15 Best Day Trips from Tampa

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Tampa is one of the most exciting cities in all of the United States of America.

Home to Busch Gardens, the Florida Aquarium, Adventure Island and more, there is never a dull moment in this Floridan city.

This is a cultural melting pot that sees communities from Cuba and Spain come together and bring with them their traditions and most importantly their food.

The Ybor City area of Tampa is great to explore as is the modern and happening downtown.

Tampa is one of those cities that is great to use as a base.

Being in such a great location means that there are dozens of Florida’s best attractions within easy reach of Tampa.

Here are the best day trips from Tampa:

1. Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach, FloridaSource: Kevin J King / shutterstock
Clearwater Beach

If you are looking for sun, sand and sea look no further than Clearwater Beach.

This is a prime example of one of Florida’s many dreamy, magical beaches, and it is one not to be missed.

Sitting in the Gulf of Mexico Clearwater Beach is the perfect place to kick back and relax, spending a day soaking up the sun.

Should you want to get out and about you can think about visiting the Clearwater Beach Marina and admire the yachts and ships that have come to dock.

At times, Clearwater Beach can get a little hectic, head to Sand Key Park if you want to hide away from the crowds.

2. Dali Museum

Dali MuseumSource: travelview / shutterstock
Dali Museum

Lovers of the curious and the bizarre, lovers of art and architecture will already have their sights firmly set on visiting the Dali Museum in St Petersburg, Florida.

This museum is home to over 2,000 different works of art from across Dali’s career.

Exhibiting sculptures, oil paintings and an inspiring collection of sketches the Dali Museum is not to be missed.

This collection of the surrealist master’s works is one of the largest in the world, second only to the Dali Museum in Figueres, Spain.

Permanent displays at the Dali Museum FL include the ‘Apparatus and Hand’, ‘Catalan Bread’ and ‘Puzzle of Autumn’.

3. Naples

Naples, FloridaSource: Stephen Orsillo / shutterstock
Naples, Florida

Naples is a city often overlooked by international visitors and unfairly so.

This is a city with plenty on offer.

The Naples Pier is the first port of call for many visitors, and offers wonderful views out over the Gulf of Mexico.

For anyone interested in automobiles and engines The Revs Institute is a must-visit.

This gallery houses an awesome collection of vintage cars dating back as far as 1896. Art lovers should take some time to visit the Bakers Museum when in Naples, it does not disappoint.

The Bakers Museums is a contemporary art gallery that spans over 30,000 square foot and three storeys.

4. Orlando

OrlandoSource: aphotostory / shutterstock

For many Orlando Florida is exclusively associated with DisneyWorld and Universal Studios, but the city itself has a great deal to explore.

The Harry P.Leu Gardens are a wonderful place to spend a day.

This 50-acres garden sits on Lake Rowena and is home to a magical butterfly garden and some of the best roses in the country.

The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art is ideal for culture vultures and science enthusiasts will be delighted to learn of the Orlando Science Center on Princeton Street.

It is a fantastic hands-on learning centre and has something fun for all the family.

5. Miami

MiamiSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Miami is one of the most iconic cities in the United States of America.

Home to some of the hottest nightclubs on earth, Uber-trendy bars and hipster coffee shops aplenty, you could spend a day in Miami simply snacking and sipping.

No visit to Miami would be complete without a tour of Little Havana.

You will honestly feel like you are wandering the streets of Cuba when you set foot in the neighbourhood.

South Beach is a popular hangout for locals and another must-visit for tourists.

Take a walk around the district on the hunt for the biggest and brightest art deco building around.

6. Jacksonville

Jacksonville, FloridaSource: ESB Professional / shutterstock

A 2 hour drive to the northeast of Tampa is the hustling, bustling city of Jacksonville.

Jacksonville is a business hub at heart but there is plenty for travellers to enjoy.

Head to Atlantic Beach, or Neptune Beach if you are a keen surfer or even if you just fancy a brisk swim in the sea.

Hanna Park is a great place to hangout for the day.

Hanna Park has great surf, cute picnic spots and the option to fish on the lake too.

If you have time head to Amelia Island Plantation which is now home to a golf club and luxurious spa.

7. Everglades

Everglades National ParkSource: Andy Lidstone / shutterstock
Everglades National Park

Some people will insist that no trip to Florida is complete without spending a day exploring the Everglades.

The Everglades are Florida’s pride and joy and are a 1.5 million acre wetland preserve home to alligators, turtles and an incredible variety of bird species.

You can hike around the Everglades National Park along one of the many designated trails.

Alternatively you can book onto one of the popular airboat tours that will see you whizz through the mangroves stopping to spot wildlife and photograph the best scenery the park has to offer.

The alligator show is not to be missed and will have you on the edge of your seat.

8. Tallahassee

TallahasseeSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

Did you know that Tallahassee is Florida’s state capital, not Miami or Orlando as many are lead to believe.

The Tallahassee Capitol Complex is a fascinating place that has been restored and renovated.

The museum onsite documents the political history of Florida in an interesting and engaging way.

