Small inns, motels and hotels are often the most rewarding and economical way to enjoy the delights that Florida has to offer.
Quite often you will feel like a member of the family because many of these places are family owned. Being locals themselves, the owners of these small places know the best restaurants, attractions and shopping to help make your vacation or even a brief stay a success.
Since they own the place and often live there, they also make sure that maintenance is not overlooked and that the place is clean.
Many of us are afraid to stay in a place that is unknown to us. With big chains we have come to expect a certain level of comfort and cleanliness. This is not always the case with the smaller privately owned places.
TripAdvisor is one of the sources that can be used to check these places out, but it's not foolproof. One or two bad reviews can scare you away and glowing reviews from the owners and their friends can make the place look better than it is.
The places you will learn about on the Florida Backroads Travel website have been vetted either by me, my friends or a trusted organization and will not disappoint you.
Camelot Beach Resort
603 Mandalay Avenue
Clearwater Beach, Florida 33767
Clearwater Beach has beautiful beaches. TripAdvisor voted the beach No. 1 of the 25 best beaches in the United States. The beach area is in a relaxed world of its own, yet only minutes away from downtown Clearwater and its many attractions.
Camelot is an award winning 20 room boutique hotel only 100 yards from this famous beach. The hotel is rated by travelers as one of the best bargains on the beach. Every room has a modern kitchen with granite counter tops, four burner gas stove, microwave oven, blender, coffee maker, toaster oven, and all the cooking utensils needed to prepare a tasty meal.
100 Alexander Street
Mount Dora, Florida 32757
This historic hotel has been in business since 1883. It is on the east shore of Lake Dora in the heart of downtown Mount Dora with all of its shops, restaurants and other attractions. It is a favorite spot to watch sunsets for locals and tourists alike.
Owners Jim and Alexandra Gunderson have been steadily renovating rooms and are dedicated to preserving this oldest continuously operating example of all Florida historic hotels. The Inn boasts Tremainʹs Lounge (with a fireplace and music), a large dining room, a swimming pool overlooking Lake Dora and a dock for taking captained boat tours and seaplane flights.
309 S.E. 7th Street
Gainesville, Florida 32601
This totally renovated bed and breakfast inn includes several rooms along with secluded cottages. It is in the heart of downtown Gainesville and close to many shops and restaurants and is a brief hop to the University of Florida.
Joe and Cindy Montalto purchased what was then known as the Baird Mansion and transformed the 1885 French Second Empire Victorian structure into the completely restored inn you will enjoy today.
The inn has received many honors including "Most Romantic Bed and Breakfast in Florida" by Most Romantic Escapes; "Best Bed and Breakfast in Florida" by Florida Living Magazine. The inn has also been featured in Southern Living Magazine.
You should know that the inn is usually booked solid for University of Florida football game weekends.
River Palm Cottages & Fish Camp
2325 NE Indian River Drive
Jensen Beach, FL 34957
Jensen Beach is a small community on the west bank of the Indian River Lagoon that separates Hutchinson Island, a barrier island, from the Atlantic Ocean. This is salt water country, and a great location for one of the most unusual Florida fish camps.
Even though River Palm Cottages & Fish Camp is a fish camp, only about 15 per cent of their guests are fishermen. More than twenty Key West style guest quarters are scattered among 7.2 acres of lush tropical plants. The cottages are extremely quiet.
Steinhatchee River Inn
1111 Riverside Drive SE
P.O. Box 828
Steinhatchee, Florida 32359
This inn is an all suites motel. Each suite opens into a sitting area with couch. All units have a private bathroom, and a shared terrace facing the swimming pool and the Steinhatchee River. Each suite has a flat screen television. Although the inn is an older place, it is super clean and well maintained. They welcome dogs under 35 pounds.
Steinhatchee is a quaint village surrounded by nature preserves and is near a scenic waterfall on the river. It is a very popular little place during scalloping season (June - September) and is a popular "off the beaten path" destination all year round. The Steinhatchee River flows past the inn to the nearby Gulf of Mexico. It is truly a place where you can experience "Old Florida".
There are several authentic hometown restaurants in Steinhatchee, many of them within a short walk of the Steinhatchee River Inn. These restaurants include Fiddlers, Roy's, Kathy's Crabs and Bridge End Cafe. Needless to say, fresh seafood is easy to find in this authentic fishing village.
Your suite is furnished with a microwave, mini fridge, coffee maker, cable television, and limited WiFi. Suites with kitchenettes also have a full size refrigerator and freezer, a stove with oven, pots, pans, skillets, plates, cups, utensils and everything you need including a kitchen sink. The suites with a kitchenette are attractive to guests that would rather grill outside or eat at home.
