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One of the best things about living in St. Pete are the amazing day trips you can take to nearby cities and attractions. Considering that I love getting the most out of my travels without breaking my wallet, I love taking quick day trips and discovering something that’s new to me and not too far. Be it exploring new beach communities, immersing myself in city life, or making the drive to try some new grub, I feel like my options are pretty much endless from St. Pete.
I’m one of those who believes that day trips should have one-way travel times of three hours or less, so all of these are just that. Here are 12 of my favorite day trips from St. Pete that are perfect for your next getaway for a day!
12 St. Pete day trips you need to take
Distance from St. Pete: 23 miles
Travel time: 25 minutes
Even though Tampa is a quick trip over either the Gandy or Howard Frankland Bridges, spending a day in the city is totally worth it. Tampa and St. Pete have completely different people and vibes so visiting is always an experience.
Whereas St. Pete has the gulf and white sand beaches, Tampa has amazing entertainment districts, attractions, and entertainment. There’s plenty to do in Tampa such as thrill-seeking at Busch Gardens or spending a day at the Florida Aquarium, one of the best in the country.
You might catch an awesome festival depending on the time of the year. One of my faves is the Tampa Bay Margarita Festival that takes place every summer. If you’re looking for buzzing nightlife, then a night in Ybor City is worth experiencing at least once in your life. Hyde Park and SoHo are perfect for romantic evenings.
Distance from St. Pete: 14 miles
Travel time: 35 minutes
Clearwater Beach has been a top beach destination for years, not just in Florida but the entire United States. It’s rated the #1 beach in the USA by TripAdvisor for 2019 (and 2018 and 2016) and is currently ranked #6 globally. #muchwow
Clearwater Beach has soft, pristine, white sand and water that’s literally clear and perfect for a leisurely swim. There’s plenty to do in Clearwater Beach including shopping and entertainment, plus awesome water activities and tours.
There’s Pier 60 that offers amazing fishing (especially at night) and sunset watching and definitely worth checking out. Also, eating at Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill is a must; the grouper sandwiches are some of the best.
Distance from St. Pete: 30 miles
Travel time: 40 minutes
Tarpon Springs is roughly 40 minutes north of St. Pete and a quieter town of the Tampa Bay region, making it perfect for relaxing day trips. It is most known for its sponge docks and has the densest population of Greek Americans in the United States. Greek immigrants built the Tarpon Springs sponge industry over a century ago and made the town the sponge capital of the world at a point in time.
Let it be known that you cannot go to Tarpon Springs without having some amazing Greek food. Hellas Bakery & Restaurant is a popular choice, serving authentic traditional Greek favorites and having a hell of a bakery… pun intended.
Honeymoon Island State Park & Caladesi Island State Park
Distance from St. Pete: 28 miles
Travel time: 45 minutes
Honeymoon Island State Park is north of St. Pete in Dunedin and commonly referred to as the quieter Clearwater Beach by locals. It has nearly five miles of white sand beach and lies along the Gulf of Mexico. Honeymoon Island is a great destination for those seeking outdoor activity. Bike rentals are offered per hour or day and you can rent kayaks from Cafe Honeymoon.
From Honeymoon Island, you can take a ferry to Caladesi Island State Park. Caladesi Island is a beautiful untouched island that can only be accessed by boat. Viewing the island via the paddling trail is highly recommended and you can rent kayaks from Cafe Caladesi.
Not wanting to tire yourself on a paddle or just looking to relax? No problem. Both state parks have beautiful beaches for lounging and with umbrellas and beach chairs available for rent as well.
Siesta Key and Sarasota
Distance from St. Pete: 42 miles
Travel time: 55 minutes
We are spoiled in the Tampa Bay Area and pretty much surrounded by some of America’s finest beaches. Less than an hour southwest of St. Pete is Siesta Key, an 8-mile long barrier island with a beach that was voted #1 on TripAdvisor in 2015. Literally spoiled.
Siesta Key is one of several keys just offshore of Sarasota and perfect if you’re looking for paradise. They have several top-rated restaurants to choose from such as the popular Captain Curt’s Crab and Oyster Bar and SKOB (Siesta Key Oyster Bar). I’m a seafood junky and must eat something with lobster at The Lobster Pot in Sarasota. Speaking of which…
Sarasota was actually one of the first towns I became familiar with when moving to Florida and I highly recommend you visit when in the area. Definitely make time to take a day’s stroll through the city. I love visiting the local boutiques and shops and picking out handcrafted gifts for friends and family.
Myakka River State Park
Distance from St. Pete: 54 miles
Travel time: 52 minutes
Myakka River State Park is located just 19 miles away from Downtown Sarasota and is one of Florida’s oldest and largest state parks, holding 37,000 acres of protected habitat. 14 miles of the Myakka River are contained in the state park and it hosts an abundance of resources and wildlife species.
Spot osprey, herons, alligators, and turtles throughout the park. The state park’s Birdwalk offers a phenomenal view of the wetlands and provides a great opportunity for nature watching and photography. You can also go on a wildlife tour. The park offers wildlife tours every day by both boat and tram, weather permitting.
