We feel lucky to live in a state with so many opportunities to eat, play and stay by the water. In the spirit of a “stay-cation,” here are three waterfront inns perfect for a quick summer getaway.
Port D’Hiver Bed & Breakfast
Why Go: Laid-back Melbourne Beach is just 90 minutes from Central Florida, and luxurious Port D’Hiver sits on a quiet stretch of barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon. The historic inn is across the street from the beach, pristinely kept by the Rydson family, who purchased the property to preserve it after Linda Rydson spent summers growing up in the small beach town. More boutique hotel than traditional B&B, there are three bright rooms in the main house, seven in the north and south cabanas and the Carriage House Suite with a private porch with ocean views. Bricked walkways shaded by bougainvillea connect the island-style buildings with the main house, where you’ll always find something delicious: their signature chocolate-chip-coconut-macadamia-nut cookies, as well as wine and small bites for cocktail hour (baked brie and fruit, sushi and bacon-wrapped asparagus were served during our stay). You can have breakfast with Rydson’s specialties in your room, in the dining room or on the porch, but there’s a full breakfast menu for those who prefer something other than her indulgent croissant French toast or strata, and she happily accommodates vegetarian, lactose-free and gluten-free diets. And placed on pillows at turndown each night is a homemade sweet. Rydson, husband Mike and their three daughters know Melbourne Beach well, and provide extraordinary concierge service to their guests, right down to laundry service.
The Basics: Custom-made linens, fresh flowers and robes; heated spa pool; daily breakfast; free Wi-Fi, Tesla charging station. 2017 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice as one of top three best small hotels in the U.S. Rates start at $199; 201 Ocean Ave., Melbourne Beach; portdhiver.com; selectregistry.com.
Recommended Eats: Just across the street from Port D’Hiver, Ocean 302 is the casual place where locals head for burgers, fish ’n’ chips and wood-fired pizzas. Meat and fish smoked over hickory wood are the stars at kitschy, family-owned Robburitos in Melbourne Beach. It’s all about the burritos—try the beef brisket fiesta with cheese, sauce and “slawsca,” their homemade concoction with salsa fresca and shredded cabbage. (All salsas and guacamole are scratch-made daily.)
Fun Facts: Founded in 1883, Melbourne Beach is the oldest beach town on the Space Coast. Port D’Hiver, French for “winter port,” was built circa 1916 and known as the “Pink House” or “Walter Brown House.” The sandy beaches are home to one of the largest nesting colonies of loggerhead sea turtles in the United States.
Astor’s Floridian Inn
Why Go: Just 60 miles from Orlando, this genteel spot on the St. John’s River near the Ocala National Forest offers the nostalgic atmosphere of a Florida fish camp along with Insta-worthy decor and contemporary conveniences. The inn’s double-decker dock is a scenic spot to unwind after a day of bass fishing along the river or at Lake George, a 45-minute boat ride away; guests can bring their own boat or rent one a short ways down the road. Recreation areas at Alexander Springs and Juniper Springs are less than 15 minutes by car, and offer hiking and canoe rentals in addition to snorkeling and diving.
The Basics: All three suites—Manatee, Flamingo and Alligator—include flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, outdoor seating, kitchenettes and vintage furnishings that evoke Florida in the 1940s and ’50s. Rates start at $135; 55336 Claire St., Astor; astorsfloridianinn.com.
Recommended Eats: For big country breakfasts and other diner-style fare, Sparky’s Place is less than a mile down the road and typically packed by 8 a.m. The Triple Z Family Market on State Road 40 offers snacks, booze and (very) basics; take advantage of your private kitchenette or the grill adjacent to the inn’s heated saltwater pool to cook up your catch.
Fun Facts: The town now known as Astor dates back to 1874, when William Vincent Astor, grandson of New York financier John Jacob Astor, purchased 80,000 acres along the St. John’s River and called it Manhattan, but the name did not stick. Astor built the main house on the river in the early 1900s for his accountant; the building that houses the inn’s suites was built in 1957 to provide lodging for area fishermen.
Inn on the Beach
St. Pete Beach
Why go: Pass-a-Grille beach, the historic stretch at the southern tip of St. Pete Beach, offers a laid-back vibe, white sand beaches and the warm tranquil Gulf of Mexico. Inn on the Beach is quiet, beautifully appointed and only steps from the beach.
The basics: Newly renovated, this beautiful little inn offers excellent value for beach lovers. Most rooms include a kitchen or kitchenette, some have balconies and there’s even a cottage for rent for larger parties. Morning coffee is served in the courtyard, and rooms include coolers (ice is provided) and beach towels; chairs and umbrellas are available for guests. Rates start at $165/night. 1401 Gulf Way, St. Pete Beach; innonbeach.com.
Recommended eats: Don’t miss the Florida grouper sandwich at Paradise Grille. Situated directly on the beach, it’s a walkup spot that serves breakfast and lunch. The menu isn’t fancy—in fact, it’s decidedly the opposite—but that’s why we love it. And it’s one of the only places we found locally caught grouper on the menu. Fried, blackened or grilled and served with piping-hot French fries, it’s where the locals go for lunch after a morning of sunbathing and splashing in the Gulf. Another local favorite is the Sea Horse restaurant, famous for their breakfast. Classics like corned beef hash, fresh blueberry pancakes and omelets are must-tries here. Friendly servers and historic newspaper clippings shellacked onto the tables make the experience even better.
Fun facts: Pass-a-Grille got its name from Cuban fishermen, known as “Grillers,” who camped along the water’s edge of the island and would smoke their fish before returning home. Traveling through the pass, you could see the fires on the beaches, hence Pass-a-Grille.