For most people, Thanksgiving is a time to stay at home and eat turkey and watch football. But if you aren’t most people, it can be a great time to have a mini-holiday.
That being said, Thanksgiving is notoriously inconvenient for airline travelers, so you might want to stay closer to home and check out some of the sights right here in Florida! Here are some ideas for last-minute getaways in the Sunshine State.
1. Key West
Key West is the southernmost point in the continental US, so fun in the sun happens all year-round. It has some great beaches that stay nice and warm through the November chill up north.
If beaches aren’t your thing, that’s okay – Key West has something for everyone! For example, you could visit historical sights such as the Hemingway House and the Little White House, which was Harry S. Truman’s winter home.
Our recommended place to stay is the Alexander Guest House. It’s LGBTQ owned with a clothing optional sun deck.
2. Amelia Island
Are you looking for a laid-back beach community to relax and recharge? Amelia Island is the place for that. It’s a small quaint community near Jacksonville with a historic district and beaches that don’t get too crowded. Make sure to stop by Five Diamond restaurant SALT or stroll around the island’s brick streets.
Tampa is a city with tons of things to do, from the aquarium to premier shopping destinations. It also has more unique and quirky places to shop, like the Fun Lan Swap Shop and Oldsmar Flea Markets, the latter of which is one of the biggest in Florida.
The beaches around Naples are gorgeous, and you can even visit Keewaydin Island – a gorgeous tropical paradise with no cars and no roads. But there is so much more to Naples than that!
Naples is quickly becoming a destination for LGBTQ travelers, thanks to its wide selection of activities and attractions. Shop on Fifth Avenue South with its multitude of boutiques and specialty stores, have a bite at lesbian-owned Celebration Food Truck Park, or visit the many national parks in the area.
5. Three Sisters Spring
Did you know that November is the beginning of manatee season? If you are interested in seeing these magnificent creatures or other kinds of marsh-land wildlife, then Three Sisters Spring is the vacation spot for you. Combine the usual vacation stay with a once-in-a-lifetime swim with manatees!
6. Dry Tortugas
Head out to Dry Tortugas for an unforgettable getaway. Just a few miles west of Key West, it boasts amazing scuba diving and snorkeling. History buffs shouldn’t miss Fort Jefferson, a civil war-era prison.
7. Southwest Florida Ale Trail
For those who prefer a good pint to the great outdoors or a shopping trip, why not get to know the different beers of Florida? The Southwest Florida Ale Trail takes you through over a dozen breweries where you can try all sorts of different beers. It’s the perfect alternative Thanksgiving plan!
While it has the same beaches and resorts that other Florida destinations have, Sarasota boasts a different scene than most of the places on this list. Rather than being known for its shopping or beaches, Sarasota is a cultural center in Florida – it’s the place for theatre and museums.
Hit up a drag show at McCurdy’s Comedy Theatre or Forbidden Broadway at The Players Center. Afterward, you can have a great meal at one of Sarasota’s many restaurants.
Don’t miss the Ringling Museum and The Ca’ d’Zan a Venetian Palazzo right in Florida. It’s closed on Thanksgiving Day, but you should be able to visit it on the weekend.
Theme parks always have fun special food and seasonal entertainment. The parks are open for holiday hours, which are longer than usual, and it tends to be less crowded on Thanksgiving Day or the Sunday after when everyone is on their way home.
Beware Black Friday and Saturday, though, as those two days will definitely be way more crowded than usual and the parks may reach capacity. It’s also important to keep in mind that most parks are on a reservation system these days, so make sure to check websites and book your dates in advance.
There are many other things to do in Orlando as well. There is a bustling nightlife scene, with various gay bars and dance clubs. There is also a city called Winter Park about 20 minutes away, with a smaller town feel, cozy boutiques, and a multitude of restaurants.
10. Wilton Manors
Wilton Manors is a gay district that borders Fort Lauderdale. It’s a great place to visit and has tons of things to do, such as state parks, the Florida Swamp Shop, the Hillsboro Antique Mall and Cafe, and the AIDS Museum and Information Center.
11. Florida Caverns State Park
We bet you didn’t know that there was a caverns state park in Florida! If shopping, theme parks, or beer isn’t your thing, then check out the caverns at Florida Caverns state park and have an adventure over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Florida is a wild and exciting place – there is a lot more to it than most people think, especially around the Thanksgiving holidays. While most people will be holed up at home watching sports and eating turkey, you can be out exploring new places and making once-in-a-lifetime memories.
No matter where you decide to go, be sure to check what will be open on Thanksgiving, as some places might be closed during the major holiday. As long as you plan around that, you’ll be well on your way to the best Thanksgiving getaway ever!
***Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).
Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.