Many things can be said about the Sunshine State, but there's no denying its pull as a year-round destination for a weekend getaway or, if you can swing it, something longer. There's more than 1,300 miles of glorious coastline to explore, from the Panhandle to the Florida Keys (all of it fully back open to beachgoers), not to mention your choice of big cities or casual beach towns for a base. Favorable weather, affordability, and appeal as a multi-generational vacation spot are just a few of the factors that make the state so attractive to visit as the country (and world) emerges from a long season’s slumber. If you’re stumped on where to start, we’ve got you covered on the best weekend getaways to take across Florida.
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The Palm Beaches
What’s great about the Palm Beaches is that you can make your stay here as fancy or footloose as you like. Will you bed down at one of the grand oceanfront dames, like The Breakers Palm Beach, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa, or the Four Seasons Resort Palm Beach, and spend your time sunning or at the spa? Or base across Lake Worth in downtown West Palm Beach instead at The Ben, a boutique hotel within walking distance to Las Olas Avenue’s shops and restaurants (use the complimentary house bikes to pedal across the bridge to hot Palm Beach restaurants like Henry’s Palm Beach). Maybe a ship container Airbnb along the river in Jupiter at Headwaters Eco Retreat is more your style these days?
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For some of Florida’s best snorkeling, hit the Underwater Snorkeling Trail at Phil Foster Park, where you might spot oddities like octopuses, frog fish, and even eagle rays in the shallow waters near the Blue Heron Bridge in the Intracoastal Waterway.
With an ongoing schedule of rocket launches, thanks to the commercial space industry here, Florida’s Space Coast—just east of Orlando on the Atlantic coast—is booming. For an authentic beach vacation close to nature where the focus is on the sun, surf, and sand, Cocoa Beach delivers with its pretty beaches and easy access to nature. There’s not much in the way of luxury resort life here, but the newly reopened and refurbished Beachside Hotel & Suites has a fun 1960s vibe and is a block from the sand. Make time for the short drive north to Titusville, where you can head out after sunset on bioluminescent paddling tours into the Indian River Lagoon with A Day Away Kayak Tours. The visitor center at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge remains closes due to the pandemic, but if it opens for summer, check to see if they’ve started back up with the nightly ranger-led sea turtle walks for a chance to spy nesting sea turtles laying their eggs on nearby Canaveral National Seashore. And be sure to check the rocket launch schedule, too, for the show in the sky.