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There is so much to see and do in Tampa. From sampling Cuban sandwiches in Ybor to cheering on the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena and shopping for luxury brands at the International Plaza and Bay Street, there really is something here for everyone. However, with so many incredible places to discover outside of Tampa, it’s also worth considering a day trip.
Whether you’re a local looking to plan a weekend adventure or a tourist looking to get out of the city for the day, these are the best day trips from Tampa.
Since Florida does not have a great public transit system, it is necessary to have a car to adventure outside of Tampa. Visitors can rent one at the Tampa International Airport or from Downtown Tampa. We recommend using Rentalcars.com, a site that searches and compares hundreds of car rental sites to ensure you’re getting the best deal.
- 1 Ginnie Springs
- 2 Siesta Key
- 3 Myakka River State Park
- 4 Disney World
- 5 Seaworld
- 6 Cocoa Beach
- 7 Kennedy Space Center
- 8 Fort De Soto Park
- 9 Dunedin
- 10 Legoland
- 11 Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- 12 Discovery Cove
- 13 Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor
- 14 Crystal River
- 15 Universal Studios Florida
- 16 Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
- 17 Ocala National Forest
- 18 John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk
- 19 Clearwater Beach
- 20 Blue Spring State Park
- 21 Informasi Tempat Wisata Alam di Dunia
About 30 minutes north of Gainesville is the hidden treasure that is Ginnie Springs. It is home to seven incredibly crystal clear springs that are naturally cooled, making for the perfect swim spot to cool off in the summer. Four of the springs feature underwater caves and caverns. Visitors can rent snorkel gear, and experienced divers can buy a pass to explore the caverns.
The springs are attached to the Sante Fe River, perfect for a relaxing float on a tube. You can bring your own floats or rent single or double tubes, stand-up paddleboards, canoes, and kayaks to go down the river. The float lasts about an hour, longer if you stop at one of the rope swings or springs along the way. Jump in on a game of volleyball at one of the courts or enjoy lunch at the Ginnie Grill. There are also pavilions, picnic tables, charcoal grills, a general store, a boat ramp, and a playground.
This is one of the best places to visit from Tampa for families or groups of friends looking to get out and enjoy some classic Florida nature.
How to get there: It is roughly a 2.5-hour drive to Ginnie Springs from Downtown Tampa. Make your way to I-75 and head north toward Gainesville. About 16 miles past Gainesville, take Exit 399 for Aluchura/High Springs.
Voted the #1 Beach in the US in 2020 by TripAdvisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards™, Siesta Key is a stunning barrier island located just off the coast of Sarasota. Feel the soft white sand beneath your feet as you stroll along the picturesque shores of the Gulf Coast.
Visitors can enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea then take the free trolley to Siesta Key Village for lunch and to shop at boutique beach stores. There are also a variety of excursions and activities to book, such as parasailing and fishing tours. Visitors can also rent electric bikes and boats.
On Sunday evenings, a drum circle group gathers at the beach at sunset and performs with dancers and musicians. Siesta Key is a classic Florida experience that is a must for beach lovers.
How to get there: Siesta Key is just over an hour’s drive from Downtown Tampa. Make your way to I-75 and head South toward Naples. Take Exit 205 toward Siesta Key.
Myakka River State Park
If you are looking to get out of the city and immerse yourself in Florida nature, this Tampa day trip is for you.
The Myakka River State Park is one of the best hidden gems near Tampa. The Myakka Outpost offers kayak, canoe, and bike rentals to use on the waterways and paths in the park, and there is a café where visitors can enjoy lunch after a day on the water. Myakka River State Park also offers boat tours every day if you’re looking for a more leisurely way to explore the area. The tour will bring you up close and personal with wildlife and teach you about the ecosystems in the park.
However, the best attraction here is the canopy walkway. Visitors can walk amongst the trees suspended 25 feet above the ground on wooden walkways and enjoy panoramic views of the forest. The walkway runs 100 feet through soaring oak and palm trees, leading to a 74-foot-high tower that guests can climb in order to look down on the eagles’ nests and wetlands below.
