Amelia Island for Spa Seekers
Best For Spa-minded individuals.
Sleep Amelia Island Plantation. Tucked amid a pristine forest and dune-studded beaches, this spa is an extension of its natural environment. Take yoga classes in the treehouse, and book a lavender steam shower.
Golf St. Augustine
Best For Golf enthusiasts. Rub shoulders with golf greats Wrap an extended weekend around the 2010 induction into the World Golf Hall of Fame at St. Augustine’s World Golf Village (May 9). Ernie Els, Doug Ford and other top-drawer golfers are honored for their contributions to the game.
Sleep Stay at the Renaissance Resort
Play The King & Bear course.
Jacksonville Beach Blues
Best For Music fans. Springing the Blues. Three days of music on the ocean is what you find at this bash, where sounds from the Delta to Chicago fill the air. Check out the wristband experience for access to the front-of-the-stage area and a beverage bar.
Sleep Stay for the entire fest and book a parlor suite at the historic Casa Marina across from the Atlantic Ocean. April 9-11.
St. Augustine Art District
Best For Cultural travelers. Every trip to the Oldest City reveals something new. Devote a weekend to exploring the prolific art scene, and discover some unexpected treasures.
Sleep A stay at a B&B is a must. Cloaked in the shade of towering pecan and oak trees, the Old Powder House Inn whisks you back to another era. Sit on the porch of this turn-of-the-century Victorian (where gunpowder was once stored), sip a cocktail and listen to the click-clack of horse hooves as they pass on the brick streets.
Eat Fulfill two necessities in life, art and food, at one location: Zhanras Art & Eats, across the Bridge of Lions on Anastasia Island. Start with the lobster-and-corn fritters, and then move on to the étouffée with shrimp; don’t leave without purchasing a piece of art for your collection. On some evenings, watch artists work on-site while you dine.
Play Grab a spot on the First Friday Artwalk for an evening of art, cocktails and hors d’oeuvres. Not to be missed are Frederick Hart’s cast-bronze sculptures at Brilliance in Color and local goldsmith Joel Bagnal’s jewelry at Aviles Gallery. The next day, visit the Lightner Museum in Henry Flager’s former Hotel Alcazar. While Thomas Edison’s 1877 phonograph and a Tiffany stained-glass window of St. Augustine are highlights, take the winding stairway to find off-the-radar pieces like the 19th-century Balloon Back sofa from Burma and a huge antique button collection.
Always in Vogue Ponte Vedra
Best For The ultimate classic resort experience. Walk out your door every morning right onto the sands of the Atlantic Ocean by simply booking an executive suite at the elegant Ponte Vedra Inn & Club.
Sleep Consider it a refuge from everyday life; relax in a parlor and bedroom designed in traditional plaids and textures or on a porch gazing at the ocean’s waves.
Eat Dressing for dinner (jackets, please) is de rigueur at the Seafoam Room where the lobster-and-crab soufflé impresses. Afterward, kick back with a beer and game of billiards in the more casual Club Room. Play Start the day with a walk on the beach (no passing through busy lobbies to get there either), followed by playtime on an ocean kayak, catamaran or even a surfboard—all available on the shore. The two golf courses here are examples of perfection, meticulously kept for VIP play. Even if you’ve never picked up a club, you’ll marvel at the beauty of these links, especially the island hole on the historic 1928 Ocean course with its perfectly sculpted sand bunkers. The waterway-lined Lagoon course is just as breathtaking. Grand is the only way to describe the experience at this cavernous (30,000-square-foot) yet intimate spa. Spending time in the relaxation room, with its soaring ceiling and fountain, will put you in the vacation mood for sure, and the fragrant Orange Blossom body facial will take you off the grid—if only for an hour or so.
Best For Individuals seeking Old Florida. No place is more authentically Old Florida than the north-central town of Micanopy. Quaint streets lined with Cracker houses are a gateway to another time.
Sleep Stay at Herlong Mansion for a dose of bygone elegance, and browse through piles of old books and collectibles in the shops on N.E. First Street.
Ocala Horse Country
Best For Serious horse lovers. BYOH (horse, that is) to Bronson’s Black Prong Equestrian Center, where drivers, riders and racers gather each spring for competitions.
Sleep You’ll find lodging for both humans and horses—apartments with attached stables. Practice in the dressage arenas, or venture out onto Goethe State Forest’s 150 miles of trails.
Crystal River Manatees
Best For Anyone who wants to come face to face with a manatee. Don your snorkel gear and jump into the drink for a swim with the manatees. These playful, gentle creatures love interacting with people—they’ll even roll over for a midriver belly rub. Birds Underwater goes out for daily excursions.
Sleep Stay at the Blue Moon Bed and Breakfast in nearby Homosassa.
Best For Football fans and nature lovers. You’ll find more gators—and not the orange-and-blue kind—in Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park than almost anywhere else in North America. Scale the observation tower in search of wild horses, or hike through wet prairies.
Sleep Book a cottage at the Sweetwater Branch, a B&B near the University of Florida campus.