Hit the road for one-of-a-kind excursions from Orlando that won’t take more than a day to enjoy (Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex pictured).

Orlando offers plenty of wondrous, unforgettable experiences to keep you busy during your visit. In fact, it would take more than 121 days to enjoy them all. Still more incredible adventures await outside the immediate Orlando area — including many that are just a two-hour drive or less from our main tourism districts.

From one-of-a-kind attractions to outdoor adventures to marvels you’ll simply need to see to believe, this is the ultimate guide to fun day trips when visiting Orlando. Happy travels!

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Florida Attractions East of Orlando

Canaveral National Seashore

Part of the U.S. National Park Service, Canaveral National Seashore is one of the most gorgeous stretches of beachfront in the country. Starting in New Smyrna Beach, it runs 24 miles south to Titusville, just north of Cape Canaveral, all about an hour east of International Drive.

In addition to protected beaches that are untouched by anything other than Mother Nature and frolicking visitors, Canaveral National Seashore is home to more than 1,000 plant species, 300-plus varieties of birds and, from April through October, loggerhead sea turtles. It also offers views of launches from Kennedy Space Center.

East Coast Beaches

A trip to Orlando offers beach-lovers the best of both worlds, with majestic Atlantic Coast beaches just an hour east of International Drive and tranquil Gulf Coast beaches about 90 minutes to the west. For great surfing, head east to locations such as Daytona Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Cocoa Beach, to name a few. While you’re there, you’ll have fast access to a bounty of acclaimed seafood restaurants serving up some of the freshest catches in the state.

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex boys taking selfie with space shuttle
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex Near Orlando

Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

For more than a half-century, space exploration has been a thrilling part of the American experience, and you can learn about its history and see where we’re going next at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex (KSCVC) in Merritt Island, about an hour east of International Drive. It is a great place to witness live rocket launches but also worth visiting any day of the year.

Discover: Things to Do at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Part of an active spaceport with regular launches, KSCVC features iconic, actual spacecraft, including classics such as Space Shuttle Atlantis, a Saturn V rocket and an Apollo capsule, plus new additions like a SpaceX Dragon capsule and the Orion spacecraft from EM-1. Displays are built around distinct Mission Zones with lots of hands-on interaction. KSCVC also provides a look at the future of American space travel as NASA works to take us to Mars and beyond. You can even meet actual spacefarers with the Astronaut Encounter and Chat With an Astronaut programs (when available).

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Florida Attractions West of Orlando

Adventure Island wahoo run family
Adventure Island Near Orlando

Adventure Island

There’s no doubt that Orlando has the world’s best water parks, but Adventure Island is one you’ll want to experience, too. Part of the SeaWorld® family, Adventure Island adds to the fun with 30 acres of high-speed thrills and tropical, tranquil landscapes. It’s about 90 minutes from International Drive.

Discover: Orlando Water Parks

Citrus Tower

Long before Central Florida became known for theme parks and attractions, the citrus industry drove our economic engine — and in 1956, its leaders built the Citrus Tower in Clermont, about 30 minutes west of International Drive, as a testament to their work.

Standing 226 feet tall, the Citrus Tower was designed to provide an unbeatable view of miles and miles of surrounding orange groves, which were largely replaced by suburban neighborhoods in the ensuing decades. Regardless, it’s still a fun place to visit with lots of retro appeal for anyone who’s interested in Florida’s past.

Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park

Drawing tourists since the early 1900s, Ellie Schiller Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park is located about 90 minutes west of International Drive, and an hour north of Tampa. It has two main attractions: the namesake springs and manatees, which can be found in the area from mid-November through late March.

The park offers special manatee programs, too, and encounters with other forms of native Florida wildlife are also available. It has much more for outdoors people to enjoy, including hiking, geocaching, boat tours, birding and picnicking.

Manatees of Crystal River

Located on Florida’s west coast, about 90 minutes west of International Drive, Crystal River is a small city with about 3,000 residents. But each winter, the population grows considerably when hundreds of mystical, majestic manatees flock from the Gulf of Mexico to Kings Bay, which is fed by a cluster of approximately 50 warm springs.

Even during warmer months, more than 100 manatees live in the area, making Crystal River an unbeatable place to see them in their natural environment. What’s more, it’s the only spot in the U.S. where you can legally swim with the gentle giants.

West Coast Beaches

On Florida’s west coast, beaches at Fort De Soto Park, Clearwater Beach, Anna Maria Island, Treasure Island and others offer relaxing white sands and smooth, peaceful waters. As with beaches on the east coast, you can also look forward to fresh catches at a variety at highly rated seafood restaurants.

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Florida Attractions North of Orlando

Ocala National Forest

Covering more than 600 square miles, Ocala National Forest is the southernmost forest in the continental U.S. and the second largest nationally protected forest in the country. It also boasts 600-plus bodies of water, including more than a dozen lakes, all just 90 minutes north of International Drive.

For many visitors, Alexander Springs, Juniper Springs, Salt Springs and Silver Glen Springs are Ocala National Forest’s main draws thanks to crystal-clear water that’s consistently 72 degrees. Popular activities include swimming and fishing, but there’s lots of fun to be had on land, too, with camping, hiking, picnicking, birding, and even horseback riding and four-wheeling as options.

Rock Springs Run State Reserve

Despite the “Springs” in its name, Rock Springs Run State Reserve does not provide opportunities for swimming. However, more than 17 miles of trails make for great bicycling, hiking, geocaching and horseback riding through pristine pine scrub, flatwood, swamps and shoreline, all about an hour northwest of International Drive.

Didn’t think to bring a horse with you to Orlando? No problem — you can rent one while you’re there, and canoe and kayak rentals are available, too. You can also take advantage of equestrian camp sites, as well as primitive camp sites on Rock Springs Run that are only accessible by canoe. Hunting is permitted on select weekends from September through January.

A gay couple kayaking through King's Landing at Wekiva River
King’s Landing at Wekiva River

Wekiwa Springs State Park & Wekiva Island

First thing’s first: Wekiwa and Wekiva are pronounced the same, with the latter spelled the way they sound. Approximately five minutes apart, Wekiwa Springs State Park and Wekiva Island are both about 40 minutes north of International Drive and provide access to the Wekiva River — but outside of that, they’re very different attractions.

Discover: Natural Springs in Orlando

Located at the headwaters of the Wekiva, the 7,000-acre Wekiwa Springs State Park offers a full slate of outdoor activities, including camping, hiking, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking and swimming. It also has a playground area for kids. Wekiva Island, on the other hand, is closer to a full-featured day resort than a nature park. Whether you want to play on the water, get in a few games of volleyball or cornhole, or just unwind with great food and tropical drinks, it has you covered.

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Florida Attractions South of Orlando

Bok Tower Gardens

One of Florida’s oldest attractions, Bok Tower Gardens is about an hour south of International Drive. Dedicated in 1929, the National Historic Landmark is best known for its famous, 205-foot, art deco and neo-Gothic Singing Tower. It also includes nearly 50 acres of elegant gardens that surround Pinewood Estate, a 20-room, Mediterranean-style residence built in the 1930s.

Discover: Orlando Arts & Culture

Open 365 days a year, Bok Tower Gardens is a must-visit for nature-lovers, with opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, photography, picnicking and even geocaching. Similarly, the Singing Tower and Pinewood Estate will appeal to history buffs and anyone who appreciates exceptional architecture. True to its name, the Singing Tower rings out every half hour via its 60-bell carillon, and daily concerts are held at 1 and 3 p.m.

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