Summer is finally here and what better place to be than Florida? This Sunshine State is a tourist hotspot in the summertime for a reason. There are so many places to visit to enjoy this time of year and take advantage of your days in the sun. I've compiled a list of day trips from Orlando that you must do for the perfect summer adventure with your love.
There are tons of water parks around Florida but none is quite as unique as this spring-fed water park. Buccaneer Bay is located inside Weeki Wachee Springs State Park. There's a sandy white beach, a swimming area, and four water slides. Three of the slides drop you off into the natural springs. If you're not up for the thrill you can rent a tube and flow along the natural lazy river. You can also rent a kayak or canoe for a DIY adventure. Don't be surprised if you spot a mermaid swimming around the crystal-clear waters. This water park is the perfect mix of nature and fun.
I found the perfect place to kickback and relax this summer. Epperson Lagoon has everything you could ever need for a day in the sun. There's a swim-up bar with a variety of beer and specialty drinks and tons of activities for everyone to enjoy. For $10 you get unlimited access to a water slide that plummets you back into the lagoon. Kayaks and paddle boards are available to rent for those who don't feel like swimming. There's even a floating obstacle course if you're seeking a little bit of adventure. This seven acre lagoon is located within the Metro Places Lagoon communities but open to the public for a limited time. Admission is just $20 per day to enjoy the sandy beaches, live music, and clear waters. Make sure to get your tickets in advance; it's common for the park to sell out.
Island H20 Live!
New water park alert! Orlando is famous for its theme parks and there can never be too many. Cool off this summer by taking a trip to Kissimmee and checking out the latest water park addition. Island H2O Live! celebrated the first day of summer with a grand opening. This park has eight slides, a lazy river with lighting effects, a pool for adults 21 and up, and live entertainment. It's an interactive water park with games that allow you to earn points towards food and merchandise discounts. There is even a live feed you can be a part of to show everyone how you're spending your day in the sun.
Admission is $44.99 for one day. Get your tickets online so you don't have to wait in line at the entrance.
This new waterpark is within walking distance (or a short trolley ride) of Sunset Walk at Margaritaville Resort Orlando, a new shopping and dining district. Highlights include a monthly classic car show (2nd Sunday of the month from 11am-2pm), Rock & Brews for burgers and brews and Yeoman's Cask and Lion British pub. It's the perfect place to wind down and refuel after a fun-filled day at the water park.
CITIES TO EXPLORE
St. Pete is definitely a more artsy city. The murals–a huge part of the city's culture–will have you walking around for hours and are a huge part of the city's culture. There's also a collection of museums that are unique to the city. Located by the waterfront, the Dali Museum houses the largest collection of Dali's works outside Europe. Also located in St Pete, the Florida Holocaust Museum is one of the largest in the country. It was built as a living memorial for those who suffered and perished due to the holocaust. For an outdoorsy adventure, head to Sunken Gardens, a botanical garden lush with tropical foliage, waterfalls and flamingos.
There's so much to see and do in this city that sometimes a day doesn't feel like enough. When you're done experiencing all of the art and culture, enjoy one of St Pete's best qualities — the beach.
If you love cute, historic towns then this place is definitely for you! Winter Garden has a vintage feel to it that makes it so charming. I love walking through the streets visiting the small coffee shops and window shopping. One of my favorite times to go is on a Saturday morning. They have the Winter Garden Farmer's Market at 9am that has tons of local vendors selling produce, crafts, juices, popsicles, and so much more. It's the perfect place to take your family (including the furry ones). It's a very dog-friendly place and most restaurants have an outdoor area so you're able to hang out with your best friends and enjoy some delicious food.
Plant Street Market has to be my favorite thing about this place. It's a local community market with 20 vendors selling natural, organic, and handmade products. Sir Benji's Donuts has the best mini donuts and Press'd has an amazing variety of juices and smoothies. Crooked Can Brewing Company takes up a good portion of this space and is always full. They sell hand crafted beers and have live entertainment for guests to enjoy. There's so many options here that it's almost guaranteed no one will leave this place disappointed. For an active date, set out for a peaceful bike ride along the West Orange Trail.
