Are you ready to take a weekend trip to the Sunshine State? Whether you’re looking for ocean views, theme parks, fabulous beaches, water sports, national parks, romantic getaways, or family-friendly adventures – you’ll want to add these weekend getaways in Florida to your road trips list!
Clay County: Our Featured Florida Getaway
Lose the crowds, and experience all the natural beauty and outdoor fun found in beautiful Clay County, FL!
Located in northeast Florida, Clay County is just a short drive from Jacksonville and the nation’s oldest city of St. Augustine. Here you’ll find pristine freshwater lakes and rivers, outdoor activities, museums, coffee shops, exciting experiences, annual events, unique and luxurious accommodations, and so much more!
An outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, Clay County has many ways to help you immerse yourself in “Old Florida,” discovering wildlife along the way.
Start your day by catching the sunrise over the St. John’s River with a cup of coffee and breakfast from one of Clay County’s locally owned shops!
After taking in the beauty over the water, it’ll be time to take in the beauty on the water! With 11 public boat ramps, there is no shortage of choices. You can rent kayaks, canoes, or SUPs (stand up paddleboards) from Boat Florida Rentals or Whitey’s Fish Camp.
Camp Chowenwaw is a former Girl Scout camp turned public park, and it features a swimming pool, hiking trails, and overnight accommodations. Hike the Jungle Trail to the observation deck overlooking Black Creek! And if you’re looking for a really fun and unique overnight experience, how about a stay in one of Chowenwaw’s nine treehouses? The treehouses sleep 4 and are guaranteed to make for a memorable stay!
Known as one of Florida’s first state parks, Gold Head State Park features 5.4 miles of trails along the Florida National Scenic Trail. Within Jennings State Forest, you’ll find trails along waterways and through the primitive forest land. You’ll also find bicycling, canoeing, and horseback riding are popular here. And at John P. Hall Nature Preserve, you’ll find 15 miles of trails for hiking, along with equestrian trails, fishing, and launch sites for kayaking and canoeing.
When you’re done with all that outdoor play, take a dip in one of the state’s oldest spring-fed pools at Spring Park. It’s been around since 1871 and is known for its therapeutic healing.
The perfect ending to your busy day? How about watching the sunset over Doctor’s Lake? Perfection.
Things to Do
Looking for other things to do in Clay County? They’ve got it!
See how fast you can go on the track at the FIRM – a rally race car track!
Places to Stay
For those who are looking for a luxurious place to rest and relax, Club Continental, overlooking the St. John’s River is the perfect choice. Club Continental offers 22 guest rooms – many which are waterfront – 7 tennis courts, and 3 swimming pools. Their exclusive restaurant serves gourmet lunches, dinners, and Sunday brunch under the Live Oaks overlooking the river. You’ll never want to leave!
Azaleana Manor is a 10,000 square foot mansion that has been turned into a boutique hotel! Located right on the St. John’s River, here you’ll find 6 guest rooms, and 4 acres of land to explore.
River Park Inn is a historic hotel alternative, for those who are looking for a quiet stay at a beautiful home. The inn is just a short walk from the Green Cove Springs City Pier, and features 5 rooms, and warm, homelike atmosphere.
Hampton Inn Middleburg opening in late 2019 will be the first Hampton Inn to feature Hampton’s new prototype standards. If you want to know what the Hampton Inn of the future will look like – you should stay here!
Marathon, FL. Located on 13 islands in the Florida Keys, Marathon is home to some of the most beautiful beaches! Sombrero Beach is the most popular, and it’s easy to see why. If you’re looking for white sand beaches, palm trees, and beautiful turquoise waters, this is the one for you! If you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, the amazing Coco Plum Beach is the perfect choice. Stay here: Isla Bella Beach Resort
Sanibel Island. Just off the coast of Fort Myers Beach you’ll find the islands of Sanibel and Captiva. Bowman’s Beach on Sanibel Island is popular, not only for sailing and swimming, but also shell collecting! And if shells are what you’re after, you can also head to Blind Pass Beach. The current here is too strong for swimming, but it definitely brings in the shells. PS. Pets welcome on the beach here. Stay here: Sanibel Moorings
South Beach. A visit to South Beach will introduce you to the white sandy beaches and clear blue water that made this beach famous. And it’s located right in the middle of one of the most amazing neighborhoods Miami has to offer. South Beach is postcard perfect! (No, really. It’s what you see on Miami postcards.) You’ll find everything here – swimming, water sports, volleyball, galleries, boutiques, stores, and amazing restaurants. There is always something going on at South Beach! Stay here: Eden Roc
Thinking about a multi-generational getaway? We love these ideas!
