Whether you’re a Florida local or you’re just looking to soak up some rays in the Sunshine State, there are plenty of quick weekend getaways that are well worth the trip. Besides the warm, sunny weather, Florida boasts all kinds of activities and attractions. From beautiful beaches and stunning state parks to golf getaways and thrilling theme parks, you’ll find something for everyone here. Check out these top weekend trips in Florida to find something that’s just right for you.
Walt Disney World
Create a magical experience for the whole family by planning a weekend trip to Walt Disney World in Orlando. This world-famous destination features four theme parks, two water parks, four golf courses, and a wide variety of on-site accommodations. While you won’t be able to see it all in just one weekend, you and your traveling companions can pick and choose from the many attractions to create an unforgettable vacation.
The Magic Kingdom is the most popular of Disney World’s theme parks. It features the towering Cinderella Castle along with iconic park rides such as It’s a Small World, Splash Mountain, Mad Tea Party, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain. The Epcot theme park is thought of as a permanent world’s fair that celebrates technological innovation and international culture. Disney’s Hollywood Studios celebrates show business with a variety of rides based on movies and TV shows. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, guests can check out nature-themed attractions and view hundreds of species of live animals.
Staying on site at one of the resort’s hotels has its perks, such as longer hours at the theme parks, complimentary transportation and parking throughout the resort, and early access to reserve spots for certain rides and attractions. If you’re on a budget, however, you’ll save money by finding a vacation rental in Orlando rather than staying in the pricey resort accommodations. Try to visit during an off-peak period during the year to experience smaller crowds at the theme parks.
If you love the great outdoors, plan a weekend trip to Sanibel and Captiva Islands. These two islands are located on Florida’s Gulf Coast about 25 miles south of Fort Myers and are connected to the mainland by a bridge. Visitors get to take in the islands’ breathtaking beaches along with a rich ecosystem with plenty of lush surroundings to explore.
The windswept waters along the shore are perfect for sailing, surfing, and sunbathing. One of the most popular spots to soak up the sun is on Sanibel Island’s Bowman’s Beach. For something more off-the-beaten-path, head to Blind Pass Beach located between the two islands. Searching for seashells is a wonderful way to explore the islands’ sandy shores. You can even visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum on Sanibel to view especially impressive shells found here or figure out what types of shells you’ve discovered while beachcombing.
For a break from the beach, explore the beautiful natural surroundings on inland Captiva and Sanibel. The 7,600-acre J.N. (“Ding”) Darling National Wildlife Refuge is home to hundreds of animals, including endangered giant manatees and alligators. Activities available on site include hiking, biking, paddling, and birdwatching. Visit the Botanical Gardens at Sanibel Moorings Resort, which features hundreds of varieties of native and non-native plants, for another way to explore the islands’ stunning surroundings.
Consider staying at Sanibel’s Casa Ybel for family-friendly accommodations on the beach. For a romantic getaway, Island Inn offers beachfront hotel rooms and cottages. There are also plenty of beautiful vacation rentals available on the islands, which can help you stick to a budget or accommodate a large group.
Are you hoping to do more partying than sightseeing during your weekend trip? If so, you can’t beat the lively club scene in Miami. This city caters to well-heeled visitors looking for a glamorous getaway complete with luxurious offerings. Miami is known for its stunning beaches, upscale boutiques, cultural attractions, and trendy nightclubs.
Soaking up some rays at South Beach is a must during your visit to Miami. You’ll see plenty of beautiful sunbathers along with active individuals playing beach volleyball or windsurfing along the shore. But skimpy swimsuits and sandy shores are just part of what this city has to offer. Miami is a cultural destination renowned for its artistic roots. Nearby are many of the city’s most stunning buildings featuring modern art deco architecture. Don’t miss the famous Miami Art Deco Historic District along Ocean Drive, which displays the world’s largest collection of modern art deco architecture.
