With so many beautiful places to visit in the Sunshine State, it can be hard to narrow down Florida vacation ideas. There is a lot to choose from between Florida beach vacations, theme parks and historical destinations. I love to help people plan trips around here and one of the first questions I usually get is asking which of the Florida vacation spots to visit? To help answer that question, I created this guide!
No matter your budget or your demographic, I believe anyone can have a fun Florida vacation in any city on this list. However, this blog post will share some of the most popular options I have seen, as well as some hidden gems. I have broken it up into Florida vacation spots for couples, families, beach time and a limited budget. Hopefully this blog post will inspire you to plan your next Florida vacation!
Florida Vacations for Adults
One of the most common types of trips people look for are the best places to visit in Florida for couples. As Andrew and I primarily travel just us two for this blog, we have found so many romantic and fun Florida destinations for adults! I have narrowed it down to our three favorites with the most things to do in Florida for adults. Whether you are taking a couple’s trip, a girl’s weekend or a friends getaway, these are the best Florida vacation spots for adults.
We got engaged in Key West, so this choice might be a little biased, but most adults will have a blast in Key West! The bar scene is probably the best in the state with so many fun and unique watering holes to visit on the island. Whether you prefer night life, immersive nature experiences or historical sites, you can find it on Key West. I find the atmosphere to be less kid-friendly and less beach focused than other Florida vacation spots, so this is the perfect trip to leave the kids at home and party it up in paradise!
Though St. Augustine is known as the Ancient City filled with notable landmarks, this is only part of the reason why it is a great place Florida vacation spot for adults. In addition to the fascinating ghost tours and ancient sights to take in, this city is also excellent for a pub crawl! There are tons of fun bars and restaurants here, including the iconic St. Augustine distillery. In addition, there also are plenty of exciting things to do on the water and beaches to relax on. St. Augustine has a little bit of everything you could want for a couples or adult Florida getaway.
This may be an obvious one, but Miami is probably the best Florida vacation spot for adults. The city is alive with an amazing foodie and art scene and you can enjoy it the most luxurious way possible here. Though the high rises and pool scenes are glamorous, you don’t have to spend top notch to enjoy Miami and can still have plenty of fun staying in Brickell and exploring Wynwood and Little Havana. There is so much to do and see in Miami, and in a city that parties all night, you might as well make it an adult only trip to take advantage of it!
Vacation Spots for Families
My first ever vacation was to, you guessed it, Orlando and I am sure many others had the same experience as a kid. There are countless Florida family vacation spots and its hard not for kids to have a fun time here. This next section contains the three places I think are best for Florida vacations for kids. They were chosen by the amount of family friendly things to do and the ease of travel to it. Here are my top three choices for Florida family vacation spots.
Of course, it is impossible not to include Orlando in the list of best Florida family vacations. Theme parks are obviously a big driver of this, as it is basically a rite of passage for kids to visit Disney World and Universal. However, you could actually have an awesome Orlando vacation and not even step foot in a theme park. Between the mini golf and sport activities, local museums, nearby freshwater springs and countless dining options, Orlando is an exciting place to visit for people of all ages on its own as well! And with so many expansive resort complexes, you don’t even need to leave the hotel to have a relaxing and fun family vacation.
When you picture a family beach vacation in Florida, Clearwater is the exact place most have in mind. This town is home to the best beaches in the state with white sugar sand beaches and calm, bright blue water. The best way to spend a family vacation here is to stay at an oceanfront hotel, take advantage of the pool and beach and end the day with a sunset seafood dinner and ice cream. However, if you get enough of the sun, there’s also a fantastic aquarium to check out and a fun kids museum in nearby Tampa. If you have kids that love to swim, Clearwater is the ideal spot for a family vacation in Florida.
The Space Coast
Another excellent Florida vacation spot for families is Cocoa Beach and Melbourne on the Space Coast. This is actually one of the cheapest places to vacation in Florida, with affordable beachfront resorts and casual, yet delicious dining. It also includes some of the best attractions for kids to learn and have fun including the Kennedy Space Center, The Brevard Zoo and the Barrier Island Center. Add some boogie boarding and mini golf to the trip and the Space Coast makes for an unforgettable family vacation in Florida!
Florida Beach Vacation Spots
Though I covered a few beach vacations spots above, and honestly most Florida destinations do have a beach, this next section focuses on my favorite beach vacations. With these options, you can stay at a hotel on the beach and have a full vacation just relaxing on the sand. There’s also plenty to do in the surrounding area, but they definitely make for more of a chill trip. Here’s where I recommend heading to for Florida beach vacation spots.
