Florida has many historic hotels that offer wonderful learning experiences. You should stay overnight or at least tour some of these hotels.
These elegant hotels/mansions were all built in the late 19th or early 20th century. Many have been fully restored and most still are in full operation to delight their guests. For a map showing the approximate locations of each of the hotels in this article, click here.
1.) Gibson Inn — 51 Avenue. C, 32320, 850-653-2191
Built in 1907, this traditional grand hotel in the center of town is a Florida-style building with a widow’s walk, a cupola and a tin roof. It is a pleasant 4-minute walk from the Apalachicola Maritime Museum. There’s a wraparound porch with sitting areas, plus a bar, a casual restaurant and three meeting rooms. The inn also hosts murder-mystery weekends. Breakfast and parking are complimentary.
2.) Jacaranda Hotel — 19 East Main Street, 33825, 863-453-2211
Opened in 1926 and now listed on the National Historic Register, it is one of Highlands County’s oldest operating hotels. The Jacaranda now is owned by South Florida State College. The college uses the hotel as its Culinary Arts School and the food is excellent. We had lunch in the elegant Citrus Room and the meal consisted of a seasonal buffet featuring Southern-fried chicken, three different seafood items and regional cuisine.
There were many specialty sample dishes created by college students.
During its winter season, the Jacaranda serves lunch and dinner Monday through Friday.
On Sunday, the student’s culinary team rolls out its grand buffet. There is a summer menu, May through September.
The hotel radiates elegance through its high ceiling, quiet hallways, spacious guest rooms and the sprawling veranda overlooking lovely Main Street. The room rates are inexpensive.
3.) Gasparilla Inn — 500 Palm Ave., 33921, 941-964-4500
It has been a premier destination on Florida’s Gulf Coast since 1913. It is the center of village life on Gasparilla Island. Catering to the rich and famous, the directly on the beach resort is one of the most lavish facilities in the United States.
4.) Tarpon Lodge —13771 Waterfront Drive, Pineland, 239-283-3999
It was built in 1926 as a private home and it has been an inn for decades. President Jimmy Carter and family members once vacationed here. The lodge has been completely renovated and it has an upscale restaurant. It is located on Pine Island, which is near near Coral Gables and Fort Myers.
5.) Boca Raton Resort & Club — 501 E. Camino Real, 33432, 561-447-3000
This elegantly restored 1920s resort on 365 waterfront acres is 2.6 miles from the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. It has a private beach club, seven pools, a spa and a marina. There also are two golf courses, 30 tennis courts and several dining options. Designed by legendary architect Addison Mizner, it has reigned as an icon of elegance for more than 80 years. Today, the resort remains faithful to its glamorous past and is a jewel.
6.) Island Hotel — 373 2nd St., 32625, 352-543-5111
Built in 1859, it was originally known as the Parsons and Hale’s General Store. It also at times held a post office, customs house and other commercial businesses. The hotel is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. Today it is family owned and operated as an upscale bed and breakfast with an excellent restaurant. The hotel is in the Cedar Key center.
7.) Biltmore Coral Gables —1200 Anastasia Ave., 855-311-6903
This luxury hotel was built in 1926 and was and still is one of the most lavish in the country. The Biltmore caters to the rich and famous, presidents, movie stars and international guests.
8.) Clewiston Inn — 108 Royal Palm Ave., 33440, 863-983-8151
Southern charm and hospitality will greet you. It is located on the shores of Lake Okeechobee and was built in 1926. The building survived the great 1926 and 1928 hurricanes, but was destroyed by a fire in 1937.
Then, the classical revival style structure was rebuilt with modern features in 1938. The lounge and bar inside has a 360-degree wildlife mural featuring the flora and fauna of the nearby Florida Everglades.
9.) Florida House Inn — 22 South 3rd St., 32034, 904-491-3322
Built in 1857 and set in the Fernandina Beach Historic District, it was originally built as a boarding house by David Yulee, who was attempting to build a railroad from Fernandina Beach to Cedar Key. This lovely and well maintained Victorian inn is a 4-minute walk from the Amelia Island Museum of History and three miles from historic Fort Clinch State Park.
