14 Best Day Trips From Orlando, Florida (2024 Guide)

Make the most of your time in Orlando with this guide to the most incredible day trips from Orlando! You won’t want to plan your visit without this!

Orlando, Florida is one of the USA’s most popular tourist destinations. Famous primarily for its theme parks, including the iconic Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, travelers never tire of exploring the fun and iconic Orlando attractions that suit travelers of all ages.

But once you’ve experienced the magic of Walt Disney World and spent some time enjoying all the restaurants, shops, bars, and parks of downtown Orlando, consider exploring more of Central Florida!

There are some amazing day trips from Orlando where you can experience the best beaches, state parks, cities, and coastal towns of the Sunshine State.

From taking a boat ride through the Central Florida Everglades, to checking out the bustling Daytona Beach, to lounging on the soft sands of Clearwater Beach, here are some of the best day trips from Orlando!

Check out our perfect 3 days in Orlando itinerary if you need ideas for your time in the city.

The Best Day Trips From Orlando, Florida

All of these Orlando day trips are a 2-hour drive or less from the city. So you can easily hop over to any of these attractions and make it back to your Orlando hotel room for sundown.

The easiest way to travel on a day trip from Orlando is with your own car. Luckily, there are tons of places in Orlando to rent a car! Otherwise, guided tours are available and we’ll link to some top-rated tour options where necessary.

So once you’ve secured a car or booked a tour and you’re ready to hit the road, choose one of these fantastic day trips from Orlando so you can experience the beauty and charm of Florida!

BONUS TIP: Make sure you purchase a CityPASS

The best way to get around is to rent a car and explore on your own! We recommend Rental Cars, which has the largest range of vehicles for the best value on the market.

1. Kennedy Space Center

  • Distance from Orlando: 45 miles
  • Driving time: 49 minutes

NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, one of the easiest and most popular day trips from Orlando, stands as a symbol of humanity’s remarkable achievements in space exploration. Home to NASA’s iconic launch operations, it has witnessed the liftoffs of numerous historic missions, including the Apollo moon landings and the space shuttle program.

This sprawling complex serves as both a launch site and a visitor center, offering awe-inspiring exhibits, interactive displays, and up-close encounters with real spacecraft including Space Shuttle Atlantis.

From the mighty Saturn V rocket to the state-of-the-art SpaceX Falcon 9, Kennedy Space Center continues to push the boundaries of scientific discovery, inspiring generations to reach for the stars and explore the unknown.

A Kennedy Space Center tour will leave visitors in awe of the achievements of humankind! This corner of eastern Florida has even been named Florida’s Space Coast due to the incredible, historic feats that have occurred here at Kennedy Space Center.

If you don’t want to rent a car for this day trip, you can book a guided tour that includes transport and your skip-the-line admission ticket to Kennedy Space Center!

2. New Smyrna Beach

  • Distance from Orlando: 55 miles
  • Driving time: 55 minutes

Another one of the best beach day trips from Orlando is New Smyrna Beach, a charming seaside town that exudes a laid-back coastal vibe. New Smyrna Beach offers a tranquil escape for sun seekers and surf enthusiasts.

The town’s welcoming atmosphere, friendly locals, and vibrant downtown area contribute to its undeniable appeal.

Visitors can spend their days lounging on the beach, swimming in the clear blue waters, or trying their hand at a variety of water sports, including surfing, paddleboarding, and fishing.

New Smyrna Beach also boasts a rich arts scene, with numerous galleries, boutiques, and cafes lining its picturesque streets.

Whether it’s exploring the local art scene, indulging in fresh seafood, or simply enjoying the relaxed coastal ambiance, New Smyrna Beach is a delightful beach town to visit for those seeking a true slice of Florida’s coastal paradise.

 New Smyrna Beach
Escape to the seaside in New Smyrna Beach.

3. Clearwater Beach

  • Distance from Orlando: 106 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

One of the best beach day trips from Orlando is the award-winning Clearwater Beach. This gem of Florida’s Gulf Coast is renowned for its pristine white sands and crystal-clear turquoise waters. An idyllic destination that attracts visitors from around the world, Clearwater Beach offers activities for everyone.

Whether it’s sunbathing and swimming, strolling along the iconic Pier 60, or engaging in water sports like kayaking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing, there is no shortage of opportunities to soak up the sun and enjoy the beach life.

Beyond its natural beauty, Clearwater Beach also boasts a lively and bustling atmosphere. The vibrant Beach Walk promenade is lined with charming shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues, offering a delightful experience for visitors of all ages.

