for more laidback sightseeing with art galleries, golfing, and fishing tours. And the other small towns along the bay’s south shore are where to stay for a quiet community feel. As you can see, Tampa Bay has tons of variety. It is excellent for anyone wanting a deeper immersion in Florida’s culture. It is easily reached by car or domestic flights.

Where to Stay:

10. Wekiwa Springs State Park

Weekend Getaways in Florida Wekiwa Springs State Park

If you want a Florida getaway where you can get back to basics with camping and beautiful kayaking excursions, Wekiwa Springs State Park is one of the best weekend getaways in Florida. This stunning area of natural beauty is set around a spring where you can paddle up close to turtles, alligators, manatees, and more. Wekiwa Springs is almost aggressively green and a much-needed assault on the senses. You’ll be canoeing or kayaking through green-hued waters underneath thick green undergrowth and low-hanging trees. And you can finish off your water activities with a campfire in the evening.

For a camping getaway in Florida, Wekiwa Springs gets our top vote. The state park is easily accessible from Orlando and is just a 30-minute drive from the city center. The park is located in central Florida, and while you’ll still need a car, it is one of the most ‘urban’ areas of natural beauty and camping opportunities – located in the Orlando outer suburbs.

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11. De Leon Springs State Park

Weekend Getaways in Florida De Leon Springs State Park

De Leon Springs State Park has lived a few different lives in its time. First, the park was home to native Mayaca. It became a winter park, and now, it is protected as a state park and a popular place for water activities. It is one of the great weekend getaways in Florida, especially if you want an inland destination to enjoy swimming. The park has over 6,000 years of history, and its original Mayaca residents said that the springs have healing waters. De Leon Springs State Park is a brilliant place to note for a cultural, historical, and refreshing getaway in Florida.

To get to De Leon Springs, drive an hour northeast of Orlando. It is a simple getaway to reach from central and northern Florida. While you’ll need a car, it is entirely walkable once you arrive.

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12. Dry Tortugas National Park

Things to do in Key West Florida Day Trip to Dry Tortugas National Park

Dry Tortugas National Park is an icon of natural beauty and, simply put, a great weekend getaway for any adventurous travelers in Florida. The highly remote national park consists of seven islands, one of which features a 19th-century fort and all home to stunning wildlife. The contrast between the white sand, bright blue waters, and orange terracotta of the remaining structures is beautiful. And Dry Tortugas National Park is much like a Caribbean destination. We vote for raw beauty and lingering historical impact as one of the most unique weekend getaways in Florida.

So, how on Earth do you actually get here? Dry Tortugas National Park is only reachable by boat or seaplane. It isn’t like the standard barrier islands in Florida, which are most accessible by overwater highways. These are real islands, isolated in the Gulf of Mexico and about 70 miles west of Key West – the endpoint of the Florida Keys. You can take a 2-hour 15-minute ferry ride from Key West to Dry Tortugas or arrange a seaplane flight. It is undoubtedly more challenging to reach, but it reaps rewards in bounds from the extra effort. Read more: 36 Best Things to Do in Key West, Florida

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13. Anna Maria Island

Weekend Getaways in Florida Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is a real community hub in a beautiful barrier island setting. And regarding family getaways in Florida, these qualities make Anna Maria Island a top contender. The island has pristine white sand beaches and many brilliant activities, including dolphin watching, parasailing, and shallow swimming areas. Enjoy a 1911-built wooden pier and many independent cafes and shops. For families, this is a mix from heaven. Anna Maria Island offers a rounded and picturesque weekend getaway experience. It is so family-friendly in atmosphere and activities that we just had to add it to this list.

Anna Maria Island is located just outside Tampa Bay, on the final row of barrier islands facing Mexico’s Gulf Coast. It is an easy one-hour drive from Tampa over the striking Sunshine Skyway Bridge. It is best to travel to Anna Maria Island by car.

