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21 Easy Day Trips From Orlando For Families

We all know Orlando is a premier vacation destination, but it’s also centrally located, one of the best states for day trips! Because of Florida’s unique narrow shape, it’s a haven for day trips. Here are 21 Epic Day Trips From Orlando that we know you’ll love! Quickly drive from coast to coast, check out hidden gems, and escape the high-density tourist areas of Orlando.

The best day trips from Orlando to take with kids.
Orlando is a great destination, but it’s also a central Florida destination, making it a great jumping point for day trips!

Traveling With Kids? Try These Easy Day Trips From Orlando

Tourists flock to Orlando, with the city being home to Universal Studios and Walt Disney World. That means it’s also quite pricey. You’ll pay top dollar while in Orlando. However, traveling just a few hours away via car can save money and experience local gems. These day trips are worth considering solely because of the money you’ll save!

Since these day trips require driving time, and Florida is a toll road state, consider purchasing a SunPass. You’ll save time at each toll plaza and zip on by in the SunPass lane!

1. Get To The Closest Beach At Cocoa Beach, FL

There are a few reasons why Cocoa Beach is at the top of this list! Everyone always asks where the closest beach to Orlando is – Cocoa Beach. Secondly, it’s home to the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop! You can’t drive to Orlando without passing the infamous Ron Jon billboards.

Cocoa Beach is on Florida’s Space Coast. The namesake comes from all of the rocket launches nearby. It’s also home to Port Canaveral, where you can easily hop onboard a cruise ship to sail away.

My favorite must-do Cocoa Beach activity is to walk along the boardwalk at sunset! There are a couple of spots to grab a cocktail on the boardwalk, and it’s an excellent spot for sunset photos.

Cocoa Beach Florida is one of the best day trips from Orlando if you're looking for a beach day.
If you’re craving the beach, head to Cocoa Beach as Orlando’s nearest shoreline.

2. Experience Science at the Kennedy Space Center

To piggyback off Cocoa Beach, the Kennedy Space Center is another great day trip from Orlando. Guests can experience NASA history, see current SpaceX projects and learn with hands-on exhibits.

Our family loves the “Behind The Gates” Kennedy Space Center bus tour. It’s a 40-minute behind-the-scenes tour where guests can get in-depth looks at space technology – such as the Vehicle Assembly Building. The bus tour is equally informative as it is exhilarating. 

The Kennedy Space Center is a great destination for families in central Florida.
Take the Kennedy Space Center bus tour to get a behind-the-scenes look.

3. Discover History in St. Augustine, FL

Discover the rich history of Florida’s Historic Coast when you visit St. Augustine. The drive time from Orlando to St. Augustine is less than 2 hours.

Visitors can sip from Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, take a ghost tour, or relax on 42 miles of beachfront. Kids seeking adventure love the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, where they can get an up-close encounter with different native reptiles. 

St. Augustine has a great historic district to explore.
St. Augustine is full of history and ghostly fun for families.

4. Visit the Lakeside Community of Lake Nona (Near St. Cloud)

The closest on our list to the city, because it’s considered a suburb of Orlando, the Lake Nona neighborhood, is a beautiful quick escape. Visitors can experience a holistic retreat within this scenic Orlando suburb.

From nature trails to upscale shopping, there’s something for anyone that wants to retreat. The city sits on the picturesque Lake Nona, which covers 17 acres and offers a nice shorefront. Enjoy recreational activities around the lake and finish your day in Lake Nona by dining at a chef-owned restaurant. 

Lake Nona in Central Florida
Lake Nona is a vibrant Central Florida community. Photo Credit: Visit Orlando

5. Find Greek Culture in Tarpon Springs, FL

Most Central Florida visitors don’t even realize there’s a quaint seaside town just south of Tampa filled with Greek culture. Greek diving crews visited the city of Tarpon Springs and fell in love with the town that reminded them of home. Today, many Greeks maintain the religion, architecture, and food of their native country.

Beach-goers, foodies, and art connoisseurs will find endless things to do in Tarpon Springs. A must-do is spending time on the sponge docks. The dock is near Greek restaurants, and guests can watch fresh sponges come up, which they harvest from the ocean. Tarpon Springs is famous for their sponges, and it’s fascinating that the city was built off it!

Tarpon Springs Florida is famous for sponges.
You’d never guess there was a Greek community in Tarpon Springs, Florida!

6. Head to the Gulf Coast At Clearwater Beach, FL

Tourists flock to Clearwater Beach for the crystal-blue Gulf of Mexico water, but there’s so much to do beyond the beach! About 1 1/2 hours from Orlando, Clearwater is one of my favorite day trips from Orlando!

The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is a nonprofit aquarium dedicated to its team helping marine animals. Visitors can see dolphins, sea turtles, otters, pelicans, sharks, stingrays, and much more!

