10 Best Florida Gulf Coast Vacation Spots
Florida’s gorgeous Gulf Coast stretches from the Everglades in the south to Pensacola on the northwest edge of the Panhandle, and here you’ll find many of the highest-rated hotels and resorts in the United States. And for good reason; this is where so many Americans go when they feel the need for a beach vacation, where they will mingle with abundant Canadian, British and European travelers who also want to escape winter.
Those looking for great vacation destinations are certainly spoiled for choice. All the big brands are represented, with some of the world’s best luxury hotels and resorts among them. Leading our list of the most popular Gulf Coast resorts are The Ritz-Carlton, Naples, popular for its exceptional luxury and sporting events, and The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, located in the heart of the Gulf Coast’s creative capital ,
The huge resort, part of the small group The Resort at Longboat Key Club, near Sarasota, is a great choice for families and groups, and the cozy 55-room The Pearl Hotel Rosemary Beach is perfect for couples. Find the best place for your next seaside vacation with our list of Florida Gulf Coast Vacation Spots.
1. Ritz-Carlton, Naples
In the video, head to the Gulf Coast for those with money – explore its chic neighborhoods and you’ll see some of the most expensive properties in Florida – Naples doesn’t offer beautifully elegant luxury accommodations. Leading the way in sophistication and luxury is The Ritz-Carlton, Naples. From check-in to check-out, guests are spoiled by the elegant elegance of this beachfront resort.
The resort offers 450 rooms and suites, and while they’re large, the attentive staff ensures you’ll never get lost in the crowd. The feeling that you’re somewhere special is even more apparent if you book a room overlooking the beach, where you can enjoy gorgeous bay sunsets from the comfort of your balcony — even better if accompanied by dinner. Wherever you lay your head, you’ll be treated to other wonderful features, including exquisite decor and well-appointed spacious marble bathrooms with comfortable bathrobes.
The Ritz-Carlton, Naples also has many wonderful amenities. Highlights include two heated outdoor pools with private rental cabanas (one of the pools is adults only), a shaver playground, game room, large fitness center, tennis courts, full-service spa, seven restaurants and guest privileges at two championship golf courses.
Address: 280 Vanderbilt Beach Road, Naples, Florida
Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton, Naples
2. Resort at the Longboat Key Club, Sarasota
This is a favorite for too many reasons to list (but we’ll try anyway). For many, it’s just the size of the property. Covering 410-acres adjacent to the bay, the Longboat Key Club Resort has everything you need for an unforgettable sunny vacation: proximity to a beautiful 13-mile sandy beach with no end of water sports or adventure; a fantastic on-site restaurant; 45 holes of golf, tennis courts and fitness center; and a world-class spa. There’s even a fully equipped marina offering jet ski and boat rentals. (Hot tip: If you feel like leaving the area, make sure it includes a visit to nearby St. Armands Circle, popular for its fine dining and people watching).
The resort at the Longboat Key Club offers guests a choice of 223 bright and spacious rooms and suites. Standard features include pillow-top bedding, private balconies, high-definition TVs and large bathrooms (with bathrobes). Those who need a little more space can stay in one of the resort’s one- or two-bedroom suites, which include comfortable full-size kitchens and separate dining and living areas.
Address: 220 Sands Point Road, Longboat Key, Florida
Accommodations: Longboat Key Club Resort
3. The Pearl Hotel, Rosemary Beach
Located in northwest Florida in an area known as the Panhandle, The Pearl, Rosemary Beach, a newly built hotel, opened in 2013 and immediately became a favorite for those looking for a great place to spend a beach vacation. Holiday moments include lounging under an umbrella on the hotel’s private beach, pampering yourself in the well-equipped spa, dining in the restaurant or in-room, working out in the fitness center and enjoying guest privileges at the golf club and tennis clubs. A good perk is the inclusion of free use of bicycles, canoes and kayaks.
With only 55 rooms and suites, this is certainly one of the quietest luxury hotels in the Bay Area. All rooms are equipped with quality features such as virtual concierge service (via iPad), Apple TV and HDTV for viewing, large bathrooms and spacious balconies. A nice touch is the pleasures left by the staff in the evening, as well as unlimited non-alcoholic beverages.
Address: 63 Main Street, Rosemary Beach, Florida
Accommodation: The Pearl Hotel, Rosemary Beach
4. Sandpearl Resort, Clearwater Beach
Sandpearl Resort, one of the most prestigious vacation properties in Clearwater Beach, is definitely worth considering that luxury accommodations are your thing. The resort consists of bright, well-appointed one- and two-bedroom suites, and you’ll enjoy great features, including a fully equipped kitchen, separate living room, large bathrooms with separate showers and tubs, laundry facilities, and large balconies.Popular with couples are the romantic king suites (double queen options), each with a sitting area and pull-out sofa.
A definite draw at Sandpearl is the gorgeous beach. In addition to relaxing in the comfort of your own private cabana, the resort provides beautiful beach hammocks, a great place to relax. There’s also a private marina where you can rent boats, as well as dolphin tours or fishing trips. Other notable amenities include a conference center, restaurants, a heated outdoor pool, spa and fitness center.
Address: 500 Mandalay Ave, Clearwater Beach, Florida
Accommodation: Sandpearl Resort
5. Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota.
Another of the prestigious luxury attractions in the Gulf, The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota, is perfect for those who want to enjoy an urban and beachfront vacation. The well-appointed and bright rooms consist of 266 rooms with a king-size bed or queen-size bed. Wonderful features include elegant marble bathrooms (including bathrobes), high-definition TVs, and spacious balconies with beautiful city views. If your budget allows, be sure to upgrade to the huge 2,450-square-foot penthouse, which comes with separate dining and living areas as well as two large balconies.