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14. West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach is glitz and glam – known for its fine dining, Broadway-style shows, and fierce nightlife. It is equal parts a retail therapy and party destination, and if you want a place where you can don your fanciest outfits, West Palm Beach is one of the best weekend getaways in Florida. The downtown area is super walkable. Worth Avenue is an ironically named and brilliant shopping area that can be enjoyed on foot. West Palm Beach is a destination you immediately have in the back of your mind when you think of a shopping getaway. We couldn’t not add it to this guide.

To reach West Palm Beach from Fort Lauderdale, it is just an hour away by car or 45 minutes by rail. It is a brilliant place to get to by public transport and a fantastic balance between a beach and a city break. West Palm Beach is located on the Atlantic Coast, around 70 miles north of Miami.

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15. Vero Beach

Weekend Getaways in Florida Vero Beach

Vero Beach is an excellent weekend getaway for water sports and nature. The small city has a super convenient location right next to the Indian River Lagoon, and absurdly, it is one of the lesser-known weekend getaways in Florida. Vero Beach is the sort of getaway Florida locals know and love but that tourists and general passers-by tend to overlook. This makes it a brilliant choice regardless of season. You can enjoy fishing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and even scuba diving. You can’t beat it regarding water activities and proximity to beautiful beaches.

Vero Beach is located in central Florida, approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes by car, southeast of Orlando. You’ll need a car to reach this little coastal city, but it is worth the extra effort. There are multiple lesser-visited state parks nearby, too, including Avalon State Park and Fort Pierce Inlet State Park. The fact that it is so off the usual beaten path in terms of tourism really caught our eye, and its water sports are impressive.

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16. Biscayne National Park

Weekend Getaways in Florida Biscayne National Park

Biscayne National Park is a stunning part of Florida’s west coast. It is easily one of the most beautiful Florida weekend getaways. It is all white sand beaches and lush palm trees – with some seriously picturesque hiking trails as the cherry on top. But its real draw comes from its underwater attractions, things you may not notice immediately. Biscayne National Park has some of Florida’s most incredible and often tragic shipwrecks. There are over 10,000 years of human history here, and a massive part comes from its shipwreck remains. The wrecks aren’t just historically significant either; many have formed artificial reefs and now support entire marine life ecosystems. If you love scuba diving or snorkeling, Biscayne National Park is one of the most unique weekend getaways in Florida.

Getting to Biscayne National Park is an absolute breeze from Miami. You can drive to the Biscayne National Park Visitor Center in less than an hour, located on the mainland. From there, you can explore the island section of the national park by a guided boat tour.

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17. Key West

The Florida Keys are one of the best weekend getaways in Florida, and Key West is a historic town right at the tip of the Keys. Key West is the southernmost point in the US, with a vast maritime culture and sense of identity for such a small town. As a weekend getaway, it is the perfect choice. Key West is home to the Truman Little White House, the Hemingway Home and Museum, and deep sea fishing opportunities. There are many amazing things to do in Key West.

Key West Historic Seaport

Key West is really scenic as a weekend getaway. To reach Key West from Miami, it is a 3.5-hour drive – the furthest one of the Florida Keys from the mainland. You can also book transfer services and day trips from Miami, though, and Key West is really walkable, so don’t worry too much if you don’t drive. If you drive to Key West, stop at the other Florida Keys along the way. Many attractions are on the way, like the History of Diving Museum and John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park.

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18. Sanibel Island

Sanibel Island is most famed for seashells. Not just any seashells, though, a vivid variety of everything from conch to sand dollar shells. In fact, it has earned the nickname of the seashell capital of the world. For a weekend of ‘shelling’ and beach days, Sanibel Island is one of the most unique weekend getaways in Florida. Aside from its shells, it is a lush destination full of greenery, palm trees, and coastal undergrowth. We had to list at the top of this guide to Florida getaways, as it is such a spot of natural beauty and promotes a connection with nature.

