While Florida is often thought of as the world’s theme park capital, there is so much more to see and do throughout the state, with numerous destinations making for a great day trip. Locals and visitors alike can escape the crowds of Universal and Disney World and head out to many of these quintessential and fun-filled Florida attractions. Whether people prefer to relax on a beach, see unique wildlife, or go on an adventure into the great outdoors, there’s something for almost everyone.
1.Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach
Amelia Island, located along the northeastern coast of Florida, is a place that is easy to get to, but difficult to forget. The island is a beloved destination in the state with both residents and locals alike due to its thirteen miles of pristine waters, abundant wildlife, and beautiful beaches. Fernandina Beach is one of the most popular beaches on Amelia Island and is known for its great golfing opportunities, as well as being the host of the Isle of Eight Flags Shrimp Festival. Downtown Fernandina Beach is home to world-class spas, boutique shops, delicious food, and upscale resorts.
Amelia Island, FL
2.Anna Maria Island
Anna Maria Island has long been famous for its coastline as white as sugar, quaint business districts, and emerald green Gulf waters. The island today is known to be a popular vacation spot among travelers from all over the world. Anna Maria Island is just a few blocks wide and seven miles long, which means sunset views and the sound of crashing waves can be found everywhere on the island. Award-winning restaurants, pristine beaches, boutiques and specialty shops, opportunities for outdoor activities, live performances, and wildlife fill the island, providing plenty for visitors to do, see, and enjoy.
Anna Maria Island, FL
3.Barnacle Historic State Park
Located along Biscayne Bay, the Barnacle Historic State Park has been left in much of its natural state, appearing almost just as it did during the days of Ralph Middleton Munroe, who was one of the most influential and charming pioneers of Coconut Grove. The Barnacle itself was constructed back in the year 1891 and provides a look into frontier life during the days of The Era of the Bay, back when travel from and to Miami was entirely by boat. The grounds are a good place to escape from the city and enjoy the simple things.
3485 Main Hwy, Miami, FL 33133, Phone: 305-442-6866
4.Big Cypress Reservation
The Big Cypress Reservation is located around 45 minutes to the south from Clewiston, Florida and is the largest of the reservations of the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Located on a remote eighty-two acres far from the beaten path, Big Cypress Reservation is a place well worth the visit to learn about the land’s history and the Seminole tribe. The Billie Swamp Safari is the main attraction for tourists at the reservation, during which visitors can explore the area’s primeval landscape and its wildlife on a swamp buggie or speeding airboat. There is also an opportunity for some “adventure” camping.
Josie Billie Hwy, Clewiston, FL 33440
5.Blackwater River State Forest
The Blackwater River State Forest is a great day trip in Florida for anyone who loves exploring the great outdoors. The area offers a wide variety of outdoor activities, such as picnicking, camping, hiking, kayaking, and canoeing. There are a number of nature trails for visitors to explore throughout the forest. Despite the name, Blackwater River is actually normally golden-brown and transparent when views against the river’s white sandbars. The water in the Blackwater River State Forest is about as pure as it can get, with the only tint coming from the tannins from roots and leaves.
7720 Deaton Bridge Rd, Milton, FL 32564, Phone: 850-983-5363
6.Blue Spring State Park
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The Blue Spring State Park is home to the Blue Spring, which provides 72-degree refreshing waters that welcome visitors along the area’s St. Johns River. Established in 1927, the park is home to a large number of manatees. Along with these many manatees, there are abundant fish within the spring run, which attract an array of wading birds, kingfishers, eagles, and ospreys. To explore the many wonders of the Blue Spring State Park, visitors can take a hike along the Pine Island Trail, which extends 4.5 miles, or by the spring run. River boat cruises, kayaking, and canoeing are available as well.
