I grew up in Florida (Pensacola!), and while Miami is amazing for nightlife, art galleries, and beautiful tropical art deco architecture, I also know that there are a lot of other places in Florida that are worth a visit. And sometimes you want to see a beach that is different from the one that’s right by your house.
There are many beach getaways from Miami that can take you from the southern tip at the Florida keys to the panhandle cities, and even to other states or countries.
Quick Answer Guide: Beach Getaways From Miami
Beach Day Trip Getaways From Miami
- Best for beaches and boating: Fort Lauderdale
- Best for public art installations: West Palm Beach
- Best for diving and other water sports: Key Largo
Beach Getaways From Miami
- Best for sportfishing: Islamorada
- Best for history buffs: St. Augustine
- Best for high-end shopping and golf: Naples
Beach Weekend Getaways From Miami
- Best for low-key beach charm: Galveston, Texas
- Best for foodies: Charleston, South Carolina
- Best for island hopping: Bahamas
Beach Day Trip Getaways From Miami
If you live anywhere near Miami, Miami Beach and South Beach are probably the beaches you visit most often. However, there are many other beach day trip getaways from Miami that can be visited with less than 2 hours driving by car, so you can see a new beach and be home within one day.
1. Fort Lauderdale
- Perfect for: Beaches and boating
- Highlights of Fort Lauderdale:
- Hugh Taylor Birch State Park
- Upscale shopping
- Beachfront eateries and cafes
- Live music
Things to Do in Fort Lauderdale
Los Olas Boulevard is where everyone goes to shop, dine, and people watch. Fort Lauderdale has a new Ale Trail Passport where you can visit local breweries and get stamps for fun rewards. The city also has a Show Your Badge program where you can get exclusive deals at participating shops.
One thing Fort Lauderdale is known for is the Mai-Kai Restaurant and Polynesian Show. This landmark tiki bar has been open since 1956 and, following a temporary closure, the restaurant is reopened.
How to Get to Fort Lauderdale
Get on to I-95 N from Miami and you’re just a straight shot of an hour’s drive from Fort Lauderdale.
Where to Stay in Fort Lauderdale
This Airbnb suite in Dania Beach sleeps three. It’s affordable, with a private backyard patio, air conditioning (a must), and is just steps away from the beach. This location is a short drive from the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and Dania Pointe, an upscale shopping and dining plaza.
2. West Palm Beach
- Perfect for: Public art installations
- Highlights of West Palm Beach:
- Shopping and entertainment districts
- Norton Museum of Art
- Palm Beach Zoo
Things to Do in West Palm Beach
The city hosts numerous public art installations, and the Norton Museum of Art is known for housing a large collection of paintings and sculpture in an art deco building.
If you're traveling with kids, West Palm Beach also has the Palm Beach Zoo.
How to Get to West Palm Beach
Get on to I-95 N from Miami and you’re just under a two hour’s drive from West Palm Beach.
Where to Stay in West Palm Beach
I love The Colony Hotel for its beautiful pink and green tropical art deco style that dates back to 1947. It’s oceanfront, and you can have the hotel pack a Yeti cooler for you filled with food, napkins, ice, and dishware. There are many options for pet-friendly hotels in West Palm Beach, also.
I recommend this 2-bedroom Airbnb because of its king and queen suites, balcony, record player, and provided beach gear. It sounds like an ideal location just a short drive to the beaches and other attractions.
3. Key Largo
- Perfect for: Diving and other water sports
- Highlights of Key Largo:
- “Dive Capital of the World”
- Boat tours
- Relaxing with a tropical drink
Things to Do in Key Largo
Key Largo . . . the spot has had songs written about it, movies filmed there, and is definitely worth visiting. Key Largo is the first and northernmost of the Florida Keys. Take a canal tour on the legendary African Queen. Or visit the world's largest artificial reef, the 510-foot USS Spiegel Grove, that has become a landmark dive spot.
The John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park offers a chance to tour mangrove swamps, and the Everglades National Park is right nearby. Take a dive, snorkel, or a glass-bottom boat tour in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
How to Get to Key Largo
Key Largo from Miami is an easy two-hour drive heading out of Miami on South Miami Drive.
Where to Stay in Key Largo
I like the look of this beachside Reefhouse Resort & Marina, where you can really feel like you’re on an ocean but also have the advantages of a resort with all of the typical on-site amenities.
The Paradise 2 Airbnb in Key Largo looks great to me because it is right by the water, with a pool where you might be able to spot manatees and dolphins swimming by, fish from your own backyard dock, or moor your boat.
Beach Getaways From Miami
Florida has 825 miles of sandy beaches along its coastline, so there is no shortage of shoreline with turquoise waters to visit. The weather can vary a lot, so just keep in mind that depending on where you go, the warmest water will be in South Florida in the winter, whereas water throughout the state is warm during the summer months.
