Orlando, located in central Florida, is an ideal destination for day trips. Its central position offers numerous opportunities to explore the surrounding areas and have a lot of fun along the way. Whether you’re interested in nature, history, or thrilling adventures, day trips from Orlando offer a variety of options to suit everyone’s preferences.
Having lived in Orlando for almost 13 years, I’ve had the opportunity to take several day trips to various nearby places, all within a reasonable distance. Orlando is known for its proximity to several popular destinations, which make for ideal days out. If you’re looking for day trips, and things to do in the USA, consider setting off for a day of adventure from Orlando, Florida.
Best Day Trips From Orlando
I’ve compiled a list of the 15 best day trips from Orlando. This list of trips from Orlando offers a variety of experiences, from historic cities to beautiful beaches and natural wonders. So, pack your bags and get ready to explore the best that Central Florida has to offer.
1. Visit the Kennedy Space Center
A popular day trip from Orlando is to the Kennedy Space Center. Located on the east coast of Florida, this NASA facility is a must-visit for space enthusiasts. Visitors can explore interactive exhibits and even meet real astronauts. It’s an incredible experience that offers a glimpse into the wonders of space exploration.
One of my favorite things about the Kennedy Space Center is that it’s possible to catch a real-life space launch, if luck (and timing), is on your side. For those fortunate enough to be present during a launch, the experience is completely awe-inspiring. The Kennedy Space Center offers an unparalleled opportunity to witness the wonders of space exploration up close.
Distance from Orlando: 49 minutes or 51.4 miles
Location: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953
Getting There: The best way to get to the Kennedy Space Center from Orlando is to take FL 407 N to FL 528 E.
Best Tour from Orlando: Kennedy Space Center Tour & Transport from Orlando and Kissimmee
Must-Do Activities: Visit the Rocket Garden, which features a historic rockets and spacecraft collection, or try the Astronaut Training Experience.
Where to Eat: A favorite spot of mine near the Kennedy Space Center is the Space Bar – a rooftop bar offering delicious cocktails, small snacks, and sandwiches.
2. Explore the Historic City of St. Augustine
St. Augustine is an excellent destination for a day trip from Orlando. This notable city offers a wide range of attractions and activities that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages. One of the main highlights of St. Augustine is its rich history. Founded in 1565, it’s the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the United States.
Visitors can explore the city’s historic district, filled with well-preserved colonial-era buildings, cobblestone streets, and charming courtyards. The Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century fortress, is a must-visit for history lovers. In addition to its significance to the area, St. Augustine boasts beautiful beaches and stunning natural landscapes.
Distance from Orlando: 1 hr 41 minutes or 104.6 miles
Location: St. Augustine, FL, USA
Getting There: The best way to get to St Augustine from Orlando is to take I-4 E to I-95 N.
Best Tour from Orlando: St Augustine Day Trip with Tour Options
Must-Do Activities: My favorite thing to do is to visit the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park. I learned about the city’s early history at the archaeological park, saw a replica of the famed fountain, and explored the lush gardens.
Where to Eat: One of the top dining destinations in St. Augustine is the Colombia Restaurant. Situated in the historic district, this restaurant offers a delightful culinary experience. One of their standout dishes (and one of my favorites) is Columbia’s Original “1905” Salad.
3. Spend a Day at Clearwater Beach
Clearwater Beach is an ideal destination choice for a day trip from Orlando. This exquisite beach offers breathtaking views and is known for its beautiful beaches and white sand. Clearwater Beach is undoubtedly the perfect place for relaxing and making the most of your getaway.
In addition to its natural beauty, this spot offers a range of activities and attractions. Since I love to be out on the water, jet skiing, paddleboarding, and dolphin-watching are some of my favorite things to do while here.
Distance from Orlando: 1 hr 55 minutes or 105.4 miles
Location: Clearwater, Beach-Clearwater, Florida
Getting There: The best way to get to Clearwater Beach from Orlando is to take I-4 W.
Best Tour from Orlando: Day Trip to Clearwater with Sea Screamer Ride
Must-Do Activities: Don’t miss the breathtaking sunset views at Pier 60. This iconic pier hosts a lively sunset celebration every evening featuring street performers, artisans, and live music. I love to grab a spot on the beach, enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, and witness the mesmerizing colors of the sunset.
Where to Eat: My favorite place to eat while at Clearwater Beach is the Palm Pavillion. This restaurant serves delicious local craft beers and amazing seafood dishes.
4. Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park
Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is a fantastic option for a fun day trip from Orlando. The park is home to a variety of native Florida wildlife, including manatees, alligators, black bears, and panthers. One of the highlights of the park is the underwater observatory, where visitors can get an up-close look at manatees in their natural habitat.
