Want to take a vacation away from home, without too much hassle or expense? Lucky for you, we live in Central Florida — one of the top visited places in the world.
According to a recent AAA study, Orlando is once again expected to be the No. 1 travel destination this summer (between June 1 and Aug. 15). So why not take the road less traveled, and head to another Central Florida destination?
Here are three places in Central Florida to take a day trip to:
Head east, to the Space Coast.
Kennedy Space Center is a common field trip location for Osceola schools, but how often do families get to spend the day together at the space center?
The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is organized into several different Mission Zones, where attractions and tours are grouped by chronological era. The zones include history lessons about the heroes and legends of NASA’s early space programs, bus tours behind the gates, a look at Space Shuttle Atlantis, information on current and future space exploration, and more. There are also interactive and immersive attractions, shopping and dining experiences.
For more information, visit kennedyspacecenter.com.
Make it a full day and bring your beach gear. Florida’s Space Coast’s coastline runs 72 miles. It’s home to secluded and undeveloped natural beaches, like the Canaveral National Seashore; as well as some of Florida’s best surf spots, like Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area.
But if you’re just looking for a classic beach scene, you can head to Cocoa Beach, Satellite Beach, Indialantic or Melbourne Beach — all along the Space Coast. All of these beaches offer several access points (with parking), amenities, recreation rentals and more. And if you want to bring the dog — because dogs are family members, too — head to Canova Beach Park.
For more information, visit visitspacecoast.com/beaches.
Not feeling a trip to space? Head west, toward Tampa.
There’s more to do in the city of Tampa than you would think. Not only is it home to the Busch Gardens theme park, but it’s home to other wild adventures too.
Visit the zoo at Lowry Park — it features animal exhibits and encounters, backstage feedings and more. It even offers Toddler Tuesdays for the little ones, Zoo University classes to learn more about the animals and their habitats, and a relaxing (yet adventurous) day of Yoga in the Wild.
For more information, visit zootampa.org.
Check out the Florida Aquarium. The aquarium that was established in 1995 features 200,000 square feet of exhibits, including more than 8,000 animals and plants. There are also tours, in-water swim and dive experiences, a 4-D theater and a splash pad for the kids.
The Florida Aquarium will also host a kids summer camp for ages 3-18, focusing on animals and their natural environments. The camp includes up-close animal encounters, educational experiences, hands-on learning and more.
For more information, visit flaquarium.org.
Interested in doing a food tour? The Historic Ybor City Food Tour is your best bet.
You can experience the taste of Ybor City with five to seven food and drink tastings during a three-hour walking tour. Tours begin at 12:30 p.m., and depart from the Jimmy Johns Ybor City location. The event is family-friendly, as all ages are welcome to attend.
For more information, visit visittampabay.oncethere.com.
Head north on Interstate 4 and travel your way to historic St. Augustine. Not only is this a beautiful city to visit, but it’s full of Florida history and United States history as the oldest continually occupied European port city in the continental United States.
You can visit the Castillo de San Marcos, the oldest masonry fort in the continental U.S. and a National Monument; Fort Mose Historic State Park, the site of the first free African-American settlement in the U.S.; the Fountain of Youth, an archaeological site that gives you a chance to drink from the famous springs; the Old Jail, a prison that was home to St. Augustine’s most violent criminals from 1891 to 1953; the Oldest Wooden School House, which features replica displays and a museum; and more.
Along with more historical sites are also ghost tours, group tours, water tours, vehicle tours and even trolley tours. All St. Augustine tour services can be found at https://www.visitstaugustine.com/things-to-do/tour-services.
Before you go, don’t forget to stop by the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Maritime Museum — one of St. Augustine’s most recognizable icons. You can climb up all 219 steps to see a breathtaking view of the city. Then, stop in the museum to see preserved artifacts from the nation’s oldest port.
For more information on things to do in the city of St. Augustine, visit visitstaugustine.com.