Rich in history, surrounded by natural beauty, and dripping with quintessential Old Florida hospitality, Florida’s Adventure Coast is an unforgettable wedding destination. Home to charming towns like Brooksville and Weeki Wachee, more than 200,000 acres of protected parklands, and some of the Sunshine State’s most iconic attractions, the Adventure Coast is an idyllic place to tie the knot. Here are a few tips on where to go and what to do for planning an unforgettable wedding weekend on Florida’s Adventure Coast.
Your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you will make while planning your big day. You want to make sure that it represents who you and your partner are as a couple as well as the type of wedding you want to have: casual, fancy, indoors or out. On Florida’s Adventure Coast, chances are pretty high you will find just what you are looking for. Book your wedding on a stately historic property, at a waterside park, or on a sprawling ranch brimming with rustic elegance.
For nature lovers, you can exchange vows beside the Gulf of Mexico at Alfred-McKethan-Pine Island Park, or hold your ceremony at the Nature Coast Botanical Gardens or the legendary Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, home of the beloved underwater mermaid show, an attraction which has drawn visitors since 1947. The thriving olive orchard at the Olive Grove is another unique spot to hold your outdoor ceremony.
If you prefer something more luxurious that combines timeless elegance and creature comforts for both the bride and groom look no further than Legacy Lane Weddings, which is known for pampering the happy couple and their guests. The venue has both a sprawling ‘Bridal House’ for the bridal party, and a cozy farmhouse, complete with a pool and basketball court, for the groom’s entourage. There is also a 2,400-square-foot outdoor pavilion for gathering wedding guests.
Perhaps you want an unforgettable venue brimming with rustic elegance? The Saxon Manor offers both an elegant garden room and the Shabby Chic Wedding Barn, that has a mix of chandeliers and vintage farm tables. You can also gather family and friends at the Head and Heel Ranch, an idyllic cattle ranch replete with grazing horses, stately live oaks, and rolling pastures. For a seamless blend of country charm and rustic chicness, The White Barn offers touches like antique wooden tables and pews, a vintage truck with a bed full of flowers, and decorative hay bales.
A weekend-long wedding celebration leaves plenty of time for hanging out with family and friends before and after the actual wedding. Whether you want a place to unwind with bridesmaids or groomsmen, a formal spot fit for an elegant celebration, or a crowd-pleasing venue able to host generations of family and friends, there’s a perfect location at Florida’s Adventure Coast.
Spend an elegant evening dining on Italian-inspired cuisine at Chefs of Napoli in Spring Hill, or gather family and friends for a celebratory dinner at one of the area’s long-standing dining establishments. El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant serves crowd-pleasing Mexican classics and Papa Joe’s Italian Restaurant, an Adventure Coast institution since 1981, has great food and has private venues for larger groups of up to 80.
If you are just looking to grab a beer or relax with a drink, there are a wide array of spots where you can find artisanal spirits, palate-pleasing wines, and inventive ales. Sample the small-batch brews at Marker 48 Brewing or Tidal Brewing, where you’ll find a range of craft brews from crisply refreshing pilsners to hardy stouts on tap.
Sipping artfully-crafted local wines in the Florida sunshine at the Masaryk Winery, the Sparacia Witherell Family Winery and Vineyard or Strong Tower Vineyard and Winery make for a great bridal party getaway. Beyond beer and wines, NJOY Spirits offers an unforgettable spirit-sipping experience. Tucked away in the Chassahowtizka Wildlife Management Area, the distillery crafts rum, rye whiskey, and moonshine. In addition to offering tastings and tours, the 80-acre distillery is also available for weddings.
Of course, if you can’t decide on whiskey, wine, or beer, the Adventure’s Coast’s winsome wineries, breweries, and distilleries are all showcased on the palate-pleasing Kegs, Casks, and Corks Tour.
Spa time is another great way to spend an afternoon of pampering or wedding preparation with your friends—this will be especially appreciated by those in your party who had a lot of fun on the Kegs, Casks, and Corks Tour. Schedule a variety of restorative skin treatments and therapeutic massages at one of Florida’s Adventure Coast’s array of rejuvenating spas: A Unique Touch Massage, Capricci Gifts and Healing Waters, Mind Body, Spirit Wellness, Addome Bella Salon, or Just Relax Massage and Spa.