2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763, Phone: 386-775-3663
Charlotte Harbor, situated between Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte along the southwest coast of Florida, is considered to be one of the country’s best places to live, retire, golf, and sail. The city of Charlotte Harbor is home to man-made waterways that extend over 165 miles, many of which provide access to the nearby Gulf of Mexico. Miles and miles of natural shoreline borders the Myakka and Peace Rivers and Charlotte Harbor. Recreational opportunities in Charlotte Harbor include swimming, boating, parks, tennis, yachting, and golfing. There is also plenty of chances for shopping in and around the Charlotte Harbor area.
Charlotte Harbor, FL
The city of Crystal River, Florida is a destination defined by water, starting with river from which the city gets its name, as well as Kings Bay, a natural wonder where the Crystal River sits. The area is a popular refuge for Florida Manatee during the winter and a first magnitude springs system. The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, in fact, is the only refuge committed to preserving and protecting a single animal species in the United States, dedicated to the protection of the manatees. Hunter’s Springs Park is the city’s most accessible spring, located near downtown, along the shoreline.
Crystal River, FL
9.Everglades National Park
The Everglades National Park is perhaps one of the most famous destinations in the state of Florida, apart from maybe Disney World. The area is certainly a quintessential “Florida experience,” allowing visitors a chance to get up close to some of the state’s fiercest wildlife from a safe distance and exploring a region that isn’t traveled by many. Those who wish to explore the Everglades National Park can hop aboard one of the airboat tours provided throughout the park and float down the swampy grasslands, catching glimpses of alligators along the way. The Everglades make for a truly unique day trip.
40001 State Road 9336, Homestead, FL 33034, Phone: 305-242-7700
, Michigan beaches
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The Florida Aquarium offers visitors a chance to go from sea level to tree level, being entertained and educated along the way, providing opportunities to see and learn about sea turtles, river otters, rays, sharks, lemurs, and numerous other species. Guests can learn about the native animals of Florida, both on the land and in the sea, and discover the natural environment’s wonders. There are also opportunities to learn about the educational outreach, conservation, and research efforts of The Florida Aquarium in the Tampa Bay area and elsewhere. The aquarium is open daily, except for Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day.
701 Channelside Dr, Tampa, FL 33602, Phone: 813-273-4000
11.Fort Christmas Historical Park
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The Fort Christmas Historical Park is situated in the town of Christmas in Florida, just a bit off of State Road 50. Located just twenty miles away from busy Orlando, Florida, the park is close to many popular attractions in the state, such as Disney World, Universal, Canaveral National Seashore, the Kennedy Space Center, and more. This makes the Fort Christmas Historical Park a good place to go for the day to escape from everything. The park is home to a full-size replica of the historic Fort Christmas, along with seven historical homes that provide a glimpse into the past.
1300 N Fort Christmas Rd, Christmas, FL 32709, Phone: 407-254-9312
12.Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi
The Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi offers a different way for visitors and locals of Florida alike to explore the city nicknamed “the Venice of America,” due to its several beautiful waterways. The water is considered to be one of the best and most unique ways to explore the city of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. More than simply a boat ride, the crew and captains of the Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi are extremely knowledgeable about the city, along with its numerous attractions that are able to be seen from the waterways. The water taxi makes ten stops within the city and one in Hollywood, Florida.
Fort Lauderdale, FL, Phone: 954-467-6677
Key Largo, part of the famous Florida Keys is thought of as the “Dive Capital of the World,” and is the first of the Keys. The key is also the home of the largest artificial reef in the world, the African Queen, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and the USS Spiegel Grove, which measures a total of 510 feet. Key Largo is also only a short trip from the Everglades National Park, making it possible to combine the two during a day trip. Visitors can take a ride on a glass-bottom boat and enjoy snorkeling and diving.
Key Largo, FL
Situated closer to the country of Cuba than it is to the city of Miami, Key West is the southernmost subtropical paradise of Florida. The last of the Florida Keys is a one-of-a-kind confluence of romantic appeal, architecture, cultural diversity, natural beauty, climate, and history. There are many different historical attractions throughout Key West, accessed by walking, bicycles, tour trains, pedi-cabs, taxis, trolleys, and public transportation. Tin-roofed conch houses and gingerbread mansions can be found along the palm tree-lined streets, one home to the likes of Jimmy Buffet, Robert Frost, Elizabeth Bishop, Tennessee Williams, and Ernest Hemingway among others.
