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19 Best Day Trips from Orlando You Must Take!

If you want some great day trips from Orlando, you have come to the right place.

The city of Orlando is located in the heart of Florida, giving tourists who visit unrivaled access to the rest of the state and is the perfect place to make your home base.

There is a lot to see and do while you’re in Florida, so being strategic about your travel plans is crucial to getting the most out of your trip.

Whether you want to experience the world class beaches, tackle some of the amusement parks, spark your intergalactic curiosity, or mingle with the aquatic wildlife, you can do so easily in and around Orlando. Below you’ll find a list of some of the best spots you can take a day trip to and help you discover some of the incredible locations throughout Florida!

19 Best Day Trips from Orlando Florida

Cassadega ~35 minutes

If you’re looking for a trip that isn’t too far away from Orlando, this should be one of your first stops, especially if you are a fan of the paranormal.

This town’s infatuation with ghosts, spirits, and anything supernatural is definitely something you should check out if you’re into history and unexplainable mysteries. While you’re in town, you can get your palm read or talk with a psychic, and you can visit the town’s haunted hotel and restaurant for a tour!

Admittedly, this town may not be for everyone and can seem a bit cheesy, but the activities you can find to do in town are actually quite fun and are worth giving a try.

Cassadega day trips from Orlando

Image credit Flickr

DeLeon Springs ~50 minutes

Once referred to as Acuera meaning “healing waters” by the Mayaca Native Americans who inhabited the area previously, it is a gorgeous place to have a nice day out with the family. This state park has amazing swimming, hiking, boat tours, fishing, snorkeling, and more!

This park provides a deep cultural and natural history lesson as well as amazing entertainment. There is plenty to do for both children and adults alike. Located on site is the Sugar Mill Restaurant, which specializes in make-your-own pancakes! The restaurant is located in a 100 year old replica of the original early 1800’s sugar mill on site, how cool is that?! One of the best day trips from Orlando for sure.

Blue Springs State Park ~40 minutes

The big attraction of this blue springs state park are the manatees, as the park was originally created as a conservation effort to help them during their wintering process.

The manatees, otherwise known by their much more scientific name, “sea cows”, can be seen en masse at this park. There are plenty of other activities to do at the park outside of manatee watching, some of which include checking out the on-site museum, going tubing, camping, scuba diving, and picnicking.

The crystal clear waters make for a truly unforgettable swimming experience, so be sure to bring some sunscreen! This just scratches the surface of what you’ll find at the park, it is truly a must visit for the family.

Blue Spring State Park

Harry P Leu Gardens ~10 minutes

Located only a short distance from downtown Orlando, this outdoor sanctuary is a botanist’s dream and one of the best day trips from Orlando. This garden has one of the largest and most impressive collections of plants and flowers in Florida, it’s an experience to walk through its grounds.

You will find serenity at these gardens and learn so much about horticulture at the same time. There is an on-site museum and gift shop for visitors, as well as a massive library dedicated solely to books on botany and gardening.

Geocaching is also permitted on grounds, so if you’re into modern day treasure hunting this is a great place for you. The staff at the garden recommends a two-hour visit in order to see everything that the garden has to offer. Plants and flowers change seasonally too, so there will always be different things to see!

Harry-P.-Leu-Gardens

Kennedy Space Center ~55 minutes

One of the most impressive space museums in the country is located right next to Cape Canaveral and is a must-see for anyone visiting Florida.

There is an abundance of activities to do for anyone of any age while visiting; the options are truly mind-boggling. Want to chat with a real astronaut? Maybe you want to see the actual Apollo mission spacecraft up close? Or what if you want to hold a legitimate moon rock?

These are just a few of the options that are presented to guests at the Kennedy Space Center. You can even see live space launches if you’re there at the right time (there is a countdown clock on their website). You can, and probably should, spend an entire day here at the space center to see all that they have to offer.

This is truly one of the most impressive displays of human perseverance and technological achievement anywhere, do yourself a favor and visit.

Kennedy Space Center

Naughtynut/ Shutterstock

Lake Eola ~5 minutes

This lake is only five minutes away from downtown Orlando and is a great place to soak in some sun, have a relaxing lunch with the family, and enjoy the sights of Orlando’s wonderful skyline.

Live swans are a fixture of the lake, and they can be seen everywhere around it. You can even rent a swan-shaped paddle boat to head out on the lake and enjoy the park’s impressive fountain up close.

The Walt Disney Amphitheater is located at the park, where you can catch a play, concert, or movie while you’re out enjoying the scenery. You can rent out the Eola house and other areas for events as well, rates can be found on their website. This is a great place for the family with access to great restaurants close by.

