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Best Day Trips From Orlando, Florida | 9+ Fun & Unique Trips

Heading to the Sunshine State and looking for some fun day trips from Orlando? Situated practically in the centre of the state, Orlando is the perfect base for exploring Florida. 

Day Trips from Orlando

This southernmost US state has no shortage of fun places and sights to visit and admire. From quaint, postcard-worthy towns to lush green spaces and sandy beaches, Florida has it all. It’s a US bucket list destination perfect for visiting with the kiddos. 

So, let’s jump right in and explore the best Florida day trips from Orlando to enrich your itinerary.

Top Orlando Day Trips

Kennedy Space Center

Day Trips from Orlando - Kennedy Space Center

Time to get there: 1 hour

If you (or the kids) are a space or science geek, you’ll absolutely love the Kennedy Space Center. And it’s only about an hour’s drive east of Orlando. 

This centre has been the site of all US air travel missions since the 1960s and is still operational today. Of course, there’s a separate Visitor Complex where guests get to learn the history and science behind travelling to space. 

A visit here can easily take up an entire day, as there’s simply so much on offer. From simulated space launches to seeing Space Shuttle Atlantis, it’s definitely one of the more unique day trips from Orlando. There’s also a kids’ Playdome, a 3D IMAX cinema, and even the possibility of meeting a real astronaut.

Try to arrive early to secure tickets at the door or book a convenient entry ticket with transport from Orlando. That way, you don’t have to worry about the logistics or finding parking. 

St. Augustine

Day Trips from Orlando - St Augustine
Photo credit: John W. Tuggle @Openverse

Time to get there: 1h 45 minutes

Known as the United States’ oldest continuously settled city, St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish settlers. Its European influences are evident in the beautiful Spanish architecture and historic sites like the Castillo de San Marcos. This site is said to be the oldest Masonry fort in the continental United States. 

Other notable sites include the 18th-century Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse. As the name suggests, it is one of the country’s longest-standing wooden schools. You can take a tour to browse through textbooks of the time and admire the quaint property. 

You also don’t want to miss the Pirate and Treasure Museum and the Potter’s Wax Museum. The wax museum boasts over 150 figures of celebrities and film characters — like Princess Diana and Dobby from Harry Potter. 

There’s plenty more to explore in this city, making it a great destination for a jam-packed day trip from Orlando. You can drive there yourself for more flexibility or book a tour with round-trip transport. The tour also offers multiple optional add-ons like museum or experience tickets, so you can customise your trip. 

Crystal River

Day Trips from Orlando - Crystal River
Photo Credit: USFWS Endangered Species @Openverse

Time to get there: 90 minutes

Visiting Crystal River may just be the best day trip from Orlando if you love getting up close with nature. This city is home to the manatee, a gentle giant that can weigh over 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds). These endangered animals are often called sea cows and are notoriously friendly — and adorable — creatures. 

Crystal Rives is one of the few places where you can swim and snorkel with manatees in their habitat. If you’re not too keen on getting in the water, you can opt to kayak or take an airboat ride. You can also see them in the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge while strolling along the Three Sisters Springs boardwalk.

The manatees are usually most visible between November and March, but you can spot them year-round. For a full-day adventure without all the logistical stress, you can try this Crystal River day tour from Orlando. It includes transport, a narrated boat ride, a snorkelling experience, and breakfast and lunch.

Blue Spring State Park

Day Trips from Orlando - Blue Springs State Park
Photo credit: B A Bowden Photography @Openverse

Time to get there: 45 minutes

Boasting crystal clear and warm spring waters, the Blue Spring State Park is a favourite year-round. In summer, you can swim or kayak in the transparent waters. From November to mid-March, the manatees inhabit the warm waters to escape the chilly ocean. 

During this time, swimming is not permitted. But the glistening waters are perfect for spotting these slow-moving giants. 

The state park also offers hiking and camping, with plenty of opportunities to spot birdlife and other interesting creatures. Keep your eye out for river otters, turtles, and perhaps even an alligator or two. You’ll also spot birds like osprey and bald eagles.

Blue Spring State Park is especially busy during the summer months, so try to get there early.  Consider booking a tour with a knowledgeable guide who can teach you more about the fascinating Florida wildlife.  

Daytona

Day Trips from Orlando - Daytona Beach
Photo Credit: Paul Brennan @Pixabay

Time to get there: 1 hour

Daytona Beach is the perfect day trip destination for NASCAR fans. But there’s even more to explore in this coastal city. 

When you’re not watching a race or taking a tour at the Daytona International Speedway, you can explore the interesting museums. These include the Southeast Museum of Photography and the fascinating Museum of Arts and Science.  

The Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens showcase sculptures among picture-perfect tranquil gardens. Tomoka State Park is another great space to embrace the outdoors with a picnic or kayak excursion. Of course, you can not forget the beach, the lagoon, and a stroll along the buzzing boardwalk. 

The drive takes about an hour. You can try guided experiences like a Daytona Beach kayaking excursion once there. You may spot some manatees, turtles, and a few dolphins!

Mount Dora

Day Trip from Orlando - Mount Dora
Photo credit: MediaProMan @Openverse

Time to get there: 40 minutes

Looking to escape the big city buzz? The small town of Mount Dora is another great option for day trips in Central Florida. You’ll love the unique architecture and all the different antique shops and cafes in downtown Mount Dora. 

There is also an assortment of fun museums. The Mount Dora History Museum is housed in the old city jail and firehouse. It displays all sorts of tidbits from the past, including antique clothing, furniture, and vehicles. It’s a great place to learn about the town’s history. 

The Modernism Museum is another stand-out attraction and a visual delight. Expect vibrant and colourful furniture pieces with a modernist and artistic edge. 