Grayton Beach. This beautiful and pristine beach is located between Pensacola and Panama City Beach, and is home to Grayton Beach State Park. This state park is where you’ll find a coastal dune lake – perfect for a kayaking excursion! This beautiful beach’s unofficial slogan is “Nice Dogs, Strange People” and I’m pretty sure that means you’ll love it. Stay here: The Pearl Hotel
Destin. Located in northwest Florida, Destin is known for its beautiful beaches along the Gulf of Mexico! This beach town is also home to golf courses, amazing restaurants, and Henderson Beach State Park. Stay here: Sandestin Golf and Beach Resort
Amelia Island. If you’re looking for beautiful sandy beaches, luxury resorts, and golf courses, Amelia Island is for you! Part of the Sea Islands along the Atlantic coast, Amelia Island is popular among both couples and families. You’ll find awesome restaurants, shops, a boardwalk, and sports and recreation facilities here. Stay here: The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island
Romantic Getaways in Florida
Palm Beach. Ready to feel fancy? Couples who visit Palm Beach for a weekend getaway will not be sorry. In Palm Beach you will find amazing resorts, shopping along the famous palm tree-lined Worth Avenue, beautiful architecture, and award-winning restaurants. Stay here: The Chesterfield Palm Beach
Marco Island. A visit to Marco Island will have you believing you’re in the tropics! Located not far from Naples, Marco Island is the only developed land in the Ten Thousand Islands. Here you will find white sandy beaches, amazing resorts, and outdoor activities like canoeing and kayaking. Stay here: The Charter Club of Marco Beach
Naples. Whether you’re a couple looking to enjoy the best life has to offer, or you’re looking for an action-packed weekend – Naples has something for you! Located on the Gulf of Mexico, Naples is known for its high-end resorts, beaches, shopping, art galleries, and world-class dining. It also has amazing beaches and plenty of outdoor activities for nature lovers. Stay here: Naples Grande Beach Resort
Islamorada. Halfway between Miami and Key West, you will find the beautiful Islamorada. Just knowing where it’s located, I probably don’t need to tell you how amazing and crystal clear the water is here, but it is! You’ll find resorts, art galleries, shopping, and restaurants here too. It’s the perfect place to unwind and relax. Stay here: Casa Morada
Ponte Vedra. In between Jacksonville and St. Augustine, you’ll find Ponte Vedra Beach! This is the perfect romantic getaway for couples who enjoy golf – because Ponte Vedra is known for its amazing golf courses. You’ll also find luxury resorts right on the beach in this seaside town, like the Ponte Vedra Inn & Club, and The Lodge and Club.
Where Water Sports are King
Panama City Beach. Seriously, every type of water sport is available on the turquoise waters of Panama City Beach! This is where the action is. Here you can find diving, snorkeling, sailing, and fishing. You can swim with dolphins, or collect shells on Shell Island. You can take an airboat ride into the Gulf Coast, rent a jet ski, go parasailing, or paddle boarding. You can do it all! Stay here: Holiday Inn Express & Suites Panama City Beach – Beachfront
Key West. You know the town of Key West is amazing, and now you’re ready to discover what’s out on (or in!) the water. Out on the water, you’ll find snorkeling and diving adventures of every type. You can visit dolphins, and explore coral reefs, or you can rent an underwater scooter! All of that is in addition to catamaran tours, eco tours, sailing, jet skis, parasailing, kayak adventures, and paddle boarding tours. Stay here: Havana Cabana and be sure to book a water sports tour while you’re there.
