When most people think of Orlando, they picture theme parks. And it’s hard not to. It’s known as the “Theme Park Capital of the World,” home to some of the best theme parks in the US and beyond, including Universal Orlando and Walt Disney World.
But just beyond Orlando, you’ll find tons of different sides of Florida to explore. If you’re planning an Orlando vacation, you may want to schedule in a day trip to another of Florida’s delightful cities and towns. From historic sites to sunny beaches, there’s a perfect Orlando day trip for everyone!
Planning a vacation to one of the city’s many theme parks and wondering where to go on an Orlando day trip? We’ve compiled a list of the best day trips from Orlando to help you build out your perfect vacation itinerary. Choose from one of the destinations on this list, from famous cities with nightlife galore to small towns with tons of charm, and you’re bound to have an amazing time on your Orlando vacation.
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The 15 Best Orlando Day Trips
1. Have Some Fun in Tampa
The hardest part about taking a day trip from Orlando to Tampa is deciding what to do because you could easily spend several days in this busy city. Located just about an hour and a half away from Orlando, Tampa is filled with fun, family-friendly attractions.
Get up close to animals or experience thrills and chills on the massive coasters at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, or cool off on a hot Florida day at its sister water park, Adventure Island. To view more majestic wildlife, head to ZooTampa at Lowry Park, where you’ll journey around the world in this massive zoo to see where these unique critters call home.
ZooTampa is a great place for learning about conservation, but if you want more educational experiences on your Orlando day trip, there are plenty of museums and historic sites to explore. Step inside the 100-year-old Tampa Museum of Art to see one of the most extensive collections of Greek and Roman antiquities in the southeastern US. Or enjoy watching your child’s imagination soar at the Glazer Children’s Museum.
2. Soak in the Sun at Cocoa Beach
About an hour from Orlando by car is Cocoa Beach, one of the best Orlando day trips and the closest beach to Orlando. If you’re looking to spend the day enjoying the sun, sand, and surf, Cocoa Beach is the place to be.
Cocoa Beach is known for its surf scene. With its calm and consistent waves, it’s a perfect place to learn to surf. Or you can spend some time immersed in surfing culture by visiting the Florida Surf Museum. It’s located inside the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf shop, which also has a surf school in Cocoa Beach.
Want another way to get out on the water? Explore the mangrove forest in Cocoa Beach with a guided kayak tour. Glide through the lagoon as you look for manatees, dolphins, egrets, and more creatures native to the region while your knowledgeable guide helps you find your way.
3. Blast off at the Kennedy Space Center
Located in Cape Canaveral, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is one of the coolest day trips from Orlando. This space center takes you behind the scenes of space exploration, from a look at the real launch of Apollo 8 to a simulation of your very own launch.
This visitor complex is filled with interactive exhibits, making it a particularly great place to take your little one, especially if they have dreams of being an astronaut themselves one day. While the visitor center has their own tours, you can take things a step further by booking a tour option that takes care of your transportation as well.
This day trip tour will pick you up near the Wheel at ICON Park in Orlando and take you over to Cape Canaveral, where you and a small group will get your very own tour guide. Along your journey, you’ll stroll through the rocket garden to see real rockets, ask questions you’ve always dreamed of asking of a real astronaut, and visit the many more attractions throughout the complex.
4. Relax in the Water at Kelly Park
What makes Kelly Park one of the best Orlando day trips? While there are almost 900 springs in Florida, Kelly Park is home to the Rock Springs, considered to be Orlando’s natural lazy river. Drive just 30 minutes outside the city, and you’ll find yourself in this scenic park, where you can spend the day in true tranquility.
Relax in a cool water pool, or grab an inner tube and float down the rock run for a little more exhilaration. Or you can go on a guided kayak adventure to take in the beauty with a professional guide to take you through the clear turquoise waters. Along the way, you just might see alligators, turtles, otters, and much more.
Paddle upstream toward the bridge, where you’ll stop for a soothing soak in the water and swim around. Then, you’ll enjoy a picnic lunch, marveling at the vistas of the lush forest juxtaposed against the sparkling water. From there, you’ll float back downstream the lazy river, simply enjoying being where you are.
5. Meet the Manatees at Crystal River
Looking for one of the most unique Orlando day trips? How about going to swim with manatees in their own natural habitat? Crystal River is only about an hour and a half away from Orlando, and it’s the best place in Florida to get up close to these majestic sea cows.
To make traveling to Crystal River even easier and to truly get the most out of the experience, consider booking an all-day tour, like this day trip option. You’ll be picked up from select Orlando hotels and whisked off to the beautiful, spring-fed waters of Crystal River, where you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel or swim with the Florida manatees!
