7 Must-Do Day Trips From Tampa, Florida

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Tampa, located along the Gulf Coast of Florida, offers a wide range of attractions and activities, including beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a thriving cultural scene. With its convenient location, it serves as an ideal base for exploring nearby fascinating destinations.

Tampa’s enviable location allows for memorable day trips to nearby natural wonders, historical landmarks, and charming coastal communities, offering respite from the urban hustle and catering to diverse interests.

Experienced travelers understand that such excursions beyond major cities broaden horizons and provide unique experiences, enriching their understanding of distinct regions.

This article aims to highlight 17 exceptional day trip options catering to a wide array of tastes and preferences, recognizing the potential for adventure and exploration rooted in Tampa’s vicinity.

From pristine white sand shores to enchanting wildlife reserves and captivating museums, these curated selections showcase Florida’s remarkable offerings while prioritizing accessibility for those traveling from Tampa Bay.

It is hoped that readers will be inspired by the bountiful opportunities awaiting just beyond their doorstep—or hotel steps—indeed affirming the timeless adage: travel truly does broaden the mind.



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Orlando, a popular destination for travelers located approximately 85 miles northeast of Tampa, offers a lot of entertainment options suitable for day trips.

Known worldwide as the theme park capital, this vibrant city is home to renowned parks such as Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios Florida.

Orlando boasts several water parks, interactive museums, and various shopping centers that cater to visitors with varying interests.

Diving deeper into the array of activities available in Orlando, tourists can explore unique experiences beyond traditional theme parks.

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex provides an opportunity to learn about NASA’s space program through hands-on exhibits and guided tours.

Gatorland – another distinctive attraction – allows visitors to observe alligators up close while learning about their habitat and conservation efforts in Florida.

For more relaxed pursuits, Winter Park – a charming suburb north of downtown Orlando – features picturesque streets lined with boutiques, restaurants, and art galleries.

Amidst the numerous leisure options present within the city limits, it is important not to overlook the natural beauty surrounding Orlando.

Outdoor enthusiasts may choose from several state parks offering hiking trails or opt for kayaking excursions at Wekiwa Springs State Park or Blue Spring State Park.

Orlando offers family-friendly entertainment, cultural sites, and outdoor exploration for day trips from Tampa.

Merritt Island


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Merritt Island is located along Florida’s eastern coast, Merritt Island offers an excellent blend of nature and space exploration experiences that are sure to captivate visitors of all ages.

The island boasts pristine beaches, lush wildlife refuges, and the renowned Kennedy Space Center.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary for diverse plant and animal species. It spans over 140,000 acres and offers birdwatching, hiking, fishing, and kayaking. Guided tours and environmental education programs are available to promote awareness of local flora and fauna.

Canaveral National Seashore, adjacent to the refuge, offers protected shorelines with unspoiled dunes and serene beaches for swimming and sunbathing.

The iconic Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a must-visit on Merritt Island. It showcases America’s spaceflight history, interactive exhibits, and astronaut training and spacecraft engineering.

Guests can meet veteran astronauts and dine with them through Lunch With An Astronaut events. The complex also offers thrilling attractions like Shuttle Launch Experience® and Apollo/Saturn V Center showcasing historic moon landing missions. Merritt Island offers an exciting day trip with enriching experiences in natural beauty and technological marvels.

Winter Haven


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Winter Haven, 50 miles east of Tampa, is an enticing day trip destination. It boasts a picturesque chain of lakes, a pleasant year-round climate, and a variety of recreational activities and attractions for all ages.

With over 50 freshwater lakes within the vicinity, Winter Haven provides ample opportunities to engage in watersports such as fishing, boating, skiing, or simply sunbathing by the shore.

LEGOLAND Florida Resort is a prominent attraction in Winter Haven. This family-oriented theme park features over 50 rides, interactive exhibits, shows, and restaurants with themed zones based on popular LEGO franchises.

In addition to exhilarating roller coasters and boat tours through miniature LEGO landscapes, the resort features botanical gardens blending natural beauty with vibrant sculptures made entirely of LEGO bricks.

Winter Haven offers cultural and historical attractions beyond leisure pursuits. Bok Tower Gardens, with impressive architecture and meticulously curated flora, provides a tranquil sanctuary for those seeking respite amidst nature’s splendor.

Additionally, Polk State College has a fine arts gallery showcasing local and national artists, while Cypress Gardens Boulevard features well-preserved historic buildings with southern charm.

