Florida Is a Top Honeymoon Destination
So, your dream spouse has swept you off your feet and you're planning your fairy tale wedding. Don't forget, you'll need to plan that fairy tale honeymoon too. Just as couples don't need the help of a fairy godmother to find the perfect setting for a romantic fairy tale wedding, they don't need to leave Florida to find the perfect honeymoon destination. Florida has become one of the top wedding and honeymoon destinations in the world.
While there is not enough room on the following pages to list all the amazing honeymoon choices that Florida has to offer, I've selected some of the most popular honeymoon destinations and activities. Whether you choose a fun destination like Disney World or a secluded beach resort, there are plenty of romance-inspired ideas to create a lifetime of memories — sunset strolls, carriage rides, fine dining experiences, dinner cruises or theaters, relaxing couples spa treatments and much more.
Romance at the World (Disney World)
Romantic memories are just a honeymoon package away at Walt Disney World Resort.
Rick and Gayle Perlmutter, authors of Walt Disney World for Couples, have devoted an entire chapter of their book to "Love at Walt Disney World" where they discuss the wide array of wedding and honeymoon packages. They conclude, "Offerings are from the simple to the sublime and we think provide more than enough romance and excitement for any newlyweds." If you are considering a wedding or honeymoon at Disney World, I recommend this book as a "must have" planning tool. It also makes a nice book to keep around for subsequent romantic getaway ideas.
You can pick from a wide variety of honeymoon packages available or create your own honeymoon "package." There are even "concierge" honeymoon choices at Disney's deluxe hotels and the ultimate honeymoon — a Land and Sea Vacation Package that includes a Disney cruise plus time at Disney World.
Each honeymoon package includes personalized pre-arrival honeymoon planning and lots of special romantic choices for a variety of accommodations. Even more choices are available for activities that might include dining opportunities, special merchandise, couples-only spa treatments, excursions, select photo opportunities, unlimited admission to Disney theme parks and attractions, fireworks cruises, carriage rides and more.
Old World Romance in St. Augustine
Step back in time and explore Florida's ancient history and the nation's oldest community while enjoying a romantic honeymoon getaway in St. Augustine.
Whether you're into history or not, it's the wonderfully romantic historic inns — some 26 of them — that make this city such a popular honeymoon destination. Specials offered by several inns are quite reasonable — some include the extras and some charge for them.
Enjoy relaxing strolls along historic downtown streets where you'll find a wide array of eclectic shops and unique restaurants and cafes — one of the most romantic restaurants being the historic Columbia Restaurant.
You might want to include tours of the city in your itinerary. There are tours by tram, walking ghost tours and very romantic moonlight horse-drawn carriage tours along the waterfront. Sightseeing cruises and dinner cruises are also possibilities. Of course, there are more than a few tourist attractions in the area — from the historic, including America's oldest fort to more outlandish attractions like Ripley's Believe It or Not! Museum.
Across the historic Bridge of Lions, are wonderful beaches and Florida's first lighthouse that is open daily, allowing you to climb to the top for a fantastic view and even more fantastic photo opportunities.
Romantic Key West
Key West blends relaxing tropical-like climate, beautiful sunsets, and rich history with an on-the-wild-side nightlife that provides a honeymoon experience of a lifetime. Whether you stay at a quaint bed and breakfast inn or a sprawling tropical resort, you're sure to enjoy your honeymoon at one of Florida's most popular vacation destinations.
If you're new to the island, you might take the Conch Tour Train on the 90-minute tour of 60 unusual and historic sites to acquaint yourself with the layout of the island. Several points of interest that also provide photo opportunities are the Hemingway Home, Duval Street's Sloppy Joe's Bar, the Key West Lighthouse and the Southernmost Point in the continental United States.
If you're not into sightseeing, Mallory Square offers unique shopping and a nightly sunset celebration where artisans and entertainers gather to put on a show. Of course, the sunset is the best show of all and the perfect addition to romance-inspired evenings.
There are all sorts of dining opportunities in Key West, but you don't want to miss the oceanfront Louies Backyard that provides a wonderful atmosphere with an island flavor.
The Florida Keys are made up of a group of islands besides Key West — Islamorada, Key Largo, and Marathon — that also offers a wonderful variety of resorts, parks, museums, attractions and water activities like snorkeling, scuba diving and glass-bottom boat tours of the beautiful underwater reefs.
Sizzling South Beach
Miami Beach's South Beach has become known throughout the world as "America's Riviera." Awash in activity both day and night, South Beach's Art Deco District serves as the backdrop for one of the world's most eccentric and in-vogue neighborhoods.
