While there are endless adventures in Orlando, even more fun can be found through memorable day trips. Plenty of amazing experiences are within a 60 to 90-minute drive from The City Beautiful. Here are three must-do destinations just a day trip away from Orlando.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSC) is designed for those with their heads in the clouds. Here you’ll learn about space exploration’s past, present and future in a hands-on environment. The pre-launch checklist will assist with planning this extraordinary endeavor from start to finish, featuring a plethora of activities throughout five zones. Make time for the Shuttle Launch Experience, Astronaut Simulator Training, Space Shuttle Atlantis and Rocket Garden. Before disembarking from KSC, grab an out-of-this-world bite at one of four onsite restaurants.
Then, put your feet on solid ground at one of the public beaches along Cape Canaveral’s shoreline. Beaches are open year-round and include direct beach access with free parking. The Lincoln Avenue crossover (30 minutes from KSC) has a complimentary toy box for children to borrow and leave sand toys.
Take an hour-long drive to DeLand to soak up vitamin D at De Leon Springs State Park. Stroll through the scenic terrain of Old Florida with brisk waters to sink in to. Visitors to this fresh spring basin have the opportunity to explore what the Mayan Indians named the “healing waters” via the Fountain of Youth Eco/Heritage Boat Tour. The 50-minute tours depart four times throughout the day. After tales of days past, dip into the cool spring where depths range from 18 inches to 30 feet and stay a constant 72 degrees. Both the boat tour and swimming area are ADA accessible. The park is open from 8:00am until sunset every day of the year.
When hunger strikes, make your way to the popular Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House which serves breakfast and lunch within the state park. Dine at a special table with a griddle in the middle, and prepare to flap your own jacks with all the fixings for $5.25 per person.
One of Central Florida’s best kept secrets (and most famous landmarks) is Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, about an hour and 15 minutes from Orlando. The thriving gardens offer more than lush landscapes brimming with colorful plants and wildlife. Standing erect above the hilly tree line is the Singing Tower housing the celestial sounding carillon. These bells are one of the largest musical instruments in the world and play every hour with live performances at 1:00 and 3:00pm daily. The Gardens recently underwent a vast renovation creating an unmatched children’s garden, outdoor edible garden and kitchen and remodeled interactive visitor center and museum. For an upcharge, visit the Spanish-styled Pinewood Estate built in the 1930s as a retreat for the Buck family. Spring is the perfect time to visit this hidden gem since the gardens are in full bloom delighting all the senses. There is a cafe on site serving fresh dishes and a gift shop housing native plants and souvenirs. It is $15 per adult, $5 for children ages 5-12 and $5 per dog.
Next, take a short drive to Spook Hill. The legendary mystery from long ago still stands today befuddling those from near and far. It only takes a few minutes to experience and you don’t even have to get out of your car. Just pull the vehicle up to the white line painted across the road, and put the car in neutral to be amazed as you roll up hill!
Upon heading back to Orlando via Highway 27, take a moment to satisfy your sweet tooth at Davidson’s of Dundee. The citrus candy factory has been a favorite since 1967 crafting unique varieties of marmalades, chocolates, jellies and other candies made daily by hand. Take a free factory tour any time of day, sample the goods and make purchases.
If you decide to turn your day trip into an overnight stay, book comfortable accommodations at a Hilton property.