Weeki Wachee Springs State Park
Distance from St. Pete: 70 miles
Travel time: 1 hr 10 min
Weeki Wachee is a tiny town north of St. Pete with a population of 12, yet it holds one of Florida’s oldest and most unique attractions. Weeki Wachee Springs State Park is a 12,000-acre preserve and has one of the deepest underwater caverns in the United States.
The state park offers a number of attractions including its famous mermaid performances (they do an underwater rendition of The Little Mermaid!), wildlife shows, and riverboat cruises. You can also rent kayaks and stand-up paddleboards from Weeki Fresh Water Adventures and go for a paddle in Weeki Wachee Springs.
Paddling is a popular activity at Weeki Wachee due to the clear water. It’s not uncommon to see manatees, turtles, and otters while paddling.
Distance from St. Pete: 93 miles
Travel time: 1 hr 30 min
Crystal River is roughly 90 minutes north of DTSP and an amazing destination if you’re into ecotourism. One look and you’ll understand how it got its name. Located in the Nature Coast, otherwise known as the “Big Bend” of Florida, Crystal River is as naturally beautiful and scenic as they come in the nearby area.
Crystal River is popularly known for its dense manatee population with approximately ⅙ of Florida’s manatees residing there. It’s excellent for water sports including kayaking, canoeing, and paddleboarding. Diving and harvesting scallops are great summer past times for locals and tourists alike with a number of restaurants around that will cook your catch for you!
Distance from St. Pete: 98 miles
Travel time: 1 hr 30 min (lol)
Out of everywhere on my list, Orlando might be the most annoying of commutes. A tragic way to start, I know, but the traffic is mad ridiculous pretty much any time of day. Thankfully, there’s so much to do once you finally get there. Plus, it holds one of my happiest places on earth, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. So, I can’t be too mad.
Orlando is the tourism mecca of the state and home to more than a dozen theme parks. My top recommendation would obviously be the park that has wands and bank escapes from Gringotts, but there’s so much more to Orlando than its theme parks.
Take dozens of selfies with wax celebs at Madame Tussauds or visit the Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island. The food scene is definitely one worth exploring with new concepts sprouting all over the city. Soco is a popular restaurant downtown, having won Best Restaurant in Orlando in 2018, and offers southern contemporary food (hence, the name). Other activities in the area include boat rides and shopping at the Orlando Premium Outlets.
Sanibel Island & Captiva Island
Distance from St. Pete: 143 miles
Travel time: 2 hr 20 min
Sanibel Island and Captiva Island might give off luxurious vibes but it’s actually very casual with t-shirts, shorts, and flip flops being the norm. The islands have 15 miles of white sand beach along the Gulf of Mexico and are known for its wonky shops and restaurants. Both islands boast of stunning beaches, plenty of dolphin sighting opportunities, and fantastic shelling.
Sanibel Island was voted #1 for Top 10 U.S. Shelling Beaches by Travel + Leisure. The island is unique as it runs east to west; most Florida islands run north to south. The orientation of the island acts like a shovel, scooping up seashells from the Gulf, Caribbean, and other southern seas. Most visitors can’t go more than a few feet without performing the “Sanibel Stoop”, bending over to pick up and admire the beauties.
If you’re looking for a bite in Captiva Island give The Bubble Room Restaurant a try. It’s a popular choice by locals and tourists alike. It’s filled with tons of memorabilia and old decor and photos including the numerous celebrities who’ve paid visits. Be on the lookout for their monstrous dessert portions; it’s what they’re known for.
Distance from St. Pete: 152 miles
Travel time: 2 hr 10 min
Naples is one of three cities (the other two are Marco Island and Everglades City) situated in the mesmerizing Paradise Coast. It’s a perfect destination if you want to live your best life and get knee-deep in swank and sophistication.
Naples is one of the wealthiest cities in the United States and renowned for its high-end shopping and culture. You can find chic sidewalk cafes and exquisite restaurants featuring the freshest catches, and 5th Avenue South is the main street of Naples and a popular spot to find gifts for
yourself friends and family.
And then, of course, the beach. Naples Beach is 7 miles of sugar-white sand and the pure blue gulf. The pier is a popular spot for fishing and dolphins are frequently spotted. Sunsets in Naples? Breathtaking.
Everglades National Park
Distance from St. Pete: 192 miles
Travel time: 2 hr 43 min
Everglades National Park is a vast subtropical wilderness and every nature lover’s dream. The national park has 1.5 million acres of wetland preserve and is home to hundreds of animal varieties, including the American crocodile, West Indian manatee, American black bear, and the elusive Florida panther.
There are a number of activities to do in the Everglades as well as a number of ways to see and experience it. Paddling by kayak and canoe is a great way to get immersed in the environment. If you’re into fishing, the Everglades offers a great opportunity for that.
Boat tours can be taken from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center and are a great way to see birds and dolphins at the very least. I’ve taken an airboat tour through the Everglades and thought it was an amazing experience. The tour takes you deep into the vast silence of the Everglades and up close with these guys!
St. Pete is an amazing town on its own, but the fact that there’s so much to do, see, and experience around it is more reason to appreciate the Sunshine City.
Hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to take a day trip of your own! Pin this article to read it later!