9 Best Day Trips from Disney World 

Bok Tower Garden

There’s so much to experience inside Walt Disney World Resort that most people never even consider leaving the park. However, there are tons of potentially fun and educational day trips within a short drive of Disney World. So if you brought a car (or don’t mind renting one) and you have an extra day to spare, then maybe you should consider taking one of these day trips from Disney World.  There is so much to see and do in the central region of Florida!

All of the destinations listed below are located no more than an hour or two from your Disney-area hotel.  Plus, they’re family-friendly and most are affordable. This list includes beaches, nature preserves, historic cities, and even more theme parks!  So, without further ado, here’s our list of the top 9 day trips from Disney World.

1. Universal Orlando Resort

universal orlando reosrt dragon blowing fire

Universal Orlando Resort, also known as Universal Orlando or just “Universal,” is an American theme park resort and entertainment complex based in Orlando, Florida.

It’s only about 10 miles from Disney World (20-30 minutes) and is an easy day trip. There are plenty of transportation options between Disney and Universal, including Uber, shuttle, taxi, or car rental.

Universal Orlando Resort is home to two theme parks, one water park, and one dining, shopping, and entertainment district.

The first theme park, Universal Studios, is comprised of exciting attractions and areas themed around the film industry.

Islands of Adventure, the second theme park,  is home to eight distinct “islands” that are themed around different forms of adventure.

Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a huge draw, especially for Harry Potter fans.  The area is sandwiched inside both Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme park.  Here’s a Universal Orlando map to help you out.

Volcano Bay is Universal’s 27-acre water park that includes water coasters, water slides, raft rides, a lazy river, and wave pools.

Universal CityWalk Orlando is the resort’s entertainment and retail district and features nightclubs and dozens of dining establishments like Hard Rock Cafe, Bubba Gump Shrimp, Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville,  and Voodoo Doughnut.

Check out our list of the Best Rides at Universal and Universal Studios vs Disney World before you go.

Address: 6000 Universal Blvd, Orlando, FL 32819

2. SeaWorld

SeaWorld Orlando is a nearby marine zoological park. In 2018, the theme park hosted a reported 4.594 million guests, which ranks it as the 10th most visited amusement park in the US.

When combined with the neighboring Aquatica and Discovery Cove, the formation is known as  SeaWorld Parks and Resorts Orlando. The entertainment complex consists of three parks and many hotels.

There are rides and attractions, shows and presentations, and interesting animal attractions. It’s fun for the whole family!

The distance between SeaWorld Orlando and Disney Springs is only about 5 miles. Therefore, it makes an easy day trip if you are staying at one of Disney’s hotels.

Address: 7007 Sea World Dr, Orlando, FL 32821

3. St. Augustine

Have you ever been to the oldest city in America? If not, then you’ve never been to St. Augustine.

St. Augustine is located about two hours northeast of Walt Disney World and makes for a good day trip.

The city, founded in 1565,  is located on the northeast coast of Florida. Its know for its Spanish colonial architecture, especially Castillo de San Marcos, a fort built by early Spanish settlers. 

There are many family-friendly attractions and activities in the area, including visits to St. Augustine Beach, Crescent Beach, and Anastasia State Park, a wildlife sanctuary.  You can also explore the St. Augustine Pirate & Treasure Museum to check out all the pirate artifacts, or just explore the downtown area by trolley or by walking the cobblestone streets. 

4. Kennedy Space Center

Cape Canaveral has the closest beach to Disney World, where you can just relax and soak up some sun — or head directly to the Kennedy Space Center.

If you are interested in science or space, the Kennedy Space Center is a wonderful day trip from Disney World.  Take a tour of the facility, view the exhibits, see the shuttle launchpads, and experience the IMAX screening and simulator. 

This can be a relaxing, fun, and/or educational day trip from Disney World — and a great option for STEM curriculum coverage on vacation if you’re homeschooling your kids

Address: Space Commerce Way, Merritt Island, FL 32953

5. The Beaches

There are plenty of beaches located within a reasonable driving distance of Disney World.  We have an extended list in our Beaches Near Disney World article, but here are a couple of favorites:

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach has been ranked the #1 beach in America for a reason. It’s known for its laid-back atmosphere, soft, white sand, and – you guessed it – clear water!

The beach attracts visitors year-round.  It gives visitors an opportunity to swim in the warm Gulf of Mexico waters or go jet-skiing, parasailing, and paddleboarding.

The winding beachfront promenade is a popular spot for cyclists and rollerblades, and the area has plenty of casual seafood restaurants and cafes if you need a bite.