Sarasota. In Sarasota you’ll find fishing charters and kayak tours reign supreme. There are so many different kayak tour options here, including a mangrove tunnel tour, and a happy hour kayak tour. Dolphins and manatees are often spotted out on the water, too! Stay here: Art Ovation Hotel
Daytona. You’ll find a water activity for everyone in your group in Daytona! There is parasailing, jet skiing, kayaking, surfing, boating, fishing, and paddle boarding here. And if you’ve ever wanted to ride on a big banana through the ocean (who hasn’t?), Daytona has a banana boat for you! Stay here: Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach
Ft. Lauderdale. Yacht rentals and surf lessons abound in Ft. Lauderdale, but there are also some crazy water experiences here too! Ever wanted to fly above the water on a Flyboard? They’ve got them! Banana boat? Check! How about renting a Seabob – an underwater jet ski? They have that too! All of that in addition to parasailing, boat rentals, jet skis, and paddle boards means you won’t be bored here. Stay here: The Westin Fort Lauderdale Beach Resort
Great for Families
Jacksonville. Beaches, outdoor activities, indoor activities, and family-friendly restaurants make Jacksonville a great place to spend a weekend with your kids. In Jacksonville you’ll find water activities for the family, such as surfing lessons and camps for kids, airboat tours, fishing excursions, and kayak and paddle board rentals. Take a break from the heat at the Museum of Science and History, which has live animal shows and interactive exhibits. For smaller children, the Hands On Children’s Museum is perfect for children under 8. Visit TopGolf, the Edge Rock Gym for rock climbing, or the Jacksonville Zoo! Stay here: Sheraton Jacksonville Hotel
St. Augustine. I went to St. Augustine as a kid and I still remember being amazed by the Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museum! You’ll also find plenty of mini golf, an old-fashioned carousel at Davenport Park, trolley tours, escape rooms, and so many museums in this historic town. Of course, a trip to St. Augustine is not complete without a visit to the Fountain of Youth! And if pirates are your thing, you’ll find plenty pirate-related activities here. Stay here: Embassy Suites
Westgate River Ranch. You can unplug and reconnect with your family at the Westgate River Ranch located in central Florida. On this 1,700-acre ranch, you can camp in your tent or RV. Other accommodations include their lodge, cottages, cabins, a rail car with bunk beds, luxury teepees, or glamping tents! There’s a community campfire every night, perfect for bonding with your brood and making new friends. And you’ll find rodeos and dinner hayrides offered on weekends. Stay here: Westgate River Ranch
Tampa. The Museum of Science and Industry, Busch Gardens, Adventure Island water park, the Lowry Park Zoo, and the Florida Aquarium. Pretty sure you could fill up a weekend with family pretty quickly in Tampa! And did I mention all the beautiful and amazing beaches? Because they’re there too! If you’re looking for an action-packed family weekend, Tampa is the perfect choice (and you can make it to nearby Clearwater Beach, too!) Stay here: Epicurean Hotel
Perfect Parks for a Getaway to Remember
Everglades. There’s not another national park like Everglades National Park! Everglades National Park is a 1.5 million-acre park that is so huge it has three different entrances in three different cities. Open year round, the park’s most popular season is the dry season, which is from November-March. The dry season sees an increase in a variety of birds and their predators.
The Everglades provide the perfect habitat for rare species such as manatees, the American crocodile, and the Florida panther. There are many tours offered, and a number of ways to explore this amazing park. You can explore the massive park by bike, boat, kayak, canoe, or hiking.
Dry Tortugas. Dry Tortugas National Park is a must-visit park. Located 70 miles west of Key West, you can only get here by boat or seaplane. Once there, snorkeling in the crystal clear, blue waters, exploring the coral reefs is the activity you absolutely have to do! This remote park is known for being home to Fort Jefferson. Day trips are offered, or if you’re lucky, you can reserve a camping spot and make a true weekend out of this one-of-a-kind adventure.