Sunset celebrations draw crowds to witness the breathtaking views as the sun dips below the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant hues.

Moreover, the area is known for its rich marine life, with dolphin sightings and fishing charters readily available for those looking to experience the wonders of the Gulf. You can also check out the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for a closer look at the local sea creatures.

4. St. Augustine

  • Distance from Orlando: 105 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 45 minutes

St. Augustine, Florida, holds the distinction of being the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the United States. So it’s an excellent Orlando day trip for history buffs!

Steeped in history and charm, this coastal city offers a captivating blend of old-world allure and modern attractions.

The cobblestone streets of the historic district are lined with well-preserved Spanish colonial architecture, including the iconic Castillo de San Marcos. A 17th-century fortress that stands as a testament to the city’s storied past, Castillo De San Marcos is a National Historic Landmark and a highlight of St. Augustine.

Visitors can immerse themselves in history by exploring the narrow alleyways, visiting historic landmarks, and experiencing living history museums that bring the colonial era to life. A hop-on-hop-off trolley tour is the best way to pack in as many sights as possible into one epic day!

Additionally, St. Augustine is known for its vibrant arts scene, with galleries, boutiques, and theaters showcasing local talent and creativity. The area also boasts beautiful beaches that line Florida’s east coast.

The nearby Anastasia State Park offers opportunities for hiking, camping, and kayaking amidst unspoiled coastal dunes and tidal marshes.

Castillo De San Marcos
Experience history at Castillo De San Marcos.

5. Bok Tower Gardens

  • Distance from Orlando: 55 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

Bok Tower Gardens, nestled in Lake Wales, Florida, is a serene and enchanting destination that combines breathtaking natural beauty with a harmonious blend of art and music. It’s a unique day trip from Orlando that is entertaining for the whole family!

The centerpiece of the gardens is the majestic Singing Tower, an iconic Gothic-style tower housing a carillon of 60 bells. Throughout the day, the melodious tones of the carillon resonate across the landscape, creating a tranquil and melodic atmosphere.

The meticulously landscaped gardens surrounding the tower showcase a diverse array of flora, including vibrant flowers, lush foliage, and tranquil ponds. Visitors can explore the winding paths, discover hidden nooks, and marvel at the serene beauty of the gardens.

Bok Tower Gardens is not only a feast for the senses but also offers educational opportunities, with informative exhibits and guided tours that delve into the history, architecture, and ecological significance of the site.

A visit to Bok Tower Gardens is a truly enchanting experience, where art, music, and nature seamlessly intertwine to create a serene oasis for visitors to enjoy.

Read next: 24 Exciting Things To Do In Orlando

6. Daytona Beach

  • Distance from Orlando: 56 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

About an hour’s drive northeast of Orlando lies Daytona Beach, a hotspot for travelers of all ages. Daytona Beach is internationally renowned for its hard-packed sandy shores that stretch for miles, providing the perfect playground for beach lovers and water enthusiasts.

The beach’s firm texture allows for various activities, from leisurely walks and beach volleyball to sandcastle building and shell collecting.

Additionally, Daytona Beach offers a wide range of water sports, including surfing, paddleboarding, kayaking, and parasailing, attracting thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts from far and wide.

However, Daytona Beach’s reputation extends beyond its picturesque shoreline. The city is famous for its association with motorsports, particularly the iconic Daytona International Speedway.

This legendary racetrack hosts major events like the Daytona 500, NASCAR’s premier race, attracting racing fans from around the world. Visitors can take part in guided tours of the Daytona International Speedway and even experience the adrenaline rush by taking a thrilling ride in a race car.

Moreover, visitors can check out the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and its various shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. It is a hub of activity, with live music, amusement rides, and vibrant nightlife, making it an exciting destination for both daytime relaxation and nighttime revelry.

7. Cocoa Beach

  • Distance from Orlando: 59 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

Another one of the best day trips from Orlando is Cocoa Beach. Located along Florida’s Space Coast, this vibrant and lively beach town offers a perfect blend of sun, surf, and relaxation.

Known for its wide sandy beaches and consistent waves, Cocoa Beach is a haven for surfers and beach enthusiasts alike. With warm waters and favorable wind conditions, it’s a popular spot for learning to surf or catching some thrilling waves.

The peaceful seashore of Cocoa Beach is also attractive to sea turtles! Between March and September, various species of sea turtles come here to lay eggs, and you may even see baby sea turtles hatch and make their way to the ocean during this time if you’re lucky!

