15 Amazing Day Trips from Orlando You’ll Love

Florida is a magnificent place to explore. You can visit gorgeous beaches, spectacular springs, and charming cities within a short drive from Orlando. Since Orlando is situated in the center of the peninsula, it is near some of the best places to experience! In this article, we will share amazing places near Central Florida.

Orlando is known globally for its fun attractions and parks. It’s no wonder so many people love this city. Having lived in this area my life, it’s good to know there are phenomenal beaches and springs nearby.

If you’re looking for more Florida travel bucket list ideas, check out our favorite travel guides: Best Airbnbs in FloridaRomantic Getaways in Florida for CouplesBest Places to Hangout in OrlandoFun Things to Do in St. Petersburg, and Best Beaches in Siesta Key, Florida. Discover more Florida Travel Destinations here!

Best Beaches and Day Trips in Central Florida

From coast to coast, Florida is renowned for its beaches. However, many people that don’t live here don’t know that Central Florida also has pristine springs to visit.

If you are looking for an Orlando-area beach or spring day trip, here are some of the best options:

1) Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is world-famous for being the birthplace of NASCAR racing and the Daytona 500. The beach itself is 23 miles long so there is plenty of fun things to do along Daytona Beach. You may have to plan multiple day trips!

Related: If you love the beach, here are Thoughtful Gifts for Beach Lovers.

There are certainly a variety of things to do whether you’re interested in sports, history, arcades, or relaxing on the beach.

Things to Do

Where to Eat

beach with yellow umbrellas and a pier in the background

2) New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is only an hour’s drive from Orlando! This beautiful beach has 17 miles of white sandy beaches and is truly a great escape. Here, you can go fishing, surfing, and swimming, and if you come between May through November, you can witness the baby sea turtles hatch at Canaveral National Seashore. This conservation center is about 30 minutes from New Smyrna.

Also, if you have a 4-legged friend, you can bring him along too because a dog beach is located at Smyrna Dunes Park!

Things to Do

Where to Eat

  • The Garlic
  • Wake Up Cafe
  • Uncle Chicken’s
  • Third Wave Cafe
  • The Taco Shack
  • Blackbeard’s Inn
  • The Breakers Ocean Front Restaurant & Bar

3) Clearwater Beach

Named the #1 beach in 2018 by Trip Advisor! Clearwater Beach is about a 2.5-hour drive from Orlando and is located on the Gulf of Mexico. The sand is white like satin, and the water is crystal clear.

If you need more than the beach, then visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. You can book a day trip here!

Things to Do

  • Pier 60
  • Beach Walk
  • Sand Key Park
  • Clearwater Ferry
  • Aspirations Winery

Where to Eat

  • Poke Havana
  • Wildflower Cafe
  • Rumba Island Bar & Grill
  • Cristino’s Coal Oven Pizza
  • Big Storm Brewing Company
  • The Salty Crab Bar & Grill North Beach
  • Pearly’s Beach Eats (this is a quick bite that the locals rave about!)

4) Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is known as its quintessential beach town. After you visit, you’ll know why. It is located on the Space Coast, a short one-hour drive from Orlando.

During your visit, you can get creative with a photo shoot in Downtown Cocoa Beach and check out their hand-painted murals by artists from around the world.

In addition, you can sunbathe on the beach and relax or visit some of the area’s attractions, such as the Kennedy Space Center or one of the museums.

Alternatively, if the beach is not your thing, head over to River Front Park and experiences a playground area, amphitheater facing the Indian River, Cocoa Beach Pier, and boat launching, just to name a few.

Things to Do

  • Rikki Tiki Tavern
  • Lori Wilson Park
  • Cocoa Beach Skate Park
  • Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier

Where to Eat

  • Florida’s Fresh Grill
  • Coconuts on the Beach
  • Fat Kahuna’s Beach Side Grille
  • Simply Delicious Cafe & Bakery

5) Jensen Beach

Located between Fort Pierce and West Palm Beach, Jensen Beach was known as the “Pineapple Capital of the World” and still holds an annual pineapple festival. In addition, you can enjoy shopping at their renowned retail shopping center and try their seafood fine dining options.

This beach also attracts several species of endangered sea turtles during nesting seasons!

If history is your thing, then you might like to take a day trip here.

Things to Do

  • Indian Riverside Park
  • The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast

Where to Eat

  • Jan’s Place
  • Crawdaddy’s
  • Drift Kitchen and Bar
  • Brock’s Surfside Grill & Pizzeria
  • New England Fish Market & Restaurant

6) St. Augustine Beach

Located on the northeast coast of Florida, St. Augustine is less than a 2-hour drive from Orlando. St. Augustine is known as being the oldest city in the U.S. and is also recognized for its Spanish colonial architecture.

I really love the rich history, restaurants and of course, the shopping! So get ready to learn and explore the cobblestone streets.

Here are a few things you do not want to miss while you’re in town.

Things to Do

Where to Eat

Also, consider checking out the Kennedy Space Centre because it’s located less than an hour away from Orlando. I include this with the historic theme because you can learn about the history of space travel, starting with Neil Armstrong’s first step on the moon! It’s fun for all ages.

scenic view of the skyline and boat harbor in St. Petersburg, Florida

7) St. Petersburg and St. Pete Beach

Known as “The Sunshine City”, Saint Petersburg is located between the Gulf of Mexico and Tampa Bay. In St. Petersburg, you can visit the beaches and coastline and enjoy boating, fine dining, and more.