How to get there: It is roughly a 75-minute drive from Downtown Tampa to the Myakka River State Park Outpost and Myakka Canopy Walkway. Make your way to I-75 and head south toward Naples. Exit 205 on FL-72 toward Arcadia will take you directly to the Myakka River State Park.
Of course, Disney World had to make our list of the best side trips from Tampa! After all, it is the original home of Mr. Walt Disney and one of the most popular attractions in Florida.
Disney World Orlando is home to four major parks and two waterparks. Magic Kingdom is home to the iconic Cinderella Castle and the high-speed roller coaster, Space Mountain. Visitors can eat their way around the world at Epcot or discover the Frozen wintery attraction, Frozen Ever After. The magical land of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is incredible to explore, and the park also has an African savannah safari. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, visitors will find immersive Star Wars experiences and the famous haunted elevator-themed ride, the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror.
If you’re looking to cool down after a day in the hot Florida sun, head to Typhoon Lagoon to surf in Florida’s largest inland surfing lagoon or go to Blizzard Beach and take a ride on Summit Plummet.
How to get there: I-4 between Tampa and Orlando can be quite chaotic between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. For the best experience, try to leave as early as possible and as late as possible to beat the rush hours. Outside of these busy traffic times, it should take a little over an hour to get there. Drive on I-4 East and take the exit marked Disney World.
Another great family attraction in Orlando is Seaworld. Seaworld Orlando is the headquarters of the Seaworld chain and is home to the original park that opened in 1957.
The park is filled with exhilarating roller coasters and rides, like the Mako high-speed roller coaster. There are plenty of interactive animal exhibits as well, such as Stingray Lagoon, where visitors can reach into the water and pet stingrays swimming by. Guests can also enjoy panoramic views of the park from the Sky Tower or catch a show at the Dolphin Theater. Little ones will love Sesame Street Land, where they can meet their favorite characters like Cookie Monster and Elmo!
How to get there: I-4 between Tampa and Orlando can be quite chaotic between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. For the best experience, try to leave as early as possible and as late as possible to beat the rush hours. Outside of these busy traffic times, it should take just under 1.5 hours to get there. Drive on I-4 East and take the exit marked for Disney World.
If you have ever wanted to learn to surf or are looking for a great beach on the West Coast to spend the day, then Cocoa Beach is for you.
Cocoa Beach is a family-friendly beach town known for its surf shops and awesome waves. Visitors can sign up for surf lessons at Ron John’s Surf school or head over to 321Kiteboarding and learn how to kiteboard. Take a stroll down the beach to the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier and sip on mai tais at Rikki Tiki Tavern while watching the sunset from the end of the pier. There are also plenty of great restaurants along the beach where visitors can enjoy fresh fish and crab.
How to get there: Cocoa Beach is about 2.5 hours from Downtown Tampa. It’s best to avoid rush hour times on I-4 by leaving before 8 a.m. or after 10 a.m. Take I-4 West toward Orlando, then exit at 528 west toward Cocoa Beach.
Kennedy Space Center
This next destination is out of this world! Sorry, that pun was hard to resist. But, seriously, Kennedy Space Center is one of the most unique attractions in Florida.
Inside, visitors can see the technology and rockets that got American astronauts to the moon all the way back in the 1960s. Explore a life-size replica of the moonscape from the Apollo 11 moon landing with the real Lunar Module 9 or learn how to dock and land shuttles on the International Space Station using training simulators.
There are plenty of events that take place at the Kennedy Space Center, including rocket launches, astronaut meet-and-greets, and book signings. All of their events are listed on the Center’s website, so you can check when the next rocket launch is. This is a great day tour from Tampa for families and science lovers.