It’s a real treat, allowing easy access to many of the interesting features of historic downtown Sarasota from the hotel. Nearby attractions include the beautiful harbor with its parking lot, as well as many wonderful stores and restaurants. There is a full-service spa and hair salon, a large fitness center and a restaurant on site. Concierge services are also available. When downtime on the beach is required, guests can visit the nearby beach club, as well as tennis and an 18-hole golf course.
Address: 1111 Ritz Carlton Drive, Sarasota, Florida
Accommodation: The Ritz-Carlton, Sarasota
6. LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, Naples
Another of the many fine hotels and resorts located in beautiful Naples, LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort is perfect for those who want to pamper themselves in their free time. There are private pool rentals on site (the resort has four pools), a world-class spa and excellent restaurants. There is also a large fitness center for those who want to work out (solo or under the guidance of a personal trainer).
LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort offers a variety of spacious and elegantly decorated rooms, individually styled (four-poster beds are exquisite) and original local art. Rooms include 600 square feet of king-size beds with pillow-top mattresses, large bathrooms and spacious furnished balconies with beautiful beach or garden views. The larger 850-square-foot one-bedroom apartments are definitely worth the extra cost, as well as separate living rooms and large bathrooms.
Address: 9891 Gulf Shore Drive, Naples, Florida
Accommodations: LaPlaya Beach & Golf Resort, A Noble House Resort
7 Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa, Bonita Springs
The delightful Hyatt Regency Point Resort & Spa offers guests the perfect getaway on Estero Bay in Bonita Springs, a beautiful community near Naples. Set on 26 acres overlooking the Gulf of Mexico, the resort offers 454 rooms to choose from, each well-equipped and including amenities like free Wi-Fi, large HDTVs, refrigerators and coffee makers, and a choice of two queens or king-size beds. Great options include large suites, including a balcony, or even more advanced 1,500-square-foot one-bedroom suites with separate bedrooms, living and dining areas. A club-level upgrade is also available, which provides access to a comfortable lounge with complimentary breakfast and snacks.
Large grounds mean there’s plenty of room to spread out, and plenty of room for some great water activities. Highlights include a superb 900-foot lazy river, four large swimming pools with waterslides — one of which is more than 5,000 square feet — and an adults-only hot tub and beach area. The hotel has plenty of poolside seating, and luxury private cabanas are available for rent. The hotel also has a restaurant as well as a full-service spa.
Address: 5001 Coconut Road, Bonita Springs, Florida
Accommodations: Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa
8. Ritz-Carlton Golf Club, Naples
The luxurious Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples, elegantly decorated in classic Italian style, offers some of the finest accommodations on the Gulf Coast. All rooms are bright and comfortable and include standard features such as a choice of king or queen-size beds, large marble bathrooms with complimentary robes, high-definition TVs and spacious balconies. If your budget allows, consider staying in one of the larger suites with separate living areas. If you need even more space, the ultra-modern Presidential Suite has extra living space, including a dining room, living room, two bathrooms and two spacious balconies.
As one of the Gulf Coast’s premier golf resorts, guests can play either of two championship courses on site. The lighted tennis courts are also popular with sports enthusiasts.Later, find a quiet spot on the large pool deck or take advantage of the resort’s shuttle service, which takes you to a private beach at the nearby Ritz Carlton, Naples. Other amenities include a full suite of spa services, as well as plenty of great restaurants. (There’s also a dining room in the room).
Address: 2600 Tiburon Drive, Naples, FL
Accommodations: Ritz-Carlton Golf Club Naples
9. Watercolor Inn, Santa Rosa Beach
Located in the coastal community of Santa Rosa Bay, the wonderfully named Watercolor Inn offers vacationers an intimate alternative to the area’s many large resorts. The 60 rooms are a good size (500 square feet) and come with great features, including spacious balconies with comfortable chairs and great views, king beds (plus a pull-out sofa bed), large bathrooms with separate showers, HDTVs with DVD players, mini-fridges, Keurig coffee makers and separate seating areas. A nice touch is the fresh cookies planted in your room during evening prep as well as complimentary soft drinks and juices.
In addition to the superb beach – the famous soft sand of the bay is just steps away from the resort (beach bags are provided) – guests can enjoy special privileges at three nearby golf courses, free biking and kayaking, and a gym. Other great features include free valet parking, boat and swim boat rentals, and beach fires. There’s also an adult pool.
Address: 34 Goldenrod Cir, Santa Rosa Beach, Florida
Accommodation: Watercolor Inn
10. Hyatt Regency SarasotaBeing within walking distance of the beautiful downtown of Florida’s most charming arts district is a great perk for those staying at the Hyatt Regency Sarasota Hotel. The area is also known for its fine shopping, dining and entertainment venues, as well as its beautiful harbor and parkland. (Hot tip: When booking a room, try to choose a view of Sarasota Bay, if available.)
Hotel rooms are bright and well-appointed, and come in two queen or one king options. Standard features include spacious bathrooms, separate living rooms, high-definition TVs and balconies. When not in their rooms, guests are likely to relax around the heated outdoor pool or enjoy the hotel’s kayaks, sticks and kiddie boards (motorized boats can be rented from the full-service garage). Also on site: restaurant (in the dining room), fitness center and free shuttle service around town and to the beach.
Address: 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota, Florida
Accommodation: Hyatt Regency Sarasota