Best Florida Day Trips

Apr 17, 2024

Tags:guidetravelFL

picture from the ground looking up at skyscrapers in miami florida best florida day trips

Florida's vast and varied landscapes, from the sun-soaked beaches of the Gulf Coast to the lush wetlands of the Everglades, present an idyllic backdrop for adventurers and day-trippers. The Sunshine State not only offers a rich tapestry of cultural, historical, and natural attractions but also provides the perfect setting for exploring these wonders on two wheels. This guide introduces you to the best of Florida's day trips and highlights motorcycle rentals as a unique way to make your adventure truly unforgettable.

View our master list of day trip recommendations, or scroll through this blog for some suggested day-trip activities at each location and directions!

Top 14 Day Trips in Florida

  1. Explore the Vast Wilderness at Everglades National Park
  2. Movies Buffs Should Visit Universal Studios
  3. Enjoy Calm, Clear Waters at Clearwater Beach
  4. Visit Miami’s Art Deco Historic District
  5. Swim with Manatees at Crystal River
  6. Relax at Siesta Key Beach
  7. Take a Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
  8. Big Cypress National Preserve
  9. See the First Underwater Park at John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park
  10. Explore the Historic St. Augustine
  11. Kennedy Space Center
  12. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
  13. Explore the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg
  14. Hunt for Seashells on Sanibel Island

1. Everglades National Park

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sunset at everglades national park best florida day trips

What Can I Do? For one of the best day trips in Florida, don’t miss out on visiting the vastness of Everglades National Park. Here are some of our recommendations to make your national park experience one to remember:

  • Airboat Tour
  • Wildlife Watching
  • Canoe or Kayak
  • Hiking
  • Ranger-Led Programs
  • Visit the Ernest F. Coe Visitor Center
  • Photography
  • Bird Watching
  • Fishing
  • Picnicking
  • Take a Motorcycle Ride: Take a motorcycle ride through the everglades and experience all that the dynamic ecosystem offers. 

2. Universal Studios

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picture of the canal at universal studios florida best florida day trips

What Can I Do? A day trip to Universal Studios Florida offers a whirlwind of excitement and entertainment, catering to movie buffs, thrill-seekers, and families alike. 

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ - Diagon Alley™
  • Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit™
  • TRANSFORMERS
  • The Simpsons Ride™
  • Men in Black™ Alien Attack™
  • Revenge of the Mummy™
  • Despicable Me Minion Mayhem™
  • E.T. Adventure™
  • Universal’s Superstar Parade
  • Ollivanders™ in Diagon Alley™
  • Dine at Finnegan’s Bar and Grill
  • Shop at Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes

3. Clearwater Beach

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picture of the white sands and teal blue water at clearwater beach florida best florida day trips

What Can I Do? Clearwater Beach is located on the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County on the west central coast of Florida. It's part of the Tampa Bay area and is known for its miles of white sand beaches and clear, shallow waters. The beach stretches along a narrow, 3-mile barrier island, providing a picturesque setting for beachgoers.

  • Relax on the Beach
  • Swimming and Water Sports
  • Visit Pier 60
  • Take a Boat Tour
  • Explore the Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • Dine at Beachfront Restaurants
  • Enjoy Waterfront Shopping
  • Participate in Beach Events

4. Miami’s Art Deco Historic District

3 (3) - Art Deco Architecture on First Street River District Fort Myers Florida best florida day trips

Where? It's bounded roughly by the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Alton Road to the west, 6th Street to the south, and Dade Boulevard along the Collins Canal to the north.

What Can I Do? The Art Deco Historic District is located in the South Beach neighborhood of Miami Beach, Florida. It is renowned for being the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world, encompassing hundreds of hotels, apartments, and other structures built between the 1920s and the 1940s. 

  • Take a Walking Tour
  • Visit the Art Deco Welcome Center
  • Enjoy the Beach
  • Dine at Deco-Era Restaurants
  • Shop on Collins Avenue and Lincoln Road
  • Explore the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum
  • Photography and Art
  • Nightlife
  • Rent a Polaris Slingshot: Those three-wheeled stylish cars actually only require a standard driver’s license, and are quite popular in Miami beach! Visit Riders Share’s list of available Slingshot rentals today to make your trip unforgettable. 

