I am a Tampa local and I’m excited to share 17 of the best day trips from Tampa. Whether you’re in town for a visit or have lived in Tampa your whole life, this list is sure to have at least a few excursions that are new to you.
We’ll cover 17 day trips close to Tampa, including everything from sandy beaches and botanical gardens. And, for those days you don’t want to leave Tampa, I’ve also got a guide to what to do in Tampa itself. Ok, let’s get exploring!
Table of Contents
- 17 Best Tampa Day Trips
- Fort De Soto Park
- Walt Disney World Resort
- Silver Springs State Park
- Keel and Curley Winery
- Bok Tower Gardens
- Crystal River
- Disney Springs
- Hillsborough River State Park
- Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo
- Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- Saint Petersburg Sunken Gardens
- Sanibel Island
- Universal Studios Florida
- Rainbow Springs State Park
- Legoland Florida
- FAQs About Day Trips from Tampa Bay
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17 Best Tampa Day Trips
Fort De Soto Park
Surround yourself in natural beauty and wildlife at one of Fort De Soto’s breathtaking Gulf Coast beaches.
Located south of St. Petersburg, FL, Fort De Soto Park offers a wide array of amenities such as biking trails, beaches, and fishing piers. Since there are so many different things to do, Fort De Soto is a great Tampa day trip for both solo travelers and families.
Fort De Soto Park is rich with history, so I highly recommend checking out the Historic Fort that was built in 1898! If you want to ensure you have time to see the fort while still enjoying the nature the park has to offer, I recommend booking an electric bike tour.
If you have a furry friend, you’re in luck! Fort De Soto has a pristine dog park and dog beach, making it one of the best day trips from Tampa to take with a dog. Fort De Soto beach is a favorite place for my dog Athena, and I to hang out together.
Walt Disney World Resort
Let your imagination run wild as you experience the shows and rides that make Disney World famous.
Disney World is located in Orlando, FL, and is home to four major theme parks: Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Magic Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios. It would take several day trips from Tampa to experience them all.
Since Disney World has rides and shows that are suitable for both children and adults, this day trip is great for a family or a group of friends.
If it’s your first visit to Disney World, check out the many helpful guides written by Travel Lemming’s Orlando writer (and former Disney cast member) Katie. In particular, be sure to bookmark her list of tips for visiting Disney and her Disney World budget guide.
Silver Springs State Park
Float down the Silver River on a glass bottom boat or kayak and gaze upon the underwater nature and wildlife.
Located between Orlando and Gainesville, Silver Springs State Park is a 4,000-acre park. It is home to the Silver River and many beautiful gardens. The gorgeous scenery makes the park a great place to take photos, so make sure you bring the whole family!
Silver Springs State Park also has two restaurants onsite, so you don’t need to worry about packing a lunch for this Tampa day trip.
Silver Springs State Park is known for its glass-bottom boat tours. The glass floor of the boat allows you to see the beautiful wildlife under the water. If you want to avoid the crowds on the boat but still see the underwater wildlife, consider booking a clear kayak tour like this popular tour.
Keel and Curley Winery
Expand your palate with locally sourced food and berry wine.
Keel and Curley Winery is only a short drive away in Plant City, FL. Personally, it is one of my favorite day trips to take from Tampa because of the delicious food and drinks. I always get the Berry Salad when I go!
Start your day off at Keel Farm by roaming the fields. From animals to a huge blueberry patch, the 25-acre farm has many noteworthy features to explore. Next, dine at their restaurant where all the food is locally sourced. End your day relaxing on the patio while sipping on a flight of Keel Farm’s famous berry wines.
Collect shells or relax at one of the many beaches in Dunedin.
Dunedin is a city located right on Florida’s gulf coast and is home to Honeymoon Island State Park. Honeymoon Island State Park is known for its beautiful beaches that are great for shell hunting. You should be sure to include this Island on your day trip to Dunedin.
Bonus: they have a dog-friendly beach. That means that this Tampa day trip would be great for the whole family and your dog!
