St. Petersburg, Florida is a mecca for fun in the sun and entertainment. However, when you want to escape the crowds to visit charming small cities, consider these seven destinations for your weekend getaway. Explore South Bend, known as the “Oyster Capital of the World,” or perfect your fishing techniques in Stuart, the city famous for its abundant sailfish. Stay at a St. Petersburg vacation rental to easily access sandy beaches, as well as boat tours on the Gulf of Mexico and historic attractions. Then take a day trip from St. Petersburg to one of these surrounding cities and towns.

covered beach pier

1. Sanibel Island

Opt for some peace and quiet in a serene beach environment when you make Sanibel Island your vacation destination for the weekend. This charming city, located two and a half hours from St. Petersburg, is home to white sandy beaches and avid locals harvesting shells on a daily basis. Meet the locals when you pick up some fresh veggies and fruit at the Sanibel Island Farmer’s Market before touring The Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum. See nature at its finest when strolling through the J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge before dining at the kid-friendly Island Cow Restaurant.

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2. St. Augustine

A three-hour and 45-minute drive puts you in a coastal city that exudes romance. Book a horse-drawn carriage ride with Country Carriages to sightsee along the cobblestone streets in the downtown area, or take a selfie outside the St. Augustin Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. When traveling with the entire family, opt for a boat tour with St. Augustine Eco Tours, or sun away the day on St. Augustine Beach. A tour of Castillo de San Marcos is another popular attraction.

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3. Key Biscayne

Make your way to Key Biscayne for a weekend getaway and spend your time bonding with the family while hiking and biking through Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Take the kids to the playground at Crandon Park before heading to the beach to see birds, butterflies, and loggerhead turtles. When you are craving adventure, head up into the skies with Miami Seaplane Tours. This magical Florida city also offers picturesque views from the city’s historic lighthouse, where you can climb the 109 steps to the top. Located just four hours from St. Petersburg, Key Biscayne is the perfect vacation destination when you’re looking for some beachfront fun.

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4. Amelia Island

A four and a half-hour drive from St. Petersburg is all it takes to reach the scenic beaches of Amelia Island. This historic city features opportunities for some retail therapy in the Amelia Island Historic District, as well as outdoor explorations on the trails of Fort Clinch Park. See the sunset while riding horses with Happy Trails Walking Horses, or dine in style at Salt, an upscale eatery. Thrill the kids and your inner child with a stop in at the Fernandina Beach Pinball Museum to try out some old-fashioned games.

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5. Deerfield Beach

Find yourself surrounded by sandy beaches and blue waves when you book a vacation rental in Deerfield Beach, located three hours and 45 minutes from St. Petersburg. If fishing is your thing, you’re in luck because the city is home to the Deerfield Beach International Fishing Pier, which at 876 feet long provides ample space to cast your line. Spend a Saturday morning fishing or learning more about the craft at one of the pier’s environmental workshops before heading out for an afternoon of biking adventure at Quiet Waters Park with rentals from Fun Rentals. Give the kids a chance to expel some energy at the Planet Air Sports jump park, and then rest and relax with a boat tour on the Admiral Water Taxi.

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6. Jacksonville

Drive a little under four hours to sun on the beaches of Jacksonville during your weekend getaway. Treat the kiddos to a day at the Jacksonville Zoo, or indulge the history enthusiasts with a stop in at the Museum of Science and History. When you want to immerse yourself in the artistic culture of the city, take a tour of the Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens or the Museum of Contemporary Art before snapping a selfie in front of the Kingsley Plantation. Amelia Island, just north of the city, is a great place to find beach front vacation rentals with easy access to the city’s attractions. While on the island, you can take a dip in the water or go kayaking or canoeing with rentals from Black Creek Outfitters. When you’re feeling lucky in the evenings, jump on board the Victory Casino Cruise.

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7. Stuart

Fishing enthusiasts flock to Stuart for weekend getaways for exciting opportunities in the Sailfish Capital of the World. Located just three and a half hours from St. Petersburg, this small city with stunning beaches is a hidden gem. Check out historical attractions, such as the Road to Victory Military Museum or the Stuart Heritage Museum. Take a stroll down the Riverwalk and get in some shopping along the way. After a relaxing weekend in your beach front vacation rental, head to city hall to take part in the green market live music event on Sunday morning.

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