In addition to the underwater observatory, the park offers several other attractions and activities. There are guided wildlife tours, where knowledgeable park rangers share fascinating information about the animals and their activities. Guests of the park can also enjoy boat tours along the Homosassa River, where dolphins, osprey, and other wildlife can be spotted.
Distance from Orlando: 1 hr 28 minutes or 86.5 miles
Location: 9350 W Fishbowl Dr, Homosassa, FL 34448, United States (entrance)
Getting There: The best way to get to Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park is to take the Florida Turnpike.
Best Tour from Orlando: Swim with Manatees and Homosassa State Park Visit
Must-Do Activities: Try a daily wildlife encounter program. These programs allow visitors to learn more about and interact with some of Florida’s most fascinating wildlife. From manatees and alligators to birds and reptiles, visitors can get a close-up look at these amazing creatures and even participate in feeding sessions.
Where to Eat: My go-to is the Grill at Pepper Creek. This restaurant is located within the picturesque surroundings of Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. It’s a great place to grab a quick bite or enjoy a casual meal.
5. Kayak the Econlockhatchee River
Kayaking the Econlockhatchee River is a great day trip from Orlando. Its proximity to the city makes it a convenient choice for outdoor enthusiasts looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. The river offers a serene and picturesque setting; perfect for a romantic day trip from Orlando.
As you paddle along the river, you’ll be surrounded by lush vegetation and abundant wildlife. The Econlockhatchee River is known for its diverse ecosystem, which provides a habitat for various bird species, turtles, and alligators. It truly is a nature lover’s paradise.
Distance from Orlando: 37 minutes or 33.8 miles
Location: Florida 32754, USA
Getting There: This is a great day trip from Orlando by car. All you have to do is drive on FL 417-N.
Best Tour from Orlando: Kayaking the Econlockhatchee River
Must-Do Activities: One must-do activity is kayaking; exploring the river’s natural beauty at your own pace. The river’s calm waters make it an ideal location for beginners and experienced kayakers. Immerse yourself in the tranquility of the surroundings, taking in the lush vegetation and the soothing sounds of nature – you might even be lucky enough to spot manatees (I’ve spotted these gentle giants, also known as sea cows, many times in the river’s waters).
Where to Eat: Make sure to grab a bite at The 1 Cantina – a Mexican restaurant near the river. They serve great food and everything from Margaritas to Mezcal Cocktails.
6. Explore the Everglades in Kissimmee
The Everglades is a fascinating natural wonderland that offers a unique opportunity to explore the abundant wildlife and some breathtaking landscapes. One of the most thrilling ways to experience this remarkable ecosystem is by taking a guided airboat tour.
Not only does this area provide an exhilarating adventure, but it also allows visitors to observe alligators in their natural environment. These ancient reptiles, with their impressive size and fearsome appearance, have long captivated the imagination of visitors. Be sure to have your camera ready!
Distance from Orlando: 30 Minutes or 22.0 Miles
Location: The Everglades
Getting There: The best way to get to the Everglades from Orlando is to take the Florida Turnpike or I-4.
Best Tour from Orlando: 90 Minutes Everglades Airboat Tour in Central Florida
Must-Do Activities: One of the must-do activities is an airboat tour. Embarking on an airboat tour offers a unique and thrilling opportunity to explore the vast and diverse ecosystem of the Everglades.
Where to Eat: Granny’s Southern Smokehouse is a personal favorite when it comes to dining out. This cozy restaurant offers a delightful variety of Southern cuisine that will satisfy any cravings. Among the many delicious options on the menu, one dish that I highly recommend is the pulled pork sandwich.
7. Head to International Drive
A great day trip from Orlando is to head off and explore International Drive. This bustling strip offers an array of exciting activities and attractions that will keep you entertained throughout the day. From world-class shopping to thrilling amusement parks, there’s something for everyone here.
One of the highlights of International Drive is its extensive selection of shopping options. Whether you’re looking for designer brands, unique souvenirs, or trendy boutiques, you’re sure to find whatever you’re after, (and likely more). Popular shopping destinations include the Orlando International Premium Outlets and the Pointe Orlando shopping complex.
Distance from Orlando: 21 Minutes or 15.6 Miles
Location: International Dr, Florida, USA
Getting There: The best way to get to International Drive from Orlando is to take I-4.
Best Tour from Orlando: Flavors of Icon Park Foodie Walking Tour
Must-Do Activities: This iconic strip has something for everyone – from world-class theme parks to shopping complexes and dining venues. Among the many attractions, one of my favorites is Ripley’s Believe It or Not! Museum.