The Museum of Florida History gives a more rounded impress of the state’s history and includes exhibits on the Civil War, European colonisation and World War II. The San Luis de Apalachee is a Spanish mission that is now a living history museum.

If traipsing around formal museums is a struggle head to San Luis de Apalachee for a more interactive encounter.

9. Universal Studios

Universal StudiosSource: Kamira / shutterstock
Universal Studios

Arguably Florida’s most famous attraction, Universal Studios is not to be missed and is easily accessible in a day trip from Tampa.

It is tough to know where to start with so much to see, do and explore.

Harry Potter fans could probably spend a lifetime in Harry Potter World and never tire.

Youngsters really enjoy the Despicable Me Minion Mayhem.

If you have ever wanted to know how the special effects in the movies are created then be sure to take the Studio Tour.

Get ready for explosions, car chases and unbelievable stunt action.

Rides like Revenge of the Mummy and Jurassic Park never get old.

10. Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

Crystal River National Wildlife RefugeSource: USFWS Headquarters / Flickr
Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge

The Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge is one of the most impressive natural landscapes in Florida.

What makes the Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge so special is that you can site Manatees all year round.

It is even possible to snorkel with these prehistoric beauties if you wish.

Alternatively you can watch them go about their business from the relative comfort of the wooden boardwalk.

Combine nature with culture and visit the Crystal River Archaeological State Park and learn about the Native American burial grounds, temples and plaza that have been unearthed.

Your best bet is to visit the National Wildlife Refuge in the morning and the Archaeological State Park in the afternoon.

11. Punta Gorda

Punta Gorda, FloridaSource: Nelson Sirlin / shutterstock
Punta Gorda

The homely city of Punta Gorda is home to just 16,000 people.

Sitting on the shores of Peace River and looking out on to Charlotte Harbour, Punta Gorda offers some of the best sailing waters in Florida.

A visit to the Blanchard House Museum is enlightening and documents African American history in the region.

Once you have toured the town head down to Gilchrist Park.

Here you can relax with a picnic, settle into a shady spot with a book or even have a game of tennis.

If harbourside does not take your fancy then head to Ponce De Leon Park which rolls out onto the beach.

12. Disney World

Disney WorldSource: Photographing Travis / Flickr
Disney World

Not just for the children, Disney World is a magnificent day out regardless of your age.

With Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and of course Walt Disney World itself you are truly spoiled for choice.

Booking tickets in advance will help save you some money, although you can purchase entry permits on arrival.

Many people choose to spend three, four days at Walt Disney World, even up to a week but in the course of a day you can experience the Disney magic for sure.

Line up along the sidewalks and watch the mesmerising parades go by, race through the park looking for your favourite characters and get on as many themed rides as possible.

13. Keel and Curley Winery

Keel and Curley WinerySource: keelandcurleywinery.com
Keel And Curley Winery

Keel and Curley Winery is one of the best wineries in all of Florida.

The team proudly open their doors daily for tastings and tours.

During the course of a visit you can chat to Keel and Curley’s sommeliers and learn about everything there is to know about wine production.

From land cultivation to harvesting, from fermentation to clarification and more.

As you would expect buying from source is significantly cheaper than buying from the store so if you enjoy your sample be sure to stock up on your Keel and Curley wines before you depart back to Tampa.

This day trip is just for the adults.

14. Dinosaur World

Dinosaur World, FloridaSource: Richard Elzey / Flickr
Dinosaur World

Florida is home to an incredible collection of theme parks and one that is not to be missed is Dinosaur World, especially if you are travelling with children.

Slap bang in the middle of Tampa and Orlando Dinosaur World is easily accessible and rather affordable.

There are dinosaur themed play parks that feature swings and slides galore.

Not only wonderfully fun, Dinosaur World makes a concerted effort to be educational too.

There are information boards throughout the park that help parents and carers teach their little ones about the prehistoric playmates.

There are interactive learning zones too that seemingly bring the dinosaurs back to life; in the eyes of children that is.

15. Sarasota

SarasotaSource: Sean Pavone / shutterstock

The city of Sarasota is an enticing cultural hub.

Home to opera houses, theatres, museums and high achieving schools, Sarasota is a city built by the visionaries that arrived as far back 1513. A popular fishing destination for Americans and Cubans, Sarasota played an important role in the two nation’s trade in the early 1800s.

Nowadays Sarasota is home to beautiful marinas housing lavish yachts and cruise ships.

Sarasota is possibly most famous for being home to John Ringling, the creator of Ringling Circus.

You can visit the entrainment maverick’s home while in Sarasota.

Ca d’Zan Mansion sits right on the waterfront and is inspired by the Ringling family’s love of Venice.

15 Best Day Trips from Tampa:

  • Clearwater Beach
  • Dali Museum
  • Naples
  • Orlando
  • Miami
  • Jacksonville
  • Everglades
  • Tallahassee
  • Universal Studios
  • Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge
  • Punta Gorda
  • Disney World
  • Keel and Curley Winery
  • Dinosaur World
  • Sarasota