Winter Haven presents an engaging amalgamation of outdoor adventures and enriching experiences worth considering when planning a day trip from Tampa.

Spring Hill


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Spring Hill, located just 40 miles north of Tampa, entices travelers with its enchanting allure, offering a blend of pristine natural beauty, engaging recreational activities, and tantalizing gastronomy for an unforgettable day trip.

With its charm and warm hospitality, it offers an escape from city life. Located on Florida’s Nature Coast, it features picturesque parks like Weeki Wachee Preserve and Crews Lake Wilderness Park, where visitors can hike or bike along scenic trails amidst diverse flora and fauna.

Spring Hill offers aquatic adventures at Buccaneer Bay Waterpark and Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, known for mesmerizing mermaid shows. Kayaking down Weeki Wachee River provides a leisurely experience with possible manatee sightings amidst natural beauty.

It offers delectable dining options, including popular seafood eateries like Brian’s Place and Hernando Beach Tropical Grille. Wine enthusiasts can indulge in exquisite vintages at Sparacia Witherspoon Winery, set amidst lush vineyards with panoramic views, providing an idyllic setting to unwind after exploring the charming locale.

Embracing captivating experiences both on land and water while indulging in culinary delights makes Spring Hill an irresistible choice for discerning travelers embarking on day trips from Tampa.

Crystal River


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Crystal River, located along Florida’s Gulf Coast, is a charming city known for its turquoise waters, abundant wildlife, and unique opportunity to explore a spectacular ecosystem, particularly the presence of manatees.

It is an ideal day trip destination from Tampa, offering a range of activities for adventurers and nature enthusiasts. Visitors can experience the famous Three Sisters Springs and interact with West Indian Manatees through guided snorkeling or kayaking tours during the winter months.

Crystal River offers more than just marine life experiences. The town is home to parks and preserves like Hunter Spring Park and Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge, offering hiking trails through beautiful landscapes. The historic downtown area is also worth exploring, with shops, eateries, and museums celebrating local heritage.

It offers a diverse range of attractions, including the Coastal Heritage Museum for maritime history, art galleries featuring regional artists, fishing charters, airboat rides, and top-rated golf courses, providing thrilling pursuits for visitors beyond aquatic adventures and serene nature walks.

This enchanting coastal haven truly encapsulates Floridian essence away from bustling metropolitan areas – making it an unmissable day trip experience from Tampa.

Sanibel Island


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Sanibel Island, located 145 miles south of Tampa, is an ideal day trip destination known for its pristine beaches and abundance of seashells. This enchanting island offers visitors a chance to experience nature and enjoy luxurious amenities.

The Island offers over 15 miles of pristine shoreline with easy access to public beaches for sunbathing, swimming, and leisurely walks.

J.N. ‘Ding’ Darling National Wildlife Refuge is a must-see attraction on Sanibel Island, offering visitors the chance to observe diverse flora and fauna, including migratory birds like pelicans, herons, and ospreys, on guided tours or leisurely walks along designated trails.

History enthusiasts will enjoy the historic Sanibel Lighthouse, dating back to 1884. Visit to learn about its intriguing past and enjoy panoramic views from its vantage point.

Sanibel Island also caters well to those seeking relaxation and rejuvenation away from their busy lives.

The charming town center offers boutique shops selling local crafts and artwork, as well as quaint eateries serving delicious seafood dishes made with fresh, locally caught produce.

After a day of exploration, weary travelers can find comfort and privacy at upscale resorts or cozy bed-and-breakfast establishments nestled in lush vegetation on Sanibel Island.

Sanibel Island is a highly regarded destination for day trips from the Tampa Bay area, thanks to its captivating allure and abundant attractions.



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Sarasota offers a stunning blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions.

Boasting miles of pristine beaches with white sands and azure waters, this city unveils an array of opportunities for visitors to immerse themselves in its rich history and vibrant arts scene.

The area is known for its diverse architectural styles and offers a wide range of artistic attractions including galleries, museums, and performance venues.

A mere one-hour drive south of Tampa, Sarasota is home to several noteworthy points of interest that reward day-trippers with unique experiences.

Among these is The Ringling, a historic estate formerly owned by John Ringling, featuring an extensive art collection, a grand mansion, and beautiful gardens.

