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 couple of 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…
Table of Contents
- Best & Fun Day Trips From Tampa for Museums
- 1. Albin Polasek Museum and Sculpture Gardens, Winter Park
- 2. The Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
- Best Tampa, Florida Day Trips for Beaches
- 3. Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
- 4. Caladesi Island, Dunedin
- 5. Clearwater Beach
- 6. Indian Rocks Beach
- Best Fun Day Trips From Tampa For Exploring Florida
- 7. Sarasota
- 8. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
- 9. Tarpon Springs
- 10. Devil’s Den, Williston
Best & Fun 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
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 career in art 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 to spend a few hours.
You can also tour Polasek’s home. Docents are available for guided tours. Bring along 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 and has a 4.4 star Google rating out of a possible 5. The 3-star property, with modern comfortable guest rooms, features an airport shuttle, fitness center, and a pool.
2. The Salvador Dali Museum, St. Petersburg
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 be wandering among the famous surrealist’s most renowned paintings and other works of art.
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 download their app for guided tours.
The exhibit spaces are on the small side 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 literally 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 and the pool is cool and inviting. It has a 4.5-star Google rating.
Best Tampa, Florida Day Trips for Beaches
These Tampa one-day trips will give you the beach break you’ve been craving.
3. Honeymoon Island State Park, Dunedin
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 northern end of the island. Otherwise, it can be a bit rocky.
North Beach, in particular, will make you feel like you have your own 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 is on the waterfront with amazing views and boutique-style guest rooms. Google reviews have this 4-star accommodation rated 4.6 out of a possible 5.
4. Caladesi Island, Dunedin
One of the most fun day trips from Tampa you can take 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 your sturdy shoes for exploring 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 couple of 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, plus a pool, and offers luxurious accommodations. It has a AAA Four Diamond rating and a 4.3 Google Reviews rating.
5. 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
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 all of your 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.
Best Fun 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.
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 sitting 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. It’s rated a 4.4 in Google reviews.
8. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
There are not many day trips in the Tampa Bay area that 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 boat tour of the Weeki Wachee River 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 own lunch or order sandwiches and ice cream from one of the shops or restaurants.
Then take a 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. In a theater submerged in one of the natural springs, mermaids perform ballet and acrobatic moves to music.
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: Best Things to Do in Orlando, Florida
9. Tarpon Springs
Tampa, Florida day trips don’t get much more 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 area’s sponge industry is responsible for making Tarpon Springs the thriving Greek town it is today.
Downtown Tarpon Springs is great for shopping and eating and 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.
It has an excellent 4.8 rating on Google.
10. Devil’s Den, Williston
This is one of the more adventurous of our 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 have been relocated to The University of Florida’s Museum of Natural History.
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