While your guides can’t guarantee that you’ll have an interaction with the manatees, they do promise to set you up for success during your snorkel or swim. Crystal River has approximately 80 manatees all year round, but during the colder months, you may see upwards of 300.
After your swim or snorkel session, you’ll dine at a local restaurant. Then, you’ll board an airboat with your knowledgeable tour guide there to tell you all about Florida’s wildlife as you glide through the water, taking in the scenic views.
6. Step Back in Time in St. Augustine
St. Augustine isn’t just Florida’s oldest city. It’s the oldest continuously occupied city in the US. As such, this city, which is just under two hours from Orlando, is a great Orlando day trip if you want to immerse yourself in history.
Explore the Spanish fortress Castillo de San Marcos National Monument, which dates all the way back to 1695. Or take in the spectacular view from the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum. In addition to historical sites, there are even more unique things to do throughout St. Augustine, like listening to live music under a 300-year-old oak tree at Colonial Oak Music Park or taking a kayak tour of Guana Lake to see bioluminescent jelly combs.
To make getting to and getting around St. Augustine even easier, consider booking an all-day tour. This St. Augustine day trip will pick you up at your desired location in Orlando to take you to the nation’s oldest city, where you’ll take a unique tour of the city’s Colonial Quarter. Throughout the day, you’ll see blacksmith demonstrations, climb the watchtower, dine at 18th-century-styled restaurants, and much more.
7. Enjoy the Beauty of Siesta Key
A little over two hours away from Orlando is the barrier island of Siesta Key, one of the best day trips from Orlando. The beach itself is considered one of the most beautiful in the country, with its soft sand and cobalt water. Spending a day on the beach offers a serene experience where you can simply enjoy the view and the feeling of the ocean breeze.
But there’s more to Siesta Key than relaxing in the sun. Check out the animals who call the limestone rocks of Point of Rocks home when you go snorkeling. Or try your hand at jet-skiing, parasailing, and more watersports.
Siesta Key offers a more laidback experience. If you’re looking for nightlife, you may want to head elsewhere. But if you’re looking for a gorgeous place to soak up the sun, Siesta Key is the place to be.
8. Laze in the Powdery Sand of Clearwater Beach
Just under two hours away from Orlando by car is Clearwater Beach. This Orlando day trip is a perfect option if you want to spend the day just relaxing on soft sand. Clearwater Beach is known for its crystal clear turquoise water and powdery white sand. It’s a great destination for a quintessential beach day, which you’ll especially want during a Florida summer.
Spend the day playing in the sand or out on the calm waters. Or hop on a dolphin tour. Clearwater Beach is a great spot to find bottlenose dolphins, especially between spring and early fall. Dolphin tours, like the Lil Toot Dolphin Adventure, help you to get close to these beautiful creatures.
After a day out on the water, stick around after dark to hang out on Pier 60. Sunsets at Pier 60 is a Clearwater Beach tradition, in which entertainment is offered every night from two hours before sunset until two hours after. Catch the sunset and stroll the pier to see new vendors and fun activities pop up along it.
To make getting to the beach even more accessible, consider taking a tour that will take care of transportation for you. This day trip tour will pick you up in one of several locations in Orlando to whisk you off to the beach.
9. Museum Hop Around Sarasota
Sarasota is filled with culture and unique things to do. Located just about two hours from Orlando, Sarasota is one of the best Orlando day trips if you want to spend the day immersed in educational and entertaining museums and other notable attractions.
Learn about the creatures who call our oceans home at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. Or check out classical art and architecture in a gorgeous location at the John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art. You can also see the famous Ringling family’s winter home, the 36,000-square-foot Ca’ d’Zan Mansion in Sarasota.
10. Cruise Down the St. Johns River in Blue Springs State Park
Blue Springs State Park is truly a sight to behold, and not just because of its stunning turquoise waters. This state park is also where you’ll find incredible wildlife, including the majestic manatee. Back in 1970, only 14 sea cows called the park home. Thanks to dedicated conservation measures, they now top over 700.
This Orlando day trip option, which is just under an hour away from the city, offers hiking trails, but the best way to see the manatees and other wildlife is by getting out on the water. Blue Spring Adventures provides kayak and canoe rentals in Blue Springs State Park, as well as several tour options.
Journey down the St. Johns River on a guided kayak tour with an experienced river guide to show you the native flora and fauna. Or explore by land on a Segway All Terrain personal transporter with their guided Segway tour. But perhaps their best tour is the St. Johns River Nature Cruise, where you’ll float down the river on a boat with your knowledgeable naturalist guide to narrate your journey.