To experience the entire city of Dunedin, I recommend reserving a morning bicycle tour of Dunedin, like this highly rated tour. Then spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing at a Honeymoon Island beach.
Bok Tower Gardens
Roam the Garden grounds and see plants you’ve never seen before.
Bok Tower Gardens is located in Lake Wales, FL, and has over 250 acres of botanical gardens and foliage. With an onsite cafe and winding walkways, it is easy to spend an entire day here.
I have been to Bok Tower Gardens dozens of times and I still haven’t seen everything the Garden has to offer. My favorite activity is feeding the koi fish at the pond next to the famous Singing Tower.
If you want to plan a special date, pack a blanket and lunch and have a romantic picnic in one of the many grass fields.
See how a day spent in Sarasota compares to the downtown Tampa scene.
Sarasota is a gulf coast city in southwest Florida that is home to many great attractions like the Mable Ringling Museum of Art and Siesta Key Beach.
Do you and your friends want a change of pace from Tampa nightlife? Check out the restaurants and bars in downtown Sarasota. Selva Downtown Sarasota is popular for Peruvian cuisine, or try farm-to-table offerings at Boca Sarasota.
If you’d prefer someone else to guide your taste buds, pre-book this highly-rated walking food tour. You can explore Sarasota’s social scene on foot while trying 5 local restaurants. Just be aware this popular tour does tend to sell out!
Snorkel with manatees while you learn about their ecosystem.
Have you ever wanted to swim with manatees? Now you can at Crystal River!
Just a one-hour drive north from Tampa will bring you to Crystal River, the home of many West Indian Manatees. Even though manatees are abundant here, I highly recommend booking a guided tour to take you to the best spots to snorkel with the gentle giants.
This guide small group tour will provide you with the proper gear and take in-water photos of you as you snorkel with the manatees. The photographer will allow you to fully immerse yourself in the experience because they will be capturing the memories with their camera.
Explore restaurants and shows that will be sure to give you something new to love.
Disney Springs is located in Orlando, FL, and is a great day trip for people who want the Disney experience without having to pay for a ticket to the park. With multiple parking garages on site, parking at Disney Springs isn’t a problem.
Disney Springs has many stores, shows, and restaurants that will provide an entire day full of fun for people of all ages. Check out Katie’s guide to more than 20 fun things to do at Disney Springs (many of them free!).
My favorite thing to do is to go to the Coca-Cola Rooftop Beverage Bar. I use the self-service machine to create a unique flavor of Coca-Cola to drink. Then, I’ll enjoy the views of the rooftop lounge. There is sure to be a soda combination you haven’t tried yet!
🚗 Pro Tip: Check out Katie’s Disney World parking guide for tips on how to score free parking!
Hillsborough River State Park
The closest place to Tampa Bay to surround yourself with nature and see amazing wildlife.
Hillsborough River State Park is one of the best day trips from Tampa for anyone wanting to hike nature trails, kayak, or view wildlife. Just a 30-minute drive from downtown Tampa, this state park has a $6 per vehicle entrance fee or a $4 fee for single-occupant vehicles.
My dog and I regularly hike the four nature hiking trails that are offered within the park. If I am taking a trip to the park alone, I will bring my kayak and launch from the park’s convenient launch site.
Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo
Dust off your cowboy hat and prepare to horseback ride and ride a mechanical bull.
Westgate River Ranch Resort & Rodeo is located in Polk County, FL, and is the largest Dude Ranch to the east of Mississippi. A day trip to Westgate River Ranch is perfect for someone looking to do outdoor activities like horseback riding and archery.
There are also many family-friendly activities like pony riding and miniature golf.
You can also consider turning your day trip into a weekend getaway from Tampa. If you do, make sure you check out the Westgate Rodeo that takes place every Saturday night. At the rodeo, you will be able to see athletes perform bull riding, barrel racing, and trick riding.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Feel inspired as you watch live mermaids sing and dance.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is located in one of Florida’s state parks, about an hour north of Tampa Bay. This day trip offers the opportunity to see many aquatic animals in their natural habitat. Perhaps the best way to see dolphins, manatees, otters, and other animals is through a guided kayak tour.