How to get there: The Kennedy Space Center is just over two hours from Downtown Tampa. It’s best to avoid rush hour times on I-4 by leaving before 8 a.m. or after 10 a.m. Take I-4 West toward Orlando, then exit at 528 west.
Fort De Soto Park
This is a great short trip from Tampa if you are looking to visit a less touristy beach.
Fort De Soto Park boasts incredible white sand beaches and turquoise blue waters, but that’s not all it has to offer. At the center of the park sits the park’s namesake, Fort De Soto. The remains of this fort, dating back to the Spanish-American war, are a blast to explore. Visitors can walk through artillery holds and firing galleys or climb the walls to see the cannons while taking in incredible views of Tampa Bay and Sunshine Skyway Bridge.
Rent a bike or a covered surrey bike and cycle along the nature trails in the park. Kayaks and canoes are also available for rent. Other amenities here include a fishing pier, a pirate ship playground, and a museum.
How to get there: Fort De Soto Park is about a 45-minute drive from Downtown Tampa. Take I-275 South toward Saint Petersburg, exit right before the Sunshine Skyway Bridge on 682, and turn onto 679.
Calling all craft beer lovers! If brewery hopping is your thing, then you have to visit Dunedin.
This oceanside city is home to seven breweries, all within walking distance of one another in the main downtown area. Get competitive and play a round of cornhole or pool at Soggy Bottom Brewery or head over to the Dunedin House of Beer for a game of giant Jenga. A day of bar-hopping breweries is sure to be packed full of fun and laughs. By the end of it, you most likely won’t be sound enough to drive, which is why it’s also convenient that Dunedin is close enough to Tampa to Uber to and from for a reasonable cost.
How to get there: Downtown Dunedin is about a 35-minute drive from Downtown Tampa. Take I-275 South and exit at state road 60 toward Clearwater. Turn North onto 19.
Legoland is another great theme park for families to visit while on vacation.
There are three different parks within Legoland, including a brand new Peppa Pig theme park. In the waterpark, parents can relax on the Build-a-Raft Lazy River while the kids get a thrill on the waterslides. The Legoland main theme park features over 50 rides and interactive shows, all inspired by the most popular Lego brands. The park is also home to an incredible botanical garden that dates back to 1939.
How to get there: Legoland is about an hour’s drive from Downtown Tampa. Take I-4 West toward Orlando and exit just before Lakeland on 570 West to 540. Legoland is located just outside of Winter Haven.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Have you ever wanted to see a live mermaid show? We aren’t talking about Ariel from The Little Mermaid but instead some seriously talented swimmers and performers at Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. The park is actually one of Florida’s oldest attractions, dating back to 1947.
This is a great Tampa day trip for families, couples, or solo travelers. Visitors can head to Buccaneer Bay inside the park to ride on the waterslides and swim in natural freshwater springs.
The park also boasts the deepest freshwater cave system in the US, as well as some seriously crystal clear waterways. If you are looking to get into nature, rent a kayak or canoe and paddle the Weeki Wachee River. The pictures do not do the river enough justice; it is truly a slice of tropical Florida heaven.
How to get there: Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is about an hour away from Downtown Tampa. Take I-275 south toward Saint Petersburg and exit on 60/589 North toward Spring Hill. Exit at state road 50 and head east.
Discovery Cove is the sister park of Seaworld and offers an experience unlike any other theme park or waterpark in the state.
It is an all-inclusive day resort featuring a tropical paradise filled with exotic animals. Here, visitors can snorkel with colorful fish and stingrays in an incredible coral reef pool or float beside otters in the Freshwater Oasis. Get up close and personal with tropical birds and hand-feed the parrots and toucans.
Have you ever wanted to swim with dolphins? You can do that here, too! The entire resort has been perfectly landscaped to reflect the ultimate tropical paradise and features cascading waterfalls with white sand beaches. Read a book in the hammocks or rent a cabana for the day. There are different day package options that include unlimited snacks, drinks, and lunch. You can group packages as well with other theme parks such as Busch Gardens in Tampa and Seaworld.