10.) Seminole Inn — 15885 SW Warfield Blvd., 34956, 772-597-3777
Also known as the Seminole Country Inn, it is a mission-revival style historic hotel built in the early 1920s.
11.) Casa Marina Hotel — 691 1st St. N., 32250, 904-270-0025
Opened in 1925, it has been a landmark and a yearly destination for winter residents. The lavish hotel features a Spanish-Mediterranean design of white stucco, concrete and tile. It is located directly on the water.
12.) Terrace Hotel — 329 E. Main St., 33801, 863-688-0800
It opened in 1924 as one of the state’s first year-round hotels. It overlooks Mirror Lake in the center of Lakeland.
13.) Chalet Suzanne, 3800 Chalet Suzanne Drive, 863-676-6011
The property includes a lovely inn, upscale restaurant, its own successful private label soup cannery, an airstrip for visiting guests, small golf course and more than 100 rolling acres of citrus groves. On NASA‘s 1970s Apollo 15 and 16 flights to the moon, Chalet Suzanne‘s Romaine soup (moon soup) went with the astronauts as part of their meals. Opened in 1931 by Bertha Hinshaw, the property has always been in the family. In 2014 after 83 years, the descendents of Hinshaw decided to retire and the property closed. The owners are seeking someone to buy the inn.
14.) Cadillac Hotel — 3925 Collins Ave., 33140, 305-538-3373
It is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It currently is called the Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach/Oceanfront. The oceanfront hotel is a stunning boutique Art Deco hotel that has graced Collins Avenue and the shores of Miami Beach for almost seven decades.
15.) Fontainbleau Hotel — 4441 Collins Ave., 33140, 305-538-2000
It is one of the most historically and architecturally significant hotels in Miami Beach. Opened in 1954 and designed by Morris Lapidus, it was arguably the most luxurious hotel in Miami Beach. The 1,504-room resort is situated on oceanfront Collins Avenue in the heart of Millionaire’s Row.
16.) Ocean Spray Hotel — 4130 Collins Ave., 33140, 305-535-5300
This small hotel was built in 1936. It has been completely redone, and is a perfect example of a high-end, art-deco building.
17.) 1872 John Denham House — 555 W. Palmer Mill Road, 32344, 850-997-4568
It is an authentic elegant circa 19th century restoration. This 13-room early Victorian mansion was built by a Scottish immigrant cotton trader in 1872. It has eight fireplaces, many period antiques, an acre of restored grounds and a cupola on top. The award-winning mansion is listed on the National Register. The property is only a 20-minute drive from Tallahassee.
18.) Lakeside Inn — 100 Alexander St., 32757, 352-383-4101
Overlooking Lake Dora, it opened in 1883. Tt is the oldest continuously operating hotel in Florida. It features 87 guest rooms and suites. The Beauclaire Room and Tremain’s Tavern are excellent restaurants.
19.) The Breakers Palm Beach — 1 South County Road, 33480, 561-655-6611
First known as The Palm Beach Inn, it was opened on Jan. 16, 1896 by oil, real estate and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to accommodate travelers on his Florida East Coast Railway. It occupies the beachfront portion of the grounds of the Royal Poinciana Hotel, which Flagler had opened beside Lake Worth Lagoon facing the inland waterway in 1894. Guests began requesting rooms “over by the breakers,” so Flagler renamed it The Breakers Hotel in 1901. The wooden hotel burned on June 9, 1903 and was rebuilt, opening on Feb. 1, 1904. Rooms started at $4 a night, including three meals a day. Because Flagler forbade motorized vehicles on the property, patrons were delivered between the two hotels in wheeled chairs powered by employees. The grounds have a nine-hole golf course.
20.) The Chesterfield Hotel — 363 Coconut Row, 33480, 561-659-5800
Built in 1926, the hotel was completely renovated in 1937 and it has undergone annual refurbishments.
