7 Amazing Day Trips from Tampa

7 Amazing Day Trips from Tampa

By: Sarah Dirks

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September 6, 2022

Tampa is right in the heart of everything great about the Gulf Coast, incredible food, unique culture and breathtaking views—so get the most out of living there by taking these day trips from Tampa!

One of the coolest things about The Big Guava is it’s just a short drive from so many awesome experiences. Whether you’re eager to see picturesque islands, beautiful state parks or “The Happiest Place on Earth,” you’ll be glad you don’t have to travel far.

So, if you’re in need of a weekend getaway, you have a day off work or just want to explore unfamiliar places, check out our list of 7 day trips from Tampa. Where will you go first?

1. Weeki Wachee Springs

Weeki Wachee Springs is a one-of-a-kind, unique experience that has been around since the 1940s.

It was founded by Mr. Newton Perry, a U.S. Navy man. In 1946, he came across a beautiful spring that he thought could become a great business opportunity. He built a theater six feet below the surface of the water and taught “mermaids” (we know mermaids aren’t real) to breathe underwater using an air hose instead of a tank on their backs.

In 1947, the first mermaid show was performed, and the park offered orchid gardens and jungle cruises. About a decade later in 1959, the spring was bought by American Broadcasting Co. and it flourished.

A 400-seat theater (16 feet below the surface this time) was built, and in 1982 Buccaneer Bay opened featuring waterslides and a beach.

Weeki Wachee Springs6131 Commercial Way, Spring Hill, FL 34606
Miles from Tampa*56.1 miles
Approximate Drive Time*1 hr
PriceAdmission: $13 for adults, $8 for children 6-12, children 5 and under are free
Single kayak rental and paddleboard rental: $32 plus taxes
Tandem kayak Rental: $48 plus taxes $6 private boat launch fee
Popular ActivitiesWatch an underwater mermaid show, swim in the spring, take a kayak trip or boat tour

During your visit to Weeki Wachee, you can watch a mermaid show, kayak or paddleboard down Weeki Wachee River, or even take a boat tour of the breathtakingly beautiful spring. You’ll also want to stop at Buccaneer Bay Water Park for even more family fun.

Weeki Wachee has changed a lot over the years, but it’s still a fun experience about an hour from Tampa. Plus, you can probably get there and back in 4-5 gallons of gas, which makes it a one-tank trip.

2. Walt Disney World

Everyone has heard of “The Happiest Place on Earth.” But did you know? Walt Disney World is only about 1 hour and 15 minutes from Tampa.

After the success of Disneyland in California, Walt Disney wanted to expand. Lucky for you, he thought Orlando was the perfect spot. The plan was revealed to the public in 1965, but Walt died a year later and was not able to see the incredible success of his Florida theme park.

In 1971, the Magic Kingdom opened as the first park in Disney World, and at the dedication ceremony, Walt’s brother, Roy O. Disney, named the park in honor of Walt. When it first opened, admission prices were $3.50 for adults, $2.50 for kids under 18, and $1 for children under 12. (The prices have gone up just a little since then.)

Walt Disney World1375 Buena Vista Dr, Lake Buena Vista, FL 32830
Miles from Tampa*65.2 miles
Approximate Drive Time*1 hr 15 min
Prices1 Park per Day Ticket: ages 10+ from $109
Park Hopper Option: ages 10+ from $169
Park Hopper Plus Option: ages 10+ from $194.00
Popular ActivitiesTheme parks (Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom), roller coasters, water parks, dining, adventures

Today, there are three other parks to explore, including Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, as well as two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach.

You can check out the ticket prices and options here. WAIT—before you buy the first tickets you see, Florida state residents are eligible for special ticket prices. Be sure to see if you qualify before spending more than you need to!

If you’re looking to skip the lines, consider buying the Disney Genie+ line-skipping service for Lightning Lane entry (prices can vary, but it’s about $15 extra per day per ticket). It’s also a great idea to download the Disney Genie app to help you create an itinerary and plan your days.

Walt Disney World offers a variety of incredible experiences, from roller coasters to thrill rides to water parks to fantastic dining options in incredible resorts. The whole family will experience the magic at Walt Disney World!

If you’re from out of town, don’t forget to check out these other theme parks while you’re in Orlando

3. Anna Maria Island

Some call Anna Maria Island “a piece of paradise.” It is known for its white beaches, Gulf waters, beautiful scenery and relaxing atmosphere. Don’t believe us? Builders can’t even construct high rises. They’re pretty serious about keeping the small-town quiet.

The island of Anna Maria has an interesting past, including pirate shipwrecks and Fig Newtons. Yep, you read that right.

Some of the earliest homesteaders inhabited the island in the 1890s. Shortly after, Charles M. Roser used the money he made from his work on the Fig Newton to help develop the island.

In the last century, Anna Maria Island has grown to offer modern amenities, but kept the “old” Florida charm—with a laid back, slow-paced lifestyle and an unobstructed skyline (thank you, Anna Maria Island planning commission).  