Related: The Best Things to Do in St. Petersburg

If you’re planning a trip to Saint Petersburg, here are a few fun things to consider!

Things to Do

Where to Eat

8) Blue Spring State Park

Blue Springs State Park is the perfect place for nature lovers.  Located in Orange City, Blue Spring State Park is home to manatees! From November through March, the park offers manatee observation areas where you can see these delightful creatures up close in their natural habitat.

The park also has a designated swimming area, full-facility campgrounds, canoe and kayak rentals, and hiking trails.

Plan to spend a full day here to take advantage of all the park has to offer!

Things to Do

  • Swimming
  • Kayaking
  • Manatee watching
  • Picnicking
  • Hiking
  • Walking trails

Where to Eat

There are not many options to eat in Blue Springs Park. However, you can either pack a cooler with your favorite snacks, visit one of the cafes in the park, or take a short drive outside the park for more options.

9) Wekiwa Springs State Park

This park is just minutes from Downtown Orlando and has plenty of natural springs to experience. Wekiwa Springs State Park is a great place to enjoy the outdoors with family and friends. You can go swimming, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, or take a dip in one of the natural springs.

Things to Do

  • Boating
  • Bird watching
  • Boat tours
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Picnicking
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Tubing
  • Surfing
  • Star gazing

Where to Eat

Similar to Blue Springs State Park, there are not many places to eat. When visiting the springs, the best thing to do is pack a cooler with snacks and to-go meals. However, here are just two places you can eat in case you don’t have time to pack food.

10) De León Springs State Park

Within just an hour’s drive from Orlando, De León Springs State Park is another amazing park to visit. The natural beauty is stunning and this serene park has plenty of outdoor activities for nature lovers. 

Things to Do

  • Roller Blading
  • Mountain Biking
  • Snorkeling
  • Swimming
  • Horseback Riding
  • Canoeing and Kayaking
  • Fishing
  • Boating
  • Bird Watching

Where to Eat

Unlike the above State Parks, De León Springs State Park is right around the corner from a very popular American-style breakfast diner. The Old Spanish Sugar Mill is a great place to try if you are in this area.  Nonetheless, you may want to plant to bring some snacks or choose a restaurant on your way to the park. 

11) Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs State Park is nestled in the Ocala National Forest and is home to one of America’s largest natural springs. The park has plenty of activities for outdoor enthusiasts, including hiking, canoeing, kayaking, and swimming.

Things to Do

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Swimming 
  • Picnicking
  • Biking
  • Fishing
  • Wildlife Viewing

Where to Eat

Just like the other parks, Silver Springs State Park does not have many places to eat inside the park. However, there are a few restaurants nearby if you don’t want to pack a lunch.

  • Silver Springs Pizza
  • Darrell’s Dog Gone Good Diner
  • Bob Evans

12) Rock Springs Run State Reserve

This scenic park is known for its vast nature trails.  Rock Springs Run State Reserve is a 14,000-acre park and is the perfect place to take a hike, go horseback riding, or explore the many springs located throughout the park.

Things to Do

  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding
  • Biking
  • Camping
  • Fishing 
  • Paddling
  • Swimming  

Where to Eat

Before you enter the park or after you leave, there are a few restaurants you can try.

  • Without a Paddle Cafe
  • Blue Springs Bar and Grill
  • Antojitos la Mexicana
  • Beef ‘O’ Bradley’s

13) Canaveral National Seashore

Canaveral National Seashore is another spectacular park that is just a one-hour drive from Orlando. This park is on the ocean so you can experience pristine green and the salty ocean breeze. 

Things to Do

  • Fishing 
  • Swimming 
  • Biking
  • Paddling
  • Sailing
  • Wildlife Viewing  
  • Shelling

Where to Eat

Although there are no restaurants in the park, there are a few places to eat nearby.

14) Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

The final park on our list is Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. This gorgeous park is known for its mermaid shows and riverboat rides. The crystal-clear water is a sight to see and plenty of activities keep you busy.

Things to Do

  • Mermaid Shows
  • Boat Rides
  • Canoeing and Kayaking
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Fishing  
  • Swimming

Where to Eat 

Just like the other parks, Weeki Wachee Springs State Park does not have any restaurants inside the park. However, there are a few places to eat nearby;

15) Crystal River

Crystal River is known for its Three Sisters Spring, one of the prettiest springs in Florida and a great place to see manatees. While most manatee-spotting places require you to stay out of the water or in a boat, you can actually swim with the manatees in Crystal River.

Manatee-sighting isn’t the only thing to see at Crystal River. There are also plenty of places to enjoy delicious ice cream, scallop around on the water, or take a ride on a jet ski.

Moving to Orlando?

As you may know, Orlando is a phenomenal city to live in. Not only is it full of activities and attractions, but it’s also very close to some of Florida’s best beaches and natural springs.

if you’re considering moving to Florida, you can count on Nicole Mickle help you find your dream home in your ideal neighborhood.

You may also want to check out these articles to discover some of the top neighborhoods in Orlando, Florida.

Bottom Line

Orlando is a great place to live, with plenty of activities and attractions to keep you busy. If you’re considering moving to Florida, be sure to check out Nicole Mickle’s articles on the best neighborhoods in Orlando. She’ll help make your transition as smooth as possible!

If you are looking to stay in one of these gorgeous places, take a look at this article 42 Best Places to Airbnb in Florida for an Amazing Vacation.

Nicole Mickle

I've lived, worked, and played in Orlando my entire life. Let's make the most out of your Florida lifestyle! I'm here to help you take overwhelming interior design options and simplify them room by room.

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