Another non-beach favorite is watching a game at BayCare Ballpark. The park is also where the Philadelphia Phillies host their spring training. Grab a hot dog and watch a game at sunset!

Clearwater Beach has water on both sides.
Clearwater Beach has beautiful water and great cultural attractions to enjoy.

7. Find Big Thrills At Busch Gardens In Tampa Bay, FL

Even though Orlando has plenty of amusement park fun, you can find even more thrills in Tampa Bay at Busch Gardens. It’s a unique concept that combines an animal park with big coasters on the amusement park side.

The park spans 335 acres and offers 27 unique roller coasters – including the world record for the fastest multi-launch roller coaster. The park has an African habitat with over 12,000 animals and a Busch Brewery. It’s worth the day trip from Orlando!

Busch Gardens is one of the best thrill parks in Florida and the perfect day trips from Orlando.
Need even more thrills? Busch Gardens is a great day trip from Orlando!

8. Stroll Down Park Avenue in Winter Park, FL

Fashionistas will love a day in Winter Park, Florida. Winter Park is known for its green spaces and outdoor shopping districts. Head to Park Avenue for a charming cobblestone street with upscale boutiques and farm-to-table restaurants. It’s the place to be seen in Winter Park!

Winter Park is also known for its variety of art. Head to The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art to admire the world’s most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany’s creations. Or catch a Rollins College show where performing arts take center stage in their historic theater. 

Winter Park Florida is home to shopping.
If you love shopping, head to Winter Park to shop Park Avenue. Photo Credit: Visit Orlando

9. Find Gorgeous Architecture in Deland, FL

Located between Orlando and Daytona Beach, Deland is a historic small city with fusion architecture to admire. Stately red-brick buildings, Greco-Roman columns, and magnificent oak trees make Deland a photogenic town.

Check out De Leon Springs State Park for an adventurous Floridian experience. At the park, you can dip 25 feet down to the mouth of the springs, which releases about 16 million gallons a day. Deland is a great day trip from Orlando if you want the “true Florida experience” – take a break from the tourist attractions. 

Deland Florida is full of history.
The historic Deland Courthouse is one of the city’s beautiful buildings to see.

10. Find Quirky Fun and Art in Sarasota, FL

A Gulf Coast city, Sarasota offers pristine beaches and quirky fun. The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota allows visitors to look inside the Ringlings – the family behind America’s most famous circus. 

The museum houses old costumes, wagons, and the world’s largest miniature circus. Circus fans can also tour the Ca’ d’Zan Mansion. It’s a 56-room Venetian Gothic palace that the Ringlings’ called home for many years. You’d never know there were such interesting things to do beyond Sarasota beaches – but there are!

Sarasota Florida is a great city if you love the arts.
Sarasota is a fantastic destination if you love the arts and they have a great food scene.

11. Daytona Beach

Daytona offers 23 miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline, and the city is such a fun playground for families. Families can pack up their car with beach gear and find easy beach access to enjoy white sands and ocean waters. It’s one of the only beaches that visitors can drive on!

The famous Daytona racing tradition continues year-round and offers much more than race-day excitement. Track tours at Daytona International Speedway and awe-inspiring displays at the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America drive excitement for visitors of all ages, any time of year. Daytona race history runs deeper than NASCAR!

Plus, if you’re looking for a bit more of quiet side, check out the Ponce Inlet area. It’s in the Daytona Beach area. They have a full-service marina for waterspouts, a marine science center for kids and the tallest lighthouse in Florida!

Daytona is a great beach if you ever want to drive on the sand.
Did you know that you can drive on the sand in Daytona Beach? That’s unique!

12. Swim With Manatees In Crystal River, FL

Have you ever dreamed of swimming with Florida manatees? Head to Crystal River, just a few hours west of the city, and one of the ultimate day trips from Orlando. The warm Gulf waters are the perfect spot to snorkel with the manatees. Experts will guide you through the adventure and teach you how to get an up-close glimpse as you swim beside the manatees.

Crystal River is also famous for its bay scallops. Float over shallow waters as you search the seagrass beds for scallops. Harvest an entire bag of scallops to enjoy later. Local restaurants specialize in cooking your catch!

The Crystal River is where you find manatees.
Swim beside the gentle giants known as manatees when you visit Crystal River.

13. Catch Waves in New Smyrna Beach, FL

The New Smyrna Beach Area is the perfect day trip from Orlando if you’re a surfer. The city has 17 miles of white sand beaches that are famous for the waves to catch. With the ocean on one side and the Intracoastal Waterway on the other, New Smyrna offers an escape from the Central Florida heat.

The tidal marshes and lagoons of New Smyrna offer a fascinating ecosystem too. Small sharks, such as bonnethead, bull, spinner, blacktip, and the Atlantic sharp-nose, swim to the lagoons, where they stay until adulthood. Kids love exploring the lagoon wildlife!

The Marine Discovery Center of New Smyrna Beach offers educational programs for kids of all ages. They don’t want visitors to “fear the fin”!