Weeki Wachee is also one of the few places you can see live mermaids! Watching the mermaids is a unique experience for both children and adults. Sit in a theater 16 feet below ground level as you watch the mermaids and princes swim and dance under the water.
Saint Petersburg Sunken Gardens
Wander through a beautiful botanical garden filled with tropical plants and flowers.
The Sunken Gardens is a botanical garden located in the gulf coast city of St. Petersburg, FL. It is known for the 50,000+ plants and flowers that it contains. The entire family can enjoy strolling through the beautiful foliage while looking at the flamingos and other animals that live in the garden.
If you want to experience the Sunken Gardens while still seeing what else St. Petersburg has to offer, I recommend a tour, like this one! This tour will guide you through St. Petersburg on a segway. You will experience the Gardens while also seeing other popular attractions like the Gizella Kopsick Arboretum.
Recharge while sitting on the shore of a white sand beach.
🗺️ Distance from Tampa Bay: 2.5 hours to 3 hours | 📍 Google Maps
Sanibel Island is a sleepy gulf coast town that is great for beach lovers looking for a relaxing getaway. Located near Fort Myers, this Island has some of the best white sand beaches in Florida.
While Sanibel Island is a suitable day trip, consider taking a weekend trip to the Island. You can watch an incredible Florida sunset on the beach before waking up the next morning to the sound of waves on the shore. Browse beachside hotels on Sanibel Island here.
Universal Studios Florida
Ride roller coasters and see your favorite movie characters.
Universal Studios Florida in the central Florida city of Orlando is a theme park with many movie-themed rides and attractions. Once you enter the park you are transported to a land filled with all your favorite movies like Harry Potter and The Hulk.
Grab your friends or family and spend the day riding roller coasters. The adrenaline rushes you’ll experience will create unforgettable memories. Make sure you book your Universal tickets ahead of time – it’s definitely one of the most popular attractions in Orlando!
Rainbow Springs State Park
Relax as you float down Rainbow Spring’s natural lazy river.
Located 1.5 hours outside of Tampa, Rainbow Springs State Park offers the unique experience of tubing down a natural lazy river. Relax and observe wildlife as you float down the river.
This tubing experience is available for people ages 5 and up, but bring a life jacket for anyone 5 or 6 years old.
You can bring your own tube or rent one from the park. Guest services will shuttle you to the entrance of the Rainbow River, so you end your float within walking distance of your car. It couldn’t be more hassle-free! Make sure to check the park’s website for Rainbow River’s seasonal hours.
👉 Read Next: 17 Best Neighborhoods in Tampa
Build, play, and explore in the only Legoland in the sunshine state.
Legoland Florida is an epic day trip for the entire family. Just east of Lakeland, Legoland is a theme park that offers attractions and rides for children of all ages. There is also a water park, so be sure to bring your favorite bathing suit!
Legoland has over 50 rides and interactive activities that are designed to engage and entertain kids. Don’t worry about bringing food because Legoland has dozens of themed restaurants. There will be a meal for everyone in the family to enjoy.
👉 Read Next: 15 Day Trips from Orlando (By a Local)
FAQs About Day Trips from Tampa Bay
What are the best day trips to take from Tampa Bay?
Can you take a day trip from Tampa to Orlando?
Can you take a day trip from Tampa to Miami?
Miami is not a suitable day trip from Tampa because the drive between the cities is over 4 hours long. Miami is a great option for a weekend getaway from Tampa.
👉 Read Next: Best Places to Stay in Tampa
Thanks for reading! I hope the list got you excited to continue to explore the sunshine state. What fun day trips from Tampa Bay are you most excited about? Scroll down and leave me a comment.
And be sure to bookmark all of Travel Lemming’s Florida travel guides!
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