Another standout feature of the town is the iconic Cocoa Beach Pier, stretching 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean. The pier serves as a hub of activity, offering breathtaking ocean views, fishing opportunities, beachfront dining, and lively entertainment.

Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the pier, enjoy a delicious meal with panoramic views, or simply soak up the vibrant atmosphere.

Whether it’s catching a spectacular sunrise, riding the waves, or enjoying the lively ambiance of the pier, Cocoa Beach is a coastal gem that provides a memorable beach experience for visitors of all ages.

Cocoa Beach Pier
The iconic pier at Cocoa Beach

8. Mount Dora

  • Distance from Orlando: 33 miles
  • Driving time: 36 minutes

Mount Dora is a charming and picturesque town nestled along the shores of Lake Dora, and it’s a quick and easy day trip from Orlando. Known for its quaint small-town atmosphere and scenic beauty, Mount Dora offers a delightful escape from bustling city life.

The town’s historic downtown district features tree-lined streets adorned with boutique shops, art galleries, and antique stores, inviting visitors to stroll and explore at a leisurely pace.

The centerpiece of the town is Lake Dora, a serene and expansive body of water that serves as a scenic backdrop for various recreational activities. Boating, fishing, and paddleboarding are popular pastimes, allowing visitors to fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the area.

With its idyllic setting, charming downtown, and tranquil Lake Dora, Mount Dora provides a peaceful retreat and a glimpse into the nostalgic charm of old Florida.

Heading further south? Check out our list of the best things to do in Fort Lauderdale.

9. Crystal River

  • Distance from Orlando: 87 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Crystal River, situated on Florida’s Gulf Coast, is a hidden gem known for its natural beauty and unique wildlife encounters. It’s a nature lover’s paradise, and a stunning day trip from Orlando.

The city’s namesake, Crystal River, is a network of clear springs that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, creating a haven for manatees. Visitors flock to Crystal River for the unparalleled opportunity to swim and interact with these gentle sea creatures in their natural habitat.

The Crystal River Wildlife Refuge, encompassing Kings Bay, serves as a protected sanctuary for manatees, offering an enchanting experience for nature enthusiasts. Book a scenic boat ride tour through the wildlife park where you have an increased chance of spotting some manatees in their natural habitat!

Beyond the local wildlife, Crystal River boasts an abundance of outdoor activities such as kayaking, boating, and fishing, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the area’s stunning natural surroundings.

With its tranquil springs, captivating wildlife, and outdoor adventures, Crystal River offers a peaceful and unforgettable getaway for those seeking a genuine connection with nature.

10. Blue Spring State Park

  • Distance from Orlando: 33 miles
  • Driving time: 40 minutes

Blue Spring State Park is a captivating natural oasis that showcases Florida’s pristine beauty and abundant wildlife. Nature lovers will have a blast exploring the plant and animal life of this diverse state park.

The park is best known for its crystal-clear spring, which flows with a constant temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit year-round.

This unique feature attracts a large population of West Indian manatees during the winter months, making it a popular spot for manatee viewing and snorkeling. Visitors can witness these gentle giants up close as they gather in the warm waters of Blue Spring State Park.

In addition to the manatees, Blue Spring State Park offers opportunities for kayaking, canoeing, swimming, and picnicking amidst the lush surroundings. The park’s boardwalks and nature trails provide a chance to explore the diverse ecosystems, spot native wildlife, and immerse oneself in the tranquility of Florida’s natural wonders.

Read next: The 25 Best Things To Do In Florida

11. Tampa

  • Distance from Orlando: 84 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour and 15 minutes

For city lovers, experience another top-notch Florida metropolis with a visit to Tampa. Known for its sunny weather and beautiful waterfront, Tampa boasts a thriving arts and culture scene.

The city’s downtown area is filled with museums, including the Tampa Museum of Art and the Florida Museum of Photographic Arts, showcasing a diverse range of artistic masterpieces.

Additionally, Tampa is home to the historic Ybor City neighborhood, known for its Latin influences, vibrant nightlife, and delicious Cuban cuisine. For outdoor enthusiasts, Tampa offers an array of recreational opportunities along its stunning bayfront, with parks, bike trails, and waterfront activities to enjoy.

One of Tampa’s standout attractions is Busch Gardens, one of Florida’s best theme parks. This sprawling theme park offers an immersive experience where visitors can embark on adrenaline-pumping roller coasters, get up close to exotic animals, and enjoy live performances by talented entertainers.

Make sure you book the Tampa CityPASS before your visit! You’ll get a discount on a large number of the city’s top attractions, including Busch Gardens Theme Park, the Clearwater Aquarium, and much more.