11. Enjoy the Small-Town Vibes of Mount Dora
Just over a half hour from Orlando is Mount Dora, with its small-town charm. When you visit here, you don’t need to pack your day with activities. Instead, do as the locals do and take it slow. Soak in everything you can, from the Spanish moss-covered oak trees to the many art galleries.
Look for manatees in Lake Dora, or cruise the water on the Dora Queen, an 80-foot New Orleans-style paddlewheel boat. Check out the more than 200 vendors at Renniger’s Antique Market. For more art collected throughout time, stop by the Modernism Museum.
Mount Dora hosts many events throughout the year, so you may want to time your Orlando day trip around these festivals. In February, you’ll find the Mount Dora Arts Festival, with over 250 artists showcasing their work alongside food and drink vendors and live music.
Or check out Renniger’s Antique and Collector’s Extravaganza, with multiple festivals throughout the year. Instead of the more than 200 vendors that you’ll find at Renniger’s throughout the year, these events bring in nearly 800.
12. Revel in the Nightlife in Miami
One of the longest Orlando day trips, Miami, is about three and a half hours away from Orlando by car. So, you’ll want to get the most out of the trek. Luckily, there’s plenty to do in Miami to keep you entertained all day and into the night.
Miami is such a unique city because there’s something for everyone. Looking for historical sites? Stop by the Ancient Spanish Monastery, an architectural masterpiece dating back to 1133. Or soak in the beauty of the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, filled with more than 2,500 antique artworks and furnishings, as well as 10 acres of stunning gardens.
Want to spend your day in the water? You can’t get much better than the famous South Beach. Or, for a more unique experience, ditch the ocean and head to Coral Gables to soak in the historic Venetian Pool.
Looking for nightlife? From bars to clubs to theaters, Miami has it all. Seeing the cabaret-style shows at Faena Theater is a can’t-miss experience!
13. Explore the Culture in St. Petersburg
Just under two hours away from Orlando is St. Petersburg, which is a true cultural hub. While you could easily spend your Orlando day trip here at the beach, there’s so much else to explore in St. Petersburg beyond its beautiful shores.
How about starting your day with some museum hopping? See the most extensive collection of Salvador Dalí’s works at the Dalí Museum, view the work of legendary glass artist Dale Chihuly at the Morean Arts Center, or explore the West at the James Museum of Western & Wildlife Art.
Or visit a historic masterpiece at the 100-year-old botanical garden, the Sunken Gardens, home to more than 50,000 tropical plants, a butterfly garden, and flowing waterfalls. And if you’re visiting with little ones, be sure to stop by the Great Explorations Children’s Museum, an interactive museum for kids 10 and under.
14. Have a Day of Play in Winter Haven
If you’re visiting Orlando with little ones, one of the best Orlando day trips is Winter Haven, located just about an hour away by car. Winter Haven is home to LEGOLAND Florida, as well as the newer, preschooler-focused Peppa Pig Theme Park.
Over in LEGOLAND, you can check out more than 50 rides, shows, and other attractions focused on the beloved LEGO characters. Or hang out and hang ten in the LEGOLAND Water Park, complete with tube slides, water-play structures, and a lazy river. Then, head on over to Peppa Pig Theme Park, located just steps away, where your little ones can experience their first roller coasters and play around with Peppa and her pals.
Winter Haven is also known for its Chain of Lakes, so if you don’t want to play with the LEGO characters or Peppa, you can also play around on the water. Take a pontoon boat cruise, rent kayaks, or learn to water ski with a day out on the lakes.
15. Go Wild in Kissimmee
Technically speaking, trying to get to Everglades National Park from Orlando will likely take you over four hours by car. Luckily, nearby Kissimmee is the gateway to the Everglades, and you can see much of the Everglades’ natural beauty by taking a day trip from Orlando to this sunny city, which is only a 30-minute ride away.
Boggy Creek Airboat Adventures offers incredible airboat tours, where you’ll get up close with alligators, turtles, and so much more as you soar through the wetlands. But there’s even more to do when you visit Boggy Creek, like seeing native butterflies in Lily’s Butterfly Garden, looking for gems in the mining slough, and exploring an authentic Native American village replica. For a truly one-of-a-kind experience, book a sunset tour to see the creatures of the Everglades at golden hour.
Or you can visit Wild Florida, where you can take an airboat tour, as well as step inside their Alligator Park, where you’ll see more than 200 native and exotic animals. You can even book an interactive animal encounter to get up close to these unique creatures.
There you have it! The 15 best Orlando day trips. What’s your favorite day trip from Orlando? Let us know in the comments!
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