Weekend Getaways in Florida Sanibel Island beach view

To get to Sanibel Island, you simply drive across the overwater highway that keeps it connected to the mainland. It is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, just an hour and 20 minutes away from the significant city of Fort Myers. You’ll need a car to reach the island, but once you get there, you’ll spend most of your time on foot enjoying miles of beautiful beaches and hiking trails.

Sanibel Island is still recovering from the hurricane and some beaches are still closed. For up to date information visit the Hurricane Restoration FAQs at the Chamber of Commerce.

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19. Everglades National Park

Best Things to do in Key Largo Everglades National Park

Everglades National Park is one of the most classic weekend getaways in Florida. The park is a tropical wetland and an absolute haven for iconic Florida wildlife, from bird life to crocs and gators. It is famous for its boat tours and crocodile and alligator encounters. To tick off these wildlife encounter experiences, a weekend getaway to the Everglades is a must. Apart from the boat tours, you can also enjoy boardwalk hikes, kayaking, and the Shark Valley Visitor Center. Let’s be honest: it catches everyone’s eye when visiting Florida.

To reach the Everglades National Park, it is an hour’s drive from Miami or 50 minutes by car from Naples. Located right at the bottom of southern Florida, the only place further south than the Everglades National Park is the Florida Keys. Your best way to visit is by flying into one of the major nearby cities and renting a car to travel to the Everglades. Alternatively, you can book guided tours with transfers included.

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20. Panama City Beach

places to stay in florida panama city

Panama City Beach is your best choice for beach lovers wanting to venture from South Beach and towards the unsung beauty of northwest Florida. Panama City Beach has over 27 miles of white sand beaches and a raging seafood restaurant scene. It ticks every box if you want coastal weekend getaways in Florida, and it gets bonus points for introducing you to a different side of Florida. Most people stick to southern or central Florida, so why not shake things up and check out a beautiful beach destination?

The easiest way to reach Panama City Beach is by flying to Destin; from there, you only need to drive for just over an hour. Even the drive is scenic, and you’ll be cutting through Point Washington State Forest. Panama City Beach is surrounded by beautiful state parks and forests, and opening straight out onto the Gulf of Mexico, it is hard not to love.

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Weekend Getaways in Florida: FAQs

Weekend Getaways in Florida FAQs

Now that you know all about the unique weekend getaways in Florida, you should be more practical. These are the most commonly asked FAQs and bits of valuable information that can help shape your Florida getaways for the better. Check out these quick, top-four FAQs. Think of them as an ultimate summary of all you’ve just read.

Are there quick trips in Florida?

Yes, there are plenty of quick trips in Florida. Everglades National Park and Key West are two great examples of quick trips, with just a few bucket-list-worthy things to tick off that make them perfect to visit for a quick weekend getaway. You won’t miss out on anything by visiting for just two days.

Where is best to go for a weekend break?

The best places to go for a weekend break in Florida are Amelia Island, Crystal River, Orlando, Key West, and the Everglades National Park.

How do I plan a weekend trip on a budget?

The best way to keep your Florida weekend trip to a budget is through booking in off or shoulder seasons. This way, you get the cheapest hotels and tours – plus the benefit of fewer crowds. You should also consider self-catered options and research destinations with plenty of free activities.

Is Florida the best state for vacation?

Florida is by far one of the best states for vacations. Its miles of coastline make it the perfect candidate for a couple of glorious days in a beach town. Furthermore, it has delicious food and plenty of theme parks, historical sites, and natural beauty, which ticks off every traveler’s interests.

To Conclude

Weekend Getaways in Florida To Conclude

You should be well and truly ready to press ‘book’ on one of these top weekend getaways in Florida. You may want to organize a fishing charter from Key West, visit a small town with historic sites, or visit a theme park with adjoining luxury resorts. Whichever you choose, you’ll have a wonderful time; Florida really is the capital state of the getaway phenomenon. And if those theme parks sounded good, check out our in-depth guide on the top 10 rollercoasters in Florida. Florida has so much to offer, and you need at least a few weekend getaways to truly scratch the surface.

Plan Your Trip to Florida with These Resources

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