Find more of the best things to do in Tampa here!

Tampa is an incredible Floridian city on the Gulf Coast.

12. Kissimmee

  • Distance from Orlando: 22 miles
  • Driving time: 30 minutes

When we think of the Florida Everglades, we often think of Everglades National Park, located in South Florida near Miami. But you can actually find the so-called Gateway to the Central Florida Everglades in Kissimmee, a town located less than an hour away from downtown Orlando.

Kissimmee, Florida, is the perfect day trip destination for those seeking a thrilling escape from Orlando’s city buzz.

A highlight of a visit to Kissimmee is embarking on an exhilarating airboat tour of the northern sections of Everglades National Park. Guided by knowledgeable captains, these tours provide a unique opportunity to witness diverse wildlife, such as alligators, turtles, and various bird species, in their natural habitat.

In the town itself, check out the city’s rich history and culture by strolling along the historic streets, browsing local boutiques and antique shops, or enjoying a meal at one of the many quaint restaurants.

With its convenient location, family-friendly attractions, and natural beauty, Kissimmee provides a perfect blend of adventure and relaxation for visitors of all ages.

13. Cape Canaveral

  • Distance from Orlando: 65 miles
  • Driving time: 1 hour

Also located on the Space Coast, Cape Canaveral is another one of the best Orlando day trips. Though the area is most famous for Kennedy Space Center, here you can also find an abundance of natural beauty and cultural gems.

Beyond its space-related attractions, Cape Canaveral offers pristine beaches, recreational opportunities, and waterfront dining. The Canaveral National Seashore is a protected coastal area that offers a glimpse into the region’s natural beauty and rich biodiversity.

Spanning over 24 miles, this national seashore encompasses a diverse range of ecosystems, including sandy beaches, dunes, lagoons, and marshes. It is renowned for its unspoiled and uncrowded beaches, where visitors can relax, swim, sunbathe, and enjoy various water activities.

Canaveral National Seashore is also a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, as it provides habitat for a wide array of species, including sea turtles, shorebirds, and migratory birds.

Nature lovers can explore the park’s hiking trails, take scenic drives, or embark on kayak adventures, immersing themselves in the tranquility and natural wonders that Canaveral National Seashore has to offer.

14. Sarasota

  • Distance from Orlando: 130 miles
  • Driving time: 2 hours

Sarasota, located on the southwestern coast of Florida, is a captivating city known for its stunning beaches, vibrant arts scene, and cultural attractions. The city’s gorgeous white-sand beaches, such as Siesta Key Beach, consistently rank among the best in the United States.

Beyond the beach, Sarasota boasts a thriving arts community, with numerous galleries, theaters, and art festivals showcasing a diverse range of artistic expressions.

Travelers can explore cultural landmarks like the Ringling Museum of Art, which houses an impressive collection of art and features the historic Ca’ d’Zan mansion.

Additionally, Sarasota offers a variety of outdoor activities, including boating, kayaking, and golfing. With its blend of natural beauty, artistic endeavors, and recreational opportunities, Sarasota offers a multifaceted destination for those looking for the best day trips from Orlando.

Find more things to do in Sarasota here!

The charming Ringling Museum is a highlight of Sarasota.

Wrapping Up

These are just a few of the best day trips from Orlando, though there are many more! Whether you want to lounge on a pristine beach, kayak with manatees, or explore another city, Central Florida is packed with things to do.

If you’re looking for a weekend trip from Orlando, you are also spoilt for choice! Head down to Miami and explore South Beach and Little Havana, or road trip down to the Florida Keys. Alternatively, drive up to the panhandle and check out Pensacola or Destin.

There are endless road trips, weekend trips, and Florida day trips to choose from. But enjoy every minute of your stay in the magical city of Orlando, because it’s truly a gem of Florida.

DISCLAIMER: Some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you book accommodation, tours or buy a product, we will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. These commissions help us keep creating more free travel content to help people plan their holidays and adventures. We only recommend the best accommodations, tours and products that ourselves or our fantastic editorial team have personally experienced, and regularly review these. Thanks for your support, kind friend!

Alesha and Jarryd

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award-winning writers and professional photographers behind this blog. We have been travelling the world together since 2008, with a passion for adventure travel and sustainable tourism. Through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. As one of the world's leading travel journalists, our content and adventures have been featured by National Geographic, Lonely Planet, CNN, BBC, Forbes, Business Insider, Washington Post, Yahoo!, BuzzFeed, Channel 7, Channel 10, ABC, The Guardian, and plenty other publications. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

Hi, We’re Alesha and Jarryd!

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