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11 Best Day Trips From Orlando

For an escape from the hustle and bustle of Orlando, Florida day trips are a great solution. Whether you’re into high-energy theme parks or exploring nature, there are countless destinations ideal for a day trip adventure.

Among the best day trips from Orlando are Cape Canaveral, Crystal River, Clearwater, and Tampa. We’re sharing our favorite day-tripping locations, and all of them are within a couple of hours’ drive from Orlando.

Kennedy Space Center

Cape Canaveral, Florida is a city located on the Atlantic Ocean in the eastern part of Brevard County. It is perhaps best known as the home of the Kennedy Space Center, where many of America’s historic space launches have taken place. Tourists can visit sites such as the Apollo/Saturn V Center and Astronaut Hall of Fame, or take a bus tour and explore other nearby attractions.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida, one of the top Orlando day trips (photo credit: istock.com/Credit/BethWolff43)

Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida is a great destination for a fun and interesting day out. Visitors can explore the history of the US space program, get an up-close look at rockets like the Saturn V, journey to the International Space Station via the interactive Astronaut Training Experience, and even take their own tour of the Launch Complex 39A.

They can explore the iconic Rocket Garden and Astronaut Hall of Fame with its array of rockets and spacecraft that chronicle the history of manned spaceflight. Touring the Apollo/Saturn V Facility allows one to view an up-close look at the massive rocket that first propelled man to the moon.

Kennedy Space Center’s Rocket Garden is breathtaking. A must do day trip from Orlando. (Photo Credit: istock.com/Credit/Vladone)

The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit provides a unique opportunity to experience the majesty of this hallowed program as well as touch authentic fragments from the spacecraft. Additionally, visitors can watch real launches from Kennedy Space Center’s own Launch Complex 39A or gather up-close views of launch pads located just a few miles away. There are countless ways to experience the wonders of space exploration at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

There are also special events throughout the year such as Astronaut Encounter where guests can meet with real live astronauts and hear their stories of what it’s like to work and live in space. The center also has several educational programs such as Kids Space Camp and Teacher’s Workshop so that visitors can learn more about science, technology, engineering and math in space exploration. With all this fantastic fun to offer, a trip to Kennedy Space Center makes for an unforgettable experience for anyone interested in America’s space programs!

With all this fantastic fun to offer, a trip to Kennedy Space Center makes for an unforgettable experience for anyone interested in America’s space programs!

Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore in Florida is a magnificent location for outdoor enthusiasts looking to explore the beauty of nature. Spanning 56 miles along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Canaveral National Seashore includes 24 miles of beach and numerous wetlands, lagoons and estuaries.

Shoreline at Canaveral National Seashore. This is one of our favorite Orlando day trips

It’s home to a variety of wildlife such as sea turtles, manatees, alligators and dozens of species of birds that use the area for feeding and nesting. Visitors can explore the seashore on foot or by bike, take a kayak tour through coastal marshes, paddle board on shallow bays or even cast a line in the surf. Whether you’re looking for an outdoor adventure or just want to relax with a view of white sand beaches, Canaveral National Seashore has something for everyone.

Crystal River

Another fabulous daytrip from Orlando is Crystal River. Located about 3 1/2 hours from Orlando, Crystal River is an ideal destination for any traveler looking for a blend of natural beauty, outdoor activities, and warm southern hospitality.

Three Sisters Springs, part of the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge (CRNWR), Florida offers so much to do on a day trip from Orlando. (Photo credit: istock.com/Kirsty Nadine)

The Crystal River area is known for its abundance of natural springs, making it the perfect spot to relax in the Gulf Coast’s crystal clear waters. There are plenty of ways to enjoy yourself here – from swimming with Manatees and exploring the underwater caves, to relaxing on the beach and taking a kayak tour.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs State Park is a beautiful and unique park located along the west coast of Florida. Spanning over 130 acres, this state park is home to many diverse and fascinating animals, such as West Indian Manatees, American Alligators, American Bald Eagles, and numerous species of fish.

Visitors can explore the spring-fed river by canoeing or kayaking, or take a glass-bottom boat tour to experience an up close look at the marine life in the clear waters. One of the most popular attractions is the Fish Bowl Observatory which provides visitors with an underwater view of manatees swimming in their natural habitat.

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a great day trip from Orlando for nature lovers (photo credit: istock.com/CampPhoto)

The park also offers educational programs for visitors interested in learning more about wildlife conservation and environmental stewardship. There are guided tours available that provide information on local history, plants and animals found throughout the area.

The Nature Center has exhibits that showcase flora and fauna native to Homosassa Springs State Park as well as an interactive touch tank where guests can get up close with live sea creatures like starfish and horseshoe crabs. With so much to see and do, it’s no wonder why Homosassa Springs State Park is one of Florida’s most beloved natural attractions!

Plus, the area offers plenty of unique dining experiences, shopping opportunities, and cultural attractions. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or an extended vacation – Crystal River has something for everyone! So come explore all that Florida’s Nature Coast has to offer – you won’t regret it!

