8 Cheap Day Trips From Orlando

Day trips are a fun way to feed your travel bug without spending too much money. Grab some friends, your favorite playlist and pick a destination.

A road trip, for me, is anything 2 1/2 hours or less. Anything more and I prefer to stay overnight. Times are estimated as it will vary depending on where you live in Orlando. Money Spent = the estimated fees at the time we took the trip, 2016 – 2017, not including gas, tolls, and food. Check the locations websites in case of pricing changes. Have fun!

  1. Fort Christmas (30 mins E)  Exploring – History
    This one is so close you won’t even need a whole day, just a couple of hours to explore this great fort.
    Money Spent: Entrance is free!
    Fort Christmas
  2. Rainbow Springs State Park (1hr 35mins NW) Waterfalls – Gardens
    Waterfalls in Florida! Okay so they aren’t big waterfalls and they are man made but they are still very pretty and the springs and gardens are beautiful as well. There is also a small abandoned zoo with a couple of cages that the wild has taken over. A variety of fun things to explore. We visited when it was cooler out so there weren’t any crowds but I imagine once the weather is warm it will be packed for swimming and tubing.
    Money Spent: $2.00 per person at the headsprings entrance
    Waterfalls in Florida: Rainbow Springs State Park
  3. Washington Oaks State Park (1hr 45mins NEBeach – Gardens
    Washington Oaks State Park is known for the coquina rock formations on the beach as well as the 20 acres of formal gardens and is located right off of A1A. Wandering around the gardens and exploring the rocks is a great way to spend a day!
    Money Spent: $5.00 entrance fee per car
    Washington Oaks State Park
  4. Gainesville & Paynes Prairie (1hr 45mins NMuseums – Hiking – Animals
    We visited two museums and Paynes Prairie, plus tried out the iconic Satchel’s Pizza. The best part is that the museums are free! Remember to bring cash if you hit this quirky pizza place as they are cash only.
    Money Spent: $4.00 entrance fee per car at Paynes Prairie
    Paynes Prairie State Park
  5. Mill Creek Farm & Devils Millhopper (2hrs N) Hiking – Animals
    You can feed retired horses!
    Mill Creek Farm can only be done on Saturdays from 11:00 am – 3:00 pm. (Check their website or Facebook page just to make sure there aren’t any changes or closures.)  While Devil’s Millhopper is a shorter stop, it is worth a visit if you enjoy nature. We only spent about two hours there.
    Paynes Prairie is in this blog post as well since it was part of our road trip that day. You could do all three if you are up for a long day or split them up so you can spend the full time at the farm.
    Money Spent: $4.00 per car at Paynes Prairie, $4.00 per car at Devils Millhopper, Mill Creek Farm entrance fee is two carrots (though you are going to want to buy more carrots than that!)
    Mill Creek Farm
  6. Crystal River State Archaeological Site (1hr 45mins NWExploring – History
    The park itself consists of ceremonial grounds featuring burial mounds, a small museum containing artifacts and an outlook with a great view. See if the ranger is willing to give you a tour as they have all the inside information. I even got to throw a replica spear.
    If you plan ahead you can also get into Three Sister Springs for free and see the manatee. They offer an open house a couple times per year which makes the entrance free. Or if you have some money to spend you can even go paddleboarding with the manatees like we did!
    Money Spent: Archaeological site $3.00 per car
  7. St. Augustine (2 hrs NESightseeing – Shopping – History
    If you haven’t been you need to go. St. Augustine is beautiful and the oldest city in the US. The city has a variety of things to do to meet your interests. We walked through Flagler College, saw the fort, ate some great food and did a distillery tour. You could also skip the fort if you want to save money as there are lots of other things to do in the area. 
    Money Spent: Castillo de San Marcos $10 per person, Distillery tour is free!

    A Day to Discover St. Augustine
  8. Tarpon Springs  (2hrs 15mins WSightseeing – Shopping – Food
    Greek food, need I say more? If so, how about a quaint town with a relaxed maritime atmosphere, friendly people, and homemade soaps.
    Money Spent: We only spent money on food and soap, as we didn’t actually do any activities. There are some activities available that cost money like the boat tours.
    Greek Community Tarpon Springs, FL

We usually save day trips for the cooler months so we don’t melt and hate life for being outside.  The cooler weather is limited here in Florida so now is the perfect time to start planning!

Most of the day trips listed are very cheap with just a fee for the car that can be split between friends. If you want to save money be sure to pack lunch, snacks and a cooler with drinks, don’t forget to pack extra for the drive home including some caffeine for the driver. Grab some friends, get in the car and go!!

Melissa P.

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