Day Trips From Tampa

Best Day Trips From Tampa: Hidden Gems and Unusual Locations!

Embarking on a journey from Tampa opens up a world of diverse and enchanting day trip possibilities, revealing hidden gems and unusual locations waiting to be explored. Beyond the bustling cityscape, the Tampa Bay area unfolds a tapestry of unique destinations, each offering its own distinctive charm and allure. Check out those lesser-known gems surrounding the vibrant heart of Tampa.

One of the most popular day trips from Tampa is to the beautiful Caladesi Island State Park. This stunning island is only accessible by boat, which makes the experience even more special. Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by turquoise waters and pristine white sand. Take a swim, go for a walk, or simply relax and soak up the sun. It’s the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

If you’re a history enthusiast, a visit to the Kennedy Space Center is a must. This iconic attraction is a walk-through time of great American achievement. You’ll visit the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame and Rocket Garden, and experience the thrill of space travel. It’s an inspiring and educational day trip that’s perfect for the whole family. So why not pack your bags and go on an adventure to discover the best day trips from Tampa!

Crystal River: Manatee Haven

Crystal River is home to the largest population of manatees in the country, and you can experience them up close and personal on a guided tour. River Ventures and Fun 2 Dive are two reputable tour companies that offer snorkeling and swimming tours where you can swim with the manatees.

If you prefer to stay dry, you can take a kayak tour to observe the manatees from a distance. You can also visit the Three Sisters Springs to see the manatees in their natural habitat.

Crystal River is not just about manatees. You can also explore the charming downtown area, visit the Crystal River Archaeological State Park, or go fishing on the Crystal River.

Crystal River is approximately 80 miles away from Tampa, which takes about an hour and a half to drive. It’s worth the drive to experience the magic of swimming with the manatees and exploring this charming town.

you can also look into Lake George for another water related escape.

Honeymoon Island State Park

If you’re looking for a peaceful and picturesque escape from the hustle and bustle of Tampa, Honeymoon Island State Park is a must-visit. Located just 30 miles from downtown Tampa, this stunning barrier island is easily accessible by car and offers a perfect day trip opportunity.

As you step onto the island, you’ll be greeted by four miles of pristine white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, swim, or simply relax, Honeymoon Island has something for everyone. Plus, with plenty of amenities like restrooms, showers, and picnic areas, you can easily spend the entire day here.

But Honeymoon Island is more than just a beach destination. The island is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including ospreys, eagles, and even gopher tortoises. You can explore the island’s natural beauty by hiking along the three-mile nature trail or by taking a guided tour with a park ranger.

If you’re a dog owner, you’ll be happy to know that Honeymoon Island also has a designated pet beach where you can let your furry friend run and play in the sand and surf.

Fort De Soto Park: A Natural Getaway

Fort De Soto Park is just 25 miles southwest of Tampa, this park offers a variety of activities for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

One of the main attractions of Fort De Soto Park is its beautiful beach. With over 7 miles of white sand and crystal-clear water, it’s the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and beachcombing. The beach is also a popular spot for fishing, with a variety of fish species available year-round.

But the beach isn’t the only thing to see and do at Fort De Soto Park. The park is also home to a number of hiking and biking trails, as well as a historic fort that dates back to the Spanish-American War. And if you’re looking for a place to camp, Fort De Soto Park has plenty of campsites available, including sites with water and electric hookups.

One thing to keep in mind when visiting Fort De Soto Park is that there is a $5 beach parking fee in addition to the Pinellas Bayway tolls you pay to get out to the park. But trust us, the natural beauty and peaceful atmosphere of Fort De Soto Park is well worth the price of admission.

Siesta Key: White Sand Paradise

If you’re looking for a quick escape from the hustle and bustle of Tampa, Siesta Key is the perfect day trip destination. Located just 65 miles south of Tampa, it’s an easy drive that takes around 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Siesta Key’s soft, white sand is made up of 99% pure quartz, which gives it a cool, powdery texture that’s perfect for lounging on. The sand is also great for playing beach games, building sandcastles, and taking long walks along the shore.

Siesta Key Beach is the main attraction, but there are plenty of other things to do on the island too. You can rent a bike and explore the island’s many bike paths, go kayaking or paddleboarding in the Gulf of Mexico, or take a sunset cruise to see the island from a different perspective.

If you’re hungry, there are plenty of restaurants, pizza places and cafes on the island that serve fresh seafood and other local specialties. You can also pack a picnic and enjoy it on the beach. One thing is certain, you wouldn’t want to miss out on the Siesta Key famous breakfasts.

Clearwater Beach Adventures

If you’re looking for a beach adventure near Tampa, Clearwater Beach is a must-visit destination. Located just 25 miles west of Tampa, it takes around 40 minutes to reach this beautiful beach paradise by car.