How to get there: I-4 between Tampa and Orlando can be quite chaotic between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. For the best experience, try to leave as early as possible and as late as possible to beat the rush hours. Outside of these busy traffic times, it should take just under 1.5 hours to get to Discovery Cove. Drive on I-4 East and take exit 71.
Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor
Calling all golf fanatics! If you have ever wanted to play on a high-end course where the pros play, then you should spend a day at Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor.
The resort is home to the famous Copperhead Course, where the PGA Valspar Championship is played. The best golfers will find their skills challenged on this course as they attempt the narrow fairway on the Moccasin and the Rattlers long par-three. If Copperhead sounds a little daunting, don’t worry. There are three other courses to play at the resort: the North Course, the South Course, and the Island Course.
Those in your party who aren’t interested in playing golf can head to the Salamander Spa for a day of pampering. There are plenty of other activities offered as well, including yoga, fishing, and tennis.
How to get there: Innisbrook Golf Resort is about an hour away from Downtown Tampa. Take I-275 South toward Saint Petersburg and exit at State Rd 60 toward Clearwater. Once over the causeway, turn onto 19 North.
Rent a glass-bottom kayak and interact with manatees at Three Sister Springs in Crystal River.
There is something so special about the manatees in Florida. Nicknamed sea cows, these playful and friendly animals love splashing around with humans. There are many ways to experience these fun-loving creatures. Visitors can rent kayaks and head out on their own or book a guided pontoon tour where they can jump in the water and swim with the manatees! Divers can also book a guided diving tour or head out to the springs on their own.
How to get there: Crystal River is about 1.5 hours from Downtown Tampa. Head south on I-275 toward Saint Petersburg, exit on State Road 60, and continue north on Veterans Expressway 589.
Universal Studios Florida
Accio Harry Potter fans! Okay, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is only one of many awesome attractions at Universal Studios. But it’s definitely one of the top-selling factors (for myself, at least).
Immerse yourself in rides and attractions based on some of your favorite movies and shows, like the Men in Black Alien Attack and the Simpsons 4D motion simulation ride. In the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, fans can stroll down Diagon Alley and use their wands to cast spells on interactive features or take a ride on Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. There is an abundance of themed shows to catch, too, like the Blues Brothers street show and the Bourne Identity stunt show.
Visitors can explore three parks: Universal Studios Florida, Universal’s Island of Adventure, and the Universal Studios Volcano Bay water park.
How to get there: I-4 between Tampa and Orlando can be quite chaotic between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. For the best experience, try to leave as early as possible and as late as possible to beat the rush hours. Outside of these busy traffic times, it should take about 1.5 hours to get to Universal Studios Florida. Drive on I-4 East and take exit 75A.
Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks
Tarpon Springs is one of the largest Greek-influenced communities in the world, and with that comes some excellent Greek food and traditions.
One of the more prominent traditions in Tarpon Springs is the art of sponging. The Gulf waters near Tarpon Springs are some of the few areas in the world where natural sponges can be found and are harvested for commercial use. Greek immigrants helped to teach locals how to sponge dive as the practice was very common in Greece, and the practice has been carried on since 1905.
Visitors can stroll down Dodecanese Boulevard and sample some of the best Greek food in the country. Shopping is also fantastic in Tarpon, with boutique stores and souvenir shops dotted all around the Sponge Docks. Visitors can purchase tickets for sunset boat tours or rent a pontoon boat and take the family on a cruise out to Anclote Key Preserve State Park island.
If you want to spend some time at the beach, head to Howard Park Beach. It is a unique small island accessible by a causeway with paddleboard, kayak, and big wheel rentals.
How to get there: Tarpon Springs is about an hour’s drive from Downtown Tampa. Take I-275 South to Veterans Expressway 589. Exit on Keystone Road and head east toward the Sponge Docks.
Ocala National Forest
Ocala is known as the horse capital of the world, so why not take a horseback riding tour through the tall pines and lush palms of Ocala National Forest?
