Day Trip Destinations for Your Next Summer Getaway

By Amelia Bowles
San Marcos castle in St. Augustine, FL

If you have a day off or weekend with no plans this summer, get away for a day! Day trips are a great way to spend time reconnecting with yourself, your partner or friends. Whether you find yourself wanting to explore nature, dive into history or enjoy the thrills, there are plenty of hidden gems less than two hours away from Gainesville. So, gather your companions, hop in the car and see what Florida has to offer! Here are a few day trip destination ideas to get you started.

The Nation’s Oldest City

The city of St. Augustine is located an easy hour and a half from Gainesville. It is the perfect mix of coastal culture and rich Florida history. Founded in 1565 by the Spanish, St. Augustine is the first permanent European settlement in the U.S., according to the National Park Service. While there, you can visit Castillo de San Marcos National Monument and St. Augustine Lighthouse. You can also see Ponce de Leon’s Fountain of Youth, the Old Jail Museum, Flagler College and the Colonial Quarter. Hop on and off the Old Town Trolley Tours to see the city with ease, marvel at the coquina walls and enjoy everything St. Augustine has to offer!

Freshwater Springs

Beat the heat with a trip to one of Gainesville’s surrounding freshwater springs for a dip in the crisp 72-degree waters. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some Florida wildlife like deer, otters, gators, fish and birds. Check out one of these springs for your next day trip destination:

  • Devil’s Den – 35 minutes from Gainesville
  • Ginnie Springs – 45 minutes from Gainesville
  • Silver Springs – 50 minutes from Gainesville
  • Ichetucknee Springs – 55 minutes from Gainesville
  • Manatee Springs – 1 hour from Gainesville
  • Rainbow Springs – 1 hour from Gainesville
  • Three Sisters Springs – 1.25 hours from Gainesville
  • Alexander Springs – 1.5 hours from Gainesville
  • Blue Spring State Park – 2 hours from Gainesville

Psychic Capital of the World

Experience mediums, spiritualists, psychics and healers just over two hours away in Cassadaga in Volusia County. Take a guided tour with the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, attend a seminar or workshop, walk through one of the parks or meditation gardens and experience the ghostly scene at C. Green’s haunted history museum.

Quaint Downtowns

Take a trip down to central Florida for one of its cute downtown cities with plenty of local shopping, delicious restaurants and unique experiences. Highlights include:

  • Mt Dora – Antique Shops, Modernism Museu, Palm Island Park, The Goblin Market Restaurant & Lounge
  • Winter Park – Winter Park Boat Tour, Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens, The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art, Rollins College
  • Winter Garden – Plant St. Market, West Orange Trail, Central Florida Railroad Museum, West Orange Heritage and Cultural Center, Winter Garden Food Tour

Thrilling Heights

Test your fears and tap into your adrenaline at one of Orlando’s theme parks. Experience magic and wonder at Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Studios or SeaWorld Orlando. From animals and food to your favorite characters, Orlando has it all. Whatever your captivation, you’ll be sure to find it just two hours from home at any of Orlando’s diverse theme parks.

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