If you’re spending more than one day at a park at Walt Disney World, you’re going to need an off-day.
For me, a Disney off-day needs to be not-at-all related to Disney, so I wasn’t interested in the nearby putt-putt offerings, the Disney water parks, or Disney Springs. When I need a Disney break, I need to completely get out of the Magic Zone.
Read on for my favorite Disney World off-day ideas.
These are easy day trips from Orlando, some require more driving than others. You’ll need a car to get to them (and bring money for tolls).
Disney World Off-Day Ideas
Get an early start to your day and drive to the coast from Orlando to hit a beach. On the Tampa Bay side, we visited Fort Desoto, Treasure Island, and Clearwater Beach. My favorite, by far, was Fort Desoto. The waves were gentle, the sand was powder sugar soft. It was less touristy with no hotels on the waterfront, but that also meant less dining options. Shell hunting was a lot of fun here. We rented two chairs and an umbrella for $16. Well worth it.
Distance: 100 miles
Treasure Island and Clearwater Beach are in more populated areas, which is good and bad depending on whether or not you like touristy beach areas. Clearwater Beach is a great choice, and it’s home to a restaurant we really liked, Frenchy’s.
Distance: 90 miles
Treasure Island had bigger waves, which is a plus for some, but the sand consisted of crushed shells and it hurt to walk on.
Distance: 95 miles
On the east coast of Florida, you can visit Cocoa Beach. This was a family favorite. The waves were big, but not too big, for small children, making boogie boarding a fun activity.
Distance: About 65 miles
Head to North Orlando for two very memorable activities with the kids.
Kids as young as 4 can do the ZOOmAir Treetrop Adventure Park low-to-the-ground zip line course at Central Florida Zoo in Sanford. Adults can do a more challenging one. Plan on at least an hour.
While you’re there, you might as well visit the zoo! There is a fun splash garden there, so pack a swimsuit. For more details, read my posts about the Central Florida Zoo and ZoomAir Adventure Park ziplining.
Distance: 40 miles
A word of advice before you set out on an adventure in Florida: Bring a swimsuit. Marisa from Adventures of Tampa Mama told me that useful tip before our first Florida visit. She wasn’t kidding. It seems you can’t go to any attraction in the state without encountering a splash garden.
Wekiva Island is a exotic gem in the middle of a city. We canoed with the kids, stopping at Wekiva Springs State Park, which has a water hole where a lot of people were swimming.
We were short on time, and so we skipped the swim and hiked a little. Keep in mind, this is Florida and you’ll spot native wildlife there. Keep a respectable distance from animals and you’ll be fine.
I recommend packing snacks and water. It gets hot and if you’re not used to paddling, you’ll get tired. You also have the option of kayaking or trying standup paddleboards. For more details, read my post about about Wekiva Island.
Distance: 35 miles
There are so many airboat opportunities within about an hour or so from Walt Disney World. We visited Black Hammock Adventure, where we got to ride an airboat at dusk.
It was also a place where the kids got to hold a baby alligator and, rather morbidly if you think about it, taste fried alligator. (It was delicious)
Distance: 35 miles
Some of our favorite places to visit in central Florida had mostly indoor activities. Head to MOSI, the Museum of Science & Industry, for hands-on learning for all ages. There’s even an outdoor ropes course. Read about our visit to MOSI here.
Distance: 65 miles
Florida Aquarium in Tampa is popular with kids for good reason. The sting ray touch tank was memorable. Bring a bring swimsuit for the kids because the splash garden is amazing there. Read my post about the aquarium for more details.
Distance: 70 miles
In Clearwater, young Winter the dolphin fans will want to visit the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. It’s a different kind of aquarium than the Florida Aquarium – think: marine hospital.
Distance: 90 miles
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