Also, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens offers a serene oasis of tropical flora, spanning nine acres dedicated to research, conservation, and the flourishing of orchids, bromeliads, and other exotic plants.

Sarasota stands out for its commitment to environmental preservation, exemplified by Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium. This world-class institution showcases interactive exhibits highlighting Florida’s coastal marine life.

Myakka River State Park offers an immersive experience of nature’s beauty. Explore serene wetlands by kayaking or hiking through towering live oaks to witness indigenous wildlife in their natural habitats.

Sarasota captivates with its idyllic charm, offering enchantment to all who venture there from the vibrant streets of Tampa Bay.

Sightseeing In Florida By Rv


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RV travel in Florida provides a comfortable and unique sightseeing experience, allowing visitors to explore the state’s diverse landscape, coastline, state parks, and amusement parks. It offers the best of both worlds, immersing travelers in nature while enjoying modern amenities.

Florida’s western coast boasts pristine beaches. Traveling south on Florida State Road 60 leads to Clearwater Beach, repeatedly voted one of America’s best beaches. Continuing down the coast, Fort De Soto Park awaits, offering five interconnected islands with abundant wildlife, hiking trails, fishing piers, and picturesque campgrounds for overnight stays.

Heading north leads to Crystal River Preserve State Park, a haven to observe manatees in their natural habitat during winter. This coastal paradise offers diverse experiences for RV travelers.

Central Florida offers more than just beaches, with inland attractions to suit various interests. History buffs can explore Ybor City, a National Historic Landmark District known as the ‘Cigar Capital of the World’, with vintage architecture and museums detailing its fascinating past.

Orlando is a thrilling destination for families and thrill-seekers, housing renowned theme parks like Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Studios Florida. Nature enthusiasts can explore freshwater springs like Silver Springs State Park and Blue Spring State Park, offering swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and the chance to observe native flora and fauna in lush surroundings.

The versatility provided by RV travel enables visitors to create customized itineraries encompassing key points of interest tailored specifically toward individual preferences.

Tampa Bay Citypass


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The Tampa Bay CityPASS offers a convenient and cost-effective way to experience some of the most popular attractions within this area, providing not only access but also valuable discounts.

The Tampa Bay CityPASS grants admission to five premier attractions: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium, ZooTampa at Lowry Park, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and either Museum of Science & Industry (MOSI) or Tropicana Field Tours.

This pass enables tourists to explore various aspects of the region’s culture and nature while saving up to 54% off regular combined prices.

It allows flexibility as travelers have nine consecutive days from their first use to visit all included venues.

The Tampa Bay CityPASS provides vacationers with an affordable and enriching exploration of Florida’s best attractions, maximizing enjoyment without overspending.

With a myriad of exciting experiences available through this single-ticket purchase – ranging from thrilling roller coasters to awe-inspiring aquatic species – visitors will undoubtedly create lasting memories during their time in Tampa and its surrounding areas.

5-Hour Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise From Tampa


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Embark on an exhilarating Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise from Tampa for a unique opportunity to witness the majestic beauty of dolphins in their natural habitat.

The tour starts at Clearwater Beach, where participants board a dolphin-watching vessel. With expert guides, visitors are assured unforgettable encounters with bottlenose dolphins swimming alongside the boat.

The dolphin cruise navigates Florida’s Gulf Coast, providing stunning views of pristine beaches and diverse marine life. Passengers witness playful dolphins leaping and riding the bow wave while learning about their biology, behavior, and conservation efforts.

Expert guides offer informative commentary during the hour-long journey, enhancing visitors’ understanding of local ecosystems and the importance of preserving these habitats for future generations.

Don’t miss the enchanting hour-long Dolphin Sightseeing Cruise while exploring day trips from Tampa. With captivating wildlife sightings and educational insights into marine ecology, this excursion is perfect for families, nature enthusiasts, and anyone seeking a memorable adventure near Tampa.

Embarking on this delightful voyage promises exceptional dolphin encounters and lasting appreciation for the wonders that grace Florida’s coastline.

Guided Tampa Tour In A Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart


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The Guided Tampa Tour in a Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart allows tourists to explore Tampa’s history and culture comfortably and eco-friendly. With ample seating capacity, these modern golf carts ensure groups can stay together while knowledgeable tour guides share insights about the city’s neighborhoods and their significance.

