Like a Snowbird: Florida Escapes from Fort Lauderdale to Tallahassee

Seniorem canadensis. Commonly known as the Snowbird, this migratory species will fly (or amazingly drive) great distances to nest in warmer climes, notably the Southern United States and the Caribbean when the cold season strikes.

Just because you don’t have a long-term address south of the border, doesn’t mean that you can’t flock south as well. This winter (or March Break) set your sights on the Sunshine State. Will it be the soft sand beaches of the Florida Panhandle or the neon lights and mojitos of South Florida?

Regardless of what kind of Snowbird getaway you’re in the mood for, Florida has a little bit of everything. So, pack your bags and experience a taste of laid-back leisure in one of these 10 spots.

Fort Lauderdale: Soft Sand and Wavy Waters

The beaches on Fort Lauderdale‘s Atlantic coast offer soft sand and wavy waters, so bring a boogie board and get ready to ride the surf. You can shop on Las Olas Boulevard, explore the historic riverfront, and enjoy the arts and culture scene. Gondola tours are popular, which let you explore the many canals in the city.

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Panama City Beach: The Ideal Family Getaway

Panama City Beach is easily accessible by those road tripping through the northern part of the state. Although it is often associated with the rowdy spring break crowds, it’s a vibrant place to explore. With a slew of quirky tourist attractions in the area, Panama City Beach is an ideal getaway for families. Kids will love Wonderworks, Ripley’s Believe it or Not or attractions like the Gulf World Marine Park. You can also shop for beachy souvenirs at Pier Park or hit the bar for live music and mouth-watering seafood.

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Fort Myers Beach: For The Wildlife Lover

Southwest Florida should be on your bucket list for its sugar-white sand beaches and lush natural beauty. From the winding trails of the 17-acre Bowditch Beach Park to the beautiful Lovers Key State Park, where you can find West Indian manatees, bottlenose dolphins, roseate spoonbills, marsh rabbits, and bald eagles, Fort Myers is a haven for outdoors and wildlife lovers. For those less inclined to bike and hike, Fort Myers is also a hotspot for entertainment and dining establishments.

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Naples: The Place to Beach and Bait

Aside from its reputation as a town full of slow-driving retirees, Naples is best known as a quiet beach town with pristine sand and mesmerizing turquoise water. If you’re into fishing, the Naples Pier needs to be on your to-do list. Hours will float by as you wait for that elusive tug on your line.

After a day of beach and bait, The Naples Brewery has a relaxing tasting room to experience some of the best local beer in southwest Florida, from their “Goofy Foot” grapefruit IPA to their Paddy O’ Furniture rye Irish dry stout. (And if you’re travelling with Fido, have no fear, the brewery is pet-friendly.)

No trip to Naples is complete without exploring the old-school treasures of Tin City. In the 1920s, the tin-roofed buildings of this waterfront area were home to clam shelling, oyster processing, and boat construction. Today, the area has all the charm of a historic Florida town with the modern conveniences of attractions like boating day cruises and restaurants.

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Kissimmee: The Theme Park Destination

Kissimmee is best known for being a theme park destination and an affordable option for those families travelling to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. For a family-friendly carnival experience, you can explore Fun Town, enjoy a little sibling rivalry playing mini golf, and hop on the I-Ride trolley for a convenient tour through the International Drive resort area. Close out the weekend with a ride on The Orlando Eye, which offers a spectacular view of the city.

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Dunedin: The Gulf Coast’s Best-Kept Secret

Perhaps the Gulf Coast’s best-kept secret, Dunedin offers tranquil beaches, unique attractions, and an eclectic craft beer scene that will delight any traveller. Book a trip to Caladesi Island (accessible only via ferry) for undisturbed views of Florida’s natural paradise. Explore Honeymoon Island and rent a kayak to get up close and personal with waves, wildlife, and views that the Gulf Coast is famous for.

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Sanibel & Captiva Islands: Charming Old Florida

Sanibel and Captiva Island offer a charming view of Old Florida. Bicycles are the preferred method of transportation on these islands, and you will love the quiet, uncrowded beaches. There isn’t a happening nightlife scene here; it isn’t needed. Instead, you can enjoy fresh seafood at quirky restaurants.

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Clearwater: Nightlife and Beachy Bliss

If you’re looking for a bustling beach city with nightlife, restaurants, and beachy bliss, Clearwater might be the destination for you. Although it can get quite crowded, the beach is a lively place filled with families, couples, friends, and solo swimmers. For a no-fuss family-friendly experience, don’t miss the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. It gained popularity with the movie “Dolphin Tale” that told the story of a dolphin without a tail. Learn about Florida’s wildlife and get to know a few animals on your trip.

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Tallahassee: Cornhole and Coffee

Home to Florida State University and the capital city of Florida, Tallahassee offers a blend of natural beauty and historic charm. With so many university students milling around (except for during the quieter summer months), the city retains an upbeat, youthful atmosphere. Explore the Museum of Florida History for an authentic educational experience or spend a day wandering through Alfred B. Maclay State Gardens — a 1,176-acre Florida State Park filled with lush ornamental gardens.

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Where are you heading for your Florida winter break? Leave a comment and let us know what’s next in your southbound travels.

Featured image courtesy of Luke Dahlgren, Unsplash. This article was adapted from a piece originally published on trivago magazine US.