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10 Best Day Trips From Tampa, Florida

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Day trips from Tampa are especially fun because there’s so much to do and see in this part of Florida.

Sunny beaches and adorable towns are all within minutes to a few hours from Tampa Bay. It’s easy to make Tampa– a fantastic city in its own right- your base while you explore Florida’s west coast.

We’ve chosen the best Florida day trips from Tampa ranked by real experiences and visitor reviews. For your next vacation in the Sunshine State, may we suggest…

Day Trips From Tampa for Museums

These are the best Florida day trips from Tampa to take in all the arts and culture this side of the state offers.

1. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, Winter Park

Exterior of Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens for day trips from Tampa.

Take one of your day trips in the Tampa Bay area to see one of America’s most prominent sculptors, Albin Polasek (1879-1965). Located in Winter Park, the Albin Polasek Museum’s gardens feature the lush tropical beauty of Florida’s plants, trees, and flowers.

The Czech-born Polasek retired here after an illustrious art career and opened a sculpture studio where he continued to create.

Shortly after his move to Winter Park, he suffered a stroke and was confined to a wheelchair. He continued his work with the use of only his right arm. He opened his home gallery to the public in 1961, and it’s a lovely, contemplative place where you can spend a few hours.

You can also tour Polasek’s home. Docents are available for guided tours. Bring a picnic basket for lunch in the gardens if you’d like. There are no onsite cafes or other accommodations for refreshments.

The Tampa Airport Marriott is less than 100 miles away from this artistic retreat has modern, comfortable guest rooms, and features an airport shuttle, fitness center, and a pool.

See Related: Things to Do In Palm Coast, Florida

2. The Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg

The Dali Museum in St. Petersburg exterior

The Dali Museum is one of many day trips from Tampa that takes you out of the city and into another world in less than an hour. In about 30 minutes, you can wander among the most renowned paintings and other works of art by the famous surrealist.

Located in St. Petersburg, the Dali houses more than 2,400 works in its collection under a 75-foot geodesic glass dome called Enigma. The adjacent gardens are filled with lush plantings. There’s also a shop for jewelry and other fine gifts or souvenirs.

The onsite cafe is named after the artist’s wife and muse, Gala. Cafe Gala serves delicious Spanish dishes for breakfast or lunch. Or stop in for a coffee and a bite of something sweet. Indoor seating and outdoor dining in the garden are available. Docents are available, or you can download their app for guided tours.

The exhibit spaces are small and tend to get crowded, so you may want to avoid weekends. The museum and gardens are located in Downtown St. Petersburg, which has a young, fun vibe.

Downtown St. Pete is covered in art. Colorful murals are everywhere, and they are fun to spot. It also has an incredibly diverse and dynamic restaurant scene. And hot nightclubs and lounges light up the evenings.

With the Spanish-styled Hotel Alba Tampa as your base, you can easily explore all that St. Pete has to offer. Spanish fusion cuisine is served in Hotel Alba’s The Spaniard. A gallery showcases local student art; the pool is cool and inviting.

Best Tampa, Florida Day Trips for Beaches

These Tampa one-day trips will give you the beach break you crave.

3. Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin

Honeymoon Island State Park in Dunedin Florida

If day trips from Tampa mean beach day to you, then you only need to drive about an hour to visit the natural paradise of Honeymoon Island State Park. For the best sand, you’ll want to go to the island’s northern end. Otherwise, it can be a bit rocky.

North Beach, in particular, will make you feel like you have your private island with a soft sandy beach. In addition to more than 100 species of birds, owls, and osprey, you can look for tortoises, dolphins, and manatees.

Don’t miss the nature center with gorgeous vistas, a cafe, and a gift shop. There’s plenty of convenient parking too. After soaking up the sun and scenery, take a turn through Dunedin.

Historically Scottish, it has weekend markets, charming shops, dining, and more. An excellent hotel convenient to both Tampa and Dunedin is the Fenway Hotel. With roots in the Jazz Age, this sophisticated property has amazing views and boutique-style guest rooms on the waterfront.

See Related: Honeymoon Destinations

4. Caladesi Island, Dunedin

Caladesi Island State Park Nature Trail

One of the most fun day trips from Tampa is by boat to Caladesi Island State Park. After a 40-minute trip by car, you can board a boat to take you away for a day of idyllic seaside enjoyment.

The clear blue water is perfect for kayaking or swimming. Take a picnic and wear your sturdy shoes to explore the nature trails. There’s also a burger shack, perfect for lunch.

Look for birds, tortoises, and armadillos. The beach is peaceful and good for discovering sand dollars and shelling. There are only a few slips for private boats, so you’re better off relying on the ferry than using your own.

Since Dunedin is west of Tampa, look at hotels in the Westshore neighborhood, like the Westin Tampa. The Westin Tampa has a private beach, pool, and luxurious accommodations.

See Related: Beach Resorts In Florida

5. Clearwater Beach

Chairs and umbrellas on Clearwater Beach

Some of the best Florida day trips from Tampa are the most classic. A day spent in Clearwater on the beach is a day well spent.

Clearwater Beach is often called the best beach in Florida. Clearwater’s marina is here too for ogling the massive yachts moored there. The sugary sand is soft, white, and warm. Chair and umbrella rentals are available–and recommended!