Tampa

Just a short 1.5 hours from Orlando, Tampa makes a great day trip from Orlando. With its heavy Cuban influence, gorgeous beaches, Busch Gardens theme park, Tampa is one of our top Orlando day trip destinations.

Outdoor adventurers will love the many parks and beaches in the area. Spend a day kayaking on the Hillsborough River, exploring nature trails at Lettuce Lake Park, or relaxing on the beautiful white sands of Clearwater Beach. For more challenging hikes and adrenaline filled adventures, head to Flatwoods Conservation Park or Off The Wall Adventures for rock climbing.

Tampa has so much to offer on an Orlando day trip

There are also plenty of attractions to explore in Tampa. The Florida Aquarium is a must-see with its interactive exhibits and weekly events. ZooTampa at Lowry Park is also an amazing experience with hundreds of animals from around the world. Take a stroll through Ybor City Historic District for unique shopping experiences and delicious restaurants or visit one of Tampa’s many museums like the Museum of Science & Industry or Tampa Bay History Center for an interesting peek into local history.

Clearwater

One of our favorite beach destinations is so close to Orlando, that is makes our list of best day trips from Orlando. Clearwater Beach is a great spot to relax, explore the Gulf of Mexico, and enjoy some beach activities.

The white sandy beaches are perfect for sunbathing and swimming in the sparkling waters. There are plenty of restaurants and shops to explore. When you are searching for an beach day trip, Clearwater Beach should be at the top of your list.

Clearwater has one of the top beaches in Florida. If you are looking for a beach day when visiting Orlando, Clearwater is the perfect day trip

For more activities to do while in Clearwater Beach, try jet skiing and parasailing along the coast. There are plenty of companies that offer these services so you can get out and explore the Gulf.

If you’d rather stay dry, visit Pier 60 for some shops and restaurants along the boardwalk. Here you can find unique souvenirs to take home or grab a bite to eat while watching the sunset over the horizon. No matter what your plans are, Clearwater Beach is sure to provide you with plenty of memories and experiences.

Daytona International Speedway

Another great option for an Orlando day trip is the Daytona International Speedway. This speedway is one of the most iconic racing venues in the world.

Located in Daytona Beach, Florida, the track was opened in 1959 and has since hosted some of the biggest and most exciting races in motorsports. With seating for up to 168,000 race fans, Daytona is renowned for its thrilling high-speed action as drivers battle for victory on the famous 2.5-mile tri-oval circuit.

The Daytona Speedway has been the mecca of NASCAR racing for decades and is home to some of the most famous moments in motorsport history. The iconic track has seen some of the greatest drivers take their place at the finish line, from Dale Earnhardt to Jeff Gordon, and it continues to be an exhilarating experience for drivers and fans alike.

Daytona International Speedway race (photo credit: depositphotos.com/actionsports)

As well as hosting some of the most prestigious events in NASCAR, the speedway also hosts major events from other racing series, including ARCA and IMSA. Whether it’s watching a thrilling race or taking part yourself, Daytona offers an unforgettable experience that will leave you wanting more.

Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier

The Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier is a well-known destination located on the Atlantic coast of Florida. Spanning nearly two miles, the boardwalk boasts some of the most scenic views in the region, along with a variety of attractions for visitors to enjoy.

The Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier makes a great Orlando day trip destination

From classic carnival rides and souvenir shops to oceanfront eateries and vibrant street performers, there is something for everyone at the boardwalk. With its stunning sunset views, one can see why this boardwalk remains a favorite among locals and out-of-towners alike.

Bok Tower Gardens

Another great day trip from Orlando is a visit to Bok Tower Gardens. Located in Central Florida, in Lake Wales, the gardens are located on the highest point in Central Florida.

Founded by Edward W. Bok in 1929, it was developed as a refuge of beauty and tranquility for people to enjoy and connect with nature. The 205-foot Iron Tower stands tall among rolling hills, lush gardens and lush landscapes filled with colorful plants and wildlife.

Take a day trip from Orlando to peaceful Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales (photo credit: depositphtos.com/wirestock_creators)

Visitors can explore acres of tropical gardens, winding paths, a reflection pool, large oak trees, and botanical plantings in this tranquil refuge. There are daily carillon concerts from the 60-bell Singing Tower.

The Singing Tower in Bok Tower Gardens near Lake Wales, Florida. Bok Tower Gardens is a National Historic Landmark and a bird sanctuary located north of Lake Wales (photo credit: depositphotos.com/miroslav_1)

Ocala National Forest

Ocala National Forest is a vast, lush landscape located in the north-central region of Florida. Spanning over 383,000 acres, it’s the second-largest national forest in the state and boasts stunning old-growth sand pine scrub forests, springs, and crystal clear rivers. For nature lovers, Ocala National Forest is another wonderful day trip from Orlando.

It is home to a variety of wildlife species including turkeys, black bears, deer, and gopher tortoises as well as hundreds of bird species. If you’re looking for a weekend escape or an outdoor adventure unlike any other, Ocala National Forest is the place to go.

