Here’s our list of the 14 Most Romantic Places in Florida for 2017!
Topping our list this year is St. Augustine, the historic old city where the Old World meets the new. The oldest permanent settlement in the continental United States, St. Augustine was a thriving village more than 50 years before the Pilgrims set foot on Plymouth Rock. Its ancient Spanish structures create a place of unparalleled charm just feet from the waters of Matanzas Bay. There is something incredibly romantic about the narrow streets and old stone structures, many of which are older than the United States itself. The ramparts of the Castillo de San Marcos provide phenomenal views of the city and waterfront. Nearby Amelia Island features one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the country, great beaches and the incredible Washington Oaks Gardens State Park.
Here’s the full list for this year. If you have suggestions that we should consider for next year’s list, please leave us a comment.
- St. Augustine – St. Augustine is an Old World city in the New World. Spanish architecture abounds. There are great places to eat and unique places to stay, late night ghost tours and a thriving nightlife. The stone walls of the Castillo de San Marcos stand guard over the city, while nearby Anastasia Island is home to some of the best beaches on the Atlantic Coast. The island is also where you will find the stunning gardens and rock lined shores of Washington Oaks Gardens State Park and the elegant tower of the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
- Grayton Beach State Park – This beautiful bit of Old Florida is tucked away off Highway 31A, one of the busiest roads on the Gulf Coast. White sand beaches, dunes and coastal lakes are preserved here just as they were when the first Spanish explorers set foot on this coast. Wind-twisted trees and shrubs form tunnels over nature trails. The adjacent community of Grayton Beach is picturesque and charming.
- Florida Keys & Key West – The Florida Keys comprise one of the most beautiful island chains on the planet. Stretching far out from the southern tip of the Florida mainland, they feature dozens of charming towns and communities surrounded by pristine waters, coral reefs and more. Key West, of course, is known for its history, scenery and nightlife. The Keys have great places to stay and you can literally see from one side to the other of most of the islands. Don’t miss the trip out to Fort Jefferson and Dry Tortugas National Park!
- Fernandina Beach & Amelia Island – Forming the very northeastern tip of Florida, Amelia Island is known for its beaches, history, resorts, shopping, nature and more. Fernandina Beach is a beautiful and historic city with tree-lined streets, Victorian homes and a scenic waterfront. Fort Clinch State Park offers the ramparts and tunnels of an antebellum fort to explore, as well as nature trails, overlooks, beaches and ocean-side forests.
- St. Marks Lighthouse – This elegant old lighthouse is far out in the marshes of the St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge. Its lonely site on Florida’s Forgotten Coast adds to its charm and beauty. The drive out is extremely beautiful and the entire refuge abounds with nature in its full glory. This is one of the places from which great flocks of monarch butterflies gather each year to begin their long migration across the Gulf of Mexico.
- Pensacola and Pensacola Beach – First settled in 1559, six years before St. Augustine, but not continuously occupied, Pensacola is a very different than its East Coast rival. Brick and wood were the materials of choice for construction here and the historic districts are filled with beautiful colonial, antebellum and Victorian structures built using a wide variety of architectural styles.
- Rainbow Springs State Park – This beautiful natural spring was once a privately-run resort but today it is a Florida State Park. The gardens and plantlife that surround the spring are beautiful. There are winding pathways that take you to waterfalls and past azaleas, dogwoods and other flowering plants.
- Apalachicola & St. George Island – Many coastal communities in Florida have lost their historic charm to towering condos and hotels but not Apalachicola. This beautiful city still preserves its original grid of streets with their antebellum and Victorian homes. The collection of restaurants is impressive for a small city and there are plenty of Bed & Breakfast inns and hotels. The Apalachicola Maritime Museum offers boat tours of the Apalachicola River Estuary and Apalachicola Bay, or you can rent a kayak and explore on your own. Nearby St. George Island features one of the best beaches in the world! Miles are preserved in a state park and you can take in a phenomenal view of the island and bay from the top of the Cape St. George Lighthouse.
- Torreya State Park – Far removed from the beaches and resorts of the Florida coast are the high bluffs and ravines of the upper Apalachicola River. These towering heights are known for the fantastic views they provide and Torreya State Park offers one of the best. Named for the extremely rare Florida torreya tree, which some believe was the “gopher wood” from which Noak built the Ark, this park features a variety of rare trees, plants and animals as well as a small waterfall, great trails and the beautiful old Gregory House.
- Hillsborough River State Park – Enjoy the sight and sound of a rare stretch of Florida whitewater at this beautiful state park. The Hillsborough River flows over a series of rocks to create a stunning rapids that can be accessed by short nature trails. The park also features camping, picnicking, swimming, paddling and more. Guided tours are available to reconstructed Fort Foster, a Seminole War stockade.
- Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Preserve – The huge North Atlantic Right Whales arrive off this preserve each winter and its marshes, rivers and wetlands are important sources of food for them. The dunes and miles of windswept beaches make this a romantic and fascinating place to explore.
- Florida Caverns State Park – Romance can be found in all kinds of places, even underground! This is Florida’s only public tour cave and is famed for its formations, cool year-round temperature and the beautiful forest that surrounds it. Prehistoric Native Americans lived in some of the caves in this park and early Spanish explorers crossed the Natural Bridge of the Chipola River here on the famed Old Spanish Trail. There are legends to explore and a trail system that is second to none in the state. Canoe and kayak rentals are available for paddling trips on the pristine Upper Chipola River.
- Springs of the Ocala National Forest – For a forest, the Ocala National Forest is perhaps best known for its natural springs! Juniper Spring features a charming millhouse and beautiful spring run that is popular for paddling. It may be the crown jewel, but there are numerous other springs that match its beauty in their own way.
- Falling Waters State Park – Florida’s tallest waterfall can be found at the end of a beautiful walk and overlook. It flows over a rocky ledge and nearly 100 feet down into a beautiful cylindrical sink. Falling Waters Hill is one of the highest hills in Florida. The park is noted for its karst topography of sinks and caves. These add to the mystique of the hilltop waterfall that disappears into the ground. There are trails, a butterfly garden, picnic areas, a swimming beach and campground.
To learn more about these and other great places in Florida, be sure to visit our main Florida page. For information on accommodations, restaurants, attractions and much more, be sure to stop by VisitFlorida.com!