The guided tour begins in Downtown Tampa, introducing participants to highlights like the historic district of Ybor City with its diverse architectural influences. Travelers will enjoy the smooth ride through picturesque streets, learning about iconic landmarks such as the University of South Florida – St. Petersburg campus and Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, surrounded by palm trees.

The comprehensive tour also includes stops at key locations like Channelside District, where visitors can explore popular sites such as Sparkman Wharf on foot and capture memorable photographs.

Exploring Tampa through this unique transport option reveals a city rich in diverse cultural experiences. Discover the vibrant history of Ybor City’s cigar-making industry and admire contemporary art installations downtown. Each aspect contributes to understanding Tampa’s multifaceted character, inviting curious adventurers to delve deeper into its heart.

Embarking on the Guided Tampa Tour in a Deluxe Street Legal Golf Cart offers valuable perspectives on the past and present narratives that shape this intriguing Floridian metropolis.

Historic Ybor City Food Walking Tour


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The Historic Ybor City Food Walking Tour offers a unique opportunity to explore the rich history and diverse culinary scene of this iconic Tampa neighborhood.

Established in the late 19th century by Vicente Martinez-Ybor, Ybor City quickly became known for its thriving cigar industry, which attracted immigrants from Cuba, Spain, Italy, and Germany.

Today, visitors can immerse themselves in this multicultural melting pot while sampling mouth-watering dishes at various eateries scattered throughout the district.

The walking tour not only satisfies taste buds with delicious cuisine but also shares intriguing anecdotes about each establishment, revealing their contributions to shaping Ybor City’s fascinating past.

Participants will gain insight into the area’s architectural gems such as ornate casitas and wrought-iron balconies that bear witness to its vibrant heritage.

Throughout the journey, knowledgeable guides share captivating stories about notable personalities who helped forge this community’s identity – from influential entrepreneurs like Don Vincente himself to revered revolutionaries like José Martí.

The Historic Ybor City Food Walking Tour offers locals and tourists a chance to explore Tampa’s cultural roots while savoring delicious delicacies that represent its diverse inhabitants.

It makes for a memorable day trip experience that leaves all participants with a newfound appreciation for this remarkable Floridian gem.

The Florida Aquarium


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A visit to The Florida Aquarium serves as a delightful sojourn, transporting guests into the mesmerizing world of aquatic life.

Located in downtown Tampa, this renowned attraction provides an immersive experience for individuals seeking tranquility and exploring diverse underwater ecosystems.

With over 20,000 sea creatures and interactive exhibits like Wetlands Trail, Madagascar Exhibit, and Heart of the Sea, this attraction captivates visitors with unique perspectives on marine life at every turn.

As one navigates through the aquarium’s halls, it becomes apparent that education and conservation efforts are integral components of its mission.

Expert-led animal encounters provide fascinating insights into various species’ behaviors, habitats, and threats they face in their natural environments.

By participating in these interactive sessions, guests contribute to ongoing research initiatives which aim to protect vulnerable wildlife populations and preserve delicate ecosystems vital for sustaining oceanic biodiversity.

One would appreciate visiting The Florida Aquarium due to its focus on fostering an appreciation for marine life whilst championing environmental stewardship.

The aquarium is involved in local and global partnerships to advance conservation goals and raise awareness about ecological issues like climate change and plastic pollution.

Engaging with captivating displays and exploring innovative sustainability approaches during behind-the-scenes tours, visitors to the aquarium gain lasting memories and a deeper understanding of the interconnectedness between humans and nature’s precious resources.

Tampa History Cruise


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Transitioning from The Florida Aquarium’s captivating marine life, visitors can explore Tampa’s rich history on a Tampa History Cruise. This engaging journey provides an educational exploration of the city’s past while cruising through its impressive waterways.

Guests will learn about Tampa’s historic events and uncover lesser-known facts about prominent landmarks. Starting at the Tampa Convention Center, the narrated excursion sails past significant sites including Harbor Island, Davis Islands, and Bayshore Boulevard.

Guests on the Tampa History Cruise can enjoy scenic views while listening to stories dating back over 500 years, including tales about Native Americans, Spanish explorers, pirates, cigar factories, and railroad tycoons. Prominent landmarks like Henry Plant’s Hotel, the Gasparilla Pirate Festival, and Ybor City’s Cuban influence are also featured.

