Planning a vacation in Florida’s warm weather? Save some time to visit St. Augustine, a charming little historic town on Florida’s east coast that is located just south of Jacksonville. The city, one of the earliest inhabited places in the country, is well-known for its historical treasures and stunning beaches that are located directly in the city. The best way to experience everything that Florida has to offer is to include a few of the top day trips from St. Augustine, Florida, in your schedule.
Spend an additional day in Saint Augustine exploring the stunning beaches, quaint towns, and theme parks in Orlando. Explore this list of the top day trips from St. Augustine, Florida, to organize the best vacation.
The tourist slogan of Jacksonville, “It’s easier here,” encapsulates the kind of day excursion you’ll experience in this energetic city. For beach lovers and lovers of water sports, Jacksonville is the best day trip location because of its large and stunning coastline. Take a stroll down Little Talbot Island’s idyllic shoreline to discover the hidden beaches, and keep an eye out for some of the island’s feathered and furry occupants—no binoculars required! You can also go on a hike or a kayak tour with a guide to explore the island.
Visit MOSH if you want to avoid the Florida heat! The Cummer Museum of Art & Gardens or the Museum of Science and History. Make sure to visit the Riverside Arts Market in Jacksonville if you’re fortunate enough to be there on a Saturday. You can experience the bustling arts and culture scene of the city while also giving local companies your support.
#2. Amelia Island
Amelia Island is a piece of paradise that will make you feel as though you’re in another country thanks to its 13 miles of immaculate beaches and an abundance of native fauna. This barrier island not only has stunning natural scenery but also has quaint coastal settlements with a relaxed atmosphere. For those who enjoy the outdoors and want to experience some history and adventure, Fort Clinch State Park is a must.
While sunbathers will adore Fernandina’s Main Beach Park, where locals and guests alike can be found taking use of the gazebos, eateries, barbecues, and activities, Do yourself a favor and visit the historic district if you want to learn more about the area’s historic and antique attractions. You can go on a trolley tour and have a drink at Florida’s oldest saloon, the Palace Saloon.
#3. Ocala National Forest
Ocala National Forest is the perfect place to get away from St. Augustine’s busy lifestyle and reconnect with nature. This natural wonderland draws tourists from all over the world, and it’s not hard to understand why given its location between well-known amusement parks and stunning beaches. Ocala is heaven for outdoor enthusiasts who enjoy swimming, fishing, canoeing, and boating because it has more than 600 lakes and rivers. You can explore the freshwater springs that are crystal clear and watch the migratory birds, playful manatees, and unusual plants that live in this forest.
The Ocala Forest offers both tranquil retreats and heart-pounding adventures, so there’s something for everyone.
Gainesville tops the list of cool and exciting day trips from St. Augustine, Florida. This vibrant college town, which is best known as the location of the University of Florida, is teeming with cool stores, delectable restaurants, and unique cultural activities. I strongly advise visiting Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation and Kanapaha Botanical Gardens if you enjoy the outdoors. Both locations give you the ability to get up close and personal with some of Florida’s most intriguing flora and fauna.
The Florida Museum of Natural History is great for history aficionados since it has exhibits on everything from contemporary ecosystems to prehistoric remains. I also advise visiting the Butterfly Rainforest at the museum. There is also a lot of culture to discover in Gainesville, so it’s not all science and nature. Visit the vintage restaurants, movie theaters, and gift shops in downtown Gainesville.
#5. Daytona Beach
From St. Augustine, a day excursion to Daytona Beach is a must among the day trips in Florida, and for good reason. It’s more than anyone could hope for: wide beaches, sword swallowers, and an amusement park perched above the water. Check out the storied Daytona International Speedway first thing in the morning. Any auto enthusiast must visit this renowned racetrack. A tour costs $25 for adults and $20 for children ages five to twelve.
The beach is the next item on the schedule. Visit the storied Main Street pier and boardwalk while strolling along the hard-packed sand beach. Increase the ante by going horseback exploring! In addition, the city is home to many family-friendly attractions like the Museum of Arts and Sciences and the highly regarded waterpark Daytona Lagoon.
