Florida's attributes often are accompanied by a seemingly endless array of luxury hotels, theme parks and other tourist attractions that easily set you back a paycheck or two. However, the Sunshine State also is home to a few destinations that combine romance, scenic natural beauty and low-price overnight options -- making them perfect spots for a weekend anniversary getaway that won't deplete your savings.
Wakulla Springs Wonders
Home to one of the world's largest and deepest freshwater springs, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park, about 15 miles south of Tallahassee, is a place to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Florida Panhandle. When weather permits, the park offers glass-bottom boat tours of the 120-foot-deep springs and surrounding bald cypress swamps. Take a dip in the cool spring waters or hike hand in hand on the park's 6-mile trail that winds through hardwood forests. Among the wildlife you might glimpse are alligators, deer, turtles and wading birds. The 27-room Wakulla Springs Lodge is a National Natural Landmark and has rooms with park, courtyard or spring views for less than $100 on weekdays as of 2014. The lodge's lobby includes a grand piano, fireplace, painted ceiling and marble checker tables, and the full-service dining room has reasonably priced breakfast, lunch and dinner options.
Myakka River Memories
Myakka River State Park near Sarasota provides the opportunity to celebrate your anniversary in one of five cozy 1930s-era palm-log cabins that each includes a bathroom with shower, full kitchen, linens and a fireplace. A two-night minimum is required on weekends. The park is set along the banks of the namesake waterway that winds through wetlands, prairies and pine lands. Take a romantic stroll along the boardwalk, a treetop canopy walkway or nature trail. Paddle a canoe or kayak in the river or the park's two lakes, take an air-boat ride among the alligators on Upper Myakka Lake and hop aboard a tram for a 7-mile "safari" into the park's prairies, marshes and hammocks. You also could take a day trip to nearby Gulf of Mexico beaches such as Siesta Key, about 15 miles west.
Winter Garden's Small-Town Treasures
Winter Garden is a small-town Central Florida gem near Orlando -- about 20 minutes from Walt Disney World and Universal Studios -- that has a traditional downtown home to historic attractions and restaurants. It provides access to the West Orange Trail, a scenic 22-mile walking, biking and equestrian trail. It's also the site of the circa-1927 Edgewater Hotel, which provides bed-and-breakfast accommodations with antique furnishings and fixtures, including some rooms for less than $95 as of 2014. The hotel has a fine-dining restaurant, but its cozy and elegant tasting room has reasonably priced tapas along with craft beers and wine by the glass, with live music scheduled during most weekends. Also on site is Scoops, an old-fashioned ice-cream parlor that's perfect to go to after a jog or bike ride on the trail or a day of visiting free downtown attractions such as the Winter Garden Heritage Museum, Central Florida Railroad Museum and Winter Garden Farmers Market.
Under the Stars in the Keys
If you're determined to soak up the sun, sand and balmy breezes of the Florida Keys -- where most accommodations are costly -- book a romantic camping trip to Bahia Honda State Park on Big Pine Key, between Marathon and Key West. Pitch your tent on a campsite directly along the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean. If you prefer a roof overhead and your budget permits, the park has air-conditioned waterfront cabins available for a relatively inexpensive $120 from May to October as of 2014. Swim and sunbathe on one of the park's beaches, rent a bike or an ocean kayak, or snorkel among coral reefs. Other options include a romantic walk along nature trails and through a butterfly garden or fishing from atop seawalls near the Old Bahia Honda Bridge.
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