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6 Best Miami Day Trips That Aren’t Walt Disney World!

6 Best Miami Day Trips That Aren’t Walt Disney World!

Looking for the best Miami day trips? You have come to the right place for awesome places to visit in South Florida!

Miami is known for having some of the most happening bars and clubs. If you take a trip there, you will find cool art deco style architecture around every corner while walking down South Beach.

There are some awesome fine dining restaurants, if you have a bit more of an expensive taste.

If you would like to take a trip from Miami and have a different, natural kind of experience, you came to the right place. Here are the 6 best day trips from Miami with full details on how to fill your day. You can also make these ideas into a Miami weekend trip if you have a bit more time up your sleeve to spend 1-2 nights at the destination.

These ideas all involve driving yourself as road trips from Miami with your own vehicle or rental car from Miami but if you want to take the lazy route, here are a few great Miami day tours:

6 Best Miami Day Trips for Nature Lovers That Aren’t Walt Disney World!

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

9.9 Miles and 21 minutes drive from Miami

If the hustle and bustle of Miami has gotten to be a little too much for you, take a trip to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park and get to experience an old-Florida vibe. One of the best short trips from Miami.

It’s located on the southern tip of Key Biscayne, south of Miami Beach and west of mainland. The entry cost is $8 per vehicle. It is best to arrive early, especially if you plan to visit on the weekend.

The park closes to pedestrians, bicyclists, and vehicles once it reaches full capacity. There you will find white sandy beaches, with tons of mangrove trails to explore down.

Once you get to the west edge of the park you will have a fantastic view of the Atlantic Ocean. While strolling down the shell trails, you’ll see a white and black striped lighthouse jutting out over the foliage.

This is the historic Cape Florida Lighthouse built in 1825. You can tour the lighthouse, and be able to experience some fantastic views of both Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.

There is typically a line to get into the lighthouse, but the view is worth the wait. If fishing is your idea of a good time, there is a fishing pier available. So, be sure to bring your fishing rod and gear.

If you work up an appetite while exploring the park, you are in luck. There is a restaurant located within the park that offers incredible seafood and incredible views called the Lighthouse Cafe. While dining here, you will have a great view of Key Biscayne and the Atlantic Ocean.

They are known for their seafood, but you can’t go wrong ordering off of their diverse menu. The breeze coming from the Atlantic with keep you cool as you enjoy your meal.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Fort Lauderdale

27 miles and 35 minutes drive from Miami

If you have transportation and want to see some of Florida’s most unique environments then a trip to Fort Lauderdale and stop at Hugh Taylor Birch State Park will definitely quench your thirst for an immersion in nature.

It is a little patch of paradise located in between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Coastal Waterway. The Fort Lauderdale water taxi makes a stop here.

It is sometimes referred to as Fort Lauderdale’s “Central Park” because of its central location between development on either side. Entrance into the park costs $6 per vehicle.

Once in the park you will find some magnificent Banyan Trees that could possibly be the biggest that you will ever see.

Be sure to respect the wilderness and not to swing on the entrails hanging from the tree, as this deters the tree from growing new roots. The trails throughout the park are great for hiking and some are able to accommodate bicyclists.


There are bike rentals available for one hour at a rate of $15 per person for adults, and for two hours at a rate of $25 per person. Kids bikes are available for $10 an hour or $20 for two hours. It is required by Florida law that bike riders under the age of 16 must be wearing a helmet.

You can also find some great fishing throughout the park, but be sure to observe the “No Fishing” signs that are located throughout the park in certain areas. You can snorkel and swim off the beaches in the Atlantic Ocean.

The Coastal Hammock Trail within this park provides a serene 20-minute stroll through the Florida wilderness. There are also paddle boards and kayaks to rent.

I would recommend getting to the park relatively early if you plan on renting out gear to ensure yourself enough time to get out and explore the beautiful patch of paradise.