You can also rent paddleboards, kayaks, and jet skis. Or, take a beachside yoga class. Restaurants and bars are close by, too. Be aware, though, that parking is limited, and the tow trucks are on a constant cruise. Stay all day, and you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous sunset over the Gulf of Mexico.

Clearwater Beach tends to get crowded with tourists. But it’s spacious, and you should be able to find ample room to spread out. The CURRENT Hotel is a Tampa Westshore 4-star hotel that puts you on the right side of town close to Clearwater.

It’s a contemporary property with breathtaking Tampa Bay views, a rooftop bar, and boutique-style guest rooms. The CURRENT Hotel has a 4.4 Google Review rating.

6. Indian Rocks Beach

Aerial view of Indian Rocks Beach in Florida / Adobe Stock

Another of the beaches that are perfect for Tampa’s one-day trips is Indian Rocks Beach. This is touted as the beach the locals go to. Head here if you’re looking for a more peaceful beach day, but be prepared to bring refreshments, chairs, and the like.

Three miles of pristine sand bring visitors from around the world to enjoy the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Watch mesmerizing sunsets and choose one of their many fantastic restaurants for an unforgettable meal.

Indian Rocks Beach is the quintessential little South Florida town.

See Related: Restaurants in Disney Springs

Day Trips From Tampa For Exploring Florida

These best Florida day trips from Tampa will show you how the Tampa Bay area makes a great home base for exploring the state’s Gulf Coast.

7. Sarasota

One of the pink Spanish style buildings in downtown Sarasota.

The fascinating city of Sarasota makes for one of the most entertaining of our day trips from Tampa. Only an hour away, Sarasota was once the home of the Ringling Brother Circus during the winter months.

The performing circus no longer exists. Instead, a fantastic museum called The Ringling is a must-see for fans. The clown cars, parade vehicles, banners, and costumes are on display here to tell the history of this once-majestic spectacle.

The entrance line can be long, so call ahead and ask for the best time to get in. Afterward, check out what else Sarasota has to offer, like its great shopping and dining.

The Columbia Restaurant on St. Armands Circle is a Floridian institution. The original Columbia opened in Tampa in 1905 and is Florida’s oldest restaurant. But the one here in Sarasota is the one to try.

It has a beautifully tiled dining room separated from the spacious, inviting patio by large windows. No matter where you sit, you feel like you’re in a private garden.

Enjoy classic Spanish menu items, like their hearty paella, with a pitcher of their famous sangria. Located in Riverview, south of Tampa, the Hilton Garden Inn Tampa/Riverview/Brandon is a highly-rated hotel with friendly staff and an outdoor pool. From Riverview, it’s a quicker trip to charming Sarasota.

See Related: Best Bars in Orlando, Florida

8. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park

The crystal blue water of Weeki Wachee River.

Not many day trips in the Tampa Bay area will appeal to the entire family the way Weeki Wachee will. Weeki Wachee has a legacy as one of Florida’s oldest attractions. It’s actually a deep underwater cavern.

The springs are quite deep, and no one has ever been to the bottom. It’s been an entertainment spot for families for decades. Enjoy a Weeki Wachee River boat tour while learning about the wildlife that calls the river home.

You can also paddle yourself in a rented kayak or canoe. Picnic tables are available at Buccaneer Bay. Bring your lunch or order sandwiches and ice cream from one of the shops or restaurants.

Then swim or snorkel in the cool, clear waters of Weeki Wachee Springs. Afterward, soak up the Florida sunshine by relaxing in one of the beach chairs you’ll find on the white sands of Buccaneer Bay.

But the most darling and unusual attraction at Weeki Wachee Springs is the live mermaid show. Mermaids perform ballet and acrobatic moves to music in a theater submerged in one of the natural springs.

Although they have access to air tanks through tubes, they’ll impress you with their ability to look like they can actually breathe under the water. Weeki Wachee is a very doable day trip from Tampa.

But why drive back to Tampa when you can rent an adorable cottage only minutes away from the fun? Come early if you want a kayak. They tend to be rented quickly.

See Related: Things to Do in Orlando, Florida

9. Tarpon Springs

Historical Tarpon Springs was built on sponges.

Tampa, Florida, day trips aren’t as charming as one to Tarpon Springs, located north of Dunedin. It’s filled with Greek heritage and has over 50 miles of beautiful shoreline. The downtown area is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Walk the brick streets and explore the arts, antiques, Greek restaurants, and markets. There’s great shopping in the many boutiques lining downtown, some in buildings from the late 19th century.

Definitely don’t miss the Tarpon Spring Sponge Docks. The sponge industry makes Tarpon Springs the thriving Greek town it is today.

Downtown Tarpon Springs is great for shopping and eating; you will find authentic Greek food and baked goods.

But the cheap souvenir shops can make it seem a little touristy in spots. The Hyatt House Tampa Airport/Westshore is a conveniently located and lovely hotel and would make a great base.

Read Also: Key West Day Trip Itinerary

10. Devil’s Den, Williston

The ancient springs of Devil's Den.

This is one of the more adventurous day trips from Tampa. Devil’s Den is an ancient spring. Scuba dive or snorkel and explore Florida’s watery netherworld in an underground spring within a cave.

Fossils from the Pleistocene Age have been discovered in the cave and relocated to The University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History.

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