5. Crystal River

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A West Indian Manatee rests in the warm crystal clear waters of Florida's Three Sisters Springs best florida day trips

What Can I Do? Crystal River is located on the Gulf Coast of Florida, about 90 miles north of Tampa. It's situated in Citrus County and is renowned for its clear, spring-fed waterways and abundant natural beauty. The city is part of the Nature Coast region of Florida and serves as a gateway to a network of springs, rivers, and the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge, making it one of the best day trips for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Swim with Manatees
  • Visit Three Sisters Springs
  • Kayaking and Paddleboarding
  • Fishing
  • Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
  • Hiking and Biking
  • Visit the Crystal River Archaeological State Park

6. Siesta Key Beach

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Siesta Key Florida Scene of the beach near Siesta Key Village at dusk as a storm appears in the distant sky cool blue turquois water along the rock studded shore best florida day trips

What Can I Do? Siesta Key Beach is located on the Gulf of Mexico, part of the barrier island of Siesta Key, off the coast of Sarasota, Florida. Renowned for its powdery white quartz sand, which remains cool underfoot even in the blazing sun, Siesta Key Beach is often ranked among the top beaches in the United States. 

  • Enjoy the Beach
  • Water Activities
  • Volleyball and Tennis
  • Siesta Key Drum Circle
  • Explore Siesta Key Village

7. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

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kayaker on the Weeki Wachee River best florida day trips

What Can I Do? Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is located in Hernando County, Florida, approximately an hour north of Tampa. This iconic Florida state park is famous for its crystal-clear spring water, mermaid shows, and natural beauty. The spring itself is one of the deepest and largest in the country, producing over 100 million gallons of water daily at a constant temperature of 74 degrees Fahrenheit, making it a year-round attraction.

  • Mermaid Shows
  • Water Activities
  • Buccaneer Bay
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Paddling Adventure
  • Hiking
  • Educational Programs
  • Dining and Shopping

8. Big Cypress National Preserve

big cypress reservation collier county fl best florida day trips

Where? It's accessible via the Tamiami Trail (U.S. Highway 41) and the I-75 (Alligator Alley), making it reachable for those exploring the southern part of the state.

What Can I Do? Big Cypress National Preserve is located in Southwest Florida, to the west of the Everglades National Park. It covers over 729,000 acres of swamplands and is characterized by its diverse ecosystem, including wet prairies, cypress swamps, and hardwood hammocks. 

  • Scenic Drives
  • Hiking and Backcountry Camping
  • Wildlife Viewing
  • Canoeing and Kayaking
  • Fishing and Hunting
  • Ranger-Led Programs
  • Stargazing
  • Visit the Oasis Visitor Center

9. John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

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diver in the florida keys underwater with a lot of fish best day trips in florida

What Can I Do? John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is located in Key Largo, the first island of the Florida Keys, south of Miami. It encompasses approximately 70 nautical square miles of Atlantic Ocean waters, including the adjacent portion of the only living coral reef in the continental United States. Established in 1963, it was the first undersea park in the United States.

  • Snorkeling and Scuba Diving
  • Glass Bottom Boat Tours
  • Canoeing and Kayaking
  • Swimming and Sunbathing
  • Fishing
  • Hiking and Wildlife Viewing
  • Visitor Center and Aquarium
  • Camping

10. Historic St. Augustine

st augustine castillo de san marcos best day trips in florida

Where? About 40 miles south of Jacksonville. 

What Can I Do? Historic St. Augustine is located in Northeast Florida and is known as the oldest continuously inhabited European-established settlement in the continental United States, founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers. It’s the perfect place to take a nice day trip in Florida.

  • Explore the Castillo de San Marcos
  • Stroll Along St. George Street
  • Tour the Lightner Museum
  • Visit the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum
  • Take a Trolley Tour
  • Discover the Fountain of Youth Archaeological Park
  • Experience the Colonial Quarter
  • Visit the Oldest Wooden School House
  • Enjoy Local Cuisine
  • Take a Ghost Tour

11. Kennedy Space Center

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entry plaza at the kenndy space center best florida day trips

What Can I Do? The Kennedy Space Center is located on Merritt Island, Florida, near Cape Canaveral on the state's east coast. It is NASA's primary launch center of human spaceflight. A hub of American space exploration since the late 1960s, the center is about 45 minutes east of Orlando.