Anna Maria IslandAnna Maria, FL 34216
Miles from Tampa*55.5 miles
Approximate Drive Time *1 hr 10 min
PricePotential toll: about $1.50 (each way) or more Check out their recreational rental options (rates vary)
Popular ActivitiesVisit galleries or museums, shop, visit the beaches, get on the water, golf, eat

If you’re looking for a relaxing and laid-back day trip from Tampa, Anna Maria Island is the place to go. Just over an hour away, this island offers beautiful, relaxing beaches, quaint shops and boutiques, and restaurants with a view (like The Sandbar Restaurant, The Waterfront Restaurant and Rod and Reel Pier). It’s the perfect island get away, even if it’s just for a day.

We recommend taking I-75 south toward Bradenton, as it’s a little shorter and quicker than the I-275 route. Whichever way you choose, be prepared to pay tolls, just in case. You’ll probably use about 5-6 gallons of gas on this day trip—so it’s a one-tank trip!

4. Clearwater

There are plenty of beaches around Tampa, but don’t you want to experience the best one around? Clearwater Beach has been recognized by USA Today and TripAdvisor and one of the top beaches in the USA in 2013 and 2017. Plus, it’s less than an hour from Tampa.  

ClearwaterClearwater FL, 33767
Miles from Tampa*24.8 miles
Approximate Drive Time*40 min
PricePublic beaches are free, you may have to pay metered parking
ActivitiesBoating, fishing, jet skiing and more water sports, explore the beaches, Clearwater Marine Aquarium, Pier 60

Clearwater was incorporated in 1915, and over the last century it has developed into a modern and popular tourist destination. Whether you want to explore arts and culture, experience history, get on the water or just enjoy the sun, Clearwater is the place for you. Downtown Clearwater also offers a variety of entertainment opportunities including a theater, parks and art galleries.

Find some incredible restaurants along Mandalay Avenue and Gulfview Boulevard. If you’re a fan of fish, be sure to try the grouper sandwich—a Clearwater specialty.

You just can’t miss the sunset from Pier 60. Catch amazing views while also checking out musicians, artisans and performers for a night of family fun. This 1,080-foot pier also offers a beach playground, park and a variety of retail options.

Clearwater is a perfect family-friendly day trip, offering fun in the sun and awesome experiences. It’ll probably take about two gallons of gas, so it’s a one-tank trip!

5. Honeymoon Island State Park

Honeymoon Island State Park offers four miles of beaches, a three-mile trail and plenty of room to explore the outdoors. Plus, it’s just under an hour from Tampa.

Honeymoon Island State Park didn’t really exist until 1921. At one point, Honeymoon Island and Caladesi Island were actually connected and known as Hog Island. Then the Hurricane of 1921 split the island in two and created Hurricane Pass.

You can credit Clinton Washburn for the name. In 1930, he purchased the island and dubbed it the perfect spot for a honeymoon. Washburn mentioned it to his friend (who worked for Life magazine) and he ran the story that spurred on Washburn’s idea.

Five cottages were constructed, and the first couple arrived in 1940. During World War II, the land was leased to an Ohio defense contractor, and following the war, a new developer bought the land. His construction ideas failed, and in 1981 the state of Florida purchased the island and established Honeymoon Island State Recreation Area.

Honeymoon Island State Park1 Causeway Blvd, Dunedin, FL 34698
Miles from Tampa*25.5 miles
Approximate Drive Time*52 min
PriceAdmission Prices: $8 per vehicle (limit 8 people) $4 single-occupant vehicle $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers $4 per vehicle (sunset fee, one hour prior to closing)
Popular ActivitiesThe Rotary Centennial Nature Center, walk the beaches, hike, bike, surf, fish

Honeymoon Island is a beloved member of the Florida State Parks system. There is a wide variety of vegetation and wildlife (including great horned owls, eagles and osprey, as well as gopher tortoises and armadillos), along with a limitless number of outdoor activities to try.

If you want to stay on land, try biking, hiking or picnicking, or you can also get in the water to fish, surf or swim. Check out The Rotary Centennial Nature Center to learn about the history of Honeymoon Island State Park and Caladesi Island State Park (that’s next!).

Honeymoon Island State Park is a great day trip option from Tampa, and it’ll probably take a little over two gallons of gas. (Another one-tank trip!)

6. Caladesi Island State Park

If you’re looking for a secluded day trip from Tampa, you should try Caladesi Island State Park. It’s located near Honeymoon Island and Clearwater Beach, but you can only access it by boat or by foot.

To get to Caladesi Island State Park, you can either take the ferry or walk. If you’d like to take the ferry, drive to Honeymoon Island State Park, and then take a 20-minute ferry ride. The ferries start running at 10 a.m., every 30 minutes as weather permits. If you’d rather walk, you can drive to the north side of Clearwater Beach and take a two-mile trek (about 40 minutes each way).