The Steinhatchee River Inn is a great base from which to explore Steinhatchee and the surrounding area.
Tuckaway Shores Oceanfront Resort
1441 S. Miramar Avenue (State Road A1A)
Indialantic, Florida 32903
Indialantic is a small community on the Atlantic Ocean across the Intracoastal Waterway from Melbourne. Tuckaway Shores is directly on the beach, one of the best beaches in Florida. The white sand stretches for miles north and south of the resort. The beach along this coast is blessedly free from the massive skyscrapers you will see in most other parts of Florida.
Tuckway Shores has 29 units; most of them are two room suites with kitchenettes and two television sets. They also have a heated pool, beach chairs you can use and a Big Green Egg state of the art grill/smoker/baker for your cookouts. They even provide the free wood chips and utensils.
Tuckaway Shores is certified by Superior Small Lodging Association and awarded their coveted White Glove award for exceptional housekeeping and also has AAA certification. Combine this with the secluded white sand beach and other amenities and you have a winner.
Villa Victor Hotel
42 San Marco Avenue
St. Augustine, Florida 32084
Villa Victor Hotel is in historic downtown St. Augustine within walking distance of the major attractions as well as a host of great restaurants. The historic Castillo de San Marcos is nearby along with many other historic sites and buildings.
Visitors to St. Augustine know how difficult it can be to find a parking space. Villa Victor Hotel has its own parking facility that will save you a lot of time and worry.
The hotel includes a variety of rooms including King and Queen Suites with balconies, and some suites with whirlpool tubs.
All rooms are spacious and modern, and include upscale bathroom amenities, dining on the property, and outdoor pool, and a spa. Free WiFi is also available on the entire hotel property.
All rooms are smoke free and feature refrigerators, coffee makers, irons, and ironing boards.
The Chiku Cafe' & Bar is in the hotel and offers delicious breakfast choices, smoothies, juice, oatmeal, scones, and even a breakfast burrito. Lunch and dinner features bar bites, salads, cheese plates and other light meals you can take up to your room and enjoy.
To top it all off, the hotel offers locally roasted coffee from the Kookaburra Coffee Company, and also features local craft beer in addition to a house-made sangria. You can also have a cocktail before heading up to your room.
Welaka Lodge & Resort
1001 Front Street
Welaka, FL 32193
As fish camps go, this fish camp, lodge and RV park is a Ritz Carlton. You also have to love a place whose home page quotes Florida literary icon Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings:
If I could have, to hold forever, one brief place and time of beauty, I think I might choose the night on that high lonely bank above the St. Johns river.
Welaka is about 40 miles southwest of St Augustine, and about the same distance northwest of Daytona Beach. It is close enough for comfortable day trips, but far enough away from the maddening crowds.
This resort caters to fishing enthusiasts and their families, and it is on a magnificent stretch of the majestic St Johns River in the village of Welaka. The resort boasts a swimming pool and a variety of cottages of varying sizes perfect for a couples getaway or a larger family. Most of the cottages are fully equipped with kitchens and are set up so you can live there for long periods of time.
You may just want to do that once youʹve tried this place with its great views of the largest river in Florida.
Whippoorwill Sportsmanʹs Lodge
3129 Cookʹs Landing Road
This secluded camp is on the north shore of Lake Talquin, a large lake managed by the State of Florida and known for its fine fishing. Speckled perch and bass are favorite catches in this lake.
Whipporwill is at the end of a secluded road, and even though you will only be 30 minutes by car west of Tallahassee, you will feel like you are in Old Florida. Most of the shoreline of the lake is in a natural forest setting.
The lodge has several modern cottages and cabins along with some RV sites. The Whip Waterfront Pub and Grub bar and grill is on the property so you donʹt even have to leave if you donʹt want to. Nearby Lake Talquin State Forest has a lot of things to do if you donʹt feel like fishing: hiking, horseback riding, cycling and lots of nature trails.
Florida timeshares provide an affordable way to vacation in the Sunshine State every year while enjoying luxury resort properties, spacious accommodations, and a wealth of fun and diverse amenities...READ MORE ABOUT FLORIDA TIMESHARES
Florida historic hotels are not always small inns, but they make great places to stay. Quite often they are in the heart of a city. Our list includes only ones that are on The National Register of Historic Places....READ MORE ABOUT FLORIDA HISTORIC HOTELS