16 Best Weekend Getaways in Florida That You Should Book Now | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly
Orlando’s theme parks, all of which are fully back open but may limit capacity at some attractions during peak times, are just one reason to plan a trip to the city. What many travelers don’t realize is that Orlando has far more to offer than park-hopping. Explore the pretty bricked streets of the Winter Park neighborhood (which feels, dare we say, almost European?), near downtown, from a home base at the boutique and art-centric Alfond Inn to see a side of their city that Orlandoans treasure. In downtown Orlando, the newly opened (Jan. 2021) AC Hotel Orlando Downtown is within walking distance of the city’s centerpiece green lung, Lake Eola Park, that’s the site of a weekly Sunday farmers market, complete with a lively beer garden under a canopy of live oak trees.
St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach
Two wings of the same bird, St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach, just west of downtown Tampa, deliver some of Florida’s most enviable white sand beaches, each with a distinct beach town ambience. Edgier St. Petersburg is known for its vast collection of street murals scattered throughout downtown, the Dalí Museum (where the Van Gogh Alive exhibit has been extended into June 2021), and grand hotels like the cotton candy-hued Don CeSar (on the beach), or The Vinoy. The 2020 opening of the stunningly modern and intuitive St. Pete Pier—with its bikeable perimeter, rooftop tiki bar, beach on the bayfront, playground, and art installations—was the biggest news on the gulf coast last year. Clearwater Beach skews extra family friendly, with sands that are particularly powdery, nightly sunset celebrations at Pier 60, and stylish beach resorts fronting the Gulf of Mexico that include the Sandpearl Resort, Opal Sands Resort, and the Wyndham Grand Clearwater Beach.
There’s more than spring break mayhem to this Panhandle city, home to an Oyster Trail with a dozen restaurants proffering the fruits of the local Gulf) and a burgeoning Mural Trail, too. Less than a five-hour drive from cities like Atlanta, Birmingham, New Orleans, and Jacksonville, Panama City, with its historic downtown and the nearby sugar sand beaches at Panama City Beach, might surprise you. Right downtown, the History Class Brewing Company is a brand new gastropub that nods to the city’s history with old time artifacts in its design, and mango and guava infused wheat beer on tap. Don’t miss a visit to nearby Historic St. Andrews, ten minutes away, a funky fishing village with streets lined with oyster shells, a few decent waterfront restaurants for a seafood meal, and pretty Oaks by the Bay Park, with its highly Instagrammable four-headed palm tree.