Our family loves to take a weekend road trip. They are easy to plan and budget friendly since we save on air travel for five. We have traveled up and down the state, it seems, but there’s still so many options when it comes to family friendly weekend getaways near Jacksonville. Hop in your car then program the navigation as you head for a day trip to visit one of these beautiful cities. Or make it a weekend stay. Either way, your whole family will enjoy one of these quick and painless family getaways.
And if you don’t feel like reading, check out the clip from my segment below on First Coast Living! Be sure to share your favorite destinations in the comments below!
1. Clearwater Beach, Florida Just 4 hours southwest of Jacksonville is Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach. Within close driving distance to the resort are Clearwater’s top attractions, including Pier 60 and the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.The resort sits right on Florida’s Gulf Coast with beautiful Gulf front views. I love the Key West style decor and all the different activities available for parents traveling with kids. It’s not always easy to find a AAA Four-Diamond resort that also caters to young kids but Sandpearl’s Calendar of Events includes everything from Sunset Family S’mores Night to Dolphin Exploration Tour for the whole family. Many of the activities are free with your stay. The resort also has its own kid camp known as Camp Ridley for children ages five to ten. Another reason to love Sandpearl- there are 50 one- and two-bedroom suites that include amenities such as an in-room washer and dryer, full gourmet kitchen, and roman tubs! Perfect for family travel!
2. Discovery Cove, Orlando Florida Jacksonville residents don’t have to travel far to experience the No. 1 amusement park in the world. For the second year in a row, Discovery Cove in Orlando was named the No. 1 amusement park in the world in the 2014 TripAdvisor® Travelers’ Choice Amusement Parks and Water Parks category. Discovery Cove is an all-inclusive day resort in which guests enjoy a one-of-a-kind opportunity to swim with dolphins, rays and tropical fish and hand-feed exotic birds. If your family loves animal encounters in a tropical atmosphere, they will love Discovery Cove. Winding rivers, a resort-style pool with waterfalls, and pristine white-sand beaches will make you feel like you’ve driven to paradise. Image credit: Discovery Cove
3. Kimpton’s Resort in Vero Beach We love boutique hotels and Vero Beach Hotel & Spa is a great one to visit. An intimate luxury beachfront hotel located on Central Florida’s Treasure Coast, the AAA four-diamond property has West-Indies-style décor and only 113 spacious rooms and suites. An evening wine hour for mom and dad, an oceanfront heated pool, beach and poolside cabanas, pet-friendly services and more. Best yet, is Kimpton Kids—a great collection of services amenities that make family travel easy.
4. St. Augustine, Florida Only 45 minutes south of Jacksonville is the historic city of St. Augustine. St. Augustine is perfect for a day trip or even half a day. While you’re there, definitely spend an hour or two visiting the Fountain of Youth. The kids will enjoy going back in time and the learning about Florida’s rich history. Walk on 600 Riverwalk pier and see fish, crabs, and other water life right under your feet. Other family friendly attractions in St. Augustine include St. Augustine Pirate and Treasure Museum and Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum. 5. Amelia Island Visit the 13 mile long island and really getaway for a weekend at Amelia Island. You’ll find visitors from Atlanta to Miami enjoying Amelia Island. Amelia is a small cozy beach town where flip-flops are considered proper attire pretty much anywhere you go. We love taking the kids fishing off of the Old Nassau Sound Bridge, the pedestrian only bridge over the Nassau River. If you can, stay two nights and enjoy a nice dinner in Historic Fernandina Beach.
5. Sanibel Island With a population of less than 8,000, Sanibel is a beautiful untouched barrier island where fast food restaurants are not permitted. There’s plenty of relaxing to do in Sanibel and outdoor activities. Swimming with dolphins, bike riding, sea shell collecting, or visiting the Sanibel Sea School will make the whole family happy. Travel tip, if you’re staying at a vacation rental bring your groceries with you. The cost of food at grocery stores is more expensive on the island. 6. Champions Gate Orlando Nestled right between Disney and heart of Orlando is Champions Gate. We love Champions Gate because the 10 to 15 minute drive to the theme parks saves you a ton of money. Plus, you can find great hotels with everything you want for a fun weekend getaway. Champions Gate Omni is our favorites. Consider the Omni Hotel for your stay. Beautiful pool, ocean view rooms, and kid’s concierge and fun kids camp called Camp Omni. Don’t miss the game room, fun for the entire family. 7. Destin Beach Destin is beautiful with it’s Emerald colored beaches and sugary sand. It’s nicknamed Sugar Beach and Emerald Beach for a reason. If you’ve never visited this coast, you must. Much different than our beaches on the East Coast of Florida.