Lake-Eola-Park

Wekiva Island ~20 minutes

If you’re looking for a place with the feel of a tropical resort for a fraction of the price, look no further. Wekiva Island is a sprawling 2,000 square foot indoor/outdoor recreation center with an emphasis on Florida’s natural springs.

Guests can rent cabanas for the day, where you can lounge around on the waterfront and get some sun. Kayak, waterboard, and canoe rentals are available to help you explore more of the natural springs and see some of the wildlife on display.

You can grab some beer and wine from The Tooting Otter Bar or some great food from their onsite food truck, the Without a Paddle Café. Events are hosted year round as well, so there will always be a chance you’ll find something awesome happening during your visit. This is a great place to visit with your family, friends, or both!

wekiva-island

Downtown Sanford ~30 minutes

Historic Downtown Sanford is a wonderful place to visit with more attractions and amenities than most people know what to do with! From flourishing world-class restaurants to a colorful and rich arts and theater scene, you will find it difficult to be bored in this town.

There are constant events being held in town, including numerous concerts, street parties, beer festivals, and more! Nature and wildlife are another big part of this town, and there are a number of options for those looking to connect with nature while visiting.

You can go for a stroll along the Sanford RiverWalk or rent a paddleboard and hop on Lake Monroe, which is only a few minutes away. If you’re into history, you’ll love the style of buildings in town, as well as the various different museums in town. Don’t forget to hop on the rivership Barbara-Lee for lunch or dinner too, it’s one of the only sternwheelers sailing left today.  

downtown-sanford

Saint Augustine ~1hr 30 minutes

This city is a bit of a trek from Orlando, but it is very much worth the trip to visit. The city is known for its Spanish colonial roots and subsequent architectural style and is one of the most visually appealing cities you can visit in Florida.

With an incredible food and nightlife scene, it is a great place to visit and have some pure fun. History buffs are going to love visiting too, as the city has more museum options than you can imagine, with the crown jewel being the 17th century Spanish fort of Castillo de San Marcos.

St. Augustine also offers world-class golfing, brewery and winery experiences, beaches, wildlife excursions, and more. This city truly has it all, you would be making a mistake if you missed out on visiting.

augustine-fl

Legoland ~1hr 10 minutes

This is the first of the theme park posts on this list, and we will start with one of the lesser known theme parks in Florida. Legoland is a kid’s (and frankly some adults, Lego’s are pretty cool) dream come true, with more stuff that they can build or destroy than they can imagine.

There are a multitude of attractions to ride that are fun for the whole family, such as the Flying School or the Safari Trek. You can even send your kids to driving school where they can earn their very own Lego driver’s license!

One of the big attractions at Legoland is called Miniland USA, where the master builders of the park have painstakingly recreated major parts of the United States in extraordinary detail, you’ll be blown away. Legoland also has their own waterpark, and you can stay at their Legoland hotel for an all-inclusive experience!

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New Smyrna Beach ~55 minutes

This lovely beach and subsequent beach town aren’t too far away from Orlando. You can easily make it here and back the same day and have plenty of time to soak up some rays at the beachside.

The beach itself is 17 miles long of white sand and is known for having some of the best surfing conditions in the area. The town is smaller than any of the other ones mentioned on this list so far (outside of Cassadega), so you’ll get that small town charm that people love while visiting.

The city takes pride in providing ‘laid-back luxury’ to all of its visitors, with amazing spots to relax in and incredible restaurants in town that offer all of the flavors of the beach. If you’re a fan of racing, Smyrna has its own racetrack nearby that has numerous events and is used by NASCAR for testing, so don’t forget to check that out.

New Smyrna Beach day trips from Orlando

New Smyrna Beach/ Shutterstock

Disney World ~20 minutes

What list of places to visit would be complete without mentioning Disney World? This is the star of the theme parks, not only in Florida but around the country.

Disney World is an iconic place to visit for a number of reasons, with a lot of your favorite characters from movies and TV coming from Disney. At Disney, you have the opportunity to visit these characters in person at their parks, visit their respective areas of the park where you can try some of your favorite foods from what you’ve seen on the big screen, and ride attractions that really immerse you in their worlds.

Disney has their own waterpark and hotels, so it’s easy enough to make this a multiple-day trip if you so choose! This is a place you have to visit at least once in your life, especially if you have kids. The memories that you can make there with them are priceless.

Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World/ Flickr

Cocoa Beach ~ 1 hour

This beach is great for those of you who are looking for a tropical beach getaway, where you can leave the worries of our civilized world behind.

