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RSW Living Magazine

Nine Florida Staycations for Outdoors Lovers

Dec 30, 2017 08:08PM ● By Mandy Carter

Get ready to shake up your weekend by checking in to one of these great hotels in a nearby city. Florida has a number of places where fans of the outdoors can kick back. If you love being in the fresh air and are looking for an adventure but don’t want to travel far, here are our suggestions for a memorable outdoors-focused staycation within driving distance of Southwest Florida.

Unplug with Central Florida Glamping

The Westgate River Ranch Resort and Rodeo is the perfect place to unplug from technology and be surrounded by nature with peaceful walks, fishing, nightly campfires and more. This authentic Florida dude ranch that lies just one hour south of Orlando offers a variety of outdoor activities—from an airboat ride along the Kissimmee River to dinner hayrides out on the Florida trails to zip lining through the woods and playing a round of miniature golf. With all the activity options, there is no need to leave this 1,700-acre resort. There is even a real rodeo every Saturday night.  

Beach Paradise for the Entire Family

The JW Marriott Marco Island Beach Resort is a luxury experience set along three miles of private white sand beach on the Gulf of Mexico. The family will love all the water activities that the resort offers in addition to the sea-life viewing opportunities. Kids can enjoy the waterslide and splash area at the pool, while adults enjoy relaxing in the beachfront cabanas. Nightly there is a wonderful fire-dancer show that all family members will remember. From the spa to kids club, this resort will meet the goals of both relaxing and soaking up the Florida sun and waves.
Photo by Mandy Carter.

Hollywood for the Trendy and Athletic

Hollywood, Florida, located between Fort Lauderdale and Miami, is a beautiful destination on the East Coast for the active. Margaritaville Hollywood Beach Resort is located beachfront. Water lovers will appreciate the access to the ocean, two pools, canals and surf simulator. Rent a paddleboard from the stand located at the 5 o’Clock Somewhere Bar and Grill across the street from the resort and spend a couple of hours on the gentle waters of the Intracoastal Waterway. Grab some wheels and bike up and down the Hollywood Beach boardwalk. You will want to spend a weekend day at the Yellow Green Farmers Market for an extraordinary outdoor market experience. 

History Buffs Love St. Augustine

The Casa Monica Resort and Spa is located within walking distance of most of the historical sites in St. Augustine. This elaborately decorated hotel was built in 1888 and is a member of the National Trust Historic Hotels of America, so your history experience begins upon check-in. The year-round mild weather of St. Augustine makes it the perfect location for outdoor exploring. Walk or bike along the cobblestone streets that start outside the hotel for an easy-to-get-to visit of the iconic lighthouse, Castillo de San Marcos fort, and many other noteworthy attractions.

Ponte Vedra is Great for Golfers

The Sawgrass Marriott Resort & Spa is a popular Florida destination for golf enthusiasts, offering a championship golf course where you can play some of the best golf in the U.S. In addition to golf, there are a number of ways to stay active and outdoors, including the spa, beach club, yard games, bike rentals and onsite mini-golf course. The resort recently completed a large renovation. Plan a romantic trip or bring the whole family for a weekend of fun outdoor activities and excellent dining without ever needing to leave the resort. 

Orlando is Perfect for Farm-to-Table Foodies 

The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes surprises you from the moment you arrive. This luxurious resort is located in a theme park mecca, yet you could never tell by the atmosphere, offerings and service. Many features stand out at this resort, but if you are a lover of farm-to-table dining, then this is a must visit. You can begin your stay with a sunrise eco-tour, visit the onsite farm, then dine in one of the many restaurants to enjoy the food raised/grown on property. From the bar to the concierge room to the full-service restaurants, you will experience the taste of local farming. 

Natural Relaxation on Longboat Key 

Longboat Key is a piece of peaceful paradise in Sarasota, and the Zota Beach Resort provides the perfect host for a weekend getaway to clear your mind. This upscale boutique offers guests the perfect spot for a tranquil escape from daily worries. Whether you want to work up a sweat in the fitness center, take a yoga class on the beach or go kayaking in the gulf, you will have an uncrowded experience unwinding. 

Slice of Old Florida

Hidden among moss-draped oaks and tall pines, the Steinhatchee Landing Resort is an outdoor escape like none other in Florida. The cottages provide a homelike feel in what seems like a secret spot. A variety of water activities are at your fingertips, from fishing to boating. The resort provides a shuttle upriver to Steinhatchee Falls, from which kayakers can paddle back in about three hours. During scallop season, guests are only minutes away from some of the best scalloping beds in the state. You are sure to have a unique outdoor departure from the norm at this North Florida hotel.  

Charming Nature Getaway on Pine Island

The Tarpon Lodge is a historic landmark in a breathtaking environment, where guests are taken back to the charming days of the early 1900s. Spend your days fishing, birdwatching, paddling the Great Calusa Blueway or hitting the golf course. Waterfront dining is at its best here at the resort’s four-star fine-dining restaurant. Though it’s a very short drive from Fort Myers, you will feel decades away from your daily life while enjoying the beauty of the area. 

Mandy Carter is a local mom with a passion for family travel, a popular travel blogger, including her own family blog at, and the Managing Editor for TOTI Media.