Orlando is located throughout the center of the state of Florida, which makes it very easy to take a car and visit different cities in less than 2 hours.

Obviously, many of us visit Orlando to go to the Walt Disney World and Universal parks, but if you prefer to go to another city between park and park, here is a list of my favorites, 2 hours or less by car from downtown Orlando, and that you can enjoy in a day of visit.

Daytona Beach:

From Orlando it’s less than 1 hour. It is one of the most famous beaches in Florida, they even call it ‘World’s Most Famous Beach’ since the 1920s. Here you can visit the Daytona International Speedway, where they do the Nascar races, they also offer tours to see the place.

It is one of the few places where you can enter the beach with your car. Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Ponce Inlet, Port Orange, South Daytona, and Holly Hill are some of the cities or towns that make up the area. In Ponce Inlet you find the highest lighthouse in the state, which you can climb and enjoy the view from above.

View from the lighthouse

Cocoa Beach:

Another beach town to visit 1 hour from Orlando is Cocoa Beach. Nearby, obviously, you can’t miss the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. But if you want a beach, although of course you can find it all along the coast, my 2 favorite spots are near the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop and the ‘Pier’ area (pier) since it has places where you can enjoy delicious dishes in front of the sea.

At Cocoa Beach, you can practice some water sports like surfing. On one occasion, we rented a boat (pontoon) to take a walk on the ‘Banana’ river where we could see several dolphins. So there are several activities to do in this city on the east coast of the state.

St. Augustine:

Definitely one of my favorite cities in Florida. It is the oldest city in the United States so you will find a lot of history here.

St. George Street

It is a little less than 2 hours from Orlando to the northeast of the state. Maybe the road can be a bit tiring, but believe me, it’s worth getting to this city.

Flagler College from City Hall

Here you will find a castle that protected the city, the oldest street in the country (Aviles Street) and some beautiful squares. City Hall is another amazing place to visit and even the Flagler University across the street has tours. And obviously a walk down St. George Street which is pedestrianized and has tons of interesting restaurants and shops. It really is a super nice city to visit. If you can, feel free to spend at least one night and enjoy the nightlife on St. George Street or enjoy another day at the beach.

Vero Beach:

Beautifull! The city is small but it has a beach that I love.

It is located almost 2 hours from Orlando. The beach seems super relaxing to me, it can have some waves, very crystalline and with some restaurants in the area. There are also options to rent kayaks or paddle boards and if you have the opportunity do not hesitate to visit a ship, the SS Breconshire Shipwreck, which sank in 1894.

In that area, don’t hesitate to eat at Mulligan’s Beach House, which is very good, in front of the sea, has outdoor tables and is very colorful.

Crystal River

Another small city but towards the west of the state, less than 2 hours from Orlando you can meet Crystal River. About 10 minutes from there is Homosassa Springs. Both places are known for the large number of manatees that arrive during the winter. You can take a boat tour that will take you to swim with them or visit one of the Springs (springs) where you can see them without entering the water. Of course, something I always repeat, manatees are animals that are protected by state and federal laws, there are many rules that you have to follow including not touching them. They are super nice and playful animals, the safest thing is that if you are calmly floating in the water they will approach you.

In Crystal River you can also find a small beach, an archaeological park and other areas where you can swim for a while.

St. Petersburg/Tampa/Clearwater

Okay … The Tampa Bay area that includes those 3 cities, needs more than a day to see everything. There is so much! From downtown St. Petersburg which is a beauty, beaches from St. Petersburg to Clearwater, museums, a mix of culture, restaurants with incredible views, parks, including Busch Gardens which has tons of roller coasters that are excellent.

St. Pete Beach

What would you do in 1 day?

If you are only looking for beaches: From Orlando to St. Petersburg is less than 2hrs. In the morning I would visit the beach in this city, there are many areas to park. Then it would go up the entire coast to Clearwater Beach where you will find several restaurants, the beach area and entertainment venues. Perhaps to finish, from Clearwater to Tampa a stop at one of my favorite restaurants to see the sunset and a very fun atmosphere: Whiskey Joe’s.

John’s Pass

Other options: Visit the John’s Pass area in Madeira Beach where you can have a good lunch with a good view. Right there they offer several boat tours through the canals.

For the afternoon a walk along the ‘Pier’ in the center of St. Petersburg where you can spend a pleasant time in the Dalí Museum, which is great. ‘Downtown St. Pete’ is truly beautiful with various activities and museums for an entire afternoon.

Dalí Museum

Obviously there are many places to visit. Even in the area known as ‘Greater Orlando’ or ‘Orlando Metropolitan Area’ it has several small cities or communities such as Winter Park, Winter Garden, Clermont, Mount Dora, Celebration or Sanford.

Original post from AT: Noticias de Viajes

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