Key West, FL
15.Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
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The Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium explores the many secrets of the ocean through interactive high-tech exhibits showcasing the Mote Marine Laboratory’s world-renowned research, viewable working labs, touch pools, and more. Visitors can see sea turtles, manatees, sharks and over one hundred other marine species. The Mote Aquarium provides an up-close and personal experience with an array of fish and other marine animals, including two different touch tanks, as well as a huge shark exhibit. Guests can also watch Mote’s scientific research at work in one of the viewable laboratories. The Mote Aquarium is part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.
1600 Ken Thompson Parkway, Sarasota, FL 34236, Phone: 941-388-4441
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Old Homosassa is one of the original fishing towns of Florida, a place that few places can match when it comes to giving a true Gulf Coast feeling. Boaters, paddlers, and manatees can often be seen cruising through the water heading towards the Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. The Homosassa Spring is the centerpiece of the amazing park, a springs that attracts people, a variety of fish, and manatees to its waters. Visitors can also get a look underwater without the need to get wet at the Fishbowl Observatory or swim with manatees at Blue Waters.
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Ormond Beach is located just to the north from the world famous Daytona Beach along the Atlantic Coast of Florida. The beach offers an experience of a first-class resort without sacrificing any of the small town grace. With millionaire John D. Rockefeller as one of Ormond Beach’s earliest settlers, the town still provides elegant relaxation to visitors and also now allows for easy access from Orlando or Daytona Beach, making it an easy day trip in Florida. The town is also an ideal destination for a variety of water activities, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Tomoka River.
Ormond Beach, FL
18.Sanibel Island Sea Shell Beach
The tiny Sanibel Island along the Gulf Coast of Florida is a destination to which shell lovers from throughout the world come to find the best sea shells. The island has even been named by Travel & Leisure Magazine as the best spot in North America for shelling. Protected by an underwater broad shelf that allows for gentle shell-laden currents, the beaches of Sanibel Island are carpeted by a variety of shells, including false angel wings and tiny pastel coquinas. Shelling is so popular on the island that many hotels even offer rooms with work tables and special sinks for cleaning shells.
Sanibel Island, FL
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19.Seacrest Wolf Preserve
The Seacrest Wolf Preserve is an unforgettable and unique experience in Florida, taking guests on a journey through natural large habitats home to British Columbian, Arctic, and Gray wolves. The aim of the preserve is to inspire visitors by the immersive rare experience, empowering them to interact with Seacrest Wolf Ambassadors and learn about the amazing keystone species. Regular tours are offered on Saturdays and lasts around three and a half to four hours. Tours are available only by reservation and can be booked by calling the Seacrest Wolf Preserve. Camping, group tours, field trips, and VIP tours are offered as well.
3449 Bonnett Pond Rd, Chipley, FL 32428, Phone: 850-773-2897
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Seaside, Florida is a small coastal community in the state, originally the vision of Robert Davis, who inherited his family’s land in 1978. Several decades later, the town of Seaside has a thriving center with dining and shopping, all located within walking distance to offices, cottages, and homes. Situated along the Gulf Coast, the town offers visitors more than just a trip to pristine beaches. The friendly and peaceful town of Seaside has also received several accolades including “Top 10 Best Beach Towns in Florida” by USA Today and “Best Beach on Earth for Families” by Travel & Leisure among several others.
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The city of Sebastian in central Florida offers a rich history and natural splendor. Located along the Atlantic Coast, the coastal town is nestled between Melbourne and Vero Beach along the Indian River Lagoon, which is considered to be the most biologically diverse estuary in North America. Pelican Island, a unique attraction in Sebastian, is the first National Wildlife Refuge in the United States, known for its diverse fishing and unspoiled natural beauty. There are also plenty of dockside restaurants located along the town’s picturesque riverfront, as well as art and historical museums, art galleries, and opportunities for beachcombing.