Orlando is a thrilling location that attracts tourists from all over the world since it is the location of the renowned Walt Disney World. It is a city that is large enough to spend a week visiting, but it is also one of the locations that make fantastic day trips from St. Augustine, Florida. There is no doubt that if you are traveling with children, you will receive a lot of advice about visiting Universal Studios or Disney World. Give the entire family a memorable experience by taking them to one of these fantastic theme parks!
However, Orlando offers activities besides theme parks. Downtown Orlando is the place to be if you need a break from attempting to suppress lunch while riding your tenth rollercoaster of the day. You can visit the lovely Lake Eola Park and the historic Church Street, which is home to some of the city’s top eateries.
#7. Canaveral National Seashore
Although Canaveral National Seashore isn’t a day trip jam-packed with attractions, the 24-mile stretch of pristine natural beach there is well worth the trek. Playalinda Beach is a surfer’s heaven, while Apollo Beach is ideal for families. Swimming, surfing, horseback riding (only at Apollo Beach), and hiking on the Eldora Hammock and Castle Windy paths are all available at Canaveral National Seashore.
15 species of animals that are recognized as endangered by the federal government can live in this sanctuary. Therefore, keep an eye out for a unique sight! You must carry your food and drink to the beach because there are no vendors, designated eating spots, or motels nearby. Not to be overlooked is the Kennedy Space Center, which is located right next to the national seashore. Daily tours are available at this spaceport, giving you access to historic launch locations and more. What do you think of that as an incredible day excursion from St. Augustine?
#8. Mount Dora
Although Mount Dora is about a two-hour drive from Florida’s historic coast, the trip is well worth it for a day excursion. It’s difficult to ignore the charm that Mount Dora emits with its revitalized downtown and historic area. Given how adorable it is, it might as well be dubbed Mount “Dorable.” Collectors love the area since it is known as the “Antiques Capital” of America. Walking through the pedestrian-friendly downtown will allow you to see many antique shops, historical structures, and regular festivals.
Visit Renninger’s Flea and Farmer’s Market if you want to satisfy your want to shop. Over 200 stalls offering everything from vintage clothing to jewelry and unique furniture can be found at the antique center. I suggest going to Pisces Rising when you’re ready to eat. In a waterfront eating environment, this restaurant offers a taste of Florida coastal cuisine with a Caribbean touch.
#9. Cedar Key
Prepare yourself for the ultimate adventure outside of St. Augustine in Cedar Key. The second-oldest town in Florida, this little island community of less than 1,000 permanent residents is home to hundreds of intriguing historical structures. A trip to Cedar Key is like traveling back in time because there are no skyscrapers or chain restaurants there. Cycling is among the best ways to discover Cedar Key. With a ghost town to visit and a beach to unwind on, another nearby island makes a terrific kayaking destination.
The historic Island Hotel’s Neptune Bar is a must-see location where you can relax with a drink while learning about the town’s past. Cedar Key is an oasis for lovers of wildlife. Learn about the local flora and fauna as you stroll around the waterfront. When you’re hungry after all that exploring, head to Tony’s Restaurant for the community’s famous clam chowder.
#10. Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
Just 20 miles along the coast from St. Augustine is Washington Oaks Gardens State Park, a paradise for wildlife lovers. Here, a day excursion is full of breathtaking natural areas and an abundance of species in a peaceful setting. Its gorgeous formal gardens and distinctive coquina rock formations along the Atlantic Ocean shoreline set it apart from other parks. You’ll think you’ve been taken to another planet! Bring your camera and take some pictures, because this is something you won’t find anywhere else.
The park costs $5 per vehicle per day and is open from 8:00 a.m. until sunset. You can take advantage of one or more of the activities available, which range from biking and hiking to fishing and picnics.