Tip: Fort Lauderdale is one of the best weekend trips from Miami so if you have time we would recommend spending the night at one of the best beachfront hotels in Fort Lauderdale.

things to do in fort lauderdale Fort Lauderdale Beach

Coconut Creek

27 miles and 42 minutes drive from Miami

Coconut Creek is a quaint little Florida town located south of Miami. It was given its name due to the large number of coconut trees along the waterways.

The developers also wanted to incorporate a bit of Miami into the name combining Miami’s village Indian Creek, and Miami’s neighborhood, Coconut Grove.

While you are there, you will have to see some butterflies at Butterfly World. Coconut Creek has the nickname the “Butterfly Capital of the World”. This is because it’s home to the world’s largest butterfly aviary with over eighty species and over twenty thousand individual butterflies.


After seeing the butterflies, I would recommend taking a trip to the Fern Forest Nature Center. This beautiful Oasis almost looks as if you are in the Pacific Northwest, not Florida.

Temperatures tend to be a bit cooler in fern forest, so you may get a break from the intense Florida heat.

At Fern Forest Nature Center, you will get the chance to see over thirty species of ferns. If you are planning your wedding in Florida, this is an awesome location to host it. You will get to experience Florida wilderness before development.

You have the chance to enter the original floodplain of Cypress Creek before its waters were diverted into ditches for agriculture.

After leaving the park, you feel some peace after experiencing the wonderful sights and smells of Old Florida nature.


Fern Forest Nature Center

The land that Coconut Creek sits on was once all a part of the Everglades. While Governor Napoleon Bonaparte Broward was in control and made efforts to drain the swamp.

This land was soon after turned into farmland, which was then turned into a city. Although, there are still some bits of nature and history that still exist today, such as the Hillsboro Pineland Natural Area.

It is situated where the Hillsboro River and Cypress Creek once flowed from the Everglades out to the Atlantic Ocean. It is now considered to be a part of the Environmentally Sensitive Lands program, to preserve the small part of nature that is left in this area. It is one of the largest natural areas of pine forest in all of Florida.

The park contains a boardwalk that allows you to traverse over marshy swamp scattered with Cypress trees. This boardwalk is a part of the Prairie Trail, located on the east side of the trailhead.

There are informative placards located along the boardwalk to give you the inside scoop of the land around you. Once you make it to the end of the boardwalk, you will come to an overlook, giving you a great view of the natural marshy swamp.

There is also a sheltered area in case you happen to get caught in a typical Florida afternoon thunderstorm.

There are three trails in total located throughout the park.

The Pinelands Trail is on the upland portion of the park, and it is riddled with pine trees and oaks. Along this trail you will also find multiple overlooks that give you a fantastic view of the wildlife around you.

The third trail is to the north end of the park. This is the least exciting trail out of the three, in my opinion.

It offers access to the neighborhoods that border the natural area. If you continue on a little bit further, you will be able to have some great views of pineland and marsh. If you are lucky, you may get to see an Osprey catching some dinner for them and their family.

If watching ospreys catch dinner makes you work up an appetite, head over to the Caribbean Cuban Grill. They serve authentic Cuban food including Cuban sandwiches, plantains, Bistec Milanesa, and a cafe con leche that is to do for, and will certainly give you the energy to begin your trip back to Miami.

If you are not in the mood for Cuban food, and would rather have some seafood at a place with a local, laid back atmosphere, then look no further, you should stop at The Fish Joint. Some of their signature dishes include their crab legs, ahi tuna nachos, and grouper cooked any way you would like.  

Tip – If you want to do an Everglades day trip from Miami but don’t want to drive, here is a great tour you can take.

Everglades Airboat Safari

Coral Gables

Distance – 5.9 miles and 16 minutes from Miami

Coral Gables is an affluent beautiful city located north of Miami. It is most well known for being home to the University of Miami, home to its prominent college football team. If you’re a sports lover, visiting during football season may be worth it to experience the energy of the stadium.

