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Budget-Friendly Florida Weekend Getaways

1. Clearwater Beach

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What to Do Clearwater Beach:

  • Beach Day: Enjoy a day at the beach for free. Relax on the soft sands, swim in the warm waters, or play beach volleyball.
  • Pier 60: Visit Pier 60 for the nightly sunset celebration featuring street performers, local artisans, and live music. It’s a perfect way to end your day without spending much.
  • Nature Parks: Check out nearby parks like Sand Key Park and Caladesi Island State Park for hiking, bird watching, and more beach time.

2. St. Augustine

What to Do St. Augustine:

  • Historic District: Wander through the historic district, visit Castillo de San Marcos (entry is affordable), and explore the colonial-era streets.
  • St. Augustine Beach: Spend a day at St. Augustine Beach, where you can enjoy the sun and surf.
  • Free Walking Tours: Join a free walking tour to learn about the city’s history and architecture.

3. Florida Springs: Ginnie Springs

What to Do:

  • Swimming and Snorkeling: The clear, cool waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Bring your gear or rent on-site.
  • Tubing: Float down the Santa Fe River on an inner tube for a relaxing experience.
  • Camping: If you’re up for an adventure, consider camping. Campsites are affordable and offer a chance to immerse yourself in nature.

4. Sarasota

What to Do in Sarasota:

  • Siesta Key Beach: Visit Siesta Key Beach, famous for its powdery white sand. It’s free to access and offers a beautiful spot for sunbathing and swimming. Again as a reminder, Siesta Key Beach has gotten very crowded.
  • Ringling Museum: The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art offers free admission on Mondays.
  • Downtown Sarasota: Explore downtown Sarasota’s shops, galleries, and restaurants. Enjoy window shopping and the lively atmosphere.

Where to Stay: Look for budget hotels or vacation rentals in Sarasota or nearby Bradenton. Check current rates and Availability here: Budget Sarasota Hotels

5. Pensacola

What to Do in Pensacola:

  • Pensacola Beach: Relax on the white sands of Pensacola Beach and take a dip in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • National Naval Aviation Museum: Visit this fascinating museum for free. It features numerous aircraft displays and exhibits on naval aviation history.
  • Historic Pensacola Village: Explore this collection of historic buildings and museums. Entry fees are reasonable, and you can learn about the area’s rich history.

Where to Stay in Pensacola: Find affordable hotels or consider camping at nearby state parks. To camp, you will need to plan ahead. Check current hotel rates here: Affordable Pensacola Hotels

6. Fort Lauderdale

What to Do in Fort Lauderdale:

  • Fort Lauderdale Beach: Spend your days lounging on the beach, which is free to access.
  • Riverwalk Arts and Entertainment District: Stroll along the Riverwalk, enjoy the public art, and visit cultural attractions.
  • Las Olas Boulevard: Explore Las Olas Boulevard’s shops, galleries, and eateries. Enjoy people-watching and window shopping.

Where to Stay: Look for budget hotels or motels slightly away from the beachfront to save money here: budget Hotels in Fort Lauderdale

7. Apalachicola

What to Do:

  • St. George Island State Park: Enjoy the pristine beaches and nature trails of this state park.
  • Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve: Visit the nature center and explore the trails to learn about the area’s unique ecosystem.
  • Historic Downtown: Stroll through historic downtown Apalachicola, browse the shops, and enjoy the local seafood. NOTE: There is a historic hotel in Apalachicola, but the rates are quite high in my opinion. But still stop in and look around and maybe have lunch.

Where to Stay: Find budget-friendly inns, bed-and-breakfasts, or vacation rentals Here: Budget Friendly Accommodations Apalachicola

8. Ocala National Forest

What to Do In Ocala National Forest:

  • Silver Glen Springs: Swim and snorkel in the crystal-clear waters of Silver Glen Springs.
  • Hiking and Biking: Explore the extensive network of trails suitable for hiking and biking.
  • Fishing and Boating: Enjoy fishing and boating on the many lakes and rivers within the forest.

Where to Stay In Ocala: Opt for camping within the forest or find affordable lodges in nearby towns.

9. Key Largo

What to Do in Key Largo:

  • John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park: Snorkel or kayak in this underwater park. Entry fees are modest, and equipment rentals are available. A magical experience that I’ve been able to enjoy many times.
  • Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail: Bike or hike along this scenic trail that spans the length of the Keys. Truly something to see and do!
  • Sunset Celebrations: Enjoy free sunset celebrations with live music and entertainment at local spots.

10. Gainesville

What to Do:

  • Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park: Explore this unique sinkhole and its lush surroundings.
  • Florida Museum of Natural History: Visit this museum on the University of Florida campus. Admission to most exhibits is free.
  • Downtown Gainesville: Explore downtown Gainesville’s shops, restaurants, and live music venues.
  • Visit Springs. Gainesville is near several beautiful crystal clear springs, including Devil’s Den Spring and Ginnie Springs.

Where to Stay in Gainesville: Budget hotels and motels are plentiful, and rates are often lower than in more tourist-centric areas. Check Rates Here: Budget Hotels Gainesville

Final Tips for Budget Travel in Florida

  • Travel Off-Peak: Avoid peak tourist seasons to find better deals on accommodations and attractions.
  • Pack Your Own Food: Save on dining costs by packing snacks and picnic meals.
  • Look for Free Events: Check local event calendars for free concerts, festivals, and community events.

The links below will help you plan many Budget-Friendly Florida Weekend Getaways:

Disclosure: I earn a commission if you make a purchase through my links at no additional cost to you! I would never recommend anything I don’t personally use, and the income goes to keeping this site updated and free for everyone!

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About Denise

Denise Sanger lives a life split between her love for fitness and her passion for travel particularly to the BEACH.  Denise also has a love of marketing and lives in beautiful Suwannee County, Florida. You can find out more about Denise here: About Denise

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