23 Best Day Trips From Orlando (Fun in Florida)

Are you looking for a fun way to explore more of Florida without wandering too far from the Orlando area? Look no further than these best day trips from Orlando.

From beaches and springs to city breaks and state parks, there’s plenty of adventure close by and more to Florida than theme parks. Whether you want to spend a day in nature or take in some culture, there is something here that will appeal to all tastes.

Orlando skyline across a lake

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The day trip ideas in this article are arranged in order of distance from Orlando (closest to the farthest). All are less than 3 hours away (the bulk are quite a bit less). And distances are calculated from the center of the city.

Listed drive times are approximations. The time it takes you to drive to the suggested day trip destination will depend upon several factors including your exact starting point, the time of day, weather, etc.

Wekiwa Springs State Park

foliage around a blue spring in Florida

Distance from Orlando: 17 miles
Approximate drive time: 22 minutes

Wekiwa Springs State Park is the perfect day trip for anyone looking to enjoy a natural oasis and escape the hustle and bustle of Orlando without driving too far.

Home to lush greenery and its famous natural springs, Wekiwa Springs State Park offers visitors a chance to relax in nature and take advantage of a variety of recreational activities such as swimming, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking trails. The popular swimming destination features spring waters that are a remarkable 72 degrees all year round.

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Rock Springs Run State Reserve

Distance from Orlando: 31 miles
Approximate drive time: 45 minutes

Rock Springs Run State Reserve offers 17 miles of hiking, biking, and horseback riding trails amid sand pine scrub and pine flatwoods.

Adjacent to Wekiwa Springs State Park (above), they would make a good combo day trip together. But keep in mind that Rock Springs Run State Reserve does not provide access to the Wekiva River or swimming.

Blue Spring State Park

manatees in a clear spring in Blue Springs State Park near Orlando Florida

Distance from Orlando: 33 miles
Approximate drive time: 40 minutes

Spending a day at Blue Spring State Park near Orlando is a great place to escape the busyness of the city. When available, visitors to the park can take advantage of recreational activities such as manatee encounter kayak tours, canoeing, swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and hiking trails.

One of the best things about this park is that it is home to a large number of manatees. Please keep in mind that manatee protection efforts may require the spring run to be closed to water activities during certain times of the year.

Mount Dora

Distance from Orlando: 33 miles
Approximate drive time: 40 minutes

For a day of history and charm, head to the picturesque town of Mount Dora, less than an hour from Orlando. This quaint village is known for its beautiful lakeside views, historic buildings, and unique shopping experiences.

Visitors can explore the charming streets lined with antique shops and art galleries or take a stroll around Lake Dora aboard one of their scenic boat tours.

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Central Florida Everglades

Distance from Orlando: about 40 miles
Approximate drive time: 45 minutes

If you want to experience the beauty of Florida’s Everglades without driving all the way down to Everglades National Park (about an eight-hour round trip from Orlando by car), then a visit to Central Florida Everglades is a great option.

Visitors can take boat tours through 4,200 acres of protected rivers and marshlands to spot alligators, manatees, and a host of other wildlife in their natural habitat.

Take an airboat tour and enjoy an alligator encounter.

Or try this tour that offers roundtrip transportation from the  Orlando, Kissimmee and Disney areas.

Kennedy Space Center

display of rockets outdoors at Kennedy Space Center in Florida

Distance from Orlando: 45 miles
Approximate drive time: 50 minutes

Visiting the Kennedy Space Center near Orlando is a great way to get an up-close look at one of mankind’s greatest achievements, space exploration. This iconic attraction offers visitors the chance to explore and learn more about American history in spaceflight.

There are a variety of Kennedy Space Center tour options that include transportation from the Orlando area and a chance to explore the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit.

Save yourself the headache of driving to the space center by booking this tour which includes transportation. You’ll enjoy a visit to the Kennedy Space Center, Saturn V Center, and even chat with an astronaut.

Canaveral National Seashore

Distance from Orlando: 50 miles
Approximate drive time: 55 minutes

For a day of relaxation and exploration, head to Canaveral National Seashore. Situated on the east coast of Florida, this beautiful park features breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and its rolling waves.

It’s an ideal day trip destination for nature lovers. Visitors can enjoy horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, surfing, swimming, boating, and birdwatching opportunities.

Don’t forget to pack all of your beach day essentials.

Space exploration enthusiasts may want to take advantage of rocket launch viewing from Playalinda Beach.

