21 Best Weekend Getaways in Florida, From Palm Beach Spa Days to Gulf Coast Manatee Tours (2024)

The best beachfront hotel to open of late is Mello on the Beach, an adorable low-rise property just steps from the sand that channels a Palm Springs vibe with mid century-inspired furniture, pastel color pops everywhere and a boomerang-shaped pool stocked with fun floaties.

Anna Maria Island is blissfully bereft of chain stores and golf carts are the preferred mode of transport. You can pedal around by bike everywhere, too, with a Surrey (or regular) bike rental from Beach Bums.

Courtesy Zota Beach Resort

Sarasota and Longboat Key

To mix an artsy town with some of Florida’s most gorgeous gulf beaches, spend your vacation exploring downtown Sarasota and the neighboring beaches of Longboat Key, less than 90 minutes south of Tampa. Make a gulf front room at Zota Beach Resort or a beachfront condo with several bedrooms just back from the dunes (and a lovely beachfront barbecue area for grilling) at Sand Cay Beach Resort your base on this sublime stretch of coastline. For more luxury on the beach, level up with a stay at The Resort at Longboat Key Club, located at the pristine southernmost tip of Longboat Key. The St. Regis Longboat Key Resort is also slated to up the accommodation ante here in 2024 with a magnificent beachfront setting, 166 rooms and luxury condos.

When you need a break from the sand and sun, cross the bridge to downtown Sarasota, home to the magnificent Ringling Museum of Art, named for the circus baron and housing an incredible collection of European Old Masters paintings within bayfront grounds landscaped with tropical flowers and trees. For contemporary art, the Sarasota Art Museum of Ringling College , inside the town's gothic style former high school, is worth a visit. And when it’s time for slurping more oysters with river views, Phillippi Creek Oyster Bar is just a short drive south.

Miami Beach

Miami is booming with vacationers who wouldn’t have Florida any other way—that is, with its warm-as-the-Caribbean waters and intoxicating multicultural vibe. Miami Beach always beckons for a stay fronting the Atlantic Ocean at ultra-luxe spots like The Setai or The Faena, and Art Deco icons like adults-only property The National Hotel. But downtown Miami and neighborhoods like Brickell, Wynwood ,and the latest creative hub Little River are worth toweling off for to explore. Off the sand, book a room overlooking Biscayne Bay at the Mandarin Oriental Miami or the Kimpton EPIC Hotel, with one of the city’s most swoon-worthy rooftop pools. Make time to venture away from the sand and city and onto the water itself with a boat tour into Biscayne National Park that departs from Coconut Grove with the Biscayne National Park Institute and visits spots like Stiltsville (where wooden houses over above the clear water) and Boca Chita Key.

The Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club

The Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club


Not to be lumped in with Miami Beach, just south, pedestrian-friendly Surfside sprawls across a short half-square mile and beckons with tangible family-friendly appeal. The Four Seasons Hotel at the Surf Club (a Gold List winner for 2024) is a favorite thanks to its Art Deco style, incredible bar program with a seasonal retro-chic co*cktails, complimentary kids club, adults-only pool, and gorgeous beachfront setting. Surfside’s compact downtown district, along Harding Avenue, just a few blocks from the beach, brims with boutiques and restaurants (beeline it for the crunchy spicy tuna latkes at Josh’s Deli). From May to November—during walks along the beach in the mornings, in particular—keep your eyes open for sea turtle hatchlings making a break for the ocean.

Florida Keys

The Florida Keys and Key West might be one of the best weekend getaways in Florida that connects you with what a true vacation in this state is all about. Made mostly of coral, the islands that make up the Keys aren’t known for their beaches at all, although there are a few of those (the stretch at Bahia Honda State Park, good for snorkeling right from the beach in grassy flats just offshore, is one of the finest). Your best bet for watery fun in the Florida Keys, however, is to get out onto—and, preferably, into—the turquoise waters via boat trips, snorkeling excursions, or on a kayak or stand up paddle board. You’ll want to be back on land in time for the ritual of sunset spectating, of course, to toast with something tropical and frosty. Key West has the bulk of the resorts and hotels, as well as endless restaurants and bars to explore. But low-key, world class resorts abound throughout the Florida Keys, and include two noteworthy adults-only havens: , on its own private island, and Bungalows Key Largo. To feel like you're in Santorini, with white washed buildings and water views at every turn, Isla Bella Beach Resort on Marathon is truly transporting, too.

21 Best Weekend Getaways in Florida, From Palm Beach Spa Days to Gulf Coast Manatee Tours (2024)


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