New Smyrna Beach Florida is known as a surf destination.
New Smyrna Beach is where to go if you want to catch some waves to ride.

14. Experience Authentic Florida In Blue Spring State Park

With emerald springs feeding the Wekiwa River and lush tropical hammocks, the Blue Spring State Park is the perfect escape – only minutes from downtown Orlando.

The spring is more than a scenic area for canoeing and swimming; it’s a place where families can admire boardwalk manatees, which is excellent for little ones. Manatees love the 72-degree spring; guests can see hundreds from November through March.

Blue Spring State Park in Florida
Blue Springs State Park is great for manatees, swimming and even fireflies.

15. Connect With Nature at Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wekiwa Springs State Park is a haven for hikers with over 15 miles of trails to explore. Enjoy river swamps and dry sandhill terrains along the trails. Some animals you may encounter while enjoying the trails include the Florida black bear, white-tailed deer, bobcat, gopher tortoise, turkeys, and many other bird species.

The trails are multi-use, so it’s open for horseback riding and bikers. When you’re ready to cool off from the hike, rent a kayak or canoe to explore the Wekiva River.

The views of Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Check out the gorgeous views of Wekiwa Springs State Park.

16. See the Clear Water in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

Weeki Wachee Springs is most famous for its mermaid shows, spring-fed water park, and beautiful clear and blue water. It’s on Florida’s Adventure Coast! The Weeki Wachee Springs cave system is one of the deepest underwater cave systems in the world. The spring flows into the scenic Weeki Wachee River, making it a paradise for kayaking and paddleboarding. 

Take a boat tour and float down the Weeki Wachee River. Kids love to see the crystal-blue water and listen to educational commentary from park rangers.

The manatees of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park.
The manatees of Weeki Wachee Springs State Park love to show off.

17. See The Ecosystems of Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park

You hear about sinkholes all of the time in the Florida news because they’re relatively common. Devil’s Millhopper, located near Gainesville, is the most unique sinkhole.

The reason? In the heart of a pine forest, a striking 120-foot-deep cavity leads down into a miniature rainforest. It’s so deep that the climate changes when you’re down there! It takes 132 steps to reach the bottom of the sinkhole.

Devil’s Millhopper provides tons of insight into Florida’s natural history. They’ve discovered fossilized remains of extinct species in the sinkhole. It’s one of the most fascinating day trips from Orlando!

The stairs to Devil's Millhopper Geological State Park
There’s a bit of stairs to access Devil’s Millhopper Geological State Park, but it’s worth it!

18. Experience The Island Life of Anna Maria Island

Anna Maria Island is a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The area has an old-time Florida feel because the local government monitors the type of buildings and businesses allowed on the island.

The white sand beaches are perfect for beachcombers, and you’re almost guaranteed to see a dolphin when you look to the beach horizon. It’s all about the outdoor fun when you visit Anna Maria Island. Parasailing, ziplining, cycling, and fishing are some of the most popular recreational activities. 

Anna Marie Island is one of the best barrier island of Florida.
There’s plenty to enjoy in Anna Marie Island, Florida.

19. Walk the downtown St. Pete, FL Area

St. Pete is another great Gulf city just a few hours from Orlando. It has a thriving performing arts scene. Many working artists call St. Pete home, which adds to the eclectic art scene. Film festivals and live music performances are always on the events calendar in St. Pete.

The downtown area of St. Pete is easily walkable, too. Head downtown for shopping, dining, and numerous art galleries to admire. 

St. Petersburg Florida is one of the best day trips from Orlando.
St. Petersburg has a thriving art scene and great coastal views.

20. Find Peace and Harmony at Bok Tower Gardens

Situated between Tampa and Orlando in Lake Wales lies a special place that’s always worth the drive: Bok Tower Gardens. Bok Tower Gardens is one of my favorite date night adventures and day trips from Orlando.

The gardens have an iconic 205-foot Singing Tower with lush garden paths underneath it. Plus, unique smaller gardens are the perfect spots to explore – like the whimsical Hammock Hollow Children’s Garden or butterfly gardens!

While the gardens bloom all year, I recommend visiting during Azalea season, where you’ll see tons of color. 

Boo Tower Gardens, Florida
Reconnect with nature at Bon Tower Gardens.

21. Catch a Game in Gainesville, FL

Florida Gator fans will love Gainesville as one of the best day trips from Orlando! Head to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to watch the University of Florida football team. It’s wild when Florida takes the field. “The Swamp” comes to life, with 90,000 fans cheering.

Gainesville offers a fantastic tailgate scene on gameday. The party starts at 4 p.m. on the Friday before kickoff. Most gameday parking areas are $30, and you can tailgate in a sea of orange-and-blue fans. College football fans should take advantage of Gainesville’s proximity to Orlando!

Gainesville has a cute downtown area
Gainesville, Florida has an adorable downtown area to explore.

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