The city of St. Augustine, Florida boasts the title of the “oldest city in the nation,” and attracts numerous visitors every year with its history and variety of attractions. St. Augustine offers a little bit of everything, from its historic district, Gilded-Age hotels, and living history museums to specialized tours on the sea or in the air and swashbuckling adventures. There is also an iconic lighthouse, the oldest masonry fort in the country, archaeological sights, a pirate-themed museum, boat rides, trolley and train tours, and much more. Historic sites line the cobblestone streets of downtown St. Augustine.
St. Augustine, FL
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23.St. Johns River
The 310-mile St. Johns River near Jacksonville, Florida offers a wide assortment of outdoor activities for both visitors and locals alike. One of the most popular attractions in the area is the St. Johns River Cruise, operating out of the Blue Spring State Park, that takes passengers on a journey down the longest river in the state of Florida. Near the park is the Swamp House River Front Grill, a great spot to try a taste of alligator along the river. Visitors can catch an airboat ride at the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp near Cocoa, or explore the country river town of Palatka.
Wakulla Springs sits around 20 minutes outside of Tallahassee, Florida, offering a small looking into the Old Florida, as well as plenty of chances to see turtles, deer, and alligators in their natural habitat. The springs located in Wakulla Springs are some of the deepest and largest in the state of Florida, ideal for snorkeling, swimming, or simply relaxing. Encompassing six thousand acres, Wakulla Springs State Park is a wildlife sanctuary that provides boat tours down the Wakulla River. There are also opportunities for swimming, horseback riding, hiking, and biking within the park, which is listed as a National Natural Landmark.
Wakulla Springs, FL
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Winter Park is a city just outside of the hustle and bustle of Orlando, Florida, making it a great day trip to escape from the busy crows of Universal and Disney World. The small city is home to a variety of shopping opportunities, upscale boutiques, luxury accommodations, sidewalk cafes, fine dining restaurants, and world-class museums. Winter Park also offers the feeling of a village in Europe, an atmosphere that makes visitors feel far removed from the theme parks. The city is also well known for having plenty of outdoor spaces that provide a relaxing spot for a break.
Winter Park, FL
25 Best Florida Day Trips
- Amelia Island and Fernandina Beach, Photo: gadzius/stock.adobe.com
- Anna Maria Island, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Barnacle Historic State Park, Photo: Deatonphotos/stock.adobe.com
- Big Cypress Reservation, Photo: Cavan/stock.adobe.com
- Blackwater River State Forest, Photo: forestpath/stock.adobe.com
- Blue Spring State Park, Photo: Jim Engelbrecht and Danita Delimont/stock.adobe.com
- Charlotte Harbor, Photo: Richard/stock.adobe.com
- Crystal River, Photo: Eric/stock.adobe.com
- Everglades National Park, Photo: Julia/stock.adobe.com
- Florida Aquarium, Photo: Andrea Izzotti/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Christmas Historical Park, Photo: BJ Ray/stock.adobe.com
- Fort Lauderdale Water Taxi, Photo: photo.eccles/stock.adobe.com
- Key Largo, Photo: lucky-photo/stock.adobe.com
- Key West, Photo: f11photo/stock.adobe.com
- Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, Photo: frantisek hojdysz/stock.adobe.com
- Old Homosassa, Photo: JEROME LABOUYRIE/stock.adobe.com
- Ormond Beach, Photo: Roger/stock.adobe.com
- Sanibel Island Sea Shell Beach, Photo: Sheila/stock.adobe.com
- Seacrest Wolf Preserve, Photo: tomalu/stock.adobe.com
- Seaside, Photo: Laura Ballard/stock.adobe.com
- Sebastian, Photo: Jesse Kunerth/stock.adobe.com
- St. Augustine, Photo: VIAVAL/stock.adobe.com
- St. Johns River, Photo: wewandercreative/stock.adobe.com
- Wakulla Springs, Photo: Dietmar/stock.adobe.com
- Winter Park, Photo: Harris Shiffman/stock.adobe.com
- Cover Photo: Simon Dannhauer/stock.adobe.com