20 Day Trips From Orlando

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Even though Orlando is one of Florida’s most exciting cities, sometimes you need to get out of the hustle and bustle and head out to explore the sunshine state. Day trips from Orlando offer a variety of experiences, whether you want to immerse yourself in nature, see some of Florida’s exotic wildlife or feel the thrill at a theme park.

Orlando is also a short hop to some of Florida’s best beaches and close to the world-famous NASA launch site of Cape Canaveral. You can get to some of Florida’s most picturesque areas in less than an hour or two, so if you have an extra day or two or just want to get out of the city on a day trip from Orlando, these are the best places to spend your time.

20 Day Trips From Orlando

Day Trips From Orlando (less than 1 hour)

1- Disney World

day trips orlando fireworks
When visiting Orlando, Disney World is a place you might want to spend all day.

This could be your main reason for visiting Orlando, and if you only have one day, you will have to choose wisely which park to spend your time.

Disney World has experiences for visitors of all ages, from the educational attractions at Epcot to the thrilling rides at Universal or the spellbinding streets in Harry Potter World.

For younger kids, Magic Kingdom will give you the best introduction to the magic of Disney, with plenty of rides, immersive experiences and shows, as well as parades, shops and, of course, lots of Disney-themed food.

Universal and MGM Studios have exciting experiences based on everyone’s favourite movies for older guests.

2- Kennedy Space Centre

day trips to kennedy space centre from Orlando
Gawk at the Saturn V in the Kennedy Space Centre, which can easily be visited as a day trip from Orlando.

The world-famous Kennedy Space Centre is under an hour’s drive from Orlando and is a fascinating day out for both kids and adults.

You’ll be able to explore all kinds of space-related things, from a real NASA space shuttle to the Mars Rover.

You might also meet a real-life astronaut or check out the Hall of Fame to learn about the pioneers who took humanity’s first steps into space.

For a unique experience, do a shuttle launch where you’ll get strapped in and launched off as if you were in a real rocket ship!

3- Cape Canaveral / Cocoa Beach

day trips from orlando shuttle launching
You may not be able to see a Space shuttle launch at Cape Canaveral, which is an iconic place to plan a day trip from Orlando.

At only 50 mins from Orlando, this is a great trip to combine with the Kennedy Space Centre, as Cape Canaveral is the launch site for all of NASA’s rocket launches.

The area is home to the Air Force Space and Missile History Center where you can keep your space knowledge going, after which you can kick back and relax at Cocoa Beach.

From its family-friendly pier, with lots of rides, shops and cafes, to a huge range of surf shops where you can learn the sport, there are activities aplenty.

Don’t worry about food either, aside from a host of excellent restaurants, you’ll also find some of Florida’s best Key Lime Pie right on the beachfront.

4- Daytona Beach

day trips from orlando to the beach sunrise over the pier and water
Start your day trip from Orlando early to catch the sunrise over Daytona Beach’s Main Street Pier.

Daytona Beach, despite its name, is not just famous for its sandy shores but is also the motorsport capital of Florida.

Just 50 minutes from Orlando, this is a thrilling day out for a budding race car driver.

Check out the Daytona International Speedway for a tour or to catch a race if you’re lucky.

You can also go to the Motorsport Hall of Fame to learn about some of the biggest names in racing.

After exhausting yourselves on the track, head to Daytona Pier or the area’s 23 miles (37 km) of sandy beaches to go swimming, snorkelling, parasailing – in fact, any water sport you can think of.

5- Wekiwa Springs State Park

florida day trips from orlando
The clear waters of Wekiwa Springs State Park in central Florida is one of the day trips from Orlando for nature lovers.

If you’re short on time, Wekiwa Springs is a minimal 30-minute drive from Orlando, yet you’ll feel miles from the city.

The State Park is filled with tropical flora, fauna, and lots of springs to swim in.

The best ways to explore are on foot if you’re feeling active, or by canoe, kayak or horseback.

The crystal-clear waters are perfect for escaping the summer heat, where you can also snorkel and see a variety of birdlife.

To extend your trip, you can consider camping in this natural wetland to kick back in nature fully.

6- Mount Dora

day trips from orlando florida tasty blueberries isolated on white background.
Mount Dora is a day trip from Orlando worth doing for its festivals, so check to see what’s happening during your visit.

Just 40 minutes north of Orlando, you can find a slice of Florida’s small-town charm in Mount Dora.

The town is most famous for its markets and festivals, such as its Antique and Farmer’s Market, where you can pick up many vintage treasures.

Most times of the year, you’ll find an event on in Mount Dora.

They have an annual Craft Fair, a Seafood Festival, the Spring Festival of Arts & Crafts and even a Blueberry Festival!

You’ll find all of it and more in Mount Dora, no matter what you’re searching for, from trinkets to souvenirs, coffee, cake or just some hearty food.

