Where to vacation (with swimming) in Feb/Mar?
November 10, 2019 8:20 AM   Subscribe

I’d like to make a long list of possible vacation options for a long weekend in February or March. Details inside:

1. It should be a place that is easy to fly to on a non-stop flight from Chicago in three hours or less. After said flight, two hours or less of driving, please. Shorter travel times are better.
2. I want to go swimming, outside. I have a pretty wide range of temperature tolerances for water and air. But it should be at least 70 degrees outside, with easy access to a lake, ocean, or swimming hole.
3. I prefer someplace quieter to moderately busy. We went to Miami one winter and honestly that was great! Cities are good, more natural areas are good. But please no spring break craziness.
posted by mai to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
The St. Petersburg beaches are in the same county as Clearwater but are a lot different. You fly into Tampa or st Pete, then drive to any of the string of lower gulf beaches from like Indian rocks down to pass a grille. One hour or less from airport to gulf side. Nearby spring breaks include FSU & USF starting 3/14 and UF starting 2/29, but spring breaks will also go more toward huge beaches like Clearwater or the northern gulf coast. .
posted by toodleydoodley at 9:07 AM on November 10, 2019

Wellll, Cancun is a 3 hour 45 minute flight, and you can take a 40 minute ferry from there to Isla Mujeres, so the overall travel time is within your limits. It has lovely beaches and a quiet atmosphere (as long as you stay off the main strip). It doesn't get nearly as much spring break action as other spots nearby, and there are plenty of beaches all along the island that you can have almost to yourself. I rented a scooter and went to the beaches on the opposite end from the tourist area and literally only saw 4 other people at most swimming there in 3 weeks over Christmas and New Years, which is a pretty popular vacation time!

I rented an AirBnB, which was lovely. If you really want to live it up, there's one shaped like a seashell (Caracol House) that's $350 a night. It has beautiful gardens and a pool as well.

Plus you can buy avocados as big as your head for $1.
posted by ananci at 9:19 AM on November 10, 2019 [5 favorites]

I recommend Isla Mujeres as well. Even if you stay on the busier/touristy side of the island, it’s not hectic in a Spring Break sense (the tourist crowd is older Americans and families with young kids). From the Cancun airport you take a short cab ride to a short ferry ride, but it’s not a bother as long as you book it in advance (whatever hotel or even Airbnb you pick can help with that usually). You may want a golf cart rental for getting around town.

Just for a data point, I went to the FL gulf coast / Panhandle beaches a few years ago in late February and it was way too cold to swim. Late March might be ok but it’s not a sure thing.
posted by sallybrown at 11:17 AM on November 10, 2019

Fort Lauderdale. I find oceans 'too cold" as a default, but find this comfortable.
Outside of the Presidents Weekend break, it's 1000% more chill than Miami. With your two hour driving range, this also opens up the small towns that aren't resort apalooza but still have accomodations. Delray is a personal favorite. I'm not sure if there are direct flights to PBI, but that's closer to the smaller towns. If you want the gulf coast, check flights to Fort Myers. Driving to Sanibel well in your range,
posted by TravellingCari at 10:21 AM on November 11, 2019

Naples, FL.
St Augustine, FL.
Key West.
posted by mrfuga0 at 5:56 AM on November 13, 2019

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