As we are now in the dead of winter, sunny destinations become all the more appealing. A huge benefit for American travelers this time of year is a passport isn't needed for some of the top vacation spots.
Florida is always a popular getaway, given its easy access, gorgeous beaches, and spectacular year-round weather.
Mega-popular cities like Miami and Orlando often overshadow some incredible places worthy of a winter vacation.
Along the western coast, Southwest Florida is in the midst of making a name for itself with top-rated beaches, underrated towns, and brand-new luxury resorts.
Here are 5 reasons why Southwest Florida should be your next sunny getaway:
Picturesque beaches wrap around the entire oddly shaped state of Florida, but Siesta Key may be the best of all, depending on who you ask.
This tranquil beach is the ideal place to relax and recharge. Perhaps taking a siesta in the sun just as the name implies.
Once you finish your snooze, the beach also goes against its name with nonstop ways to fill your day, such as jet ski rentals, bike tours and a sunset booze cruise.
Named the second best beach in all of America by TripAdvisor, this sunny paradise has soft, powdery sand and majestic blue waters to enjoy.
Not only is there a picture-perfect beach, but the island is fun to explore with shops and cheap happy hours, especially with the free trolley provided.
The brand-new Sunseeker Resort
Ever heard of Punta Gorda? Perhaps not, yet a highly anticipated resort just opened their doors to showcase this lesser-known Florida town.
Set along the scenic Charlotte Harbor, this resort is not your typical waterfront destination. On the contrary, this place oozes luxury with nearly 200 suites, a world-class spa, over 20 dining options and a pair of expansive glistening pools on site.
Sunseeker is the type of place where you won't need to leave the hotel grounds as everything is already laid out for you to enjoy a sunny escape.
@laurielivinlife Sunseeker Resorts is now open in #charlotteharborflorida 🎉🌴🌊 One of the best staycations I have had!❤️ #puntagorda #portcharlottefl #floridavacation #floridaresort #floridahotel #visitflorida #hotelsandresorts ♬ Everywhere (2017 Remaster) – Fleetwood Mac
Food and drink options are seemingly endless, including a sprawling 25,000-foot food hall and delightful shops and restaurants along the harbor perfect for sunsets.
Guests also have exclusive access to the renowned Aileron Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course. Backed by Allegiant Air, this monumental resort is hoping to add the allure of Southwest Florida.
Speaking of Allegiant, this region is a huge hub for the low-cost airline. Offering nonstop flights across the country to Punta Gorda, it only makes sense to open a luxe resort here, right?
Whether you're looking to escape the cold from Maryland, Wisconsin, Ohio, and many other cold-weather cities and states right now, it's easy to escape the cold on the cheap.
Allegiant isn't the only budget airline flying into Southwest Florida, however.
These are all the low-cost U.S. airlines in the region:
- Breeze – Sarasota, Fort Myers
- Avelo – Sarasota, Fort Myers
- Frontier – Sarasota, Fort Myers
- Sun Country – Sarasota, Fort Myers, Punta Gorda
- Spirit – Fort Myers
- Allegiant – Sarasota, Punta Gorda
Many major airlines fly into the region as well, but these are typically the best bang for your travel buck. Who wants to splurge all their spending money on airfare anyway?
Underrated Pristine Beaches
While Siesta Key is an awesome place to visit, there are plenty of stunning lesser-known beaches in the vicinity that are well worth a beach day, too.
Southwest of Cape Coral is a set of island beaches packed with white sand and blue waters – Sanibel and Captiva.
Going further south to Naples is Residents Beach, where recent beachgoers raving it's “heaven on Earth”.
The caveat is that membership is required, but booking a Marco Island Airbnb is a proven loophole to gain access.
Sunny State Parks
Looking at a map of Southwest Florida, you may be surprised the first thing you notice isn't the vast blue ocean but all the green surrounding the main cities.
This region is home to sunny State Parks – another great way to spend time outdoors for a change of scenery.
See wildlife and historical sites up close and personal in top-rated State Parks, such as:
- Fakahatchee Strand Preserve State Park
- Gasparilla Island State Park
- Koreshan State Park
- Collier-Seminole State Park
- Myakka River State Park
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com
Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.