- The Weekend: Kick back in Amelia Island. Amelia Island is one of Northeast Florida’s prime destinations. Miles of unspoiled beaches, scenic salt marshes and canopies of Spanish-moss-topped oak trees are the backdrop you’ll have to yourself once the summer crowds have left. Sunrise and sunset are best enjoyed the way they’ve always been: at the beach, where the shoreline’s wide, white strands are hard-packed and ideal for strolling.
Start Here: The Omni Amelia Island Plantation Resort, anchoring the south end of the island, reopened in spring 2013 after an $85 million redo that added 155 oceanfront rooms and a whole lot more. The new infinity-pool deck is all about the sand-and-sea view, enjoyed from stadium-style lounge seating.
1. Prepare for pampering at the Plantation’s spa, now with a private relaxation room designed for two, where you can sip champagne and look out over a lagoon as you await your aromatherapy massage.
2. Dine at the Oceanside Bar & Grill (inside or seated on the pool deck) and enjoy grilled local grouper tacos with Florida citrus, green mango and scallions. Over at the resort’s shopping area, pop in Natural Slice for a top-notch pizza topped with fresh-pulled mozzarella.
3. Enjoy sightseeing with minimal effort via a panoramic 30-minute helicopter ride with Sky Coast Adventures. You'll soar above the seaport of Fernandina Beach for an overhead glimpse of the shrimping fleet moored dockside, the town’s stunning Victorian-era architecture, and Cumberland Island in neighboring Georgia.
The Weekend: Go cycling in Micanopy. You can’t help but love Micanopy. With its shady boulevards lined with live oaks, it’s an Old South spot tailor-made for rustic rides.
Start Here: Rest up for your ride at the Herlong Mansion B&B, where the master suite boasts a king-size mahogany four-poster bed and French doors that lead to a second-story veranda.
1. Fuel up before hopping on your bike with breakfast by Herlong owner Carolyn West. Marigold yolks come from farm-fresh eggs laid by hens raised just down the road, while the savory potato pancake-like fritters have a secret ingredient: creamy grits. Don’t pass on the sour-cream banana bread either; you’ll work those calories off on the trail.
2. Take a two-wheeled excursion on the Gainesville-Hawthorne State Trail. Start at the Rochelle trailhead at the intersection of County Roads 234 and 2082. From there, an easy five-mile ride leads to the La Chua Trail, one of the prairie’s most spectacular vistas, where migrating sandhill cranes flock in winter. The tree-lined trail is mostly flat, with just enough dips and turns to keep it interesting.
3. Need a breather? Stop at one of the cell-phone tour markers to dial up an overview of the area’s wildlife and history. The paved trail passes through Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, where wild horses and bison roam.
- The Weekend: Enjoy small-town sweetness in Amelia Island. Let yourself flow into the leisurely pace of a community made for enjoying the little things in life.
Start Here: The quintessential Amelia Island experience is a stay at a B&B. Step inside the Addison on Amelia, a charming 14-room antebellum-style inn tucked away down one of Fernandina Beach’s brick streets. A welcome card with a cookie recipe on the back and rocking-chair-adorned balconies evoke a small-town vibe. Innkeepers Bob and Shannon Tidball host happy hour every evening on the veranda where you can enjoy drinks, homemade appetizers like hummus and shrimp salsa, and conversation with the innkeepers and other guests.
1. Start your weekend early by arriving on a Thursday so you can join the Amelia Island Museum of History’s pub crawl. Stories of Amelia Island’s olden days are anything but dry when you listen while sipping pirate punch at the Palace Saloon, Florida’s oldest pub, before hitting four more downtown bars. Reservations required, and admission gets you a drink at each bar.
2. Take in the view from the water with an excursion by Amelia River Cruises. Our picks: the Beach Creek tour, which takes you through the salt marsh and past the ruins of an old Carnergie family mansion on neighboring Cumberland Island, or the adult-only Twilight BYOB cruise, where you can enjoy your favorite beverage while slowly motoring through Cumberland Sound, spotting wild horses and catching a sensational sunset.
3. For dinner, enjoy a leisurely stroll over to Merge, a Fernandina Beach favorite, where the menu changes monthly and the chef keeps things creative with dishes like braised wild boar and linguine with clams accented with truffle.
- Step in the sand, get behind the wheel, sink a putt, swim on a reef, learn to sail or play with a dolphin. Our guide to the hottest weekend getaways in the Sunshine State gives you the best that Florida has to offer, one weekend at a time.
