“Staycation” vs. “Shortcation”: Four Great (Short) Florida Getaways

Staycation vs Shortcation: Florida Getaways You Can Afford

When talk at the soccer game or baseball practice turns to summer plans, chances are you’ll hear something like this:

“Oh, we can’t take a vacation this year. We’re going to do a staycation instead.”

Ah, the “staycation,” that 21st-century buzzword that means “stay home and pretend you’re on vacation.” It’s a budget-friendly alternative to a full-blown vacation, and there are times that it’s the best thing for your family.

But let’s be honest. Wouldn’t you like your vacation to be, you know, a vacation?

I have another idea: a “shortcation.”

Another Way to Get Away

A staycation is all about visiting or re-visiting the places that are close to home. While the zoo and the aquarium and the park are great, you’ve been there and done that. A shortcation gives you a chance to explore a different place, but saves on the stress and cost of a longer vacation.

Since a shortcation only lasts three or four days, you don’t want to take too much time getting there. Ideally, you should choose a spot that’s not more than a few hours’ drive from home. If you decide a quick flight is in the budget, just bring a carry-on so you can hop off the plane and go.

We’re staying a little closer to the homestead with our suggestions, so no need to book a flight at all. Just block out a few days on your calendar, pack a light bag, and hop in the car for a look at my picks for three great “shortcation” ideas right here in the Sunshine State.

Anna Maria Island

Our first stop is really close to home. Less than an hour from Tampa in the Bradenton area, Anna Maria Island feels like a world away.

You’ll notice right away that Anna Maria feels like an old Florida beach town. Not a high-rise condo or hotel in sight – just mom-and-pop restaurants, beach shacks and candy-colored hotels. Have dinner with your toes in the sand at one of the beachside eateries, explore the historic Anna Maria Pier, or do a little shopping. But whatever you do, don’t miss the sunset on the beach.

Fishing from a pier on Anna Maria Island, Florida
Three piers on Anna Maria Island beckon visitors to fish, explore or just relax.


Sanibel/Captiva/Ft. Myers

Have you heard of the “Sanibel stoop“? One visit to Sanibel Island and you’ll get it. The abundance of gorgeous, intact shells that wash ashore on Sanibel lead visitors and locals alike to the island to collect these treasures. Hence, the “stoop.” Your family will love searching for the perfect shell, and you get free souvenirs!

The natural surroundings of Sanibel and Captiva Islands beckon visitors to enjoy a slow-paced day of shelling, swimming and sunning on the beach. You’ll also find dining options, art galleries and shopping galore.

To pick up the activity level a bit, pop over to Ft. Myers to explore the vibrant downtown area, visit the winter homes of magnates Henry Ford and Thomas Edison, or to grab a quick bite.

Shells on Sanibel
Add to your shell collection – or start one – on Sanibel Island.


St. Augustine

We’re going a bit further afield for this one, but it’s worth it!

The oldest continuously occupied city in America is right here in Florida, and it’s a treat for all ages. Take in St. Augustine’s proud history with a narrated trolley tour, admire the amazing architecture of Flagler College, and let the kids explore the stone fortifications of the incredibly imposing Castillo de San Marcos.

If you want to hit the beach while visiting St. Augustine, try the unspoiled Anastasia State Park. You can also check out St. Augustine Beach, where you can drive your car on the hard-packed sand of the Atlantic shore.

Aviles Street, St. Augustine
Explore the incredible history of St. Augustine.


Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground

Come on, I’m a Disney Mom. You knew I’d work Walt Disney World in here somewhere!

I wrote a little bit about the Fort in a previous post, but I just can’t get enough of this place. If your budget allows, you can rent a cute cabin and have all the comforts of home. If you need to pinch the pennies a bit, pitch a tent and “rough it” Disney style. An internal bus system transports you all around the resort so you can hit the pool, shop at one of the Outposts, or eat your fill at the Trail’s End buffet. Bring your bikes along and you can log some serious mileage exploring this amazing property.

No park tickets? No problem! There’s enough to do at the Fort that you (almost) won’t miss them.

Food and fun with Mickey and his friends at Fort Wilderness
Sing, dance and chow down with Mickey and his pals at the Backyard BBQ.


So there you have it. Just a few of my ideas for a “shortcation” getaway right here in Florida. What do you think? What are your favorite spots for a shortcation in our home state? Weigh in below, and let’s plan a (short) trip!


Kathy’s family moved to Tampa when she was 5, and aside from a few years at the University of Florida (Go Gators!), she’s never lived anywhere else. She’s Irish by heritage, Greek by marriage, and mom to one brilliant little boy. She’s an avid sports fan and lived her Disney-geek dream as a member of the 2015 Disney Parks Moms Panel. A former TV producer and PR pro, Kathy now proudly sports the title of stay-at-home mom. Follow her sports-loving, Disneyfied, Tampa-centric antics on Twitter @kathyk671.