In Spring Hill, the WellCome OM Integral Healing & Education Center provides an even more immersive experience. The ecologically sustainable, state-0f-the-art facility offers therapeutic massage and rehabilitative bodywork, along with salt room therapy, sunlight infrared sauna therapy, a Conscious Market, and a wide range of classes. The center’s 5,000-square-foot AuratoriOM is also available for a wide range of events, including weddings.
If just need someone to do your hair and make-up on your special day, book an appointment at the White Daisy Salon and Spa.
From waterside hotels and cozy cabins to charming bed and breakfasts and national hotel chains, the Adventure Coast has plenty of accommodations for visitors. An oasis for travelers since 1946, laidback Mary’s Fish Camp offers cozy cabins beside the Mud River, offering guests an idyllic place to relax during a whirlwind wedding weekend.
The area is also brimming with historic properties that can provide a beautiful ambiance for getting ready on your wedding day as well as a wonderful backdrop for photos. In Brooksville, the Dolan House B & B and the Mirador Bed & Breakfast both date back to the Victorian era.
The Chinsegut Hill Retreat, dating back to 1850, has hosted a wide array of notable guests, including Helen Keller, Thomas Edison, and William Jennings. These days, in addition to the 170-year-old manor house, the property includes seven roomy cottages, able to accommodate 56 guests. This is a great spot for larger groups. For a seamless wedding weekend, the Chinsegut Hill Retreat also serves as an idyllic place to exchange vows on its property of sprawling oak and magnolia trees.
The wedding celebration doesn’t have to end just because the ceremony and reception are over. There are plenty of reasons to stay for a few extra days and savor the destination’s rich offerings. Explore Florida’s Adventure Coast’s rich history with a visit to the May Stringer House. The Victorian-era manor overlooking Brooksville is among the Sunshine State’s most iconic haunted houses–and ghost tours are offered on Friday and Saturday evenings.
You can also savor the Adventure Coast’s classic Florida charm at Boyett’s Citrus Attraction. The historic roadside curiosity offers something for travelers of all ages and has been welcoming visitors for more than five decades. These days, the family-friendly features include a wildlife park, miniature golf course, a Florida-themed gift shop, and classic ice cream parlor.
Beyond Florida’s Adventure Coast’s engaging history, the destination offers plenty of small town charm. Spend an afternoon exploring the boutiques, bistros, and galleries adorning Brooksville’s historic downtown. Pop into one-of-a-kind specialty shops offering everything from home decor to evening wear, or peruse the engaging Uptown Art Gallery. When you get peckish, head to The Tilted Teacup for a uniquely elegant dining experience. The tasteful tea room and boutique serves artisanal soups, sandwiches, and homemade pastries, and regularly hosts themed special events, from holiday celebrations and murder mystery parties to intimate weddings.
Of course, with award-winning trails, more than 52 miles of rivers to paddle, and 10 different stops along the Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, Florida’s Adventure Coast is also brimming with opportunities for outdoor lovers. Spend a day fishing for record-breaking tarpon on the Gulf of Mexico, kayak avifauna-rich coastal waters on the Bayport-Linda Pedersen Paddling Trail, or cast for largemouth bass on the historic Withlacoochee River.
Don’t forget, there’s plenty for landlubbers on Florida’s Adventure Coast too. Bicyclists have award-winning cycling routes like the 42-mile Suncoast Trail, and hikers can explore the 158,000-acre Withlacoochee State Forest and the family-friendly Chinsegut Conservation Center.
Weddings come in all shapes and sizes and with relatives and friends from all walks of life. Finding that special spot that reflects you and your partner and can also entertain the entire guest list can be a challenge. Florida’s Adventure Coast makes it easy to mix and match activities, venues, and lodging options to ensure everyone on your list has a great time—especially you!
Written by Malee Baker Oot for Matcha in partnership with Florida’s Adventure Coast.
Featured image provided by Wu Jianxiong