- The Weekend: Play golf in Palm Coast. The 19-mile Atlantic stretch between Daytona Beach and St. Augustine is one of the most peaceful areas of the state. Which means that you'll be able to stay cool, even if the shots don't go as straight or far as you'd like. (Hey, it happens to the best of us.)
Start Here: Duffers come to Hammock Beach Resort for the golf, but this 330-room luxe property offers plenty besides that as well, including two outdoor pools (one with a lazy river), a cigar bar and multiple restaurants with menu options ranging from Italian to sushi. Choose a tower suite with a kitchenette and plush living area or for more privacy, book a room in the 20-room Lodge, a boutique hotel-within-a-hotel set on the edge of the sand and Nicklaus-designed Ocean Course.
Weekend To Dos:
1. Start your weekend off by playing the Ocean Course; designed by Jack Nicklaus, it boasts six holes that face the ocean — more than any other single course in Florida. When you've conquered that, head inland to the Conservatory Course. Designed by Tom Watson, it’s one of the state’s longest and notoriously tough, with 143 bunkers.
2. When it gets too dark to play, drive to the town of Flagler Beach for fish and chips at the Golden Lion across the street from the Atlantic. Wrap your evening with a stroll on the municipal pier; it’s open till midnight and the sight will sooth you, no matter how you played.
- The Weekend: See the cultural side of St. Augustine. Devote a weekend to exploring the prolific art scene and discover some unexpected treasures.
Start Here: Convenient to downtown's shops and restaurants, the Old Powder House Inn whisks you back to another era with its old-fashioned décor and attentive staff. Sit on the porch of this quaint 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. Guests rave about the homemade cookies — grab one in the lobby as you make your way out to explore.
1. Plan your trip for the first Friday of the month, so you can enjoy the First Friday Artwalk downtown. Hide Tide Gallery is just down the street, where you'll find ocean-inspried works by a slew of Florida artists. From there you can pick up a map of the other participating galleries, accessible on foot or via a free trolley that runs from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
2. The next day, visit the Lightner Museum — housed in Henry Flagler’s former Hotel Alcazar — where 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.
3. For dining, try 95 Cordova. Tucked inside the Casa Monica Hotel, the cozy hideaway gets a Middle Eastern vibe courtesy of lush fabrics, Moorish archways and the gorgeous ceiling, hand-painted with 24-karat gold. For an appetizer, try their unique take on fried green tomatoes with creamy smoked jalapeno sauce, goat cheese and basil oil.
- Looking for what to do for Valentine's Day for the perfect couple's retreat? Take a look at our picks for the sexiest hotels and resorts in Florida and start planning your romantic getaway — just the two of you.
The Weekend: Sample history in Jacksonville. Base yourself in the charming historic neighborhood of Riverside and get a glimpse of this modern city as it used to be.
Start Here: The downtown Riverside neighborhood used to have more than 50 Victorian homes, but only two are still standing today. Stay at the Riverdale Inn, an original Victorian charmer that dates back to 1901. Of the 10 guest rooms, we love the one named St. John’s, with its deep-red tones, century-old headboard and view of the city’s skyline. Make time for a nightcap at the inn's Gum Bunch Pub; the bar itself is handcrafted from the home's original doors.
1. Just three blocks from the inn, the lovely Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens contains works by the likes of Norman Rockwell and Thomas Moran. But it's the garden that really shines, blooming with azaleas, jasmine, sweet peas, pansies and camellias, and showing the design of prominent landscape architects from an earlier age.
2. Riverside is also home to the Five Points shopping center, a vibrant district that dates back to the 1920s and is now home to eclectic boutiques, pubs, restaurants and tea shops. The center point of the district is the independent Five Points Theatre; opening its doors in 1927, the historic movie venue was the first theatre in Florida to show talking picture shows. But that's not the only theatre with some history: the art deco-inspired San Marco Theatre, just two miles from the Riverdale Inn, was built in 1938. Bonus: For a small corking fee, you can bring your own wine to the show.
3. For dinner, head to Black Sheep in the Five Points shopping center and claim a spot at the rooftop bar for a view of the St. John’s river. Don’t miss the poutine: fries with cheese curds and short rib, spiced up with the Cajun flavors of tasso ham and drizzled with gravy.
- We've put together this amazing collection of high-quality widescreen wallpapers that are free to download and will absolutely inspire you!
- Our top-ten lists for getting the most out of the Sunshine State will inspire you to get up and go. Find beaches, bars, boating and more!