On the Cruise, passengers gain an in-depth understanding of how historical milestones shaped present-day Tampa. Comfortable vessels with ample seating and modern amenities enhance the experience. This cruise offers stunning sightseeing opportunities for memorable photographs against scenic waterfront backdrops, enriching knowledge and creating lasting memories.

Participating in the daily boat ride experience immerses travelers in unique narratives set in an enchanting environment, enhancing their overall visit to this remarkable Floridian metropolis.

Tampa’s Zooquarium Admission


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Tampa’s renowned ZooQuarium offers an unparalleled combination of a zoo and aquarium, allowing visitors to observe and interact with diverse wildlife in one convenient location. With engaging experiences suitable for families, solo travelers, and groups, it is a popular day trip option in the Tampa area.

The innovative ZooQuarium concept houses thousands of animals representing diverse ecosystems worldwide. The terrestrial section features majestic mammals like elephants, tigers, and bears, along with captivating reptiles such as snakes and lizards, among others.

The marine environment at ZooQuarium features awe-inspiring exhibits with sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, colorful fish, and corals, showcasing the beauty of underwater life. Visitors can enjoy immersive educational programs, learn about animal behavior and conservation efforts, and participate in behind-the-scenes tours led by knowledgeable staff members.

Tampa’s ZooQuarium offers interactive encounters with select animals, allowing guests to feed giraffes and witness dolphin presentations by skilled trainers. These experiences create unforgettable memories alongside the remarkable flora and fauna displays.

It focuses on wildlife conservation and offers exciting learning opportunities that leave lasting impressions on visitors, fostering an appreciation for conservation even after leaving Tampa Bay.

Tiki Boat Tour On Hillsborough River


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The floating tiki bar tour offers tourists the chance to explore Tampa’s stunning waterways while enjoying their favorite beverages. This leisurely cruise showcases the natural beauty and diverse wildlife of the river, providing a remarkable and relaxing experience.

Embarking on the Tiki Boat Tour, passengers are greeted by an experienced captain who expertly navigates through calm waters, sharing insights into local landmarks and history along the way.

The floating tiki bar provides a leisurely cruise along Tampa’s river, offering magnificent views of downtown’s skyline and glimpses of local wildlife. Guests can capture stunning photographs, engage in conversations about environmental issues, and learn about cultural attractions.

To enhance this already extraordinary day trip, participants may choose to partake in optional activities such as karaoke or trivia games provided by enthusiastic crew members.

Customized packages for special events or celebrations like birthdays, anniversaries, or team-building outings are available. A Tiki Boat Tour on Hillsborough River offers relaxation, entertainment, and scenic appreciation, creating lasting memories.

Zoo Tampa At Lowry Park Admission Ticket


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ZooTampa at Lowry Park, a renowned zoological garden located in Tampa, Florida, offers visitors an unparalleled experience with its unique blend of exotic animals and educational programs.

Covering more than 60 acres, this widely acclaimed facility houses over 1,300 animals that represent around 330 species from various regions across the globe.

ZooTampa offers exhibits like Asian Gardens, Wallaroo Station Children’s Zoo & Water Play area, Primate World, and Safari Africa for guests to explore and witness captivating wildlife behaviors.

One aspect that distinguishes ZooTampa from other zoos is its steadfast commitment to animal care and conservation efforts.

Esteemed for being accredited by the Association of Zoos & Aquariums (AZA), it proudly boasts numerous initiatives aimed at preserving endangered species and their ecosystems.

ZooTampa partners with local communities and global organizations to actively contribute to research projects informing species survival plans.

Notable examples include manatee rehabilitation efforts within Florida waters as well as African elephant conservation initiatives.

At ZooTampa, visitors experience unforgettable encounters with magnificent creatures and gain insights into vital environmental issues affecting our world today.

It provides engaging interactive displays and knowledgeable staff to help guests understand the importance of biodiversity preservation for future generations well-being.

A visit to this esteemed institution serves as a vivid reminder of humanity’s responsibility towards safeguarding Earth’s precious inhabitants and fostering sustainable practices for years to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Some cities that are approximately 3 hours from Tampa, Florida include Orlando, Gainesville, and Miami.

Cities that are approximately 4 hours from Tampa, Florida include Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and Miami.

Some towns that are approximately 30 minutes from Tampa, Florida include St. Petersburg, Clearwater, and Brandon.

The closest island to Tampa, Florida is Davis Islands, which is located in Tampa Bay and is known for its upscale residential area and recreational opportunities.

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