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Top 5 Central Florida Day Trips (That You May Not Know About)

When most people picture Florida, thoughts of Disney aren't far behind. Although the experiences there are certainly cause for celebration, Central Florida offers many other types of recreational activities. During the summer months, when many Central Florida families and tourists are looking for ways to have fun, a variety of summer activities can be found by exploring Florida's attractions via road trip. By going on short road trips, you will get to experience more of Florida and its adventures on your summer schedule. Whether you're a native Floridian or here on vacation, these destinations are perfect for getting to know a bit more of Florida outside of the major tourist areas.

Here are a few of Central Florida's fun recreational activities within a short drive:

  1. Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens (Travel Time From Orlando: 30 minutes)

    Perhaps when you think of fun day trips, your thoughts automatically gravitate toward zoos and gardens. The Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens, then, is the perfect venture for you! Located in Sanford, the zoo itself is home to over 400 animals ranging from cheetahs, emus, and kangaroos to alligators, snakes, and monkeys. In addition to the botanical gardens and plethora of animals to see, the zoo is also home to the ZOOm Air Adventure Park which allows you to view the zoo from above on zip lines, suspended disks, and rope bridges. Whether you want adventure, or to simply relax and enjoy the sounds of nature, the Central Florida Zoo & Botanical Gardens is the perfect day trip destination.

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  2. Silver Springs (Travel Time From Orlando: 70 minutes)

    If you travel about 70 minutes outside of Orlando, you will end up in Silver Springs, a beautiful park in Ocala famous for the pure spring water of the Silver River. These springs produce over 500 million gallons of clear water each day! Visitors can spend hours exploring the river's wildlife attractions by walking along riverbank trails or taking glass bottom boat tours, which offer nearly perfect views into the river's ecosystem below. The park also provides opportunities to catch glimpses of rare animals in its many wildlife exhibits, which feature species ranging from white alligators and native snakes to cougars and black bears. Other activities you can enjoy include exploring the park's botanical gardens, children's petting zoo, and wilderness shows.


  3. Homosassa Springs (Travel Time From Orlando: 80 minutes)

    If you're in the mood to spend a day around one of Florida's wildlife species, travel the short distance to this state park to observe wild manatees. Visitors can view the manatees in their natural habitat from an underwater observatory or elevated boardwalk. After participating in one of the three manatee viewing programs offered daily, you can see more wildlife by walking along the nature trail or taking a pontoon boat ride. You can then take time to explore the rest of the park's animal exhibits and get close-up glimpses of native Florida species such as bobcats, deer, and alligators. The park also offers places for dining, areas for picnicking, and tours of a wildlife educational center for children.

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  4. St. Augustine (Travel Time From Orlando: 90 minutes)

    Feeling up for a little history? Travel just outside of Orlando to the nation's oldest permanent European settlement to explore its historic attractions. This charming town offers visitors the chance to tour many historic sites, such as early 18th century homes and schoolhouses and shops, as well as the Castillo de San Marcos national monument. This structure, a fort built by the Spanish for the defense of St. Augustine, has withstood centuries of wear-and-tear and is open for tours. Made out of a unique rock called coquina and formed from the bonding of small seashells, this fort is one of the highlights of any visit to the town. Visitors can also explore the town's numerous restaurants, shops and galleries, and experience outdoor recreation activities such as swimming or surfing at the nearby St. Augustine beach.

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  5. Clearwater Beach (Travel Time From Orlando: 90 minutes)

    To get away from the city and explore a Florida beach, head to the West Coast to experience the waters of the Gulf of Mexico. This small island has plenty to offer for a relaxing day at the beach — soft, white powdery sand, crystal clear calm water, beautiful sunsets and a variety of recreational activities, restaurants, shops, and hotels. There is also a marina that provides tours and fishing excursions on the water and a pier that offers a great view of the beach and place to fish. The water and sand are some of the cleanest in Florida, and the beach itself is the one of the highest ranked on Florida's Gulf Coast.

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