This Sunshine State is a tourist hotspot in the summertime for good reason. There are so many places to visit and take advantage of your days in the sun. Explore our list of day trips from Orlando for the perfect summer adventure with your love. Updated July 2023 by Zoë Joiner.
There are tons of water parks around Florida but none is quite as unique as this spring-fed water park. Buccaneer Bay is located inside Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. There's a sandy white beach, a swimming area, and four water slides. Three of the slides drop you off into the natural springs. If you're not up for the thrill you can rent a tube and flow along the natural lazy river. You can also rent a kayak or canoe for a DIY adventure. Don't be surprised if you spot a mermaid swimming around the crystal-clear waters (and be sure to catch show!). This water park is the perfect mix of nature and fun.
I found the perfect place to kick back and relax this summer. Epperson Lagoon, North of Tampa in Wesley Chapel, has everything you could ever need for a day in the sun. There's a swim-up bar with a variety of beer and specialty drinks and tons of activities for everyone to enjoy. For $14-$16 extra, you get unlimited access to all the park's add-on activities, including the giant water slide that plummets you back into the lagoon (special bundled price good through Sept. 4th, 2023). Kayaks and paddle boards are available to rent for those who don't feel like swimming. There's even a floating obstacle course if you're seeking a little bit of adventure. Admission to this 7-acre lagoon varies depending on the season, but expect to pay $30-$40 per day. Enjoy the sandy beaches, live music, and clear waters, or, rent a Cabana Cove (ages 21+) for some privacy and to get access to a separate V.I.P. pool and bar. Purchase tickets in advance online to save $2/ticket, and make sure to get your tickets in advance; it's common for the park to sell out. Related: Day Trip to Epperson Lagoon for Fun in the Sun
If you're interested in exploring more of the Tampa Bay area then consider a scalloping trip. It is a popular thing to do in the summer. Here's your Ultimate Guide to the 2023 Scalloping Season in Tampa Bay.
Island H2O Live!
Orlando is famous for its theme parks and water parks. Cool off this summer by taking a trip to Kissimmee and checking out the latest water park addition. Island H2O Live! has eight slides, a lazy river with lighting effects, a pool for adults 21 and up, and live entertainment. It's an interactive water park with games that allow you to earn points towards food and merchandise discounts. There is even a live feed you can be a part of to show everyone how you're spending your day in the sun. It's also the only water park in Florida to offer its own Little Free Library, so guests can relax with a good book in hand and a drink in the other. Admission is $45.99 for one day, valid through the end of the 2023 season (11/26/23). Season passes for repeat visits are also available currently $30 Off, on sale for $79.99. Get your tickets online so you don't have to wait in line at the entrance. This waterpark is within walking distance (or a short trolley ride) of Sunset Walk at Margaritaville Resort Orlando, a lively shopping and dining district. Highlights include a monthly classic car show (2nd Sunday of the month from 11am-2pm), Street Markets on Saturdays, tons of places to eat, and you can follow our Live Music Pub Crawl Itinerary.
It can be hard to decide which Orlando water park is best. If you're looking for total immersion, in a place that feels like paradise, you may want to consider Universal's Volcano Bay. Besides tons of water slides, there is a lazy river, and a fast river, plus a gorgeous beach and multiple pools. And, it has some of the best food and drinks in any water park. Plan your day with Volcano Bay Tips for Couples. Alternatively, if you'd rather splash around in nature's water parks, there are plenty of Natural Springs Near Orlando.
CITIES TO EXPLORE
If you and your love are fans of the Arts, St. Pete has TONS to offer. The murals alone will have you walking around for hours and are a huge part of the city's culture. A great way to check them out is via an electric bike tour where you can learn all about St. Pete's history while riding waterfront trails and admiring historic buildings. Plus, there's a collection of museums that are unique to the city. Located by the waterfront, the Dali Museum houses the largest collection of Dali's works outside Europe. Also located in St Pete, the Florida Holocaust Museum is one of the largest in the country. It was built as a living memorial for those who suffered and perished due to the holocaust. Fairgrounds is an especially unique spot to visit in St. Pete: it's a Museum of Immersive Art & Technology. Explore playful and immersive exhibits to tickle your senses, featuring works by acclaimed artists from Florida and around the globe. It's a place you won't soon forget. For an outdoorsy adventure, head to Sunken Gardens, a botanical garden lush with tropical foliage, waterfalls and flamingos. Or, if you're there over the weekend, be sure to check out the stand-out Saturday Morning Market where you're sure to find the freshest local produce, original works of art, handmade treats and goods, live entertainment and so much more. Foodie and craft beer highlights include Bodega on Central (amazing Cubans), Engine No. 9 (burgers) and Green Bench Brewing. There's so much to see and do in this city that sometimes a day doesn't feel like enough. When you're done experiencing all of the art and culture, enjoy one of St Pete's best qualities — the beach.