If you visit a game and are ready for a bit more peaceful activity, take a trip to the Fairchild Botanic Garden. It was voted the best botanical garden in North America three years running in 2021, 2022, and 2023.

They have multiple great festivals that they put on throughout the year, including the Mango Festival, Chocolate Festival, Orchid Festival, and the Bacon and BBQ Classic. They have a great space for hosting events, and it is a wonderful place to have a wedding, if you are engaged and looking for a venue (even for a Florida proposal it would be great!)

They also host multiple plant sales throughout the year, including a rare plant auction. If you would like to learn more about Floridian flora, you can take one of the classes they have available. They have different classes for different levels of learning, but there is a class there for everyone of all ages.


Upon leaving, if you haven’t quite gotten your nature fix, you can visit Matheson Hammock Park, which surrounds Fairchild Botanic Garden on the north and southwest sides of Fairchild Hammock Park.

Matheson Hammock Park is a large park with an on-site marina that is run by the city. There are 11 boat ramps available for use, on the weekends it costs $17 to use the ramp. On the weekdays, it costs $13 to use the ramp. There is a diesel and gas pump at the marina.

The park features a man-made atoll pool, in which the water is pushed through naturally by the tides from Biscayne Bay. There is also a snack bar and restaurant on property built out of coral stone, if you are in need for refreshments. The slips at the marina are able to host boats up to 50 ft.

On site at the marina, there is a tackle shop for all of your fishing needs. If you would like to have a meal at the restaurant on-site, it is called Red Fish Grill.

While dining there you can sit indoors, or sit outside and have a view of the beach and Biscayne Bay. I recommend ordering off of the Miami Spice Menu to get a nice Miami flare to your culinary experience.


Key Largo

66 miles and 1 hour and 10 minutes from Miami

Key Largo is the first major key in the Florida Keys just around 1 hour drive from Miami. It is situated between the Everglades National Park, and to the other side sits the nation’s only living coral reef.

It is also home to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, the first underwater park in the US. While in Key Largo, you can spend your time snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, or really any water sport that interests you.

Here are some of the best Key Largo tours that you can book in advance of your trip.

This is where you will find the start of the glowing, crystal clear waters that the Florida Keys are known for. If you would like to learn more about dolphins, which are an abundant mammal in Florida waters, be sure to visit Dolphin Plus Bayside. They have opportunities to swim with dolphins, and even ride them if you would like.

If you choose to take a dolphin swim, be sure to be respectful and cautious, as dolphins are still strong wild animals. They now have six dolphins available for you to meet. Their names are Jett, Leo, Luna, Samantha, Nyla, and Nica.


If you are in Key Largo and burnt out from an activity filled vacation, take a break and do some sunbathing at Harry Harris Park. The entrance fee is not per vehicle, but per person. It costs $8 to enter for adults, and $5 to enter for children and seniors.

The beach is also accessible by beach wheelchair, but be sure to contact the park ahead of time if you are in need of one because they occasionally rent all of them out.


Once you are all done with your beach day and have worked up an appetite, take a trip to the Key Largo Conch House (one of the many great restaurants in Key Largo).

They have incredible fresh seafood. They also have a resident parrot and a garden veranda to relax on.

If you are looking for something a little less expensive and budget friendly. I would recommend visiting the Shipwrecks Bar and Grill located on Garden Cove Drive. It is a little bit more laid-back type of outpost, although they still offer high quality seafood. If you are lucky, you might get a visit from the local cat while dining in.

They also have docks outside, if you have rented a boat and would like to visit by water.

If you happen to visit on a Friday, be sure to take advantage of their all you can eat fish fry on Fridays, it is delicious. For the adults in the group, they also offer one dollar beers at happy hour.

Another good option for a day trip to the Florida Keys is the beautiful Bahia Honda State Park which you can combine with Key Largo. Crossing the seven mile bridge is always a fun experience. 

