5 Florida Playgrounds for Your Summer Bucket List
Amy West and daughter Sienna in a pool

With Spring in full bloom and temps slowly creeping up, it’s time to look forward to sunshine and summer in just a few short months. Seeking a little inspiration for your itinerary? Here are a few of my favorite Florida getaways you simply must add to your summer bucket list for you and your entire family.

Amy West interviews Chef Michael Lugo
As seen on my TV Show Like Love Want Need

1. St. Augustine

St. Augustine is full of historic charm and a popular attraction for families looking for a fun day trip. Located on the coast you are minutes from sandy beaches, tasty seafood, and spectacular shopping. Featured in the pilot episode of my tv show Like Love Want Need, here are a few of my most noteworthy choices. 

Eat Here – Michael’s Tasting Room

Chef Michael Lugo has been influencing St. Augustine’s culinary scene since the restaurant opened in 2006. Winner of countless awards including Wine Spectator’s Award of Excellence and Best in St. Augustine, you don’t want to miss a morsel of this Spanish inspired Tapas restaurant. Taste authentic Spanish flavors in a city settled by the Spanish. A romantic setting often accompanied by live music, this intimate restaurant is a must visit. 

Do This – Castillo De San Marcos

You can’t miss this large historic fort as you enter the Old City. Though it may be an obvious choice, you simply can not leave until you’ve explored the halls of Castillo De San Marcos. Learn about the strategic position of the fortress and why it was so important to the defense of the city. Both children and adults alike will enjoy this remarkable fortification. 

Watch here

Little girl and dad play on the beach
Amelia Island – One of my families favorite getaways

2. Fernandina/ Amelia Island

Amelia Island and Fernandina stand out on my list because of their easy accessibility from Jacksonville, and due to the charming coastal vibe. Experience Southern hospitality at it’s finest as you explore a city made famous by pirates, and shrimpers. 

Eat Here – Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen

Celebrity Chef Kenny Gilbert and his wife have created a foodie favorite in Gilbert’s Underground Kitchen. If you are looking for flavorful BBQ with a unique twist, or elevated homestyle cooking made from scratch, then your tastebuds will thank you after visiting this Fernandina Beach gem. Be sure to make reservations at this casual hot spot, you don’t want to miss out. 

Do This – Amelia River Cruises

If you want to learn about the areas diverse background from folks who know, the Amelia River Cruises are the best place to start. Enjoy a tour by water of the sparkling coastal area and hear first hand the history of Fernandina. Treasure hunters, pirates, shrimpers, and lighthouse keepers are all a part of the story of this region. Locals with generations of family from the area will regale you with tales of old, and mysteries anew. Get a unique perspective of a historic fort, wild horses, and beautiful marsh. You might even spot a pod of dolphins on this easy going water cruise. 
family on a ride at Disney
Visit the Vacation Capital of the World 

3. Orlando

Orlando is a Florida favorite. Visitors flock from near and far to enjoy the bountiful amusements it offers. Whether you are there to take in Disney, Universal, Sea World, or one of her other colorful offerings, you won’t get bored that’s for sure. If you find yourself unsure of where to start, or are looking for a destination that is slightly more off the radar and a bit more relaxed, try this escape on for size. 

Eat Here – Forte Grille

As one of Reunion Resort’s onsite dining options, Forte Grille is a restaurant the whole family will love. Serving up a warm and friendly atmosphere with flavors inspired by Tuscany, Forte impresses. Enjoy the extensive wine list and don’t forget to leave room for dessert! 

Do This – Waterpark

Reunion Resort also houses several pool scapes, but none so impressive as their very own Waterpark. Float down the lazy river, speed down the slides, and get doused as you run through the giant water playground. Lawn games, tropical music, and plenty of food and drink options make this private park and full day escape. Unwind in style and let the kids go wild.

friend green tomatoes from Elevage in Tampa
Enjoy inspired cuisine at Elevage in Tampa

4. Tampa

Located on Florida’s West Coast, Tampa is a city full of fun and culture. If you are a foodie, then you are going to love Tampa’s treasures. Art, music, and adventure all await in this sparkling city on the Bay. 

Eat Here – Elevage

For a taste of Tampa’s culinary direction, make a reservation at Elevage located in the Epicurean Hotel. You’ll get a taste of regional inspiration, creative technique, and the freshest ingredients. Make sure to grab a cocktail. Their bar scene is on point. 

Do This – Epicurean Theatre

If you have gone out of your way to stay at a foodie hotel, then it’s safe to say you probably love food culture. If that’s the case then don’t leave without experiencing the Epicurean Theatre inside the Epicurean Hotel. Touted as a “Food Channel gone live”, you’ll sit stadium style while you learn from the best how to create spectacular dishes and what wines or cocktails to pair them with. Truly the icing on the cake when you visit the Epicurean Hotel.

Watch us visit Elevage and the Epicurean Theatre

Amy West practices her putting on the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort
Play the Ocean Course

5. Palm Coast

Palm Coast might be easy to overlook as a destination for your bucket list, however you would be missing out big time if you did. This secluded part of the coast features pristine beaches, and ample things to see and do. 

Eat Here – Delfinos

Of all the dining options at Hammock Beach Resort, Delfinos stands out for it’s fresh Italian fare. Make sure to order the Scallops, they are a favorite of the regulars. 

Do This – Golf the Ocean Course at Hammock Beach Resort

Of Hammock Beach’s two famous courses, the Ocean Course would have to be the most scenic. Florida holds a limited amount of Oceanside courses, and this one is stunning. Enjoy the Ocean breeze, and play this course on repeat, you’ll never want the day to end. 

How many of these amazing Florida destinations have you checked off your bucket list? How many do you plan on revisiting? I’d love to hear your insight in the comments below!

Until then…

Enjoy the Journey!

xo- Amy West


brunette on rooftop in St. Augustine

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