Weekend Wandering

From outdoor recreation and bustling city scenes to historical landmarks and charming downtowns, these three Florida destinations are perfect for an adult weekend away. 

By Melissa Peterson

Sometimes we all just need to get away. Whether you’re planning a weekend with your spouse without the kiddos in tow or a friend getaway to celebrate a special occasion (or absolutely no occasion at all!), now’s the perfect time for a little rest and recharge. Here are our suggestions for ways to Stay, Play and Eat your way through these three classic Florida locales. 

Photo by Emergent Media, courtesy of VisitFl.com


Just 30 minutes west of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast, Dunedin is home to unspoiled islands, white-sand beaches, miles of trails and a lively, bike-friendly downtown of quaint shops, craft breweries and independent eateries. The perfect destination to relax and unwind, visitors can spend time on the pristine beaches, fish from the city pier or a charter fishing boat, get out on the water by paddleboard or kayak, and hit the trails on foot or by bike.


If you’re like most visitors to Dunedin, you’ve come to the area to enjoy the beach scenes. If that’s your ideal location, Beso Del Sol Resort is a great option for waterfront lodging. The resort overlooks Caladesi and Honeymoon Island and offers studio and one- and two-bedroom suites, as well as on-site swimming pools, the Marker 8 Tiki Bar and Grill plus complimentary bikes and a Jolley Trolley stop right in front of the resort to get you around town. For something a little more intimate and romantic, the Meranova Guest Inn offers a downtown location and nine unique apartments and suites—choose the room that intrigues you most! Built in 1924, Fenway Hotel is an icon of the jazz age. The hotel features 83 guest rooms and suites, the HEW Parlor & Chophouse, Hi-Fi Rooftop Bar, bikes for hotel guests and a historic lawn space that overlooks St. Joseph Sound. 


You can’t visit Dunedin without spending a day soaking in the pristine white-powdered sand and blue green waters of its beaches. Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park are the area’s prime, must-see beach spots. At Honeymoon Island, visitors can swim, fish, snorkel and kayak or paddle board in the warm waters of the Gulf. As one of the few completely natural islands along Florida’s Gulf Coast, visitors to Caladesi’s beaches can enjoy swimming, sunbathing and beachcombing, while saltwater anglers can cast a line from their boats or surf fish. Nature enthusiasts can spot wildlife while hiking the three-mile nature trail through the island´s interior or paddling a three-mile kayak trail through the mangroves and bay. The park is only accessible by boat or ferry, and ferry service departs from Honeymoon Island State Park. Both Sail Honeymoon Kayak & SUP Rentals and WakeRack are good options for kayak and paddle board rentals and are located right on the Dunedin Causeway heading out to Honeymoon Island. Head to the Dunedin Marina for fishing charters plus sunset and dolphin tours. If you want to explore the area further, the Fred Marquis Pinellas Trail is a 45-mile paved trail that runs through the heart of downtown Dunedin. The trail has many stopping points with bars, dining and shopping along the way. You can find bike rental companies along the trail. 


Dunedin’s quaint downtown is the spot to visit to sample the local fare. While perusing the area’s shops and galleries, you’re sure to find a place for a light lunch, locally brewed beer or satisfying dinner. Pisces Sushi and Global Bistro is a modern casual fine dining downtown restaurant that features global cuisine and global-inspired sushi rolls. The expansive menu offers a selection of appetizers, salads and soups in addition to beef, poultry and seafood entrées. Chef James Keene takes familiar sushi roll ingredients and ingredients found in international dishes to create his exotic and delicious rolls. As Florida’s oldest microbrewery, Dunedin Brewery has played a crucial role in many important developments within Florida’s craft beer scene. Offering a full-fledged microbrewery with a kitchen and live entertainment nearly every night of the week, Dunedin Brewery is the place to be for experimental world-class beers, a quick bite to eat or simply a place to kick back and enjoy some live music.

Photo courtesy of Visit Tallahassee


More than just Florida’s capital city, Tallahassee is a genteel town with rolling hills, oak-canopied roads and genuine Southern hospitality. It’s home to several major universities, a bustling art scene, more than 700 miles of outdoor adventure, plus an array of museums and historic sites that offer a glimpse into the lives that shaped Tallahassee and our state as a whole. 


Downtown Tallahassee, the area surrounding the new capitol building as well as the historical capitol, is the perfect location for your weekend getaway. Staying in this area puts you close to the universities and within walking distance to all the best dining spots, entertainment options and seasonal festivities. The AC Hotel Tallahassee Universities at the Capitol is directly connected to Cascades Park, which is home to the Adderley Amphitheater, a spectacular outdoor venue that attracts a variety of artists. Doubletree Hotel Downtown Tallahassee is another downtown option, located off Park Avenue and connected to the chain of parks the street is named for. If you’re heading to Tallahassee this month, you’ll want to visit the Chain of Parks Art Festival, happening April 20-21, where you can view original and one-of-a-kind works of art in a delightful Southern outdoor setting.


