Living in Central Florida has its perks. For instance, I’m within 30 minutes of some of the biggest theme parks in the world. The coolest part though is literally that I’m in the center of the state, and everywhere else is only a short drive away! Day trips are quickly becoming my favorite thing. I’ve only been here a month, but already I’ve taken several short day trips to explore my home state! Here are my top day trips from Orlando, FL, which are perfect for both Orlando tourists and locals.
1. St. Augustine
Of course, my college town is going to top this list. St. Augustine was founded in 1565 by Spanish explorers, and it is the oldest continually occupied European settlement in the USA. Located in between Jacksonville and Daytona, it’s just under a two-hour drive from Orlando, FL. This small beach-side community is home to a number of surprising attractions such as a 400-year-old Spanish fort, the oldest schoolhouse, and untouched beaches. Hundred year old buildings and cobblestone streets fill the historic district, and you’ll find yourself never wanting to leave. If you want to travel off the beaten path, check out my local’s guide to St. Augustine.
Recently named America’s best main street, historic downtown Deland, FL is less than an hour outside of Orlando. Deland’s lively main street has a number of surprisingly hip bars, restaurants, and shops. However, it was the side streets that really stood out to me during my time there. Beautiful artwork from local artists line the old brick walls behind businesses, creating an outdoor gallery perfect for Instagram photos. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved Deland, and I’ll certainly be back soon.
3. Ginnie Springs
As a Floridian, I had to make the pilgrimage to one of the most popular natural springs. Ginnie Springs, just over an hour and a half north of Orlando, boasts miles of lush, untouched Florida springs. My favorite way to spend the day in Ginnie Springs is lounging on the natural lazy river which winds for miles through crystal clear and slightly chilly water. I’m not an experienced diver, but if you are you can explore the network of underwater caves hidden around this park.
4. Mount Dora
Mount Dora is a lakefront community south of Orlando. Their annual art festival is on my Florida bucket list, but Mount Dora still remains a classic destination year-round. The eco-tours through the lake show a rarely seen side of Florida, and the unexpected collection of museums helped make this place a favorite of mine. For instance, the Museum of Speed is home to a large collection of classic cars. Walking along the main strip of shops also felt like stepping back in time to a picturesque main street, complete with 50s style soda shops and general stores.
5. Winter Park
Located just outside of downtown Orlando, Winter Park, FL is where I go to escape the city crowds. It’s also my go-to Sunday brunch location, particularly due to the multitude of bottemless mimosa options! Winter Park houses some of the best restuarants in Central Florida, so I’ve also taken friends here for a chill night out. I love to take photos in the white rose garden in the center of Park Ave, and the weekend Farmers Market is a great place to get a juice and people watch. Honestly, if it wasn’t for Winter Park, I don’t know that I would have ever moved to Orlando in the first place!
Top Day Trips from Orlando
Whether you’re visiting a theme park or you’ve lived in Orlando for years, it’s definitely worth taking a day to travel to one of these top day trip cities in Florida. Take advantage of Orlando’s central location and check out one (or all!) of these top day trips from Orlando! Have you visited any of these cities?