Day-Trip Worthy Attractions
The Brevard Zoo in Melbourne is perfect for you if you're into getting up close to cute animals. You can feed a giraffe, enter a room with a ton of hungry birds, pet a llama, and walk alongside kangaroos. The zoo's mission is to conserve wildlife though education and participation. Every animal is housed in an environment that resembles their own in the wild. You'll encounter a mob of meerkats, rhinos, gators, monkeys, and so much more.
If you’re tired of walking, you can take a different route by experiencing the zoo via kayak. Or, et a bird’s eye view of everything from the zip lines up above the zoo. There's so much to do here that an entire day won't seem like enough.
Admission is $19.70 but there are packages you can choose from that will save you money on the activities.
Showcase of Citrus
Nothing screams Florida quite like a bright, juicy orange. Showcase of Citrus allows you to walk through acres of groves and hand pick these famous fruits yourself. There are 50+ varieties of citrus ready to be picked. Just grab a fruit picker and look for the brightest ones. If you don't want to get your shoes dirty, there are some pre-picked fruits available for purchase in the market. When you're done picking your fruits there's tons to do on the property. You can take a ride in a huge 4×4 through native woodland, pastures, groves and swampland. You can also visit the bar that has a delicious freshly-squeezed orange juice mimosa and a variety of wines. It's the perfect way to stay cool on these scorching hot summer days. Admission to the groves is $2. Check out the website for prices on fruits, tours, and more.
While you're in the area don't forget to visit Downtown Clermont. Small shops like The Broom Tree will have you wanting to redecorate your entire home. For dinner, try Root & Branch or The Crooked Spoon, both great date night spots located just outside of town. You can also have your own sunset picnic at Waterfront Park. Clermont is now home to two craft breweries: Suncreek Brewery and Clermont Brewing Company. Both have tasty food options.
Most Floridians love being near water. It's where we feel most at home, which is why I love Tampa. The Tampa Riverwalk has it all. You can hop on the Pirate Water Taxi to take in the scenic views while making various stops around the city. It's $20 for an all day pass and stops at various places like the History Center, Straz Performing Arts Center, Ricks on the River, and more. It even stops at some restaurants where you can enjoy waterfront dining, Ulele being the most popular.
For something a little more educational you can visit the Tampa Museum of Art. The exhibits are constantly changing so you can keep going back and never get bored. Tickets are $15 and students get in for free. Right next door is the Glazer Children's Museum if you want to keep the kids entertained for a couple of hours. It has interactive exhibits that everyone will enjoy. The cost is $15 for adults and $10 for children.
Tampa's riverwalk also reaches one of my favorite places. Armature Works is a fully restored mixed-use building with eateries, shops, and a rooftop bar. Enjoy a pizza at Ava or a cubaono at Ichicoro Ramen. Relax with a drink on the rooftop or take it in one of their to-go cups and take a romantic stroll through the riverwalk. You get such a beautiful view of the city and the water. On the 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month you can check out the Heights Morning Market. There's live music, artisanal food, locally-grown produce and more. For the night owls, there's a Heights Night Market every second Wednesday of the month from 5:30-9:30 p.m. It features artists making jewelry, art, and wood-work. They're both free to attend and family friendly.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Natalie Monzon is a writer with a passion for traveling. She graduated from UCF with a bachelor’s in journalism. On her free time, she enjoys exploring Orlando and other locations that catch her interest. Natalie and her boyfriend started a travel blog to write about their adventures in hopes of inspiring others. You can find her online at www.roam-sick.com and on Instagram @roamsick.
All photos by Natalie Monzon unless otherwise noted
Feature image credit: Buccaneer Bay