Key Largo Conch House breakfast in key largo

Key Largo Conch House/Facebook

Blowing Rocks Preserve

89 miles and 1 hour and 33 minutes drive from downtown Miami 

This location is the furthest from Miami out of all of them on the list. However, in my opinion, it is the coolest out of all the places.

Located just east of Jupiter, which is a town North of Miami, sits an interesting nature preserve that will show you an environment that you won’t find anywhere else in Florida.

Blowing Rocks Preserve stretches over a mile on Jupiter Island. It is home to some neat limestone outcroppings on the shore. It is the longest stretch of rocky shoreline in all of Florida.

The limestone that juts out at the intersection of sand and sea, creates a shelf with an overhand on the exterior side.

When waves rush in, they get trapped in the limestone and spray upwards as the pressure from the waves grows. This is what grants the park its name, Blowing Rocks.

Snorkeling at Coral Cove Reef things To Do in Jupiter Florida

It is possible to swim and snorkel at this beach. However, if it is especially rough out, or high tide, it may be a safer bet to swim at a different beach, especially if you have little ones with you.

Visiting during high tide with rough seas gives you the best chance of seeing energetic blowholes from the waves shooting through the limestone.

If you visit during low tide, you can explore the limestone caves and see what kind of wildlife is hiding inside of them. Some of the caves are tall enough for you to stand in.

There are also chances for seating inside some of these caves from wind erosion that has created a natural bench. If you would like to take a walk while there, you can visit the Dune trail, which follows the old route of A1A.

The trail has a nice fairytale-like tunnel of sea grapes that offer shade and a relief from the Florida heat, as there is often a breeze that gets funneled down the trail inside of the sea grape canopy.

If you visit during the summer time, you may be lucky to see the ivory blossoms of the sea grape trees that are breathtakingly beautiful. If you visit during the autumn, you will be able to sample the edible grapes that turn red around this time of year.

Once you have reached the end of the limestone outcroppings, you have reached the southern end of the nature preserve.

Once you reach this point, turn up towards the beach and climb over the limestone to reach the sandy beach. Be sure to take care of the limestone outcroppings, as they can cause considerable injury if you happen to take a wrong step.

If you happen to see little posts roped off with typically bright colors, these are sea turtle nests.

Please do your best to not disturb these nests. This beach has over 600 sea turtles that build their nests there every year, with thousands of tiny sea turtles taking their first steps across this shoreline.


After leaving Blowing Rocks Nature Preserve, take a trip across the road to the Hawley Environmental Center. If the center happens to be open, be sure to stop in for a visit. It has multiple interpretive exhibits, teaching about the wildlife and fauna that you have just experienced. Once leaving, you can swing around to the south side of the center and continue on exploring.

There you will find a set of stairs that will lead you to the Lagoon Trails, which consists of a boardwalk that trails around the Indian River Lagoon. There are information placar ds along the boardwalk to help you identify and learn a little bit more about the plants that you are walking through.

If you are looking for some food to gain some energy back for your trip back to Miami after your adventures, be sure to stop at the Blue Pointe Bar and Grill. The location is unbeatable, just west off the A1A with a view looking out over the Indian River. They also have a swimming pool, if you are looking to cool off after a day of exploration.

I would recommend trying their famous Mahi Mahi Wrap. You won’t be disappointed with your service, all of the employees are friendly and knowledgeable. So, once you get there, sit back, relax and enjoy the view while you sip on a fruity rum drink.


Love and want more? You could also look into the Kennedy Space Center, Biscayne National Park, Marco Island, Fort Myers and West Palm Beach as other great trips from Miami.


  • Reilly Mulligan

    Reilly is a sailing enthusiast from Florida who has spent her life sailing and exploring the Sunshine State. A native Floridian born who raised in St. Petersburg, Florida, Reilly has spent her whole life going on interesting, off-the-beaten-path trips around the state of Florida and has a plethora of information and experiences to share! While she is not sailing her boat around the Sunshine State she is sharing her experience traveling around the State with the readers of Florida Vacationers!

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