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While Florida may be known as theme park capital of the world, it also has many other points of interest that are worthy of a day trip. Instead of fighting the crowds at Disney World and Universal Studios, pack your car full of snacks and supplies and head to one of these fun-filled, quintessential Florida attractions. Whether you prefer to lounge on one of our beloved beaches, go on an outdoor adventure at a natural spring or want to get up close and personal with some of Florida’s unique wildlife, this list of day trips caters to a range of interests. From outdoor excursions to cultural attractions, these are the best day trips in Florida.
Consistently ranked in the list of best beaches in Florida (and the world), Siesta Key Beach is a short drive from Sarasota. A stunning eight-mile barrier island that runs along the Gulf Coast, the beach is widely regarded as having the finest quartz sand in the country, unique for to its ability to stay cool under the Florida sun. When you add the turquoise blue waters, pristine coastline, and appealing surrounding area, visitors are sure to understand why people from around the world consider it the perfect day trip destination.
An excellent example of an Old Florida attraction, Weeki Wachee is a world-famous attraction, known for their underwater mermaid shows. More than just kitschy nostalgia, it’s a beautiful area and developed state park, where visitors come to see the show and end up staying the entire day to explore its refreshing 72-degree crystal clear waters. Perfect for swimming, snorkeling and kayaking, there is even a water park for the kids with a thrilling flume ride.
The famous site where Space Shuttles used to launch, the Kennedy Space Center is for visitors to get all the space-related history they can handle. A mesmerizing complex with interactive experiences, visitors can watch a rocket launch, tour the center filled with fascinating space travel artifacts, and even get the chance to have lunch with a real-life astronaut. Hear captivating stories from a NASA veteran, followed by an engaging Q&A that is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for all.
A quintessential Florida experience, get up close and personal with some of Florida’s fiercest in the Everglades National Park. Hop on one of the many airboat tours offered throughout the area and float across the swampy grasslands and watch as alligators pop up to the surface. Truly a day trip like no other, visitors who come to the Everglades can learn about the preservation of the area’s natural ecosystem, spot a variety of unique Florida wildlife and have a thrilling adventure at the same time.
Perfect for cooling off on one of those hot Florida days, Ichetucknee Springs State Park is a gorgeous escape from the city heat. Boasting an impressive nine crystal clear springs that span across six miles, it’s easy to see why its a popular park in North Florida for visitors and locals alike. Spend a day paddling or floating on a tube through its refreshing spring-fed waters and relax under miles of leafy shaded hammocks. Thrill-seekers might also like to explore this area, as the park’s Blue Hole Spring is a famous destination for cave divers.
America’s oldest city, St. Augustine is the perfect day trip destination. Ideal for history lovers, the St. Augustine’s 500 years of history is highlighted throughout the city with charming cobblestone streets, interesting landmarks and quaint cafes. The centerpiece of this beautiful city is the Castillo de San Marcos, a massive fort constructed by the Spanish in 1672. Walk the walls that hold the memory of centuries-old historic battles, watch an impressive cannon firing, or watch one of the many engaging historical re-enactments.
Located in St. Petersburg, art enthusiasts will be delighted to explore this bucket-list destination. Home to 2,000 works of art and the most comprehensive collection of Dali’s work outside of Europe, it is rated by the Michelin Guide as the top museum in the American South. Both art aficionados and regular folks alike enjoy spending a day here appreciating the numerous masterpieces, where the stunning array of transformative pieces, including oils, watercolors, sketches, sculptures and other objects will simply take your breath away.
Known affectionately as the “Alligator Capital of the World”, Gatorland is an Old Florida attraction that is worthy of a day trip. Only a 20-minute drive outside of Orlando, here you can get to know some of Florida’s earliest inhabitants. Suitable for kids and adults alike, visitors can watch reptilian shows, visit a splash park or take a photo of the rare white alligators. Those who feel really brave can try the park’s heart-pumping three-story observation tower or ride the Screamin’ Gator Zip Line over the active alligator marsh.
South Beach is nestled in the heart of Miami, Florida’s most diverse city with a vibrant combination of Art Deco architecture, authentic Latin American cuisine and high-energy nightlife. A world-renown beach area, take a day trip to South Beach to see the famous palm-lined beauty and do your best to spot various celebrities and beautiful people lounging in 5-star luxury and dining in sidewalk cafes. A never-ending amount of entertainment keeps the area busy throughout the day, from exciting water activities to wild beach parties and trendy bars and clubs in the evening.
A unique piece of Key West’s history, the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum lets literary enthusiasts explore where this literary great once lived. From 1931 to 1961, the celebrated author resided in this Spanish Colonial home until his death. Located in the heart of Key West, visitors can take a day trip to this landmark and tour the residence while hearing fascinating stories of his life. An added bonus, visitors can even observe the forty six-toed cats that are said to be descendants of the late author’s former pet, Snow White.
Florida’s picturesque archipelago just south of Miami, The Florida Keys is one of the state’s most popular vacation destinations. Worthy of a day trip exploration, head to Key West, the southernmost point in the United States and sample one, or a few, slices of the area’s famous key lime pie. Symbolizing the city’s laid-back personality, the creamy texture and tart-but-sweet flavor is a must for anyone serious about their dessert. Perfect for visitors who want to spend their day outside, Key West’s idyllic crystal clear waters are also ideal for diving, snorkeling and fishing.
Made famous for its lovely singing bell tower and 60-bell carillon, take a day trip to Bok Towers and prepare to be overwhelmed with its natural beauty. Boasting a 1930s Mediterranean-style mansion and enchanting subtropical gardens, visitors of all ages will appreciate the 250-acre National Historic Landmark and lush environment. Meander through the gardens and admire the 15-foot moat, koi pond and a reflection pond that highlights the regal Singing Tower, as spending a day here is easy with its peaceful resting spots, romantic trails and breathtaking views of lush foliage.
Just the name conjures up images of exotic animals and unique performances, as it was called “The Greatest Show on Earth”. What many don’t know is that the creators of this brand, John and Mable Ringling, also had a passion for art. With this, visitors can travel to this top Sarasota attraction to find an impressive fine art museum with 21 galleries of American, Asian, European and Contemporary art, in addition to a Circus Museum with interesting memorabilia. If you’ve ever wanted to walk the wire or squeeze into a clown car, this is your chance.
Located in the bustling International Drive area in Orlando, take a day from the parks and ride The Wheel at Icon Park. Offering a brilliant 360-degree view of the city from 400 feet in the air, visitors can spot iconic landmarks and attractions from the sparkling skyline. Perfect for a romantic getaway or a day out with the kids, pair your visit to the Wheel with one of the many family-friendly spots on International Drive, where there is an abundance of restaurants, shops, and attractions to fill an itinerary for the entire day.