Where to Eat: Cooper’s Hawk Winery and Restaurant is an internationally acclaimed dining establishment on International Drive. Renowned for its exceptional food and elegant ambiance, it’s earned a reputation as one of the best places to eat in the area.
8. Take a Furry Friend to Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is the perfect destination for an easy day trip. Known for its stunning beaches and fun atmosphere, you’ll find a variety of activities for visitors of all ages here. One of the main attractions of Daytona Beach is its beautiful coastline. With over 23 miles of white sandy beaches, plenty of space exists for sunbathing, swimming, and building sandcastles.
If you prefer land activities, this spot also offers a wide range of non-sea-related activities. I enjoy strolling along the boardwalk and enjoying the lively ambiance; home to various shops, restaurants, and amusement rides, Daytona Beach provides entertainment for the entire family.
Distance from Orlando: 58 Minutes or 56.9 Miles
Location: Daytona Beach, FL, USA
Getting There: The best way to get to Daytona Beach from Orlando is to take I-4 E.
Best Tour from Orlando: E-Bike Tour on the World’s Most Famous Beach
Must-Do Activities: If you’re planning a trip to Daytona Beach, check out the car races – a must-see for any motorsports enthusiast or thrill-seeker. Daytona International Speedway is the heart of racing in Daytona Beach. This iconic venue hosts several major car races throughout the year, including the renowned Daytona 500, which kicks off the NASCAR season.
Where to Eat: One of the highlights for me is the Ocean Deck restaurant. This popular venue is known for its live music and breathtaking views of the coastline.
9. Visit the Bok Tower Gardens
The Bok Tower Gardens is an interesting place to visit near Orlando, Florida. Located in Lake Wales, this stunning garden and bird sanctuary offers visitors a unique and enchanting experience. The main attraction is the Singing Tower – a 205-foot neo-Gothic tower that houses one of the world’s finest carillons.
Surrounding the tower is a beautifully manicured garden that spans 250 acres. Visitors can stroll along the winding paths, discovering various plants, flowers, and trees along the way. The gardens are meticulously maintained and offer breathtaking views at every turn.
Distance from Orlando: 1 Hour 30 Minutes or 55.9 Miles
Location: 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, FL 33853
Getting There: The best way to get to the Bok Tower Gardens from Orlando is to take I-4 W to US Hwy 27 S.
Must-Do Activities: The gardens, spanning over 250 acres, feature a diverse collection of plants, flowers, and trees. I highly recommend embarking on a guided tour for those looking for a more immersive experience – I learned so much! Knowledgeable guides will lead you through the gardens, providing fascinating insights into the history and significance of each area.
Where to Eat: I had the opportunity to dine at the Blue Palmetto Cafe – an eatery that offers a delectable array of sandwiches, wraps, beer, and wine amidst the breathtaking beauty of the garden surroundings.
10. Explore the city of Clermont
If you’re looking for a fun day trip from Orlando, consider visiting the nearby city of Clermont. Offering a range of exciting activities and attractions, a day spent here is sure to make your trip all the more enjoyable. One of the top things to do in Clermont is to explore its beautiful natural surroundings.
Clermont is also home to several wineries, making it a great destination for wine lovers. You can visit the Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards, where you can take a tour of the winery, learn about the winemaking process, and sample some of their award-winning wines. The winery also hosts various events throughout the year, including live music concerts and festivals.
Distance from Orlando: 33 Minutes or 25.3 Miles
Location: Clermont, FL, USA
Getting There: The best way to get to Clermont from Orlando is to take FL-408 W and FL-50 W.
Best Tour from Orlando: Revolution Off-Road Mucky Duck Experience
Must-Do Activities: For history and culture, a visit to the President’s Hall of Fame is a must. This unique museum showcases a collection of wax figures portraying all the US presidents and their presidencies, as well as exhibits on American history. Explore the South Lake Historical Society Museum, which offers a glimpse into the rich history of the Clermont area.
Where to Eat: Friar Tuck, a British cafe, is undeniably one of the best places to satisfy your cravings for tasty food. When it comes to dining here, there are two dishes that I never fail to order – their mouthwatering fish and chips and their chicken pot pie. Apart from these two standout dishes, Friar Tuck offers a variety of other delicious options.
11. Enjoy a Fun-Filled day at Legoland
Legoland Theme Park in Lakeland, just outside of Orlando, is a fantastic destination for a fun-filled day. This amusement park is a must-visit for families and Lego enthusiasts alike. With its unique blend of interactive attractions, thrilling rides, and impressive Lego sculptures, this theme park offers an unforgettable experience.
