Tampa, Florida offers plenty of opportunities to have fun in the sun and attend local festivals. However, when you want to escape the crowds in touristy destinations, then venture to the areas beyond Tampa. Spend a weekend spotting loggerhead turtles in Key Biscayne, or see underwater creatures on a wildlife tour in Everglades City. As for accommodations, book a stay at one of many Tampa vacation rentals to be right in the heart of all the action. When planning your next weekend getaway, consider adding one of these seven cities to your potential list of vacation destinations.
1. Fort Pierce
Make the two hour and 40-minute drive from Tampa to Fort Pierce and immerse yourselves in this small town that is home to the Indian River Lagoon. See more than 4,000 species of animals and plants at the lagoon, or bring your binoculars and spend an afternoon birdwatching. The downtown area of Fort Piece offers Old Florida charm with a waterfront pier for fishing, and seafood restaurants such as the Harbor Cove Bar and Grill and 12A Buoy. A visit to the Navy Seal Museum gives you a chance to learn about the vigorous training efforts of these brave men and women while the St. Lucie County Historical Museum caters to the history buffs.
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2. Key Biscayne
Located four and a half hours from Tampa, Key Biscayne is a small town with big attractions for families. Head into the skies for a thrilling ride with Miami Seaplane Tours, or opt for a leisurely walk in Crandon Park to spot butterflies, loggerhead turtles, and a variety of bird species. When you want to get in some exercise with an adventurous twist, climb the 109 steps of the town lighthouse in Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. Key Biscayne gives you and the family plenty of opportunities for fun in the sun with access to multiple beaches on the barrier island.
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Book a vacation rental in Captiva, located three hours and 45 minutes from Tampa, and admire the stunning views of the Gulf of Mexico from your balcony or front porch. This small Florida city is a mecca for fishing enthusiasts with opportunities to fish right in the Gulf waters. Explore the town’s attractions when renting bikes from Billy’s Rentals and tooling through the streets. Lunch at the Bubble Room offers the kids an entertaining and scrumptious meal. When you want to make a splash, rent jet skis or kayaks from Captiva Watersports to take out on the water.
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4. Amelia Island
Surround yourselves with sandy beaches, magnificent sunsets, and spectacular views from your vacation rental when making Amelia Island your vacation destination for a weekend getaway. Located four hours from Tampa, this secluded island offers hiking trails in Fort Clinch Park, and peaceful strolls along the Amelia Island Historic District that is home to historic buildings with unique architecture. Shop in the specialty shops for a souvenir and then plan for an adventurous horseback ride on the beaches with Happy Trails Walking Horses for the afternoon. A boat tour with Backwater Cat Adventure puts you right on the water for the day while a fishing excursion with guides from Amelia Island Charters allows you to reel in something fresh for dinner.
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5. Everglades City
A three hour and 45-minute drive lands you and your family in the Wilderness Waterway, known as Everglades City. After a relaxing morning in your cozy vacation rental, set out to explore the mangrove forests and marshes by hiking Ten Thousand Islands. Underwater creatures are prevalent in this area, and a wildlife tour with Shurr Adventures Everglades gives you a chance to see these creatures from a safe distance. Stop in at the Museum of the Everglades to learn more about the area, or set out on foot when signing up for a walking tour with Everglades Area Tours.
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6. St. Augustine
Venture to a Florida city with old-world charm when booking a vacation rental in St. Augustine for the weekend. Take in the history of this town with tours of Castillo de San Marcos and the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. Relax on Crescent Beach as the waves crash in or get up close and personal with the water when renting tubes, canoes, or kayaks from Anastasia Watersports. St. Augustine ECO Tours sponsors boat tours so you can see dolphins splashing in and out of the water. When you want to explore the city’s sights, opt for a peaceful ride with Country Carriages down the cobblestone streets of the downtown area.
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In just under three hours away from your Tampa home, you can explore the sights in Matlacha, a Florida city known for its vibrant arts community. This tiny town is home to the Calusa Heritage Trail, where you can kayak or paddle around the inlet, or hike for the day. Rent some bikes from Pine Island Cycles and take a whirl through the city’s limits to see the coast. The Lovegrove Gallery and Gardens offers some inspiration for budding artists while a reservation with Captain Jack Boat Tours gives you and the kids a chance to see dolphins and whales on the water.
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