Weekend Getaways in Florida
Whether you live in the state or a day's drive away, Florida offers a plethora of weekend getaways that are not limited to crowded beaches, theme parks or cities. There are plenty of destinations where you can get away from noise and crowds and enjoy a quiet weekend with your family, your significant other or even all by your lonesome.
Here are a few weekend getaways in Florida that we recommend:
Weekend Getaways in Florida: Destin
This laid-back community on the Florida Panhandle's sugar-sand beaches traditionally attracts Floridians and vacationers from Southeast and Midwest states looking for a quick trip to the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Destin offers lots of activities and restaurants, but if you'd rather spend the weekend lounging on the beach or around the pool at your hotel, no one will stop you.
Weekend Getaways in Florida: Cedar Key
Located on Florida's "Big Bend," where the coastline curves south from the Panhandle, this tiny fishing village evokes a sense of Old Florida, before land developers, railroad barons and air-conditioning conspired to make Sunshine State summers bearable. Freshly caught seafood graces the menus of the restaurants on the tiny island three miles off the mainland coast (Don't worry; there are bridges), and various festivals fill the calendar the year round.
Anna Maria Island
A series of small beach towns make up this barrier island community in Southwest Florida. You won't find any high-rise towers; expect instead small condo complexes, historic wood-frame cottages and restored beach motels. You can fish or have a snack at the end of the City Pier in the town of Anna Maria, complete with a view of the towering Sunshine Skyway Bridge spanning the mouth of Tampa Bay. And if your weekend is a little too relaxing, you'll be minutes away from activities and attractions in Bradenton and Sarasota.
Weekend Getaways in Florida: Florida Keys
A weekend getaway in the Keys doesn't necessarily mean involvement in the eccentric madness of Key West. A string of islands connects the southernmost city in the United States to the mainland, via a series of bridges, and plenty of accommodations are available on many of them. You can take a scuba diving or snorkeling cruise to gorgeous coral reefs, fish, boat or just explore. And if you can't stay away, your weekend can include a trip down to Key West for a few hours of entrenchment in a lifestyle you won't find anywhere else in the world.
Weekend Getaways in Florida: Outdoors
Get back to nature and away for the weekend at one of Florida's many state parks. Nineteen of them offer cabins on the property so you don't even need a camper or tent. Locales range from waterfront to dry forest, and some have freshwater springs open for swimming and diving. Florida also encompasses several federal wilderness areas, such as the Ocala National Forest and Everglades National Park, that offer similar facilities.
Weekend Getaways in Florida: St. Augustine
The oldest city in the United States, founded by Spaniards in 1565, offers a treasure trove of exploration for history buffs seeking a Florida weekend getaway. Castillo De San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the Continental United States, is in St. Augustine, as is Ponce de Leon's Fountain of Youth, an archaeologically significant site that is also a park. Unfortunately, though visitors may sip from the fountain, there is no evidence that it grants eternal youth.
Photo by Gerard Walen