Clearwater Beach is known for its crystal clear waters and pristine white sand. You can spend a whole day soaking up the sun, swimming, and relaxing on the beach. For those who love water sports, you can rent jet skis, paddleboards, and kayaks to explore the Gulf of Mexico.

One of the most popular attractions on Clearwater Beach is Pier 60, which is a great spot to watch the sunset. Every evening, there’s a sunset celebration with live music, street performers, and local vendors selling food and souvenirs. It’s the perfect way to end your day at the beach.

It is a great location for families as Clearwater as a lot of things to do with kids.

St. Pete Beach: Sun, Sand, and Surf

St. Pete Beach located just 30 minutes from downtown Tampa, this beautiful beach town offers everything you need for a perfect day in the sun.

With miles of white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, St. Pete Beach is the perfect place to relax and soak up some rays. Whether you want to swim, sunbathe, or just take a leisurely stroll along the shoreline, you’ll find plenty of space to do it here.

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are plenty of water sports to try out, including kayaking, paddleboarding, and parasailing. And if you’re looking for something a little more low-key, you can always rent a beach chair and umbrella and just enjoy the view.

When it comes to food and drink, St. Pete Beach has plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for fresh seafood, a juicy burger, or a refreshing cocktail, you’ll find it all here. And with so many great restaurants and bars to choose from, you’re sure to find something that suits your taste.

Thrills at Orlando’s Theme Parks

Walt Disney World is a must-visit destination for families with children. With four theme parks, two water parks, and countless attractions, there’s something for everyone. You can meet your favorite Disney characters, ride thrilling roller coasters, and watch spectacular shows and parades. The park is located approximately 84 miles from Tampa, which is about a 1 hour and 30-minute drive.

Universal Studios is another popular theme park in Orlando. It’s known for its thrilling rides and attractions based on popular movies and TV shows. You can experience the magic of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, ride the Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit coaster, and explore the Jurassic Park Discovery Center. The park is located approximately 84 miles from Tampa, which is about a 1 hour and 30-minute drive.

SeaWorld is a great destination for those interested in marine life. You can watch incredible animal shows, ride thrilling roller coasters, and learn about the ocean’s inhabitants. You can also visit the Discovery Cove park for an up-close encounter with dolphins and other sea creatures. The park is located approximately 85 miles from Tampa, which is about a 1 hour and 30-minute drive.

Legoland Florida: Fun for All Ages

Legoland Florida is a great option for the whole family. Located about 45 minutes from Tampa, Legoland Florida is a theme park built entirely out of LEGO bricks.

With over 50 rides, live shows, endless shopping, can’t-miss dining, a water park, and themed accommodations, there are plenty of attractions and activities for every LEGO enthusiast and adventure seeker.

Some of the most popular rides include the Dragon Coaster, the LEGO Movie Masters of Flight, and the LEGO Ninjago The Ride. There are also plenty of attractions for younger children, including DUPLO Valley and the LEGO Friends Heartlake City.

In addition to the rides and attractions, Legoland Florida also offers plenty of dining options, from quick snacks to sit-down meals. You can also stay overnight at one of the themed accommodations, such as the LEGOLAND Hotel or the LEGOLAND Beach Retreat.

The Ringling: Art and Circus Combined

If you’re looking for a unique day trip from Tampa, head south to Sarasota and visit The Ringling. This museum and cultural center is dedicated to the legacy of John Ringling, one of the founders of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus.

Located about 60 miles south of Tampa, The Ringling offers a fascinating look at the history of the circus, as well as an impressive collection of art and artifacts. The museum is housed in a beautiful Mediterranean-style mansion, Ca’ d’Zan, which was built by John Ringling and his wife Mable in the 1920s.

One of the highlights of The Ringling is the Circus Museum, which features an incredible collection of circus memorabilia, including costumes, posters, and props. You can even step inside a miniature circus model that features over 44,000 pieces.

But The Ringling is not just about the circus. The museum also boasts an impressive collection of art, including works by Rubens, Velázquez, and other masters. The museum’s art collection is housed in the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, which features 21 galleries filled with paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts.

In addition to the museum and mansion, The Ringling also has beautiful gardens to explore. The grounds include a rose garden, a butterfly garden, and a banyan grove. You can also take a stroll along Sarasota Bay and enjoy the stunning views.

Salvador Dali Museum: Surrealist Wonders

If you’re looking for a surreal experience, look no further than the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg, just 30 minutes from Tampa. This museum boasts an incredible collection of over 2,400 works of art from the famous surrealist artist himself.