#11. New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach, which is about 70 miles south of St. Augustine and not far from Daytona, gives guests the ideal beach atmosphere without overwhelming crowds. At Smyrna Dunes Park, where you can cycle, hike, or just stroll amid the dunes overlooking the Atlantic, you can start your day. I advise renting a boat if you happen to be there at the correct time to visit Disappearing Island, a gem that can only be seen at low tide.
The Sugar Mill Ruins, a historical location that was originally a part of the Cruger-dePeyster Plantation in the early 19th century, will appeal to history aficionados. You can explore the area at your speed since admission is free. Make your way to Flagler Avenue Beachfront Park if you’re in the mood to shop or are hungry for a wonderful lunch. You can peruse the many stores in this area and refuel at a nearby restaurant.
#12. Fort Matanzas National Monument
Explore Fort Matanzas’ interesting past as you go back in time. This fort is situated precisely on the Matanzas River, just a short 25-minute drive from St. Augustine. This national historic property is composed of coquina, a form of limestone made from crushed shells and natural mortar, similar to the Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, 15 miles to the north, which is what makes it so fascinating. The fort has weathered the test of time and is still an iconic site to behold despite being constructed from such a delicate material.
The fort is only accessible by ferry because it is situated on Rattlesnake Island. From Wednesday through Sunday, the fort and boat are open for free.
The historic city of Palatka, also referred to as “the gem of St. Johns,” is full of charm and excitement. Cool for day trips from St. Augustine, Florida. Visitors gush over Palatka, praising everything from the historic home tours to the burgeoning craft beer culture. There is something for everyone in this metropolis. Adventurers can go kayaking, hiking, or biking on one of the eight Blueway routes. Explore the Bronson Monholand House and the Putnam County Museum if you’re interested in learning more about how city inhabitants lived in the middle of the 1800s.
For those who enjoy the outdoors, Ravine Gardens State Park is a must-visit. You can also explore the “City of Murals” by taking a stroll through the town. With its vibrant artwork, it is a visual feast. And if you get hungry, the historic downtown has a variety of interesting eateries and bars to suit your needs. Sit down at Corky Bell’s Seafood or try a craft beer from one of the numerous breweries that line the streets. Your taste buds will appreciate it, I promise!
#14. Flagler Beach
Looking for a St. Augustine beach day trip that avoids the congested beaches and popular tourist areas? If so, Flagler Beach is the ideal place for a day trip! This hip coastal town features limitless lengths of white sand beaches, waterfront restaurants, and vintage charm. Your first stop should be the Flagler Beach Municipal Pier, a well-known location ideal for water sports or just lounging in the sun. Take a stroll past the businesses along the shore after this.
Additionally, think about taking a guided tour of the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park to discover more about the past of the region. Visit Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area for some hiking and kayaking if you’re seeking excitement. Additionally, if you enjoy wine, you must visit the Flagler Beachfront Winery.
#15. Anastasia Island
The 14-mile paradise of Anastasia Island, which is close to St. Augustine, is a great spot for water activities, attractions, and other day trips in Florida because of its convenience. The island, which has a variety of eateries and stores, is surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Matanzas River. The Maritime Museum, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, and St. Augustine Lighthouse are among the city’s attractions for families and fans of reptiles. Adventure seekers should go hiking and kayaking at Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area. Furthermore, the Flagler Beachfront Winery is a must-visit if you enjoy drinking wine.
The island’s numerous nature trails are the finest means of exploration. You can go for a stroll or a bike ride in the forests or along the kilometers of unspoiled coastline. Additionally, St. Augustine Beach is literally at the tip of your toes. Without worrying about a long (and sand-filled) drive back to St. Augustine, spend a full day taking advantage of the warm waters and year-round sunshine.
Travel Tips for Exploring Florida
Florida is a big, diverse state with lots of interesting things to see and do. Here are some useful travel suggestions to make your time spent exploring the Sunshine State easier:
- Always be prepared, especially during the busiest travel period.
- Consider the season and weather forecast when choosing your wardrobe.
- While traveling in Florida, sunscreen and insect spray are your best friends.
- Be ready for unexpected downpours.
- Avoid “tourist traps” like expensive trinkets.