South Beach accommodations can be historic and trendy or modern and majestic. Amenities can be simple or luxurious, so prices can run from reasonably inexpensive to absurdly extravagant. Most are just a short walk away from the action — the boutiques, bistros, and beaches of Ocean Drive.
Celebrities haunt must-be-seen-in bistros, cafés, and trendy restaurants and are as common as bikinis. This urban playground of the rich and famous provides a nightlife unlike anywhere else in Florida. The Pawn Shop was recently named one of E! Entertainment Television’s Top 20 Clubs in the United States, so entry would be equally as difficult. If you dare, you might try BED, an acronym for beverage, entertainment, and dining. The club features edgy entertainment and replaces dining tables with king-size beds. Now that is one story that might not get passed along to your children and grandchildren.
When considering South Beach, remember that Miami has some of Florida's best beaches and plenty of sunshine that will allow you to come home from your honeymoon with a great tan!
Forgotten Coast Remembers Romance
Florida's so-called "Forgotten Coast" stretches along a portion of the mostly two-lane U.S. Highway 98 from St. Marks to Mexico Beach. The highway hugs the coastline offering amazing views of the deep emerald green northern Gulf of Mexico. It is that deep emerald green colored water that gives the coast its "official" name of Emerald Coast.
If you follow Highway 98 in the Panhandle — nearly 300 miles — it stretches from just east of St. Marks to the tip of the barrier islands just south of Pensacola, taking you through Panama City, the Spring Break Capital of Florida.
Located between Panama City and Pensacola just to the east of Fort Walton Beach is Destin with its white sandy beaches, luxury resorts, and beautiful gardens. Although some stretches of the area are built up with wall-to-wall condominiums and the area has been ravaged by hurricanes, there are still a few wonderful places left that can only be described as "romance-inspired."
So, while it is true that many forsake the Panhandle in favor of more popular wedding and honeymoon venues, many more wouldn't consider any other area. The coast in the Panhandle is particularly notable with Pensacola's pristine beaches that are packed with sugar-white sand and Panama City's party-hearty attitude to Destin and Seaside's storybook romantic appeal that give brides many memory-making choices.
Wonderful West Coast
Some of the best beaches in Florida are located between the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area southward to Marco Island. Both Clearwater to the north and Marco Island to the south has been marked by tremendous growth, so you are more likely to encounter condominiums and high-rise hotels than quaint beach properties. Still, Clearwater Beach remains one of my favorites. The nightly Sunset Celebration at Pier 60 is perfect for celebrating your honeymoon and the beautiful sunset.
In between lies Sarasota's Long Boat Key, and a little farther south is Sanibel Island, off the coast of Fort Myers. These are always favorites and good choices for romantic beach destinations. Both offer a wonderful choice of hotel resorts, unique shopping and plenty of superb restaurants.
Besides the endless water sports activities available on either coast of Florida, the West Coast boasts endless land-lover activities as well. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and The Florida Aquarium, both located in Tampa, offer a day away from the scorching sun, sand, and surf. In St. Petersburg, The Pier makes a nice day trip. You can take a Segway tour of the waterfront, tour the small aquarium and have a romantic lunch or dinner at the ever popular Columbia Restaurant.
In Sarasota, you'll also find a water-front Segway tour and the famous Ringling Museum.
Wouldn't it be great to send the wedding party a postcard from Honeymoon Island, Sunset Beach or Lover's Key? You can. They're all located on Florida's West Coast.
Universal Studios theme park was once only a one-day destination for visitors to Orlando. Now, Universal Orlando is a destination resort in its own right and it's easy to stay and play where world-class hospitality meets world-class entertainment.
Loews Hotels' and Universal Orlando has partnered to create unique on-site hotels — Orlando Hard Rock Hotel, Portofino Bay Hotel and the Royal Pacific Resort. Each hotel is uniquely designed and provides luxurious award-winning accommodations and service. And, staying at one of Universal's hotels bring with it exclusive guest benefits like preferred access to Universal's theme parks and priority seating at select Universal restaurants and shows. Nice perks that would add to an enjoyable and stress-free honeymoon.
If you're looking for more variety, Orlando's nearby International Drive area provides hundreds of additional hotel rooms for all budgets. Although the area is extremely congested, a convenient trolley that runs the length of International Drive links Universal Orlando on one end to SeaWorld Orlando on the other. Its convenient location also puts visitors just ten minutes from the Walt Disney World Resort and a little over an hour's drive away from Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Kennedy Space Center and beaches on both coasts.