Surfing and kayaking are a big part of the culture here, and you can take some fun lessons to get up to speed if you need them. The iconic Ron Jon Surf Shop is located here at Cocoa Beach, where they have any and everything that you can possibly think of when it comes to the beach.

Dolphins are a common sight on the beach, and so is seeing people having picnics and enjoying some of the great local ice cream that is on offer. Taking a Segway tour is also a popular way of exploring the beachfront, they can be seriously fun to ride on!

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Ponce Inlet ~1hr 5 minutes

Located north of New Smyrna Beach, Ponce Inlet is a great beach on the eastern coastline of Florida that has a diverse selection of activities for guests to try. Parasailing is one thing to try, the views you get while floating in the winds are breathtaking.

The Marine Science Center is another place worth looking into, where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at how marine biologists do their day-to-day work. Sea turtles are one of the stars of the Science Center, but they house numerous other aquatic wildlife and birds.

We can’t forget to mention the iconic Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum. The big red lighthouse is one of the most recognizable structures in town. This lighthouse is one of the most well-preserved historic lighthouses in the country, so if you’re looking to take a step backwards through time, you should absolutely visit.

One of the best Central Florida day trips.

Surfing

Gainesville ~1hr 45 minutes

Gainesville has a reputation for a few different things, one of which is being the home of the University of Florida and their mighty football team, the Gators. Gainesville is the place to be when it’s time for football season.

The atmosphere in town and at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is electric. The town of Gainesville has a booming cultural scene with great theater, art museums, and live performances. There is a large and diverse selection of restaurants to choose from, with dishes from around the world at your fingertips too.

There is always something to do and see in Gainesville. College towns have a way of being able to keep things consistently interesting! Be sure to check out the nightlife too, it’s incredibly fun!

Gainesville

Gainesville/ Flickr

Melbourne ~1hr 10 minutes

Your initial thoughts after seeing Melbourne may have you thinking of Australia, but this is a great town of its own south of Cocoa Beach.

This is a smaller seaside town that describes itself as being a mixture of hip, eccentric, and quaint. There are loads of unique shopping opportunities to be had here, with one-off boutique shops and galleries lining the streets.

A unique aspect of Melbourne is the wall murals, as local artists are encouraged to use the walls around the town as canvases. There is a lot of really cool style and personality in this town, and that trickles down into everything that they do there. We haven’t even covered the beach yet, which is incredibly fun yet relaxing!

Universal Studios ~15 minutes

Universal Studios is only a short 15 minute drive away from downtown Orlando, and it’s THE place to go as a movie lover. If you are a fan of the Simpsons, Harry Potter, the Transformers, Spongebob, and many more, then you have to visit the park.

The attractions and movie locations that they offer to guests are world-class, with some of the best amusement park food to boot. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Diagon Alley are particularly impressive areas of the park, truly bucket list locations for fans of the franchise.

Outside of the main theme park, Universal also has an expansive water park that is a whole lot of fun for the family. The best part about this park is that you can easily commute back and forth from Orlando to get here, and you don’t have to spend all day driving to access amazing experiences!

thing-to-do-in-florida

SeaWorld ~20 minutes

Located not too far away from Universal is another one of the big theme parks in the Orlando area, which is SeaWorld. SeaWorld specializes in all things aquatic.

They have extensive and impressive aquariums where people of all ages can enjoy watching and learning more about what inhabits our oceans. SeaWorld has recently invested heavily in their roller coasters, with several new ones having recently been built that offer riders some of the best thrills you can find anywhere. The Ice-Breaker, Mako, Kraken, and Manta coasters are must-rides for thrill-seeking enthusiasts.

The restaurants located on-site have unique and well-crafted menus that fit the theme of the park, but more importantly, taste amazing! Don’t forget to check out one of their live shows when they visit, their trainers and animals are unforgettable.

seaworld-orlando day trips from Orlando

Tampa Bay ~1hr 15 minutes

Saying that there is a lot to do in Tampa is an understatement. You can spend days there and still not discover everything. That being said, it makes for a great day trip where you can select from some of the best that the city has to offer.

Whether you want to catch a sports game from any of the city’s three professional sports teams, interested in doing some shopping, want to take a tour of the city by boat, or become a pirate, Tampa has it all for you! There are lovely beaches in the city, as well as a diverse selection of foods from all over the globe for you to try.

You can take a world tour of food without having to leave Tampa. The nightlife is a blast too, with so many different options to choose from, including plays, bars, concerts, and more.

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