Right on the edge of South Florida, Palm Beach offers some of the clearest water with coral reefs galore for a wonderful beach vacation. The area I am referring to is larger than one might imagine, spanning from Jupiter to Lake Worth. There are a variety of condos and hotels to stay at on the coast, from the tranquil Jupiter Beach Resort to the touristy Singer Island hotels to the iconic The Breakers at the Southern end. If you choose to stay on the inlet or downtown, there are still plenty of free beach parks to visit within a fifteen-minute drive. No matter which part you choose, you can expect tons of fun in the sun during the day and plenty of costal outdoor dining and tiki bars to check out in the evening.
St. Pete Beach
Just south of Clearwater mentioned above is St. Pete Beach, where you can find similarly gorgeous beaches with more of an island vibe. When I need some time to rest by the water, St. Pete Beach is always the vacation spot I am craving a visit too! There are a few dozen hotel options on the beach for whatever experience you like. I am partial to the easygoing Sirata Resort or the glamorous Don CeSar. If you get the chance to take a boat ride, there are a variety of tropical islands to check out and sand bar at. And for a break from the beach, Downtown St. Petersburg has some of the best breweries and restaurants in the state!
Another gulf coast Florida vacation spot worth visiting is Naples, Florida. I heard this was more of a retirement town, so I was pleasantly surprised when I had one of the best beach vacations here a couple of years ago. There are only a few hotels on the beach, but this is what makes the beaches here so nice! You can still stay at one in walking distance, like the Cove Inn or on the bay like the Hyatt House. This way, you can enjoy the beautiful sunsets and adorable downtown easily while getting plenty of rays. Whatever you do, make sure you plan to spend some time at the Naples Pier too where views of dolphins are frequent!
Affordable Florida Vacations
For a vacation in Florida on a budget, these next three options offer tons of fun for a lower price. You can find travel deals in the off season or at hotels further away from the action for any of the destinations listed above. However, I think the following places are more affordable Florida vacation spots for anytime of year. You also won’t feel like you are missing out while visiting these spots on a tight budget! The three vacation spots below are my recommendations for an affordable Florida vacation.
Just south of Tampa, Sarasota is a wonderful choice for a vacation where you do not have to spend a ton. There are so many affordable hotels in the downtown area for less than $150 per night and are only a 10-minute drive to amazing, tropical beaches. And options like the Hyatt Regency Sarasota even have free kayak and fishing excursions right at the hotel. Staying walking distance from downtown allows for easy access to happy hour or early bird deals and it is only a half hour drive away from so many gulf coast tourist attractions. A vacation to Sarasota will feel like an island getaway without the high cost!
A vacation to Gainesville may seem unconventional, but it actually one of the best places to visit in Florida for nature lovers. Here there are plenty of hotels for less than $100 per night or even the option to stay in an affordable tiny house! This puts you close by to over half a dozen freshwater springs and nature trails worth exploring. This college town also has so many tasty foodie options, especially for vegans, at very affordable prices. We spent a long weekend here and had such a fun Florida vacation for much cheaper than we usually spend!
The last Florida vacation spot idea for a budget I have is Fort Lauderdale, Miami’s equally fun, but cheaper sibling. The beaches here are just as nice as South beach, but you can stay right on it for a fraction of the price. There also is just as great of an art and foodie scene here, with so much to see and try. I found restaurant deals to be plentiful, especially right on the strip and parking to be much more reasonable. If you prefer, you could easily get away with walking and Ubering the whole trip too, as this area is much easier to cover than Miami. For a South Florida trip on a budget, Fort Lauderdale is definitely my pick!
Know Before You Go: Florida Vacation Spots
I hope this guide helped you decide which Florida vacation spot to go to! I have visited all of these destinations and you can really have an amazing experience at any, but this should break down what each area specializes in. If you are from out of state, I know the options can be overwhelming sometimes, so feel free to email me with any questions! And for Floridians, hopefully this guide exposed you to some fun parts of Florida! Before going on any Florida vacation, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- The best time of year to visit Florida is November through May. You may be able to get better deals in the off season, but summers can be very hot and there is a risk of hurricanes in the fall!
- Renting a car is ideal for most Florida vacations, so you can explore the surrounding area and public transportation is limited. If you don’t plan to rent a car, I recommend visiting a walkable city and using Uber or Lyft.
- If you are going in the ocean, use sunscreen without oxybenzone. Sunscreens that contain this ingredient can be harmful to sea life.
- For beach trips, keep in mind the east coast beaches are wavier with courser sand, whereas the gulf coast beaches are calmer with sugar sand. In the summer, some think the gulf coast is too warm to be refreshing though!
- For tips on what to pack for your Florida vacation, check out my packing guide here with a compete checklist!
What’s your favorite Florida vacation spot? Let me know if I missed it! For more help with Florida trip planning, check out my 101 Things to Do in Florida guide and don’t forget to subscribe to my email for free Florida checklists!