A bustling city like Jacksonville, Florida boasts numerous exciting attractions and points of interest. However, sometimes you might want to take a break from the big city atmosphere. Luckily, there are some great destinations nearby perfect for a weekend away. Stay at one of many Jacksonville vacation rentals to be situated in the heart of all the fun — from sunbathing on the beach to visiting amusement parks. Here are the most exciting weekend getaway spots from Jacksonville.
1. Panama City Beach
In about four and a half hours, your family can settle into a Panama City Beach vacation rental on the beach with stunning views to enjoy with your morning cup of Joe. Take the kids to the Gulf World Marine Park to watch sea mammals performing for their trainers and let your kids take part in an up close and personal dolphin experience. If you prefer a little retail therapy, Pier Park has all your favorite upscale shops and an attached outlet mall to save money. Pier Park also offers an amusement park with rides for the kids and all of your favorite chain restaurants for a quick family meal.
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An exciting weekend of amusement parks and themed waterparks await you with a weekend in Orlando, and it’s a mere two-hour drive away from Jacksonville. The Disney parks can include a two-day pass to the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, and the Animal Kingdom. Each park has rides, such as Space Mountain, shows, parades, and fireworks. Epcot provides a look at many countries from around the world. Universal Studios has two parks with rides themed to their most popular movies, including the Harry Potter series and the Jurassic Park series. Crayola has the Crayola Experience to learn how they make crayons and other art supplies.
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3. Fort Myers
Located on the Gulf Coast of Mexico side of Florida, Fort Myers is a nifty little town about five hours away from Jacksonville. Spend your days playing on the beach or opt for a little exploration. Kids love visiting the Imaginarium Hands-On Museum and Aquarium with its hands-on experiments to learn more about science and the natural world. In the aquarium section, there a touch tank that includes stingrays that kids clamor to touch as they glide by underwater. In days gone by, Fort Myers was the go-to place for the wealthy escaping the cold northern winters, and you can tour the Edison and Ford Winter Estates. These homes are nestled on 20 acres and include gorgeous gardens, a research lab, and a small attached museum.
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4. Cape Canaveral
Center your weekend away in Cape Canaveral around a visit to the Kennedy Space Center to learn more about the history of NASA and how America put men on the moon. After a three-hour drive from Jacksonville, sign up for the tour at the visitor’s center and ride the buses out to various buildings on the tour. After you return to the visitor’s center, the Orbit Cafe is the place to enjoy lunch together as a family. You can take in a movie about the cosmos at IMAX theater on the property. There are some cool stores in the area so be sure to check out the Dinosaur Store for fossils and Ron Jon’s Surf Shop for everything you need for a day on the beach.
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Spend a weekend in the state’s capital city with a drive of a little over three hours. Start your visit on Friday afternoon with a visit to the Capitol Building to see the stunning architecture and see where laws are made in your state. The Tallahassee Museum combines the best of both worlds with an indoor exhibit and an outdoor trail. There’s even a zipline for the braver members of your family. Take a tour of a couple of antebellum homes and learn more about life in the area before the Civil War when you visit the Riley House Museum and the Knott House Museum.
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In less than four hours, your family can arrive in the Tampa area for a weekend of boating on Tampa Bay, sightseeing, and reconnecting. Stop by Little Harbor Watersports to rent a sailboat or powerboat to get out on the bay. You can rent one for as short as an afternoon and as long as the entire weekend. Of course, your kids want to go to Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. This African animal-themed amusement park has a blend of coasters and thrill rides along with kiddie rides for the youngest family members. When you need a break from the rides, visit the zoological park attached to Busch Gardens.
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After five hours of driving, your family can check into your Naples vacation rental on the Gulf of Mexico. Spend your days playing on the beach or check out the hip foodie scene. If you want to avoid the crowds, plan to visit in the spring and summer, since this small town is a haven for people escaping the cold weather in the winter months. The Naples Zoo has a unique set up, and your family enjoys a boat ride past small islands with a different type of animal on each. For dinner, start with Osteria Tulia. This rustic Italian restaurant offers a wonderful menu.
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