  • Visitor Complex
  • Space Shuttle Atlantis® Exhibit
  • Bus Tour of NASA’s Spaceport
  • Apollo/Saturn V Center
  • Astronaut Encounter
  • IMAX® Theaters
  • Rocket Garden
  • Mars Exploration Programs
  • SpaceX and NASA Launches

12. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

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picture of a map outside of busch gardens florida best day trips in florida

What Can I Do? Busch Gardens Tampa Bay is located in Tampa, Florida, approximately an hour's drive west of Orlando, making it great for a day trip. This African-themed park combines thrilling rides, live entertainment, and one of the country's premier zoos featuring thousands of animals. Busch Gardens offers a unique blend of attractions for families, thrill-seekers, and animal lovers alike.

  • Ride Roller Coasters
  • Animal Encounters
  • Safari Experience
  • Water Rides
  • Live Shows
  • Family Attractions
  • Dining
  • Shopping
  • Adventure Tours

13. St. Petersburg

famous pink dawn caesar resort in st. petersburg beach florida best florida day trips

Where? St Petersburg, Florida

What Can I Do? St. Petersburg, often referred to as St. Pete, is located on the Gulf of Mexico in Pinellas County, Florida. It's part of the Tampa Bay area and is known for its pleasant weather, making it a popular destination for tourists and residents alike. St. Petersburg boasts a vibrant arts scene, beaches, and a lively downtown area perfect for a beautiful day trip. 

  • Visit The Dali Museum
  • Stroll Along the St. Pete Pier™
  • Explore the Sunken Gardens
  • Enjoy the Beaches
  • Visit the Museum of Fine Arts
  • Explore the Morean Arts Center
  • Catch a Tampa Bay Rays Game
  • Taste Local Brews
  • Go Kayaking in Weedon Island Preserve
  • Walk Through the Historic Kenwood Neighborhood
  • Experience Dining and Nightlife

14. Sanibel Island

sanibel island shells on the beach best florida day trips

Where? To get to Sanibel Island, Florida, most visitors travel by car, as the island is accessible via the Sanibel Causeway, which connects it to the mainland near Fort Myers.

What Can I Do? Sanibel Island is located on the Gulf of Mexico, off the coast of Southwest Florida, near Fort Myers. Known for its shell-covered beaches, wildlife refuges, and relaxed atmosphere, Sanibel is a barrier island famous for its east-west orientation, which makes it ideal for shell collecting.

  • Shell Collecting on the Beaches
  • Visit the J.N. "Ding" Darling National Wildlife Refuge
  • Bike Along the Sanibel Island Bike Trails
  • Explore the Sanibel Historical Museum and Village
  • Kayak or Canoe in Tarpon Bay
  • Enjoy the Sanibel Lighthouse & Fishing Pier
  • Visit the Bailey-Matthews National Shell Museum
  • Relax at Bowman's Beach
  • Shop and Dine at Periwinkle Way
  • Go Bird Watching
  • Participate in a Guided Nature Walk

Motorcycle Rentals in Florida with Riders Share to Make Your Day Trip Unforgettable

Book a motorcycle or Slingshot rental with Riders Share in Florida for as low as $25 a day and explore the sunshine state on two wheels in the open air! Whether you're cruising down the Overseas Highway to the Keys or winding through the orange groves and hills of Central Florida, a motorcycle trip adds an element of adventure and freedom to your Florida day trip.

Conclusion

Florida's diverse destinations provide a plethora of options for day-trippers looking to explore the state's beauty, history, and culture. Adding a motorcycle rental into the mix offers an exhilarating way to experience Florida's stunning landscapes and vibrant cities from a whole new perspective. 

With the wind in your hair and the sun on your back, you'll find that the journey becomes as memorable as the destination itself. So gear up, choose your ride, and set out on a road trip that promises adventure, freedom, and unforgettable memories. Whether you're weaving through the historic streets of St. Augustine, gliding alongside the glistening waters of the Gulf Coast, or exploring the untamed wilderness of the Everglades, a motorcycle day trip in Florida is sure to be an experience you'll cherish for a lifetime.