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Road Trip

Favorite Day Trip Ideas for the Suncoast This Fall

| Angela Naff |

As the weather cools and Fall sets in here on the Suncoast, many like to take trips to various locations. Of course, flights and such can be a tad problematic these days post-pandemic, so more people are choosing more socially distanced day trip options. Here are a few great places within a drive of Suncoast communities. Here are some great options for family and visitors alike visiting the Suncoast this Fall.

Wakulla Springs

Distance from Sarasota = 312 miles/5 hours approx.

Wakulla Springs is more a park than a city but one well worth making a special day trip from Tallahassee. Located fewer than 20 miles from Tallahassee’s city center, Edward Ball Wakulla Springs State Park features one of Florida’s largest and deepest natural springs. That may be why “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” was filmed here! Take a boat tour to see local critters such as alligators, turtles, and birds. Of course, you won’t be able to resist dipping into the refreshingly cool springs too.

Airboat in Everglades Florida Big Cypress National Preserve

Everglades National Park

Distance from Sarasota = 160 miles/2.5 hours approx.

A quintessential Florida experience, get up close and personal with some of Florida’s fiercest in the Everglades National Park. Hop on one of the many airboat tours offered throughout the area and float across the swampy grasslands, and watch as alligators pop up to the surface. Truly a day trip like no other, visitors who come to the Everglades can learn about the preservation of the area’s natural ecosystem, spot a variety of unique Florida wildlife, and have a thrilling adventure at the same time.

Dinosaur World

Distance from Sarasota = 68 miles/1.5 hours approx.

Dinosaur World in Florida is a rare and extraordinary playground in Plant City that features hundreds of life-size dinosaurs in a uniquely real setting. Visitors can enjoy the outdoor interactive exhibits, winding through natural areas and oak trees, seeing which dinosaurs will be peaking out to say hello. There are tons of activities for guests of all ages, from the Fossil Dig, the Dino Gem Excavation, and even the Bone Yard. The separate area of the Prehistoric Museum even features some real and cast prehistoric fossils to view, plus motion-activated animatronic dinosaurs that come to life as you walk by! Plus, there is a dinosaur-themed playground on-site, which features tons of fun with slides, swings, and more. When you’re done exploring the grounds, head on over to the 7,000-square-foot gift shop, where you’ll find a wide variety of dinosaur items to take home and remind you of your day.

Big Cypress National Preserve

Distance from Sarasota = 140 miles/2 hours approx.

Big Cypress National Preserve is a lovely national preserve located approximately 45 minutes west of the city of Miami, spanning 720,000 acres throughout the region’s Atlantic coastal plain terrain. The preserve was established as one of the United States’ first national preserves in 1974, along with Texas’ Big Thicket National Preserve. A wide range of native Florida flora and fauna are protected throughout the preserve, including Florida panthers, alligators, anhingas, river otters, mangrove trees, and over 30 varieties of blooming orchards. Visitors can explore the preserve’s hiking and paddling trails as part of self-guided tours, embark on ranger-led swamp talks or canoeing excursions, or book custom tours with businesses like Captain Steve’s Swamp Buggy and Airboat Adventures. The park’s lovely Loop Road Scenic Drive is home to the scenic Sweetwater Strand Bridge, a popular alligator viewing spot, and the charming town of Pinecrest, which was known nationally throughout the mid-20th century for its famed dance club and bar, Gator Hook Lodge.

Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach, Florida, USA at the pier.

Cocoa Beach

Distance from Sarasota = 180 miles/3.5 hours approx.

Cocoa Beach appeals to everyone, from space enthusiasts to sun-seekers and surfers. The nearby Kennedy Space Center offers a firsthand look at NASA’s shuttles and launch pads. In the northern part of Cocoa Beach, visitors will find one of the best places in Florida to surf and Ron Jon Surf Shop, the largest surf shop in the world. Vacationers can also sign up for bioluminescent kayaking tours of the area’s waterways or play beach volleyball next to the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier.

Whether needing to get out on a school break or just to get out of the house after a year or more of remote learning/working, we hope these day trip ideas got you motivated to get out and explore. Florida has so many natural and entertaining places to visit. We are certain you, family, or friends can find many places close to home to give a break for a day or a long weekend trip. Here’s hoping everyone can safely find amazing places to visit this Fall close to home while giving yourself a change of scenery. Happy Travels!

Photos courtesy of Deposit Photos

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