7- Blue Springs State Park

day trips in florida from orlando pod of manatees in the water
Seeing manatees in Blue Springs State Park is one of the most exciting day trips from Orlando for wildlife lovers.

A quick 45-minute trip from Orlando lies Blue Springs State Park, which is an adventure lover’s dream.

In the summer months, you can enjoy walking and hiking trails through nature, however the park is usurpingly known for its beautiful blue springs, in which you can swim, canoe, kayak or go tubing to your heart’s content.

In winter, you’ll also have the chance to spot local manatees, which make their home here.

There’s a lovely playground for kids, and you’re also allowed to camp on-site if you have your own tent and gear for an evening out in nature under the stars.

8- New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is one of the prettiest for a stereotypical Florida beach getaway and is only one hour’s drive from Orlando.

It has classic soft white sand beaches and crystal waters more closely resembling the Florida Keys.

Enjoy a day of sunbathing, swimming, surfing and boat trips.

Nearby you can also head to the Marine Discovery Center, where they offer guided kayak and dolphin spotting tours in the local area.

If you didn’t get the chance to go to Daytona, Smyrna also has a lesser-known speedway that you can visit, and it hosts many international races which are much easier to obtain tickets for.

Day Trips From Orlando (under 2 hours driving)

9- Tampa

day trips from Orlando Tampa skyscrapers reflected in the river
One of the most exciting day trips from Orlando to another city is to Tampa. Pictured here is the skyline of downtown Tampa after sunset and the Hillsborough River.

Tampa is one of Florida’s most popular tourist destinations, and at just under two hours from Orlando, you’d be silly to miss it out.

It is home to the famous Florida Aquarium, the state’s biggest, offering hundreds of attractions inside as well as a wild dolphin cruise around the waters of Tampa Bay.

If you’re simply looking to explore, head straight to Downtown Tampa, where you’ll find bars, movie theatres, restaurants and shopping.

Tampa’s food scene is also renowned, so it’s worth doing a food tour while you’re in the neighbourhood to get a proper taste of Florida cooking.

10- Devil’s Den

Devil’s Den is 1 hour and 40 minutes from Orlando and is just as mysterious as it sounds.

A prehistoric spring where you can snorkel and scuba dive, it will remind you of the tropical cenotes of Mexico.

The spring is 54 ft (16 m) deep, and on cold mornings steam rises from the hole giving the spring its name.

With mild 72 F (22 C) water temperatures, ancient stalagmites and fossil formations, it makes a unique day trip that everyone will enjoy.

If you can’t dive, you can still snorkel to experience the enormous depth of the spring and see its tropical marine life.

If you can, spend a few hours exploring all this ancient wonder.

11- Gainesville

Gainesville is one of Florida’s most underrated cities and is less than two hours from Orlando.

Although most widely known for being home to the University of Florida, it is one of the state’s most historic cities, with artefacts and habitats dating back thousands of years.

One of the best things to see in this vein is the Florida Museum of Natural History, where you can see fossils and wander among interactive exhibits to learn about the state’s history.

There are also multiple pretty state parks, including Ichetucknee and Devil’s Millhopper, for a bit of fresh air.

You’ll find a hub of great shopping, markets, and foodie hotspots in downtown Gainesville. For the freshest ingredients, head to the Union Street Farmers Market.

12- Caladesi Island State Park

Located near the town of Dunedin, Caladesi State Park is very close to Clearwater and is famous for its pristine beach.

Although you can get the ferry with hundreds of other visitors to the island, try kayaking there for a more active and rewarding experience.

You can also hike if you’re feeling up to it, but either way, you’ll be rewarded with an endlessly long stretch of white sand beach at the other end.

The main things to do here are simply sit back, relax, have a swim and snorkel and soak up some Florida sunshine.

Make sure to pack food and lots of water as there aren’t many amenities on the island.

13- St. Augustine

day trips to miami from orlando castle wall at sunrise
One of the best day trips from Orlando for history lovers is to St Augustine. Pictured here is the Castillo de San Marcos.

An hour and forty minutes away, St. Augustine is the perfect day trip from Orlando for history buffs as it’s the oldest city in the United States.

Founded in 1565, you will enjoy wandering the historic cobble streets or visiting museums to learn about the city’s past.

Visit the Castillo di San Marcos to combine history and breathtaking sea views.

A fun place to see is the Ponce de Leon Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park, which is supposedly the place where the conquistador Juan Ponce de Leon landed in the Americas.

If you believe the legend (or the Pirates of the Caribbean film!), you may find the water here will make you young forever – it’s always worth giving it a shot.

14- Ocala National Forest

day trips from orlando fl sunset over the water
Another Orlando day trip for nature lovers to tick off the to-see list is the Ocala National Forest.

Ocala National Forest is unmissable for nature enthusiasts and is the world’s largest sand pine scrub forest.

The forest comprises over 36,000 acres which you can explore on foot or by bike.