Daytona Beach

many people on a white sandy beach in Florida

Distance from Orlando: 55 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour

Enjoy a beach-y day trip from Orlando when you take off for Daytona and its 23 miles of white sand beaches. This iconic destination offers visitors plenty of activities and attractions that make it one of Florida’s top tourist destinations.

Try this dolphin and manatee paddle board tour so you can see these amazing creatures in their natural habitat.

Calling itself “the most famous beach in the world,” Daytona is known for its hard-packed sand. Explore the 750-foot Main Street pier and boardwalk or get out on the water for some boating or parasailing.

For those looking for some high-octane excitement, be sure to check out the legendary Daytona International Speedway where you can watch world-class races or take a tour. Daytona Beach is also home to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.

New Smyrna Beach

Distance from Orlando: 55 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour

New Smyrna Beach is a great destination for those looking for some fun in the sun and a top draw on the east coast for surfers. Whether you’re planning to relax on its stunning beaches or take part in thrilling water sports activities, this area truly offers something for everyone.

Try this dolphin and manatee adventure tour to get up close and personal with local wildlife.

But New Smyrna Beach is about more than just water sports. It’s also known for its dining options and arts scene. You could also climb the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Florida.

Bok Tower Gardens

tall singing tower in the middle of a large botanical garden

Distance from Orlando: 56 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 10 minutes

For a unique and peaceful day away from Orlando, take a day trip to Bok Tower Gardens. Located in Lake Wales, this destination offers visitors the chance to explore its beautiful gardens and awe-inspiring Singing Tower.

The Singing Tower is an iconic 205-foot structure that houses one of America’s most historic carillons. Although the tower is not really open to guests, you can hear the carillon concerts that are offered daily in the afternoon.

Spend the rest of your time at Bok Tower Gardens admiring the Olmsted Gardens designed by Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. Olmsted is also known for his work on the famous Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina.

In addition to the acres of beautiful trees and flowering plants, the gardens are also home to well over 100 species of birds and other wildlife.

Cocoa Beach

wooden pier out over clear blue water off a white sand beach in Florida

Distance from Orlando: 60 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour

Cocoa Beach is the perfect destination for anyone looking for an unforgettable beach day in Florida. Located just about an hour’s drive from Orlando, this stunning beach town offers plenty of activities and attractions that make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in the area.

Visitors can spend their day swimming or snorkeling in the crystal clear waters, sunbathing on the sandy shores of Florida’s Space Coast, taking an eco-tour or airboat tour, or enjoying exciting adventures such as deep sea fishing or parasailing.

Ocala National Forest

Distance from Orlando: 72 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Ocala National Forest is a great day trip destination for anyone looking to escape the big city. This stunning natural area offers visitors a chance to explore its lush forests and pristine lakes while taking part in a variety of outdoor activities.

There are plenty of ways to enjoy nature here. Featuring more than 600 lakes and rivers, the Ocala offers opportunities for swimming, fishing, snorkeling, canoeing, and boating.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Distance from Orlando: 79 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is an idyllic destination for a great day trip. Named after the Seminole words for “little spring” or “winding river,” this park offers visitors a chance to explore a classic Florida attraction, the famous “live mermaid” shows.

Weeki Wachee also features the deepest known freshwater cave system in the U.S. Enjoy splashing about at Buccaneer Bay, take part in a guided boat cruise, or enjoy a wildlife encounter show. You can also enjoy a picnic lunch before heading back to Orlando.

Tampa

Tampa city skyline

Distance from Orlando: 85 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Vibrant Tampa offers visitors plenty of activities and attractions that make it one of the most popular tourist destinations in Florida. Explore Hyde Park Village and do some shopping or explore the length of the Tampa Riverwalk.

It spans more than 2.5 miles of riverfront and links major downtown attractions like the Tampa Museum of Art, Armature Works (food!), Amalie Arena, and the Tampa Bay History Center.

Explore Ybor City with this guided food tour or perhaps try a guided tour with a deluxe street legal golf cart.

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Distance from Orlando: 87 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a must-visit destination. This stunning park offers visitors the opportunity to view some of Florida’s most iconic wildlife in their natural habitat, including manatees.

The Underwater Observatory invites guests to journey beneath the spring’s surface, allowing them an incredible chance to observe fish and manatees as they swim about in their natural habitat. The park also includes some animals in captivity. Examples include alligators, the red wolf, Key deer, and whooping cranes.

Crystal River

Distance from Orlando: 87 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 35 minutes

Crystal River is the perfect day trip destination for anyone looking to explore Florida’s stunning natural landscape and get up close and personal with some of its iconic wildlife.