Ocala is a stunning paradise in Central Florida, offering an abundance of outdoor activities and opportunities for exploration. With its vast terrain of lakes, rivers, rolling hills, and native wildlife, visitors can enjoy canoeing, hiking, camping, hunting, swimming, and even horseback riding.

From mild to wild adventures there is something for everyone to experience. Whether you want to take a leisurely stroll around one of the many natural lakes or embark on a challenging hike through rugged terrain – the possibilities are endless!

Whether you’re an avid hiker, passionate photographer, or leisurely camper, there are endless opportunities to explore and enjoy the diverse surroundings of Ocala National Forest. From swimming in the crystal clear springs to canoeing on Lake George, there is something special awaiting you at Ocala National Forest.

St. Augustine

St. Augustine is one of Jim’s and my favorite historic places in Florida, and a perfect Orlando day trip. This gorgeous coastal city is full of history and culture and there are plenty of activities to keep visitors entertained. From exploring a centuries-old fort to taking a leisurely stroll along the waterfront, to an eco-tour on the water, there’s something for everyone in St. Augustine.

The best way for visitors to experience the Ancient City is to begin their visit with a trolley ride. This will give you a good overview of the city, and you’re able to hop on and hop off as the desire strikes you.

Be sure to explore the Castillo de San Marcos. The fort is the oldest in the United States, and the view from the top of the Castillo de San Marcos is stunning! Other sites to visit include the St. Augustine Lighthouse, the Lightner Museum, and Flagler College

Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine

Indulge in delicious local seafood and explore unique boutiques and historic buildings lining the city streets. St. Augustine is sure to provide plenty of memories that will last a lifetime!

New Smyrna Beach

This quaint small Florida town is just plain cool! With a funky vibe that is dominated by East Coast Florida surfing, New Smyrna is just plain fun. A great choice is to just relax on the beach and watch the trucks driving on the beach, folks surf fishing, or the surfers patiently waiting for the perfect wave.

But, Flagler Avenue and Canal Street are definitely not to be missed! Flagler is home to some cute boutiques, and good restaurants. Canal Street has a collection of upscale shops and good restaurants. For art lovers of all media, don’t miss a stroll down Canal Street and a stop into the Hub on Canal.

Venturing a bit away from the beach, you’ll find the Marine Discovery Center. At the Marine Discovery Center it’s a hands-on/feet-wet immersion into the Indian River Lagoon, one of the bio-diverse estuaries in North America.

Take an eco-tour, either by boat or by kayak, and learn about the plants and animals who call the lagoon home. And the aquarium is small but mighty, and one of the neatest exhibits for me was to see the baby seahorses and baby sea turtles.

Winter Park

Winter Park is a charming town located in central Florida. Winter Park makes an ideal Orlando day trip because it is located just outside of Orlando.

It’s a popular destination for visitors, with its beautiful lakes perfect for boating, kayaking or paddleboarding, lush green parks, and a vibrant cultural scene.

You’ll find lots of art galleries and boutique shopping. With its laid-back atmosphere and proximity to major cities, it’s no surprise that Winter Park has become one of the most sought-after places to live and visit in Florida.

Best Things To Do In Winter Park

Visit the Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art

Take a scenic boat tour of the Winter Park chain of lakes

Explore the historic Rollins College campus

Shop and dine on Park Avenue

Go tubing down the river with Winter Park Tubing Company

Spend an afternoon kayaking or paddle boarding on Lake Virginia

Tour the Annie Russell Theatre at Rollins College

Explore Florida’s Natural Springs

Blue Spring State Park

Blue Spring State Park is just an hour north of Orlando, and is perfect for a day trip. Blue Spring is a perfect destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts, offering crystal-clear springs, wildlife watching, canoeing, swimming and more.

The park is home to the largest spring on the St Johns River, as well as one of Florida’s most popular manatee refuges. Visitors can take guided tours or explore the trails on their own at Blue Spring State Park. It’s a great place to relax and take in the natural beauty of Florida.

DeLeon Springs State Park

DeLeon Springs State Park is a beautiful, natural oasis within the state of Florida. Located in Volusia County, the park offers visitors a wide variety of activities and attractions to enjoy, such as fishing, snorkeling, kayaking, birding, swimming, canoeing, and much more.

One of the main attractions of the park is its iconic Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant with its own water-powered grist mill. Here guests will have the opportunity to cook and create their own pancakes – a fun activity for everyone, no matter their age!

The area also offers miles of multi-use trails for biking or hiking that are open year round. With its natural beauty and abundance of outdoor recreational opportunities it’s no wonder DeLeon Springs State Park remains one of Florida’s top destinations for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs is a great Florida State park, and is easily one of the best for swimming, kayaking, and paddle boarding. It is one part natural springs, perfect for kayaking and paddle boarding, and one part swimming hole. I love that the swimming hole is walled off from the actual spring, meaning you can swim with no fear of an alligator joining you.

The swimming hole at Wekiwa Springs State Park

On your visit to Orlando, get out and explore more of Florida by planning a day trip from Orlando!

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