Caladesi Island State ParkDunedin, FL 33767
Miles from Tampa*26.8 miles
Approximate Drive Time*54 min (plus 20 min ferry)
PriceAdmission: $6 per boat (up to 8 people, $2 for each additional person), $2 per kayaker Caladesi Connection ferry (4-hour stay): $16 for adults, $8 for kids (6-12), kids 5 and under are free Caladesi Connection ferry at Honeymoon Island State Park: $8 per vehicle (2 to 8 people), $4 (single-occupant vehicle), $2 pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers Find more rates and fees here: Florida State Parks
Popular ActivitiesWalk the beaches, kayak through the forest, boat camp, fish, picnic, take the paddling trail

As we’ve already mentioned, Caladesi Island State Park’s history is intertwined with that of Honeymoon Island State Park. Nonetheless, Caladesi Island State Park offers even more beautiful beaches with the opportunity for water sports and other outdoor activities.

Walk along the beaches, kayak through the forest or even camp in your boat using the island’s marina with floating docs, electric service and water hookups. You can also hike, fish, picnic or explore mangrove forest.  

Get in touch with nature and enjoy some quiet at Caladesi Island State Park. Plus, it’s a one-tank trip!

7. Ocala National Forest

Ready to experience everything a national forest has to offer? You need to check out Ocala National Forest. It’s just over two hours from Tampa, but epic adventure awaits!

President Theodore Roosevelt established the Ocala National Forest in 1908. It’s one of the oldest national forests east of the Mississippi River, and it’s also the southernmost national forest in the continental U.S.

Ocala National ForestFlorida 32179
Miles from Tampa*115 miles
Approximate Drive Time*2 hr 8 min
PriceFree admission into the forest, but there are additional fees at certain lakes and springs to camp, boat and swim
Popular ActivitiesHike or bike trails, view wildlife, camp, picnic, fish, boat, swim, waterski

Ocala National Forest is located near the city of Ocala in north central Florida. It covers about 385,000 acres and offers more than 600 springs, rivers and lakes. (That’s a lot of space to explore!) There are awesome opportunities for outdoor adventures, and it’s the perfect place for a day trip.

Explore the forest and hike or bike one of the many trails. You can also view nature, hunt, ride horses or visit an interpretive area to learn more about the history as well as the vegetation and wildlife species in the forest.

If you’d rather get on the water, there are many lakes for boating, or you can canoe, paddle, swim or scuba dive in designated areas for non-motorized boating.

Ocala National Forest is a great opportunity to explore the outdoors on your day trip from Tampa!

Tampa Day Trip FAQs

What is 1 hour north of Tampa?

Hernando County is about 1 hour north of Tampa. You’ll find Spring Hill, Hernando, Brookridge and even Weeki Wachee in Hernando County.

What part of Tampa is closest to the beach?

Tampa is right by Tampa Bay, Hillsborough Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, so there are many beaches nearby! East Tampa Beach and Ben T Davis Beach are near the Tampa International Airport, and west Tampa is closest to Clearwater Beach.

What is between Tampa and Orlando?

The cities between Tampa and Orlando include Kissimmee, Winter Haven, Lakeland and Clermont.

What cities are 2 hours from Tampa?

There are a number of cities about 2 hours from Tampa. Gainesville is about 2 hours north of Tampa, Cocoa is east, and Fort Myers, Cape Coral and Captiva Island are about 2 hours south of Tampa.

What cities are 3 hours from Tampa?

Jacksonville and Orange Park are about 3 hours northeast of Tampa, Madison is north, and Palm Springs and Palm Beach are about 3.5 hours southeast from Tampa.

Heading Home: Best Day Trips from Tampa

Tampa is the 3rd largest city in Florida, located along the Gulf Coast. It is home to almost 385,000 residents who enjoy the history, culture, weather and awesome atmosphere. The downtown area has grown exponentially since the 1960s, with major construction and development projects completed over the years. Tourism, health care, technology and the maritime industry are the foundation of Tampa’s economy. There are a lot of awesome things about Tampa and a lot of awesome things to do in the areas around Tampa. So, did our list inspire you to get out of town for a day?

Maybe you love the action in The Big Guava, but everyone needs a day away once in a while. Whether you want to see live mermaids, hang out with Mickey Mouse, or spend some time in nature, let us know your favorite day trip in the comments below. Store Space cares about Tampa and Tampa self storage!

*Miles from Tampa and drive time are dependent on traffic and where you live in Tampa. These numbers are estimates.

†Some of the trips listed above are considered one-tank trips. The average vehicle gets 24.9 miles per gallon. Based on this number, a small tank (about 12 gallons) should be able to travel about 300 miles on one tank of gas.

Sarah Dirks content writer

Sarah Dirks is a Junior Content Writer for Store Space who enjoys watching movies, being active and cheering for the Boston Red Sox.

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