21.) Casa Monica — 95 Cordova St., 32084, 904-827-1888
Located in the center of downtown, this grand Moroccan-themed hotel was built in 1888 by Henry Flagler. It has an ornate lobby with frescos, fountains and chandeliers. Their elegant rooms include custom-designed interiors with classical furnishings featuring gold accents. There’s a high-end restaurant, a casual cafe and lounge, roof-top pool and sundeck.
Flagler also built the Ponce de Leon Hotel that today is Flagler College.
Tours of Flagler College highlight the architectural heritage of the former Hotel Ponce de Leon. Escorted tours are conducted at 10 a.m. and at 2 p.m. daily.
Flagler also owned the Alcazar Hotel that now houses the Lightner Museum.
The museum houses a collection of 19th century art.
22.) Kenilworth Lodge 1610 Lakeview Drive, 33870, 863-385-0111
Built in 1916 for George E. Sebring, the developer of the town of Sebring, it has been continuously in use as a hotel since. A fire in 2016 closed the hotel. It is close to reopening.
23.) Santa Rosa Inn — 509 North Ridgewood Drive, 33870
It was built in 1924 and sold in early 2017 to a Virginia-based developer who now plans to make apartments out of the hotel.
24.) The Don Cesar Hotel — 3400 Gulf Blvd, St. Petersburg Beach, 727-360-1881
Built in 1928 and called the Pink Palace, it is located directly on the beautiful Gulf Beach. It is one of the most complete and lavish properties in Florida.
25.) The Ponce De Leon Hotel — 95 Central Ave., 33701, 727-550-9300
The mission-revival building is a historic landmark. Built in the early 20th century, the hotel is completely refurbished and is a local St. Pete gem.
26.) The Vinoy Renaissance — 501 5th Ave. NE, 727-894-1000
The historic Mediterranean revival-style hotel is on the Bayfront area of downtown. It was built in 1925 and has a long history of elegance.
27.) The Governors Inn — 209 South Adams St., 850-681-6855
The 41-room boutique hotel is located just steps from Florida’s Capitol. It opened in the early 20th century in what was originally a livery stable.
28.) Floridian Inn Palace Hotel— 905 North Florida Ave., 33602, 813-225-1700
This 19-story hotel built in 1926 has been brought back to its original grandeur.
29.) Wakulla Spring Lodge — 550 Wakulla Park Drive, 32327, 850-421-2000
Surrounded by 6,000 acres of pristine forest, it is North Florida’s castle. Built in 1937 by industrialist Edward Ball, it is one of the most beautiful buildings of its period. The 27 rooms overlook one of the country’s largest springs.
You can enjoy the Glass Bottom Boat Tour. This interesting guided-boat tour will take you along the spring and Wakulla River.
Three “Tarzan” movies were filmed here plus the 1954 classic “The Creature from the Black Lagoon.”
30.) Edgewater Hotel — 99 West Plant St., 34787, 407-654-6921
Step back in time in this bed and breakfast located on the second floor of the historic Edgewater Hotel in greater Orlando. The hotel originally opened in 1927 as one of the most technologically advanced hotels of its day. From the antique sinks and fixtures to the original 1926 Otis elevator, it is a bed and breakfast experience unlike any other
31.) Park Plaza Hotel —307 S. Park Ave., 32789, 407-647-1072
Built in 1922, the lobby is still elegant.It is the only hotel on Winter Park‘s famed Park Avenue.
32.) Desert Inn — 5570 South Kenansville Road, next to State Road 60, 772-240-2267
Built in 1889, it was a bar and brothel for cowboys and lumber workers. It didn’t install full-service drinking water and electricity until 1978. It has been a trading post, gas station and dance hall. In 1994, after being added to the National Register of Historic Places, the unused rooms around the restaurant were converted into a modest museum. It’s a popular stop for travelers who enjoy their excellent food.
33.) Driftwood Inn — 3150 Ocean Drive, 32963, 772-231-0550
Built in 1935 of driftwood taken from the Atlantic Ocean, these sprawling buildings today are well maintained. Have a drink or meal at Waldo’s on its oceanfront deck.