This guide to Florida villas ranges from the sparkling Atlantic beaches around Miami, through the murky Everglades, past sugar-sand barrier islands on the Gulf of Mexico, and over to the fairy-tale spires of Cinderella's Castle, all in search of the very best places for your home away from home in the Sunshine State.
Florida villas near Orlando and inland
Orlando's been the stuff of bucket lists ever since Walt Disney first earmarked it as the home of his fantasy land in the 1960s. And while the adrenaline-pumping loop-de-loops and amazing zoo enclosures of Disney World still pull the crowds, there are also other spots where Florida villas offer something unique and exciting away from the coast.
Orlando villas in Florida's theme park capital
Orlando is home to oodles of Florida's villas. That's hardly a surprise given the world-class theme parks of Universal and Disney that rise with rattling roller coasters, ghost houses, fairy-tale castles, and spellbinding attractions nearby. There are loads of two-, three-, and four-bedroom homes on the menu, some of which will even aim to keep the fun-loving vibes going with Polynesian Tiki design and gushing waterslides running into their own outdoor pools.
Villas in Kissimmee
Kissimmee's Florida villas have plenty to offer. Just to the west – some 30 minutes down the highway – are Buena Vista's boisterous theme parks. Closer to home, you've also got Historic Downtown Kissimmee, where you can trace the tale of the state's citrus farms. And then there are the winding rivers and bayous of the Shingle Creek Regional Park, a haven for canoeing and hiking.
Calling culture vultures to Winter Park
Anchored on stylish Park Ave, with its haute fashion outlets and elegant Parisian boulangeries, Winter Park is a cool and collected corner of Orlando. It's got villas that are perfect for those in search of a little Sunshine State R&R. Expect plenty with a flurry of Spanish casa design, sparkling swimming pools in the garden, and some with charming lakeside locations.
A villa near the Everglades
One of Florida's great natural treasures, the Everglades spread out on the southern tip of the state. They encompass hardwood hammocks and croc-snapping swamps, great swathes of mangrove and misty bayous. You can get villas on the western fringes of Miami that will put you within an airboat ride of all that. Others sit around Naples on the Gulf Coast, between the forests of the Big Cypress National Preserve and the shimmering Ten Thousand Islands.
Where to find Florida villas on the beach
Florida is synonymous with beach vacations. The reason? There are loads. But how about two separate coastlines, resplendent white-sand barrier isles, rolling Atlantic surf, and the tropical coral cays of the Florida Keys to get started? Here are just some places where luxury Florida villas sit near glowing shores.
Destin for family villas
Florida's happy-go-lucky Spring Break escape and family sun destination on the Panhandle extraordinaire is surely Destin. Laced with long lengths of white sand, it's anchored on a buzzy boardwalk with sports bars and dolphin-watching outfitters. Condos are the most popular sort of stays in town, but head out along wave-washed Okaloosa Island and you'll also get sprawling villas right on the beachfront.
Clearwater Beach for pristine sands
A regular mention on lists of the word's very best beaches, Clearwater Beach doesn't disappoint. Look here if you want to swing open your patio doors in the morning to reveal cotton-white lengths of quartz sand and shore waters tinted with azure, emerald, and turquoise.
Something uber-stylish in Miami
On the search for luxury Florida villas by the beach? Look no further than Miami Beach. There's arguably no glitzier corner of the Sunshine State than this, what with the old home of Versace, and a whole district that brims with dazzling Art Deco architecture to get through. The villa stays are what you might expect – minimalist homes with infinity pools, chic interiors, and private yacht moorings in the garden.
Shell hunting by Florida villa rentals on Sanibel Island
Some say there's no more alluring a series of beaches in the country than the ones that stretch from Bowman's to the Sanibel Lighthouse on Sanibel Island. Villas in these parts often open straight onto the shell-speckled dunes, with stunning vistas of the green-blue Gulf and sunsets that are simply to die for. For romance and a get-away-from-it-all trip, you certainly won't be disappointed.
Florida villas in Fort Lauderdale
A web of inland canals pierces into the heart of Fort Lauderdale, forever connecting the city to the great blue sweep of the Atlantic Ocean. That means that, even if you can't snag a Florida villa right by the gold-tinted beaches, you can still get somewhere on the water's edge. There's something for everyone, too, from shopping till you drop on Las Olas Blvd to romantic cruises up the New River come evening.