Being from South Florida, I always got to see the appeal of going down there for vacations.
There are amazing places to eat and go explore in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale, and often there was also an amazing view of the beaches almost everywhere you went.
But as I got older and got to spend spring break on Ft. Lauderdale and Miami beach, I realized how they were overrated.
There is never any parking, there are so many people and it’s hard to feel relaxed when it is so hectic.
There are so many beautiful beaches and other cities in the state of Florida that would make just as great of a spring break get away as Miami or Ft. Lauderdale Beach!
- Key Largo
Even from my home in South Florida, the drive to Key West is around a four drive.
While Key West is fun and beautiful, it is also the most popular, touristy area in the Keys.
To enjoy the same beautiful crystal blue water without the added stress and expenses that accompany very popular and touristy spots, I recommend going to Key Largo.
Key Largo is the first larger city you hit that is a part of the Keys and it is a quiet, relaxing small beach town.
You can go to the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park and go kayaking, canoeing or snorkeling.
This state park has so many activities available for guests and pretty reasonable prices and allows one to enjoy the natural beauty that Key Largo offers.
And only a 21-minute drive away is Islamorada.
Islamorada is home to the Islamorada fish company restaurant where you can have some of the freshest seafood I have ever tried, all while sitting on a dock and looking out at the ocean.
The great thing about these places is that you get a taste for the keys but do not have to deal with being surrounded by a million people while you’re trying to relax, and these places are less likely to up charge because of tourists since they are not as populated as Key West.
- Sanibel Island
Sanibel Island is one of my family’s favorite places to get away.
This island is so peaceful and quiet that it truly feels like you might be the only people on the island.
All the beaches I have been to there are pretty empty and feel like you’ve found a hidden gem.
The waves are never crazy and the water always seems to be warm.
Bowman’s beach is one of my favorite places to spend the day when I visit Sanibel.
Now, this is not the place to come if you want a crazy, fun getaway as it is more about enjoying the peace and quiet that this island offers.
After spending all afternoon at the beach, my family usually goes to lunch or dinner at Sanibel Island Cow.
This restaurant has the best muffins I have ever had and also offers a whole variety of food from seafood to burgers.
The restaurant, like the rest of Sanibel, has a very relaxed island feel and can’t help but make one feel happy and relaxed.
In Sanibel, you feel like you are in your own bubble.
But it is a bubble you’ll never want to leave filled with peace, quiet and amazing beaches.
I have never been to Clearwater myself but have heard amazing things from friends I have met at UF that are from this area.
I have heard so much about the white sand beaches and my friends have even raved about how their beaches in Clearwater are some of the best, in not just the state, but the country.
Now I haven’t been there so I can’t say if this is true, but from pictures it seems to be!
I asked UF senior Amanda Wasoff what she would recommend someone going to Clearwater see or do while there.
“Go to North Beach to avoid tourist traps and try Frenchy’s at sunset for a delicious Bayfront dinner,” Wasoff said.
Getting away to somewhere less populated than the typical spring break spots in Florida will allow you to explore these lesser-known places that are locals’ favorites for a reason!
Spring semester is overwhelming, and spring break is a welcome time to rest and recover from all the stress the semester has already placed onto you.
While going to Miami and Ft. Lauderdale beach can be fun and exciting, sometimes you might just need the complete opposite kind of vacation.
There are plenty of lesser known and less touristy places that still allow for one to feel like they are on vacation but without the hefty price tag or the sometimes chaotic energy of South Florida.
The three places are just a few of the places in Florida that would make great places to get away, relax and recharge so you can come back to school and finish the rest of the semester on a strong note!