In addition to the rides and attractions, Legoland offers a variety of shows and entertainment options. The 4D cinema adds an extra dimension to movie viewing, with special effects that engage all the senses. The Lego City Stage provides live performances and interactive experiences that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages.
Distance from Orlando: 1 Hour 3 Minutes or 51.6 Miles
Location: One Legoland Way, Winter Haven, FL, 33884
Getting There: The best way to get to Legoland from Orlando is by I-4 W and US Hwy 27 S.
Must-Do Activities: Miniland USA, where visitors can marvel at intricate Lego replicas of famous landmarks from around the country. For a more adrenaline-fueled adventure, Legoland boasts several exciting rides. The Dragon Coaster takes riders on a thrilling journey through a medieval castle, while the Flying School offers a simulated flight experience.
Where to Eat: The Market Restaurant is the best place to eat at LEGOLAND Florida. Located in the heart of the park, this dining option offers a wide variety of choices to satisfy every palate. The Market Restaurant is a quick-service restaurant that provides guests with a convenient and delicious dining experience.
12. Visit Mount Dora from Orlando
Mount Dora is a fantastic destination for a day trip. It’s one of my favorite places to visit, offering many activities and attractions that make for a memorable day out. One of the highlights of visiting Mount Dora is exploring the charming downtown area. The streets are lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and antique stores, offering a unique shopping experience.
If you’re a nature enthusiast, Mount Dora won’t disappoint. The city is surrounded by beautiful lakes, making it the perfect spot for boating, fishing, or simply enjoying a leisurely lakeside picnic. You can also rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the serene waters, taking in the peaceful ambiance of the surroundings.
Distance from Orlando: 36 Minutes or 33.4 Miles
Location: Mt Dora, FL 32757, USA
Getting There: The best way to get to Mount Dora from Orlando is to take FL 429-N.
Must-Do Activities: Simply Lake Dora itself, boat, fish, and take seaplane rides. Visit the historic downtown area and its charming shops, art galleries, and restaurants. The Mount Dora Community Building and Gilbert Park is a must for nature lovers. Outdoor activities include hiking trails, picnic areas, and a playground for children.
Where to Eat: The Mount Dora Bistro is a charming establishment in the heart of Mount Dora. When visiting this delightful town, I cannot resist the allure of this restaurant and the delectable meals it offers. The bistro caters to a wide range of tastes and preferences with its moderately priced menu.
13. Take a Trip to the Florida Mall
A unique day trip from Orlando can be found at the Florida Mall. This destination offers a variety of activities and attractions that will keep visitors entertained throughout the day. Whether you’re traveling alone, with friends, or with family, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
One of the highlights of the Florida Mall, and a personal favorite of mine, is the Build-A-Bear Workshop. This interactive experience allows visitors to create their very own personalized stuffed animals. From choosing the perfect bear to selecting outfits and accessories, this workshop provides a fun and memorable activity for children and adults alike.
Distance from Orlando: 19 Minutes or 7.3 Miles
Location: 8001 S Orange Blossom Trl, Orlando, FL 32809
Getting There: The best way to get to the Florida Mall from Orlando is to take US-441 to Orange Blossom Trail S.
Best Tour from Orlando: Crayola Experience
Must-Do Activities: The Crayola Experience – highly rated, this interactive and hands-on exhibit allows visitors to explore the world of Crayola through various creative activities and exhibitions. From coloring stations and games to a virtual reality experience, the Crayola Experience provides a fun and educational adventure for all ages.
Where to Eat: Among the many eateries located within the mall, one of my favorite places to dine is Bucco di Beppo – an Italian restaurant known for its delicious and authentic cuisine. The menu at Bucco di Beppo is extensive, featuring a variety of traditional Italian dishes that cater to all tastes and preferences. The portions are generous and perfect for sharing with friends and family.
14. Enjoy the City of Tampa
A great day trip from Orlando is to visit the great city of Tampa. One of the highlights of visiting Tampa is exploring its vibrant downtown area. The city’s downtown is home to a variety of cultural and historical landmarks, such as the Tampa Theatre, a beautiful movie palace that dates back to 1926. With its unique architecture and ornate interior, the Tampa Theatre is a must-visit for film enthusiasts and history buffs alike.
If you’re looking for some outdoor fun, Tampa has plenty to offer. The city is surrounded by beautiful beaches, including Clearwater Beach and St. Pete Beach, both of which are just a short drive away. Whether you’re looking to relax on the white sandy shores or try your hand at water sports, Tampa’s beaches are the perfect place to spend a sunny day.