Be sure to stop by one of the restaurants to sample the local cuisine before heading to Sunset Park. The park hosts regular festivals and events. But, on an average day, you can simply enjoy a stroll among the moss trees. You can also visit nearby Palm Island Park to stroll along the boardwalk, where you’re sure to spot an alligator or two. 

Tour options here are limited, but Mount Dora is the ideal getaway for a tranquil day at your own pace.

Cocoa Beach

Day Trip from Orlando - Cocoa Beach
Photo Credit: Benoît Prieur @Openverse

Time to get there: 1 hour

Beach day, anyone? Enjoy the sunny weather with a day trip to the popular Cocoa Beach near the Kennedy Space Center. Boasting a soft, sandy shore and azure waters, Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando. 

It has a world-famous pier, bustling with shops, restaurants, and bars. Occasionally, there are live music performances, and it’s a popular area for beach volleyball. You can rent kayaks from the pier or even take some lessons with the Cocoa Beach Surf School.

One of the more unique and memorable things to do at Cocoa Beach happens at night — and during the summer. Once the sun sets, bioluminescent creatures become visible, lighting the waters with their glow. You can view this phenomenon with a Bioluminescence kayak tour on the Banana River. It’s a rare experience you won’t soon forget. 

Wekiwa Springs State Park

Day Trip from Orlando - Wekiwa Springs State Park
Photo Credit: Editor B @Openverse

Time to get there: 30 minutes

Seeking an Orlando day trip that doesn’t require too much travel time? Situated just 20 minutes from downtown Orlando, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers the perfect verdant escape from the Florida heat. 

Swim or snorkel in the crystal-clear natural springs, paddle along the Wekiva River, or explore the shaded nature trails. You can stroll or cycle along the paths — you may even encounter a few horseback riders. The park also welcomes campers if you’d like to extend your day adventure overnight. 

Other activities to look forward to include bird-watching and wildlife spotting. Look out for wild turkeys, white-tailed deer, bobcats, and Sherman’s fox squirrels. Pack a picnic basket to enjoy a tranquil lunch near spring between all the fun activities.  

Clearwater Beach

Day Trip from Orlando - Clearwater Beach
Photo Credit: rcgtrrz @Openverse

Time to get there: 2h 30 minutes

Clearwater Beach may be located a bit far out, but this stunning coastal stretch is well worth the travel time. 

This soft sandy beach is scattered with palm trees and backdropped by resorts. The calm, crystal-clear waters are great for swimming. But if you’re looking for a more action-packed day, there’s plenty to look forward to. 

Stop by the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to learn about dolphins, sea turtles, and otters. The aquarium serves as a rescue facility where injured sea creatures are saved and rehabilitated. 

You can even take a behind-the-scenes tour to get a better idea of the incredible work put in to help the animals. You can also sign up for a boat tour to see the dolphins. It’s a great option if you’re travelling with the little ones. 

Consider this Clearwater day trip from Orlando with transport and optional add-ons like a pirate cruise or dolphin encounter tour. 

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Day Trip from Orlando - Weeki Wachee Springs
Photo Credit: Chitowngirl66 @Openverse

Time to get there: 1h 45 minutes

This one’s a great option if you have any mermaid fans in the family. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park started out as a roadside show in 1947, where “mermaids” would do synchronised performances underwater. The show gained worldwide acclaim and drew millions of guests. 

Today, the state park is as popular as ever, with a sandy beach called Buccaneer Bay and exciting water slides added. You can also paddle on the clear waters or take a riverboat tour on the Weeki Wachee River. The boat captains offer educational talks about the different wildlife in the area. 

The entrance fee is about $13 for adults and $8 for kids aged 6-12. Children under five years are granted free admission. Mermaid shows are offered three times a day, depending on the weather conditions. Be sure to arrive early to secure a seat in the theatre. 

St. Pete Beach

Photo Credit: Amanderson2 @Openverse

Time to get there: 2h 30 minutes

St. Pete Beach has all the classic elements you can expect from a coastal Florida city; sun, sand, and aquamarine waters. But there’s also some fascinating architecture and sights for all interests to explore. 

Visit the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center for a hands-on learning experience about Florida’s reptiles and amphibians. You can also head to nearby John’s Pass, where you can sample some local eats or hop on a boat. 

Try the seafood at Bubba Gump shrimp restaurant or hop on a floating tiki bar. There are also plenty of little shops to explore, and you’ll definitely want to bring your camera to capture the beautiful architecture. 

You’ll spot all sorts of animals from the John’s Pass boardwalk, like manatees, pelicans, and dolphins. If you’re looking for a more adrenaline-fuelled experience, hop on the Dolphin Racer speedboat cruise and whizz among the dolphins. 

Ready for Your Day Trip From Orlando? 

Day Trips from Orlando

With everything from tropical green spaces and neverending sandy beaches, it’s no secret that Florida is the perfect summer destination. You’ll get to see unique animals like ‘gators and manatees, immerse yourself in local history, and sample delicious foods. 

Most of these day trips near Orlando are less than two hours drive away. And, because of its central location, many tour companies offer pickup and drop-off in Orlando. So you don’t have to worry about navigating busy and unfamiliar roads. 

Other destinations require getting there yourself, but the abundance of activities on offer makes it worth the trip. There are plenty of car rental companies across Orlando. But a convenient place to start looking would be at the Orlando International Airport. 

If you’re looking for more sunny destinations to explore, why not consider a visit to Palm Beach, Florida

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1 Comment

  • Catherine 22nd October 2023 at 5:15 pm

    Ahh I was planning out my 2024 travels and really want to go back to Orlando, and your post popped up! Now I want to go back even more haha.

    C x
    Lux Life London

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