There’s no shortage of things to do in and around downtown Tallahassee. If you’re staying the weekend at a downtown hotel, the Florida Historic Capitol Museum is within walking distance. It’s not to be missed to learn more about Florida’s political history and the history of the building itself. Take in a little art and culture in the Railroad Square Art District. A WWII-era industrial warehouse park turned urban core art district, Railroad Square is a 10-acre space that offers more than 70 shops, galleries and small businesses. A little farther from downtown, Mission San Luis is a living history museum where visitors can explore 64 acres of the former western-most capital of Spanish Florida. Interpreters in historic clothing will teach you about the life of the Apalachee and Spanish people who lived and worked here more than 300 years ago. A masterpiece of floral architecture, Alfred B. Maclay Gardens State Park features a picturesque brick walkway, secret garden, reflection pool, walled garden and hundreds of camellias and azaleas. These beautiful ornamental gardens were first planted in 1923 and are perfect for a stroll on a beautiful spring day. 

On your way back to Ocala, take the southern route home through Crawfordville, and visit Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, a place where history stretches back thousands of years. Today, visitors can swim where mastodons once roamed and take guided boat tours where dugout canoes once glided across the spring. You’ll also pass near the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge & Lighthouse. Established in 1931 as a wintering home for migratory birds, the refuge serves as the gateway to the Panhandle section of the Great Florida Birding Trail and is a popular spot for viewing more than 250 different species throughout the year. 


From high-end dining to casual bites, Tallahassee’s dining options are sure to satisfy palates of all cravings. For a unique farm-to-fork experience, brothers Jesse and Tyler Rice are filling the Backwoods Crossing menu with seasonal food items from the best local producers and veggies from the restaurant’s own on-site gardens. Food Glorious Food, a Golden Spoon award winner, serves seasonal menus representing world cuisines, including petite filet mignon, marinated lamb, spiced duck breast, caramelized salmon, sushi, gourmet hamburgers, ornate salads, fine wines and an extensive dessert menu. Closer to downtown, Savour is a chic, eclectic dining experience offering seasonally inspired, regionally sourced and creatively prepared cuisine. Chef Brian Knepper brings more to the table even for the most discriminating foodies. If you’re looking for a more laidback spot to grab a locally brewed beer, Ology Brewing Co. works to revive old-world recipes and experiment with new techniques to give guests a better-quality beer experience in each of its Tallahassee taprooms. 

Photo by SPARK, courtesy of VisitFl.com

Cedar Key

The charming coastal town of Cedar Key is a must-visit destination, boasting historic sites, picturesque waterfront views and a thriving art scene. Whether you’re strolling through the historic downtown or enjoying the Nature Coast by water, Cedar Key is definitely not your typical island getaway—and that’s part of the appeal.


The Cedar Key Bed and Breakfast is the perfect option if you’re looking for homey accommodations within a short walk of the beautiful downtown area. Although within easy walking distance of most of the main places of interest, they do offer bicycles and golf cart rentals for those who want to make the most of their time or venture further. Conveniently located on historic 2nd Street, Park Place offers a variety of condos that overlook the city beach. A playground and recreation area are available across the park, and all the popular shops and restaurants are within walking distance. Pirates Cove Coastal Cottages offers nine separate 1950’s-era small homes that sleep between two and five guests. All cottages are pet friendly and are equipped with kitchens, outdoor grills and fish-cleaning stations, where you can clean and prepare your meal that you caught right from the dock on the property. Guests are also welcome to bring kayaks to explore the mangrove islands nearby.


Outdoor recreation reigns supreme in Cedar Key, and there’s no shortage of ways to take to the water or hike a trail on the Nature Coast. Tidewater Tours offers a coastal tour, sunset cruise and island taxi to Atsena Otie Key. The coastal tour travels to the outer islands of the Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge and often encounters dolphins, manatees, sea turtles and even spotted eagle rays. The Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge is made up of 13 islands that were once home to fish camps used by First Peoples and is only accessible by boat or kayak. To explore the refuge or mangrove islands closer to shore, Cedar Key Adventures offers single and tandem kayaks, single fishing kayaks and paddle boards for rent. Fishing is a popular activity when visiting Cedar Key, as the flats around the area are perfect keeper-size trout and reds. Saltwater Assassin Fishing Charters supplies your Florida fishing license and all tackle for half- and full-day charters. On land, explore the town on foot to see charming Old Florida architecture, or walk the waterfront to see the boats at the marina on Dock Street. Local trails and parks, including Cedar Key Museum State Park and Cemetery Point Park, offer a variety of cultural and outdoor recreation activities. Cedar Key is a haven for artists, writers and adventure tourists, who find the unspoiled environment their inspiration, and if you’re in the area this month, you won’t want to miss the Old Florida Celebration of the Arts festival, happening on April 6-7.


It would be a shame to come to Cedar Key and not sample some of the coastal flavors. In the morning, head to The Prickly Palm for hot breakfast items, fresh smoothies, acai bowls and signature coffee drinks—all with a side of island ambiance. Clams are king in Cedar Key, and at Tony’s Chowder House, clam chowder is the star of the show. Featuring fresh Gulf seafood, Tony’s 54-seat eatery in the historic downtown area offers its fresh, kitchen-made chowder in cups or bowls. For dinner, Steamers Clam Bar & Grill carries over the fresh seafood theme with a casual atmosphere right on the Gulf. With mouth-watering, locally caught entrées and colorful drinks all with a water view, Steamers fulfils all your seafood-lover dreams.