8 Offbeat Florida Beach Vacation Ideas You Haven't Considered

Forgo a Disney trip for out-of-the-ordinary thrills, wildlife adventures and cultural immersion.

U.S. News & World Report

8 Offbeat Florida Beach Vacation Ideas You Haven't Considered

A couple spends leisure time at the beach.
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(Getty Images)

Experience lesser-visited seaside escapes across the Sunshine State.

When most travelers think of Florida, amusement parks, mouse ears and fanny packs tend to come to mind. But those who go only for Disney's Magic Kingdom and popular amusement park rides are missing out on a whole side to the state that feels oceans away from the kitschy thrills they remember. So, if you want to embrace out-of-the-ordinary experiences this spring or summer, skip the twirling teacups and explore Florida's wild, unexpected side in these off-the-beaten-path locales.
A red boat on the Vinoy Basin in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Credit

(Getty Images)

Discover glitz and glamour in St. Pete.

If you're nostalgic for a bit of old-school Hollywood charm, plan your getaway to one of St. Pete's sophisticated hideaways, such as the Don CeSar Hotel and the Beach House Suites by The Don CeSar. The resort is a picturesque pink retreat on the Gulf of Mexico that has a history-filled past with iconic American figures. The property has hosted the likes of Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the New York Yankees and former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
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Experience lesser-visited seaside escapes across the Sunshine State.

When most travelers think of Florida, amusement parks, mouse ears and fanny packs tend to come to mind. But those who go only for Disney's Magic Kingdom and popular amusement park rides are missing out on a whole side to the state that feels oceans away from the kitschy thrills they remember. So, if you want to embrace out-of-the-ordinary experiences this spring or summer, skip the twirling teacups and explore Florida's wild, unexpected side in these off-the-beaten-path locales.

Discover glitz and glamour in St. Pete.

If you're nostalgic for a bit of old-school Hollywood charm, plan your getaway to one of St. Pete's sophisticated hideaways, such as the Don CeSar Hotel and the Beach House Suites by The Don CeSar. The resort is a picturesque pink retreat on the Gulf of Mexico that has a history-filled past with iconic American figures. The property has hosted the likes of Al Capone, F. Scott Fitzgerald, the New York Yankees and former President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Immerse yourself in nature on Marco Island.

Marco Island is not only one of Florida's most beautiful islands, but it's also the largest. The area's sugary sands and laid-back atmosphere draws international visitors, but those aren't its only allures. Marco Island also happens to sit on the entrance of the Everglades National Park and the famed mangroves that line the estuaries of the Ten Thousand Islands. Everglades National Park is America's main subtropical territory and home to the American crocodile, Florida panther and manatee. For a wildlife-viewing expedition to remember, consider an Everglades Island airboat tour.

Slip away to a private island in Key West.

While many travelers crave seclusion at a high-end hideaway outside of the country, there's no need to break out your passport to slip away to a private island getaway. Key West, located along the southernmost tip of Florida, is a city made up of islands, so it's easy to find the remote isle that best suits your needs. Even better, lavish retreats like the Little Palm Resort & Spa, a Noble House Resort offer luxurious and romantic touches, from in-room dining to Balinese-inspired spa treatments to eco-tours to kiteboarding lessons.

Ride the waves in Cocoa Beach.

Sunbathing and strolling with the sand between your toes are classic beach activities, but Cocoa Beach is the perfect antidote for those adrenaline junkies looking to steer away from lazing along a beach towel all day and doing nothing at all. As Florida's "Surf City," Cocoa Beach offers excellent surfing conditions. At Cocoa Beach, you can find surf competitions and the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop, plus keep your eyes peeled for six-time world champion surfing pro Kelly Slater, who grew up here.

Explore Little Havana in Miami.

The U.S. offers a melting pot of cultural influences, and Miami is no exception. While Miami Beach has its own party-heavy reputation, just a few miles west of downtown Miami in Little Havana, you'll find a lively atmosphere, top-notch cuisine and an authentic Cuban-American experience. Calle Ocho (or 8th Street) is a testament to the strong Cuban ties here. Cigar shops, locally owned eateries and Latin music stores line the street. Plan your visit around the annual Calle Ocho Festival in March to immerse yourself in an unforgettable Cuban party, complete with Latin Music, street performers and international cuisine.

Join a turtle walk along Juno Beach.

Florida's lush landscape beckons to those looking to experience diverse natural wonders and marine life. The Turtle Walk on Juno Beach is a must for anyone looking to get up close and personal with fascinating sea turtles. From May to October, thousands of endangered sea turtles across Florida's eastern coastline head to the beach to lay their eggs. The hatchlings then cross from their habitat along the beach to the water. This ancient race is legendary in Juno Beach, as the number of sea turtle sightings soars. The turtle walks ensure the safety of the turtle offspring, but are also a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Attend the Sunset Celebration in Mallory Square.

While some may view the sunset as an ordinary part of the day, Floridians never take the moment for granted. In fact, the sunset is a large part of the culture in Key West. The most noteworthy events take place nightly for the free festival known as the Sunset Celebration in Key West's Mallory Square, located along the northwest edge of the island. Every night, local artists, musicians and restaurants celebrate another day gone by as the sun drifts down.

Plan a Space Coast vacation in Cape Canaveral.

Ever wanted to see a rocket launch into space? Here's your chance. Head to Cape Canaveral and the John F. Kennedy Space Center to get your fix. Because the Space Center is the headquarters for America's space program, you can retrace the steps of iconic astronauts. Tours of the launch pads, museum and rockets are all available. And while a rocket does not go into space every day, you can plan your trip around the next launch. Best of all, there are plenty of fascinating attractions catering to the young and the young at heart, including Cosmic Quest, where visitors can conduct scientific experiments and complete other mission goals.
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