Once night falls, Miami’s party scene comes to life. While your days might be spent on the sand or checking out the city’s theaters, museums, and art galleries, evenings are best spent at Miami’s finest restaurants and clubs. There are plenty of upscale places where you can enjoy a drink and dance well into the night.
PGA National Resort and Spa
Florida is known for its showstopping golf courses, but to experience the best of the best, you’ll need to head to the PGA National Resort and Spa in West Palm Beach. This destination features five championship golf courses. One of the courses was redesigned by Jack Nicklaus and is known as the home of the PGA Tour’s Honda Classic and the legendary Bear Trap. The other four top-tier courses available on site are The Fazio (the resort’s version of The Haig), The Palmer (designed by Arnold Palmer), The Squire, and The Estates.
While golf is the main attraction here, the resort offers a wide range of activities and amenities to create an unforgettable weekend getaway. The well-appointed rooms and suites provide luxurious accommodations. Don’t forget to stop by the world-class spa to sign up for treatments such as a dip in the Waters of the World mineral pools or the Deep Cleansing Marine Facial. If you prefer something more active, check out the private state-of-the-art Sports & Racquet Club or go swimming in the zero-entry pool. Shopping, restaurants, and bars provide other fun ways to spend your weekend.
This is a lavish weekend trip that provides a pampering experience with access to the best services and amenities. Because it’s located a little over an hour from Miami, it’s also easy to get to if you’re flying in from out of state. Consider this destination for a family vacation, a friends’ weekend trip, or a romantic getaway.
Florida’s Emerald Coast is the ideal destination for an affordable and laid-back getaway where you can kick back and relax. The Emerald Coast encompasses about 100 miles of coastline along the Gulf of Mexico on Florida’s panhandle. The region is renowned for its sugar-white sand beaches and its stunningly clear blue-green waters. You can enjoy a peaceful weekend trip at any of a number of small cities scattered along this coast.
In Destin, you’ll find some of the best deep-sea fishing in the world. Pensacola is another top choice thanks to its wide variety of water activities, including surfing, parasailing, and dolphin cruises. Panama City Beach boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the area and has fun attractions such as the Ripley’s Believe it or Not! museum. Seaside has the feel of a quaint village with its charming buildings characterized by pastel paint and tin roofs. Head to Navarre for a quiet getaway in a sleepy beach town featuring the longest fishing pier in the state.
It’s important to note that these typically laid-back locations can become rowdy during U.S. colleges’ spring break weeks. If you want to avoid that type of atmosphere, don’t visit the Emerald Coast during March or early April.
Soak up some history over the weekend with a trip to St. Augustine. Located on Florida’s northeast coast, this unique spot is famous for being the oldest city in the United States. It was the longest-inhabited European settlement in Florida, so you can find plenty of beautiful Spanish colonial architecture here. Don’t miss the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century Spanish stone fortress with views of the St. Augustine Inlet. Guided tours provide a great way to learn about the area’s settler history and see some of the city’s top historic sites.
There are plenty of family-friendly attractions to enjoy during a weekend trip here. The St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum features more than 800 pirate artifacts, including Blackbeard’s original blunderbuss, one of only three authentic Jolly Roger flags in the world, and Thomas Tew’s original treasure chest. Check out Florida wildlife at the nearby Alligator Farm, or take older kids on a spooky ghost tour of the city. The nearby beaches offer a chance to splash in the calm waters along the coast.
St. Augustine also has plenty of fun options for an adults-only getaway. Take a free tour of the St. Augustine Distillery, where you can enjoy vodka and gin tastings, or check out the offerings at the San Sebastian Winery on King Street. You can play one of the top golf courses nearby and even visit the World Golf Hall of Fame. Those who want to stroll and shop during their vacation can check out a number of great cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and boutiques in town.
Make your weekend getaway to Florida an unforgettable trip. Choose one of these top destinations in the state to enjoy the vacation you’ve been dreaming of.