There are also lots of natural sparkling pools to swim, such as Silver Glen Springs, and more than 600 lakes, springs and rivers within the park.

Hiking is the most popular activity here, and there are plenty of picturesque places to cool off.

You can also choose to camp overnight if you have the equipment.

15- Ellie Schiller Homosassa Spring Wildlife State Park

If you’re curious to see manatees and many other species native to Florida, such as alligators and crocs, then Homosassa Spring Wildlife State Park will be right up your street.

You can also see mammals such as the Florida panther, red wolf, bobcat and black bears.

Learn all about the wildlife and how the state protects them, as well as enjoy a range of hiking trails and picnic spots.

There’s a restaurant on-site that serves excellent food.

Day Trips From Orlando (less than 3 hours driving)

16- Clearwater Beach

beach day trips from Orlando crowds on the beach during a sunny day
If it’s the beach you’re after, Clearwater Beach may be a longer day trip from Orlando and worth combining with a few other attractions in the area for a longer visit.

Clearwater Beach is not far from Tampa if you want to make it an overnight trip or two and a half hours from Orlando.

As its name suggests, it’s one of the state’s best beaches with miles of golden sand and blue water, and the usual array of water sports are on offer, such as jet-skiing, parasailing and snorkelling.

Visit Pier 60 for Clearwater Beach’s buzz of activity, where you’ll find fishermen, locals and tourists enjoying the sunset and ocean breeze.

If you’re travelling with kids, you can head out on an exhilarating speedboat tour to spot some dolphins for a thrilling few hours on the water.

17- Sarasota

day trips from Orlando Sarasota
One of the day trips from Orlando you’ll love is Sarasota, where the Ringling museum complex built by circus magnate John Ringling in 1924 is a highlight.

South of Tampa and 2.5 hours from Orlando, the fascinating area of Sarasota is a great place to go if you’ve got a day or two to fill on your holiday.

There are some quirky places to see here, such as the Ca d’Zan Mansion, an eclectically colourful building that was the home of John and Mabel Ringling, co-founders of the famous Ringling Brothers circus.

Wander around the nearby Botanical Gardens and Jungle Gardens to spot some tropical wildlife like native flamingos.

For a bit of shopping and authentic local life, the Central Sarasota Framer’s Market is where you’ll find locals grocery shopping, with some of the freshest produce you’ll find in the area.

Longer Day Trips From Orlando

18- Miami

best beach day trips from Orlando lifeguard tower on South Beach Miami
One of the most fun day trips from Orlando is to spend some time on the beaches of Miami.

Although Miami is almost four hours from Orlando, the trip is worthwhile if you’re heading through Florida.

Miami has the state’s best beaches and attractions for everyone, from museums and waterparks for kids to live music and lively bars and clubs for adults.

With its proximity to Cuba, Miami is famous for its incredible cuisine.

The neighbourhood of Little Havana is the go-to place for good food, cocktails and to get your dancing shoes on – you might have to extend this day trip if you have one too many mojitos.

19- The Everglades

unique day trips from orlando
Seein an American alligator submerged in a swamp in the Everglades of Florida is worth doing a day trip from Orlando.

You can’t go to Florida without visiting the Everglades, which is a long day trip from Orlando and should really be done as an overnighter. But if you don’t have an extra day to spare, it’s still worth seeing to get an insight into the natural side of Florida.

The best way to make the most of a trip here is to do an iconic Air Boat tour, which will whizz you along the water and allow you to see the beautiful landscape and the area’s local wildlife, including many bird species and plenty of alligators.

There is also a tonne of walking, hiking trails and scenic lookout spots to enjoy while you’re there.

Make sure to bring water and sunscreen as it’s a full-on day out.

20- Fort Lauderdale

one day trips from orlando - aerial view of Fort Lauderdale waterway canals, residential homes and skyline
A day trip from Orlando to Fort Lauderdale will be rather packed so if you can spend the time, do stay for a few days.

A hefty day trip at three and a half hours, it’s worth spending the night to get the most out of this buzzing city.

Fort Lauderdale is a walking city with many excellent restaurants, beaches and sights to fill your time.

Spend some time exploring Las Olas Boulevard for great coffee or food before relaxing on the beachfront promenade, where you can just chill out in the sun or take a boat tour.

Cruises offer everything from dolphin watching for families to sunset dinner cruises, a relaxing way to while away an afternoon off the coast.

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India Jayne trainor
India-Jayne Trainor is a British/Australian freelance writer, photographer and contributor to various online blogs and travel websites. She has travelled to almost 30 countries, most recently Cuba and Sri Lanka. Her work focuses on solo female travel, having spent two months backpacking alone through South East Asia as well as living in Germany for a year. Her favourite country to date has been Hong Kong, but she is happy in any country by the ocean. Her next destinations are Uzbekistan and a road trip through the American Mid-West. India is currently based in London, UK.