Home Things to Do Top Day Trips from Orlando: Escaping the Theme Parks for a Day of Adventure!

Top Day Trips from Orlando: Escaping the Theme Parks for a Day of Adventure!

by lifeinorlando

Orlando is well-known for its incredible theme parks and family-friendly attractions, but there’s so much more to see and do in the Sunshine State. If you’re looking for a change of pace or a day away from the bustling theme parks, consider one of these top day trips from Orlando. From pristine beaches to historic towns, these destinations offer a diverse range of experiences for everyone to enjoy.

1. Kennedy Space Center

Take a journey into the fascinating world of space exploration at the Kennedy Space Center, located on Florida’s Space Coast. This awe-inspiring destination offers a unique insight into the history and future of space travel, with exhibits, interactive experiences, and the chance to see real rockets and the Space Shuttle Atlantis up close.

Kennedy Space Center is around 45 minutes to an hour from Orlando and is number one on our list as the best Central Florida attraction.

2. St. Augustine

Step back in time and explore the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. St. Augustine. Founded in 1565, this charming town boasts cobblestone streets, historic forts, and a rich colonial history. Visit the Castillo de San Marcos, take a trolley ride, enjoy a leisurely stroll along St. George Street or stay after dark for one of the famous ghost tours. During the Christmas season, St. Augustine turns into a winter wonderland of lights and is one the most visited areas in Florida.

St. Augustine is around two hours from Orlando and a fantastic day trip. If you want to make it an overnight trip, we recommend one of the many Bed and Breakfasts or the beautiful and historic hotels in downtown.

3. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach Hilton

Known for its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters, Clearwater Beach is an idyllic spot to spend a day soaking up the sun, swimming, or enjoying watersports. Boasting miles of powdery soft sand, the water is often calm and warm during the summer months. Clearwater Beach is very walkable and you will find an abundance of shops and restaurants right off of the beach. View our full walking tour for a great overview! Don’t forget to visit Pier 60, where you can enjoy daily sunset festivals, fishing, and stunning views.

Clearwater Beach is around two hours from Orlando but traffic on I-4 can sometimes be congested. If you don’t have a car, don’t worry! There are many tours available that will drop you off right at the sand. Or if you want to spend more time and stay overnight, search for hotels close to the beach here.

4. Blue Springs State Park

Experience the natural beauty of Florida at Blue Spring State Park, home to one of the state’s largest springs. This picturesque park is perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving in the crystal-clear waters or for exploring the scenic nature trails. One of the most popular activities at Blue Springs State Park is kayaking. During the winter months, you might even spot manatees seeking refuge in the warmer waters.

5. Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach

Famous for its NASCAR racing history, Daytona Beach offers much more than just high-speed thrills. Enjoy the beach, visit the Daytona International Speedway, explore the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, or check out the Museum of Arts and Sciences.

Daytona Beach is around an hour from Orlando and if you have a car, don’t forget that you can drive on the beach in certain areas!

6. Crystal River

Crystal River is the perfect day trip for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts. Known as the “Home of the Manatee,” this area offers guided boat tours and the unique opportunity to snorkel or swim with these gentle giants in their natural habitat. Located around two hours from Orlando, you will find a full day of activities from kayaking, fishing, hiking or even scalloping!

At Crystal River, you can even get up close and personal and swim with the manatees!

7. Bok Tower Gardens

Escape to a tranquil oasis at Bok Tower Gardens, a National Historic Landmark featuring lush gardens, nature trails, and the iconic 205-foot tall Singing Tower carillon. This peaceful sanctuary is perfect for a leisurely stroll, birdwatching, or simply enjoying the serenity of nature.

8. Cocoa Beach and the Space Coast

Cocoa Beach

Head to Florida’s Space Coast for a day of sun, sand, and surf at Cocoa Beach. Located around an hour from Orlando on the 528 toll road, the Cocoa Beach area is where you’ll find the closest beaches to Orlando! Don’t forget a stroll along the Cocoa Beach Pier and a visit the iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop, a huge shop full of surf gear, apparel and souvenirs.

9. Tampa and Busch Gardens

For a different theme park experience, visit Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, just 1.5 hours from Orlando. This park combines thrilling roller coasters with up-close encounters with exotic animals, offering a unique blend of adventure and education. Not into theme parks, Tampa has an abundance of things to do including a zoo and the Florida Aquarium!

Orlando has so much to offer beyond its famous theme parks. These day trips provide a wonderful way to experience Florida’s diverse landscapes, history, and wildlife. Whether you’re looking for relaxation, adventure, or cultural experiences, you’ll find plenty of options just a short drive from Orlando. Happy exploring!

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