A trail ride through the forest is a slow, relaxing journey and one of the best ways to connect with nature. Visitors of all riding skill levels can book guided trail rides and experience Florida’s natural landscape.
The Ocala National Forest features over 600 springs, lakes, and ponds, as well as hiking trails. Yearling Hiking Trail will take you past a sinkhole and the remains of homesteads from the 1800s. If horses aren’t really your thing, then you can rent canoes and kayaks or book an ATV off-roading adventure tour.
How to get there: Depending on which part of the Ocala National Forest you’re planning on visiting, it will take between just under or just over two hours to get there from Downtown Tampa. Take I-75 North toward Ocala.
John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk
John’s Pass in Madeira Beach offers tons of activities, restaurants, bars, and boutique shops all in one spot.
If you’re looking to get out on the water and try deep-sea fishing, check out Hubbard’s Marina, where you can book half-day or full-day private and group tours. There is also a family-friendly pirate ship cruise with onboard activities that sails every day.
Visitors can stroll along the boardwalk with ice cream or enjoy lunch at the Forrest Gump-themed restaurant Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. Rent a jet ski and cruise along the intercoastal waterways searching for dolphins or book a parasailing adventure! At the Alligator & Wildlife Discovery Center, kids can learn about amphibians and even hold baby alligators. John’s Pass is located just across the Street from Madeira Beach, so visitors could even spend the morning at the beach and the afternoon at the boardwalk.
For the adults, there is lots to do here as well. Sample craft beers and play cornhole at Mad Beach Craft Brewing Company, then stop in at some of the cigar, wine, and clothing shops.
How to get there: John’s Pass is about 45 minutes from Downtown Tampa. Take I-275 South toward Saint Petersburg, then take exit 23B. Turn onto First Street and take it all the way to Gulf Boulevard.
Clearwater Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Florida, and for good reason.
Besides it being a picturesque sandy oasis, street performers, from musicians to dancers and even magicians, are almost always present to wow audiences in front of Pier 60. The pier itself is one of the most popular fishing piers in Tampa Bay, and visitors can bring their own bait and tackle or rent it from the pier shop. There is a sunset celebration every evening, and the pier fills up with artisan booths that are ideal for souvenir-hunting.
Along the beach, there are plenty of restaurants and bars with live bands, fresh seafood, and cold drinks to enjoy. You can choose to rent chairs and umbrellas on the beach or settle for a good old-fashioned towel.
How to get there: Clearwater Beach is about 45 minutes from Downtown Tampa. Take I-275 South toward Saint Petersburg and take the exit for State Road 60 directly to Clearwater.
Blue Spring State Park
Another great place to go swimming in fresh springs is Blue Spring State Park.
These gorgeous natural blue springs stay at a lovely 72°F all year long, making this the ideal spot for a refreshing swim in the summer. There are a host of things to see and do here, including snorkeling, scuba diving, and floating in the springs. Canoes and kayaks are available for rent but only for use on the St. Johns River, not the springs. Visitors can also book a two-hour ecological boat tour of the river or rent a tube and go for a relaxing float. Other amenities here include fishing, hiking trails, charcoal grills, and pavilions. There is also an on-site gift shop and concession.
If you are planning on going in the summer, try to get there as early as possible as park limits are usually hit by 11 a.m.
How to get there: Blue Spring State Park is just over two hours away from Downtown Tampa. I-4 between Tampa and Orlando can be quite chaotic between 8 a.m. and 10 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. and 6 p.m. For the best experience, try to leave as early as possible and as late as possible to beat the rush hours. Take I-4 all the way past Orlando and get off at exit 104.
Florida is filled with so many unique attractions that are worth the small road trip needed to reach them. So, get out there and swim with dolphins, watch a rocket launch, or spend the day at one of the best beaches in Florida! But most importantly, whatever you do, do not forget to pack sunscreen. It is the Sunshine State, after all.
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