Two of my favorite must-do activities in the area include a visit to Busch Gardens and exploring the bustling port. Busch Gardens is a renowned amusement park that combines thrilling rides and captivating live shows. With over 300 acres of fun-filled attractions, it guarantees an unforgettable experience.
Distance from Orlando: 1 Hour and 16 Minutes or 84.4 Miles
Location: Tampa, FL
Getting There: The best way to get to Tampa from Orlando is to take I-4 W.
Best Tour from Orlando: Guided City Tour in Deluxe Street Golf Cart
Must-Do Activities: Visit Busch Gardens and the bustling port of Tampa Bay. Known for its vibrant maritime activity, the port offers a unique glimpse into the city’s thriving trade and commerce. Stroll along the waterfront promenade and witness massive cargo ships and cruise liners docked at the port.
Where to Eat: Ulele is widely recognized as one of the best restaurants in Tampa Bay. Located on the waterfront, this native-inspired eatery offers a unique dining experience combining delicious cuisine and a stunning ambiance. One dish stands out as my all-time favorite: the oysters from the Gulf Coast.
15. Visit the Ocala National Forest
The Ocala National Forest offers nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts a unique day trip to remember. Spanning over 600 square miles, this vast forest is home to diverse ecosystems, wildlife, and recreational activities that will leave visitors awe-struck.
Ocala National Forest boasts an extensive network of nature trails, offering opportunities for hikers of all skill levels to immerse themselves in the beauty of the surrounding wilderness. The Juniper Springs Recreation Area is a popular starting point, providing access to several trails, including the Juniper Springs Trail and the Yearling Trail. These trails wind through lush forests, crystal-clear springs, and ancient sand pine scrub habitats, allowing visitors to witness the region’s rich biodiversity.
Distance from Orlando: 1 Hour and 24 Minutes or 71.3 Miles
Location: Ocala National Forest
Getting There: The best way to get to the Ocala National Forest from Orlando is to take FL-19 N.
Must-Do Activities: Over 600 miles of hiking trails, water sports, exploring nature. The Ocala National Forest offers a multitude of must-do activities for visitors to enjoy.
Where to Eat: The best place to eat near the Ocala National Forest is Gator Joe’s Beach Bar and Grill. This family-friendly establishment offers a fantastic dining experience that will satisfy everyone. Whether you’re looking for a delicious meal or a fun time, Gator Joe’s has it all.
Best Day Trip Tours from Orlando
Orlando, Florida is known for its world-class theme parks and attractions. However, if you’re looking to explore beyond the city limits and experience the natural beauty and cultural offerings of the surrounding area, there are several excellent day trip tours available. Whether you’re interested in wildlife encounters, historical sites, or scenic landscapes, these tours offer something for all kinds of travelers:
1. Kennedy Center Trip with Transport: This is a ten-hour tour and pick-up is offered at most hotels in Orlando. Once at the Kennedy Space Center, a tour guide will show you around the area and answer any questions you might have. Click here to book.
2. St. Augustine Day Trip with Tour Options: This tour from Orlando offers round-trip transportation from Orlando, museum entry, trolley passes, and free time to explore the beautiful city of St. Augustine. Click here for more information.
3. Revolution Off-Road Mucky Duck ATV Experience: This experience lasts around one hour and you’ll follow your guide along the tracks, through trees, and even into the water. Click here to find out more.
4. Clearwater Beach Pirate Cruise with Lunch: On this 12-hour tour you’ll need to arrive at the designated meeting point 20 minutes before departure before setting off for an enjoyable, round-trip ride to the beach. Click here to book.
5. Swim with Manatees and Homosassa State Park Visit: This 11-hour tour includes pick up from a predesignated area and allows the chance to swim with the manatees – lunch is even included! Click here to book your spot.
Day Trips Around Orlando: FAQs
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about the best day trips from Orlando, Florida:
The most popular day trip from Orlando is to the Kennedy Space Center.
Depending on the time of year you visit, you’ll need between 5 and 14 days in Orlando.
The best day trips from Orlando with a car are to the Kennedy Space Center and St Augustine.
The most beautiful place near Orlando is the Magic Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World.
Walt Disney World is the most well-known place that’s close to Orlando.
I hope this list of the 15 best day trips from Orlando has been helpful. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Orlando offers a multitude of options for exciting day trips. From stunning natural wonders to historical landmarks and thrilling theme parks, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
Orlando is not only a fantastic destination in itself but also serves as a gateway to numerous incredible day trips. Whether you’re interested in history, nature, adventure, or simply seeking a change of scenery, any one of these 15 day trips mentioned would make a great addition to your itinerary.