At sunset, you will find nightly festivals with street performers and craft vendors on Pier 60 Park.

Address: Causeway Blvd, Clearwater Beach, FL 33767

New Smyrna Beach

The city of New Smyrna Beach is south of Daytona Beach, about a 1.5 hr drive from Walt Disney World Resort. The area is known for its beaches, including Canaveral National Seashore. Smyrna Dunes Park has beautiful views of Ponce Inlet and the lighthouse.

The downtown Canal Street Historic District is lined with palm trees, shops, art galleries, and the New Smyrna Museum of History.

Guests can come here to surf, swim, fish, rent a bike, explore the city, or just relax along the shoreline.

Address: New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169

Daytona Beach

Daytona is known for its NASCAR racing and spring break crowds, but the beach alone is a great place to relax on your day away from Disney World.  Just be sure to avoid the times when crowds are expected.

The beach’s boardwalk is a great place for families.  There are games, carnival rides, and numerous dining spots along the beachfront.

Address: Daytona Beach, FL 32118

6. The Everglades

Everglades National Park is one of Florida’s most popular natural attractions. It’s a 1.5-million-acre wetland preserve on the southernmost tip of the state.

The Everglades is comprised of coastal mangroves, pine flatwoods, and sawgrass marshes. It’s home to hundreds of animal species, including the American alligator, Florida panther, West Indian manatee, and leatherback turtle.

Guests can explore the everglades via an airboat with guided tours. The national park is a way to see some of America’s most interesting flora and fauna, and worthy of a day trip from Walt Disney World.

7. Legoland Florida

Located about an hour away from Disney World, Legoland Florida is a theme park that has over 50 rides spread out over 150 acres.

The park is marketed towards families with children age 11 and under.

Legoland Orlando’s attractions include several roller coasters (suitable for younger children) and education exhibits like a model village of scenes and landmarks from around the world (created out of millions of Lego bricks).

If you or your children like legos, then this is the ideal day trip from Disney World!

Address: 1204 Helena Rd, Winter Haven, FL 33884

8. Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is home to an abundance of natural wonders, including its most famous resident: manatees.

Visitors go on the walking trails and a floating observatory to get a closer look at the animals.

The park is also home to American alligators, Black bears, bobcats, herons, flamingos, river otters, white-tailed deer, and the hippopotamus Lu, known for his performances in many movies over the past several decades.

Address: 4150 S Suncoast Blvd, Homosassa, FL 34446

Other Daytrips to Experience Florida’s Wildlife 

Blue Springs State Park

Blue Springs State Park is a seasonal park featuring wildlife (like manatees, wild hogs, and bald eagles) and a warm spring on the St. John River. It’s popular for swimming, kayaking, and family fun.

The park has walking trails on the island which lead to a fascinating Native American shell mound. If kayaking isn’t your thing, you can also camp, fish, or go SCUBA diving.

Address: 2100 W French Ave, Orange City, FL 32763

Lake Toho

Lake Toho is one of Florida’s best bass fishing spots.

Here you can take a guided trip and learn how to fish from the experts.  These fishing professionals can teach you how it’s done or helping to improve your skills and show you a few new tricks.

If you’re already a bass-fishing pro, then you may want to just go out on your own.

69 Lakeview Dr. Kissimmee, Florida 34741

9. Bok Tower Gardens

Looking for some peace and quiet after several days at the theme parks? Then look no further: Bok Tower Gardens is calling you!

This contemplative garden and bird sanctuary is located just north of Lake Wales, Florida. The park includes a 250-acre garden, visitor’s center, Pinewood Estate, and the Pine Ridge Trail. The centerpiece is a 205-foot tall Singing Tower, which has stood here since 1929. There are about 60 bells that take up the chorus as the clock chimes.

Spectacular views, walking trails, and tranquility abound!

Address: 1151 Tower Blvd, Lake Wales, FL 33853

Editor’s Note

Ponce De Leon Springs and the metro Tampa area didn’t make our list, but they are worthy of consideration. There are just too many great things to experience in Florida that we can’t name them all!

For that matter, you don’t even necessarily need to commit an entire day — there are plenty of great activities around Orlando that only require an hour or two of your time.

With that said, we hope that our Day Trips from Disney World page has given you some good ideas.

For more helpful Disney World vacation information, check our Disney Crowd Calendar, Comparing Disney World Hotels, Disney World YouTube Channels, Disney Dining Plan Calculator, and our other pages.

Enjoy your trip!

Need some Assistance?

If you need help planning your trip to Walt Disney World, please contact our friends at The Vacationeer to help you plan and book your trip. We are here to help you plan the most magical Disney vacation possible.