Crystal River calls itself the Manatee Capital of the World. This is the place to go if you really want to get up close and personal with these creatures.

You can even swim with manatees if that’s what you’d like to do.

There are also plenty of other things to do like snorkeling, kayaking, and more.

Vero Beach

Distance from Orlando: 107 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 40 minutes

Vero Beach is a popular day trip destination for those looking to explore Florida’s stunning natural landscape. Situated on Florida’s Treasure Coast, Vero Beach is known for the Spanish Treasure Fleet that got lost there in a hurricane in 1715.

From its beautiful beaches to thrilling outdoor adventures such as deep-sea fishing or parasailing you won’t lack choices of things to do. Aside from the usual beach-y activities, you can take part in exciting eco-tours that offer a glimpse into the area’s diverse wildlife.

St. Augustine

View of the Matanzas River and the Bridge of Lions from top of Castillo de San Marcos

Distance from Orlando: 107 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 45 minutes

St. Augustine is the oldest city in America and was founded in 1565 by the Spanish. It’s a fun city full of rich history and culture. And some great places to eat. 

In short, St. Augustine makes for a great day trip from Orlando. This town is full of fun things to do, and the historic center is so nicely compact that it’s easy to get around easily from one site to another.

For more information about these sites, make sure to read my St. Augustine day trip itinerary. The top things to do in St. Augustine include:

St. Petersburg

Distance from Orlando: 107 miles
Approximate drive time: 1 hour, 55 minutes

St. Petersburg is known as the “Sunshine City” and is home to the Tampa Bay Rays baseball team.

“St. Pete” has something for everyone, from stunning beaches to world-class attractions such as the Salvador Dali Museum, which features a fascinating look at the renowned surrealist painter’s life and works.

There’s always something going on. And, with its many museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants, it makes for an ideal day trip destination.

And its location between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico means there are ample opportunities to participate in water sports and activities like sea kayaking, fishing, and more.

Clearwater Beach

long wooden pier over water from a white sand beach

Distance from Orlando: 110 miles
Approximate drive time: 2+ hours

If you’re looking for a beach getaway that’s not next door to Orlando, then Clearwater Beach is a great destination. It was named the #1 beach in the United States by Trip Advisor several times in recent years.

Clearwater Beach is known for its sugary white sand and warm emerald waters that are perfect for a day of relaxation.

Try a dolphin cruise, explore the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and enjoy great dining options.

Tarpon Springs

bronze statue of a man in a diving suit holding a helmet

Distance from Orlando: 114 miles
Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

The charming town of Tarpon Springs has so much to offer, from its picturesque waterfront views to its rich cultural heritage. Tarpon Springs is home to the largest sponge market in the world as well as the largest Greek community in the country, making it a unique day trip destination for sure.

Stroll Dodecanese Avenue, shop for unique gifts and handmade goods, eat delicious Greek food, visit the sponge docks, and more.

Sarasota

Distance from Orlando: 131 miles
Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 35 minutes

Vibrant Sarasota, Florida, has so much to offer as a day trip, from stunning beaches to unique attractions like The Ringling Art Museum and Marie Selby Botanical Gardens.

With its many museums, galleries, shops, and restaurants, it makes for an ideal day out. But what really sets Sarasota apart from other cities in Florida are its unique activities such as kayaking through mangrove tunnels.

Jacksonville

The Historic Friendship Fountain on the St. Johns River against the Jacksonville, Florida skyline

Distance from Orlando: 141 miles
Approximate drive time: 2 hours, 10 minutes

Jacksonville, Florida, is the largest city by landmass in the United States. It also claims to have the largest urban park system and the most shoreline of any city in Florida.

At only about a little over a 2-hour drive from Orlando, Jacksonville makes a great option for a city break day trip. 

Popular sites and attractions in “Jax” include the Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens, Friendship Fountain, the Museum of Science and History, and the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens.

Enjoy a picturesque River Walk stroll along the St. Johns River, try the St. Johns River Taxi, or check out some of their 22 miles of beaches.  

My fellow National Park Service site enthusiasts will likely want to spend some time at Fort Caroline National Memorial, which memorializes the failed French colonial presence in Florida in the 16th century. Like Kingsley Plantation, it’s part of the Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve.

The bottom line

Exploring the great state of Florida doesn’t have to require long drives or flights. You can easily take a day trip from Orlando and find yourself at one of many amazing destinations, ranging from Wekiwa Springs State Park to Jacksonville.

Whether you want to relax on a beach, explore nature in a state park, or experience culture in one of these big cities, there is something here that will appeal to all tastes.

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