Summertime calls for all things tropical. If you enjoy the St. Pete area then consider exploring the many Tropical and Authentic Tiki Bars around Tampa Bay.
If you love cute, historic towns then this place is definitely for you! Winter Garden has a vintage feel to it that makes it so charming. I love walking through the streets visiting the small coffee shops and window shopping. One of my favorite times to go is on a Saturday morning. They have the Winter Garden Farmer's Market at 9am which has tons of local vendors selling produce, crafts, juices, popsicles, and much more. It's the perfect place to take your family (including the furry ones). It's a very dog-friendly place and most restaurants have an outdoor area so you're able to hang out with your best friends and enjoy some delicious food. Plant Street Market has to be my favorite thing about this place. It's a local community market with 20 vendors selling natural, organic, and handmade products. Crooked Can Brewing Company takes up a good portion of this space and is always full. They sell hand crafted beers and have live entertainment for guests to enjoy. There are so many options here that it's almost guaranteed no one will leave this place disappointed. For an active date, set out for a peaceful bike ride along the West Orange Trail.
Day-Trip Worthy Attractions
The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne is perfect for you if you're into getting up close to cute animals. You can feed a giraffe, enter a room with a ton of hungry birds, pet a llama, and walk alongside kangaroos. The zoo's mission is to conserve wildlife through education and participation. Every animal is housed in an environment that resembles its own in the wild. You'll encounter a mob of meerkats, rhinos, gators, monkeys, and so much more. If you’re tired of walking, you can take a different route by experiencing the zoo via kayak. Or, take a bird’s eye view of everything from the zip lines up above the zoo. There's so much to do here that an entire day won't seem like enough.
Showcase of Citrus
Nothing screams Florida quite like a bright, juicy orange. Showcase of Citrus allows you to walk through acres of groves and hand pick these famous fruits yourself (when in season). There are 50+ varieties of citrus ready to be picked. Just grab a fruit picker and look for the brightest ones. If you don't want to get your shoes dirty, there are some pre-picked fruits available for purchase in the market. When you're done picking your fruits there's tons to do on the property. You can take a ride in a huge Monster Truck through native woodland, pastures, groves and swampland. You can also visit the bar that has a delicious freshly-squeezed orange juice mimosa and a variety of wines. It's the perfect way to stay cool on these scorching hot summer days. While you're in the area don't forget to visit Downtown Clermont. For dinner, try Root & Branch or The Crooked Spoon, both great date night spots located just outside of town. You can also have your own sunset picnic at Waterfront Park. Clermont has some great craft breweries: Suncreek Brewery and Clermont Brewing Company. Both have tasty food options.
Most Floridians love being near water. It's where we feel most at home, which is why I love Tampa. The Tampa Riverwalk has it all. You can hop on the Pirate Water Taxi to take in the scenic views while making various stops around the city. It's $34 for an all day pass and stops at various places like the History Center, Straz Performing Arts Center, Ricks on the River, and more. It even stops at some restaurants where you can enjoy waterfront dining, Ulele being the most popular. Stop at The Sail outside the Convention Center for a famous grouper sandwich at Big Rays Fish Camp. For something a little more educational, you can visit the Tampa Museum of Art. The exhibits are constantly changing so you can keep going back and never get bored. It has interactive exhibits that everyone will enjoy. Afterwards, enjoy spending time outdoors in Curtis Hixon Park, which has a playground, a dog run, and hosts events and festivals like Rock the Park (the first Thursday of every month) all throughout the year. Tampa's Riverwalk also reaches one of my favorite places. Armature Works is a fully restored mixed-use building with eateries, shops, and a rooftop bar. Enjoy a pizza at Ava or the Street Tots from Graze. Relax with a drink on the rooftop or take it in one of their to-go cups and take a romantic stroll through the Riverwalk. You get such a beautiful view of the city and the water.
More Romantic Destinations
Every day is a chance to celebrate the special bond shared with your beloved, which makes now the perfect time to plan a romantic excursion for your sweetie. Fill up the car, toss your phones and tablets aside, and spend the day connecting with and deepening your affection for each other by visiting one of these places for a romantic day trip from Orlando. Explore 12 Destinations for a Day Trip Near Orlando, many of which are just about an hour away. And for something quiet, low-key and charming head to Titusville. This hometown shares a special place with Florida's space programs and has a great historic downtown area that just beckons for a relaxing summer day trip. For a step-by-step itinerary check out 8 Great Hours in Titusville.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natalie Monzon is a writer with a passion for traveling. She graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s in journalism. On her free time, she enjoys exploring Orlando and other locations that catch her interest. Natalie and her boyfriend started a travel blog to write about their adventures in hopes of inspiring others. You can find her on Instagram @roamsick. All photos by Natalie Monzon unless otherwise noted. Feature image credit: Buccaneer Bay