In the winter months, it is typically t-shirt and shorts weather in South Florida for sure, and can often be warm enough for shorts in the panhandle as well.
There are many destinations that are further away from Miami but can still be reached by car in fewer than five hours, which makes for a reasonable amount of driving for longer beach getaways from Miami.
- Perfect for: Sportfishing
- Highlights of Islamorada:
- Large fleet of boats for boat tours or fishing
- Coral reefs
- Dolphin encounters
Things to Do in Islamorada
Islamorada encompasses five islands — Tea Table Key, Lower Matecumbe Key, Upper Matecumbe Key, Windley Key and Plantation Key. That’s a lot of water! Islamorada is a quintessential laid-back beach resort town where you can lay on beautiful white sand beaches and snorkel among coral reefs. A bonus is that Everglades National Park is just an hour’s drive, so you can stop there on your way through the Keys or on your way back home and visit a totally different environment.
Indian Key Historic State Park houses the remains of a shipwreck salvage community from the 1830s. Windley Key Fossil Reef Geological State Park is an exposed coral reef that also has a self-guided nature trail meandering through mangroves. Canoe or kayak through Long Key State Park. Visit the nearby Key Lime Pie Factory for sweet treats featuring the world-renowned taste of South Florida.
Of course, if you’re at the northernmost key, you might want to give yourself time to drive to the southernmost key, Key West, for the quintessential beach vacation. From Key West, Florida’s southernmost point, you’re only 106 miles from Havana, Cuba (but no, sadly, you can’t see it!).
How to Get to Islamorada
From Miami, you’ll make a few turns onto small roads, then hit US-1 which will take you right to Islamorada in 2 hours and 45 minutes.
Where to Stay in Islamorada
The Postcard Inn does look as picturesque as a postcard! Choose a private cottage with a view of the ocean, eight restaurants on-site, boat docks, and relaxation at the beachfront tiki bar featuring tropical cocktails.
If you’re going for an oceanside beach vacation, then why not stay in a houseboat? Three beds can sleep six guests, and you’re right on the water for amazing sunsets.
5. St. Augustine
- Perfect for: History buffs
- Highlights of St. Augustine:
- Spanish-inspired architecture
- Military history
- Drink from “The Fountain of Youth”
Things to Do in St. Augustine
Founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, St. Augustine is the oldest continuously occupied settlement in the United States. City leaders have preserved and expanded the city’s historic buildings, and there are numerous historic sites including Aviles Street, the oldest street in our nation’s oldest city.
Climb the steps of the St. Augustine Lighthouse for incredible views. Visit the spring house of The Fountain of Youth where explorer Ponce de Leon hoped to find a spring of healing waters that would keep you young forever. The archeological park does a great job highlighting the region’s Native American history.
St. Augustine also has an alligator farm if you really want to get up close with alligators and crocodiles for experiences and feedings. The heart of downtown St. Augustine is Castillo de San Marcos, which is a fort, now a national monument, that was built by the Spanish to defend Florida. It is the oldest masonry fortification in the continental United States.
How to Get to St. Augustine
Get onto I-95 N and follow it along Florida’s Atlantic coast for about 5 and a 1/2 hours.
Where to Stay in St. Augustine
Live it up at the St. Augustine Beach House. It’s not a chain hotel, it’s truly beach front with no “filtered views,” and they never charge resort fees, so you can check in and check out with no end-of-stay budget surprises. It’s only 3 miles to Castillo de San Marcos from here.
One of the hallmarks of Spanish architecture is wrought iron balconies, and this Airbnb has one of those coveted balconies. This location is perfect . . . . in the heart of the historic district and above a delicious Italian restaurant, Pizzally’s Chianti Room. Stay at this Airbnb and you’ll get two complimentary drink cards to be used at Prohibition Kitchen or The Chianti Room.
- Perfect for: High-end shopping, golf
- Highlights of Naples:
- “Golf Capital of the World”
- Popular with retirees
- Natural beauty
Things to Do in Naples
Naples, on Florida’s Gulf of Mexico side, was named by promoters who wanted to share their belief that the beauty of its bay surpassed that of Naples in Italy. Spot dolphins and watch the sunset from the Naples Pier, installed in 1888. The Naples Botanical Garden is a must-see here, because of their collection of tropical plants from around the world.
Drive from Naples to Marco Island, only a half hour, for resort hotels and award-winning golf courses. If you’re traveling with kids to Naples, the city has the Naples Zoo with a giraffe-feeding platform.
The Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge is only a 20-minute drive south of Naples. Much of it is only available by boat, but from the main refuge entrance you can enjoy hiking and biking trails, canoe and kayak trails, and a two-story accessible observation tower overlooking the marsh where you’ll see protected wilderness unlike anywhere else.
How to Get to Naples
From Miami, get on to Highway 41 N and stay on for about 100 miles. It’s just under three hours to drive from Miami to Naples.
Where to Stay in Naples
Do you want golf? A rejuvenating spa? Beaches? Pools? Tennis? A stay at the Naples Grande Beach Resort provides it all.
I would love to stay in this Airbnb coastal studio. The cottage has a private entrance, and the host provides bicycles, beach chairs, and an umbrella, which you could easily manage to take with you on the seven-minute bike ride to the beach!
Beach Weekend Getaways From Miami
If you’re planning some beach weekend getaways from Miami, consider places where you can get to via a short flight of two to three hours.
Miami is an airport hub where you can get to the Caribbean, Bahamas, Bimini, Jamaica and other nearby spots where you can enjoy beautiful beaches on your weekend trip that are unlike anything you can experience in Miami.
7. Galveston, Texas
- Perfect for: Low-key beach charm
- Highlights of Galveston:
- Victorian-era homes
- American West history
Things to Do in Galveston
Galveston is an island city and is sometimes called Galveston Island. Galveston was Texas’s first major city. Along with 32 miles of sandy beach, Galveston is known for the Moody Gardens, with its Rainforest Pyramid that replicates a rainforest environment, and the 10-story-tall Aquarium Pyramid, which takes you deep under the world’s oceans.
The Schlitterbahn Waterpark is home to tall waterslides, lazy rivers, and more water fun. Galveston Island State Park has space for swimming, fishing, hiking or biking, bird watching, and lots more. The Galveston Island Historic Pleasure Pier is packed with restaurants, rides, and more.
Where to Stay in Galveston
The Moody Gardens Hotel & Spa puts you right next door to the Moody Gardens Pyramids. There’s also a golf course, spa, boat marina, and an indoor/outdoor pool.
Enjoy an ocean view from this Airbnb condo on the 9th floor of a condo resort with a pool, barbecue facility, tennis court, a downstairs sitting area with a grand piano, laundry facilities, and 24-hour front desk. It’s near a supermarket, the Pleasure Pier is 4 miles away, and it’s only a five-minute drive from Moody Gardens.
8. Charleston, South Carolina
- Perfect for: Foodies
- Highlights of Charleston:
- Antebellum architecture
- Plantations & ghost tours
Things to Do in Charleston
One of the things Charleston is known for is low-country cuisine — think foods like shrimp and grits, Carolina gold rice, seafood boils, and barbecue. Hank’s Seafood Restaurant is a local legend with a menu that’s loaded with seafood along with pimento cheese grits and collard greens.
At Cypress Gardens, you can take a swamp boat tour, view an aviary or a butterfly house, or see the acres in bloom.
Charleston also has several beaches, such as the family-friendly Isle of Palms beach. You can get there via a free shuttle from Mount Pleasant. Once there, you can enjoy six miles of white sand beaches.
How to Get to Charleston
Flights to Charleston from Miami’s airport are about an hour and 45 minutes.
Where to Stay in Charleston
The Sandcrab Court Island Cottage looks like a great place to stay. It’s a private home on Isle of Palms with three bedrooms that is just a six-minute walk to the beach.
- Perfect for: Island hopping
- Highlights of Bahamas:
- Different cultural experiences
- Delicious food and music
- White sand beaches
Things to Do in Bahamas
Depending on where you go, there is no shortage of things to do. There are 16 islands in the Bahamas. Bimini, for one, is only 50 miles from Florida’s Eastern coast. Fish, dive, relax, or swim with pigs in Nassau or the Exhumas.
How to Get to the Bahamas
Flights from Miami to Nassau, Bahamas, are only an hour and a half.
Where to Stay in Bahamas
The Atlantis at Paradise Island is truly a luxury hotel that looks amazing. It has multiple hotels to choose from depending on your budget, 21 restaurants, 19 bars (be sure to order a Bahama Mama!), 14 pools, a casino, tours, excursions, and experiences like swimming with dolphins, along with an outfitter shop for gear rentals.
The Bimini Big Game Club Resort & Marina was founded in the 1930s. Stay there to enjoy complimentary bicycles that you can ride to the nature trail, an outdoor shark aquarium, a craft center with authentic Bahamian handiwork, and much more.
As you can see, there is much more to do in Florida than visit the Orlando theme parks. Although we wouldn’t blame you if you did head to Orlando, there aren’t beaches there! If you are interested in taking some short or long road trips to some of the best beaches in Florida, I hope this list of the best beach weekend getaways from Miami helps you figure out where to start looking.