As you enter the museum, you’ll be greeted by a stunning 75-foot geodesic glass dome called Enigma, which is a work of art in itself. Inside, you’ll find a vast array of Dali’s paintings, sculptures, and other works of art, including his famous melting clocks and bizarre dreamscapes.

One of the most impressive exhibits is the “Dalí Alive 360°” exhibit, where you can immerse yourself in the world of Dali through virtual reality technology. You’ll feel like you’re walking through one of Dali’s paintings, surrounded by his surreal imagery and bizarre landscapes.

The Salvador Dali Museum is not just a place to view art, but also a place to learn about the life and legacy of one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. The museum offers guided tours, lectures, and workshops, making it a great destination for art enthusiasts and novices alike.

Distance from Tampa: The Salvador Dali Museum is located in St. Petersburg, just 30 minutes from Tampa, and is easily accessible by car.

Tarpon Springs: Greek Culture and Seafood

If you’re looking for a unique day trip from Tampa, Tarpon Springs is a must-visit destination. Located just 30 miles northwest of Tampa, this charming town is known as “Florida’s Little Greece” and offers a taste of Mediterranean culture right here in Florida.

One of the main attractions in Tarpon Springs is the Sponge Docks, where you can watch sponge boats unload their catch and purchase sponges of all shapes and sizes. But there’s more to Tarpon Springs than just sponges. The town is also famous for its Greek cuisine, with numerous restaurants serving up delicious seafood dishes like grilled octopus and fried calamari.

If you’re a fan of seafood, be sure to visit one of the many waterfront restaurants in Tarpon Springs. Some of the most popular options include Hellas Restaurant and Bakery, which has been serving up Greek specialties since 1970, and Rusty Bellies Waterfront Grill, which offers fresh seafood and stunning views of the Anclote River.

In addition to its food and culture, Tarpon Springs also has plenty of outdoor activities to keep you busy. You can take a boat tour of the Anclote River, rent a kayak or paddleboard, or go fishing for tarpon and snook. And if you’re interested in history, be sure to check out the Tarpon Springs Heritage Museum, which showcases the town’s Greek heritage and sponge diving history.

Kayaking at Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs is a crystal-clear river that is the perfect place for a kayaking adventure. Located just 50 miles north of Tampa.

With its turquoise blue waters and lush greenery, Weeki Wachee Springs is a sight to behold. And the best way to experience it is by kayak. There are plenty of rental options available, so you don’t need to bring your own.

One of the most popular routes is the 5.5-mile trip down the Weeki Wachee River. This route takes you through some of the most scenic parts of the river, including the famous “Old Florida” section. Here you’ll see cypress trees, Spanish moss, and plenty of wildlife, including manatees, turtles, and fish.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also take a shorter route that includes a stop at the Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. Here you can watch the famous mermaid show or take a dip in the spring-fed swimming area.

Weeki Wachee Springs is one of the greatest natural springs in Florida, and shouldn’t miss out on a visit to the Buccaneer Bay Water Park.

Hiking at Hillsborough River State Park

Hillsborough River State Park is another exciting outdoor adventure destination for you. Located just 25 minutes north of Tampa, this park offers seven miles of hiking trails and a portion of the 60-mile Hillsborough River.

The park is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including alligators, turtles, and a variety of bird species. You can also enjoy the scenic beauty of the park’s lush greenery and crystal-clear waters.

One of the most popular trails in the park is the 2.2-mile Rapids Trail, which takes you along the river and offers stunning views of the rapids. If you’re up for a challenge, the Baynard Trail is a 6.5-mile loop that takes you through the heart of the park’s wilderness.

Biking and Camping at Caladesi Island

Caladesi Island is located just 25 miles from downtown Tampa. With its stunning white sand beaches and crystal clear waters, Caladesi Island is the perfect destination for a day of biking and camping in Florida.

Rent a bike and explore the island’s many trails, taking in the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico along the way. The island’s 3-mile nature trail is a must-see, offering a glimpse of the island’s diverse wildlife and vegetation.

After a day of biking, pitch your tent at one of the island’s campsites and spend a night under the stars. Wake up to the sound of waves crashing on the shore and spend the day exploring the island’s many beaches and hiking trails.

Don’t forget to bring your camera – Caladesi Island is home to some of the most beautiful sunsets in Florida. Capture the moment as the sun dips below the horizon, casting a warm glow over the island’s white sand beaches.

Scuba Diving in Ginnie Springs

If you’re looking for a thrilling scuba diving experience, Ginnie Springs is a must-visit destination. Located approximately 130 miles north of Tampa, it takes around two and a half hours to reach this beautiful freshwater spring.