Biscayne. Biscayne National Park is located near Miami, but you’d never know it! It is calm compared to Miami’s many offerings, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do. Biscayne is home to beautiful beaches and coral reefs. Boating, snorkeling, camping, and observing wildlife are top priorities here, but the best thing to do here is to relax and enjoy the beauty. Stay here: The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne
Blue Spring State Park. Along the St. Johns River in DeLand, you’ll find Blue Spring State Park, one of the most unique state parks in Florida. This park has water that manatees love! After years of conservation and protection efforts, a record-breaking 485 manatees wintered here in 2018. Visitors to this amazing state park can enjoy hiking, canoeing, kayaking, or a guided river boat cruise. Snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, fishing, and tubing are also popular activities. And although you’re not allowed to swim with the manatees, observing them here is beyond special. This state park also offers cabin rentals, and camping. Stay here: Artisan Downtown
Crystal River. Are you ready to swim with the manatees? Crystal River is the only place in the United States where you can legally swim with these gentle giants. The guides here are trained to safely swim with them, so you can get up close and personal. Scuba diving, paddling, boating, bicycling, and hiking are also offered here. Stay here: Plantation on Crystal River
Martin County. Martin County, Florida is located on the Treasure Coast – and do you know why it’s called the Treasure Coast? Because Spanish ships shipwrecked near here in the early 18th century, and treasure still washes up on the shore! How cool is that? After treasure hunting on the beach, there is still so much to do. Cute downtown areas, water activities, and thousands of acres of parks and conservation land make this a wonderful weekend getaway. Stay here: Old Colorado Inn
DeLand. DeLand has it all. It’s home to Florida’s oldest college (Stetson University), Stetson Mansion is an architectural masterpiece that you have to see to believe, and DeLeon Springs State Park is ready to blow your adventurous mind. The spring at DeLeon Springs produces 19 million gallons of water a day, and it’s always 72 degrees! Swimming here is a completely unique experience. Stay here: Courtyard DeLand Historic Downtown
Camp Gulf. Are you ready to park your RV on the beach?! You can’t get closer than the RV spots at Camp Gulf in Destin. A spot here means you are literally steps away from the emerald waters. How amazing is that? And for those who don’t own an RV, Camp Gulf also offers cabin rentals and a beach house. Stay here: RV Rental from Atlanta
Steinhatchee. About 70 miles west of Gainesville, you’ll find the small town of Steinhatchee, Florida. If you like scallops, it’s the place to be. People visit this fishing village from July through September to snorkel for scallops in the shallows of the Gulf. And trout and redfish are popular catches in the Steinhatchee River. Stay here: Steinhatchee River Inn
Disney. So there’s this amusement park in Florida – Walt Disney World. Have you heard of it? I’m assuming you have because IT’S A SMALL WORLD AFTER ALL. Located in central Florida, this massive property includes four theme parks (Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios), two water parks, resort hotels, golf courses, amazing restaurants, a camping resort, an outdoor shopping center (Disney Springs), and a partridge and a pear tree. It has an annual attendance of 52 MILLION PEOPLE, so it’s doing alright I guess. It’s the best theme park in the whole world, and a visit here makes it easy to see why. Hi, Mickey! See ya real soon! Stay here: Swan and Dolphin Resort
Universal Orlando. I solemnly swear I am up to no good. (I’m about to tell you a bit about Universal Orlando and it’s going to make you want to go.) Universal Orlando features two theme parks (Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure), a water park (Volcano Bay), an entertainment complex, and resorts. And most importantly (to me), it’s home to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter! Come on Potterheads, let’s go! Stay here: Universal’s Aventura Hotel
Legoland. Legoland Florida Resort is a theme park and water park located 45 minutes from Orlando, and is perfect for the LEGO lovers in your house. With LEGO-themed rides and activities at the park, and swimming and water slides at the water park, there is something for everyone in your group. Stay at the Legoland Hotel or Beach Retreat to fully immerse yourself in all things LEGO! Stay here: Which Legoland Hotel is Right for Me?
Busch Gardens. Busch Gardens in Tampa features amazing rides, safaris, and animal encounters. You’ll find roller coasters, and family-friendly rides, live entertainment and shows, and animal experiences, encounters, and tours. Stay here: The Barrymore Hotel Tampa Riverwalk
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Disclosure: Thank you to Clay County Florida for sponsoring this post. 365 Atlanta Traveler is a Visit Florida Digital Marketing Program Partner. Opinions here are all our own.