Ginnie Springs is one of the most popular diving spots in Florida, offering crystal-clear water with excellent visibility. The water temperature remains at a comfortable 72 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the year, making it an ideal spot for year-round diving.

The spring system at Ginnie Springs is made up of four main springs, including Devil’s Eye, Devil’s Ear, and Ginnie Springs. The Devil’s Eye and Devil’s Ear are two of the most challenging cave diving sites in Florida, while Ginnie Springs is perfect for open-water divers.

Ginnie Springs offers a variety of diving experiences, from shallow dives to deep cave exploration. The site is also a full-service campground, picnic area, and water sports center, offering canoeing and snorkeling in the springs and the nearby Santa Fe River.

If you’re a certified diver, you can explore the Ginnie Spring Basin and Ballroom, which is a beautiful cavern system with a maximum depth of 60 feet. You can also dive into the three Devil Springs, which are deep and challenging cave systems.

Boat Tours Along the Gulf Coast

If you haven’t done it before, exploring the Gulf Coast on a boat tour is a must. With several options to choose from, you can experience the beauty of the Gulf of Mexico and its surrounding areas.

One of the most popular boat tours is the dolphin watching tour, which takes you on a journey to see these friendly creatures up close. You’ll get to witness them playfully jumping out of the water and swimming alongside the boat. These tours are available in various locations, including Clearwater and Sarasota, and are usually around 25-30 miles away from Tampa, taking around 45 minutes to an hour to reach.

Another option is to take a glass-bottom boat tour at Silver Springs State Park, which is approximately 90 miles away from Tampa and takes around an hour and a half to reach. The glass-bottom boat allows you to see the beautiful wildlife under the water, making it an exciting and educational experience for the whole family.

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly option, there are several options available in Southwest Gulf Coast. These include Treasure Seekers Shell Tours, Marco Pedal Boat, and Hemingway Water Shuttle, all of which offer affordable boat tours. These tours are located around 100 miles away from Tampa and can take around two hours to reach.

Stand-Up Paddleboarding in Dunedin

With its crystal-clear waters and stunning views, Dunedin is the perfect destination for stand-up paddleboarding enthusiasts.

Rent a stand-up paddleboard from Livin’ Salty Paddle Sports and explore the beautiful Dunedin Bay Islands. Paddle your way through the calm waters and take in the breathtaking views of the Gulf of Mexico. You might even spot some dolphins swimming alongside you!

If you’re new to stand-up paddleboarding, don’t worry! Livin’ Salty Paddle Sports offers lessons and guided tours for all skill levels. Their experienced instructors will teach you the basics and help you feel confident on the water.

The distance from Tampa to Dunedin is only 25 miles, which means you can be on the water in no time. The drive takes approximately 30 minutes, so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your day on the water.

Bok Tower Gardens: The Singing Tower

Bok Tower Gardens is a 250-acre garden and bird sanctuary that features a 205-foot tall Singing Tower, winding paths lined with flowers and lush greenery, secret hideaways, Mediterranean estate, and a cute on-site café. Located just about an hour and a half drive from Tampa,

The tower is a unique piece of architecture and is the centerpiece of the garden. It houses a carillon that plays music every half-hour.

The garden is known for its stunning collection of plants, including rare and endangered species. You can take a leisurely stroll around the garden, explore the nature trails, enjoy a picnic, or attend one of the many events that are held here throughout the year.

The admission fee for adults is $15, and children under 5 can enter for free. Seniors and students receive discounted admission. The garden is open daily from 8 am to 6 pm, with the last admission at 5 pm.

Overall, Bok Tower Gardens is a perfect destination for a day trip from Tampa. You can relax and enjoy the beauty of nature, listen to the music of the Singing Tower, and have a peaceful day away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Sunken Gardens: St. Pete’s Hidden Gem

Look no further than Sunken Gardens in St. Petersburg, Florida offers both relaxing and educational experience. Just a short drive from Tampa, Sunken Gardens is a botanical paradise that’s been delighting visitors for over 100 years.

Once you arrive, you’ll be greeted by a lush, tropical oasis that’s home to over 50,000 plants. Wander through the winding paths and take in the vibrant colors and fragrant scents of the gardens. You’ll see everything from exotic orchids to towering palm trees to quirky cacti.

One of the highlights of a visit to Sunken Gardens is the chance to see some of Florida’s native wildlife up close. Keep your eyes peeled for colorful birds, butterflies, and even the occasional tortoise.

Admission to Sunken Gardens is very reasonable, with adult tickets starting at just $12. Seniors and children can get in for even less, and there are often special deals available on sites like Groupon.

Located just 25 miles from Tampa, Sunken Gardens is an easy and convenient day trip destination. You can get there in just 30 minutes by car, making it a great option for a quick getaway.