8 Spring Break Day Trips That Go Beyond the Beach

If your spring semester is as busy as the Marston basement on a Monday afternoon, you probably didn’t have time to plan out the spring break vacation of your dreams. If you’re balling on a budget and are still trying to figure out your spring break plans, take a day-trip! We live where other people vacation. Florida may be a large state, but everywhere within the state is at most, only half a day’s drive away. Here are eight day trips just hours away from UF that are sure to make a memorable spring break.

1. Visit the Salvador Dalí Museum in St. Petersburg

Even if you’re not an art-junkie, the Dali Museum is a treat. The architecture of the building is stunning, and looks like something straight out of a Dalí painting. The museum has the largest Dalí collection outside of Europe.

Travel time from UF: approximately 2 hours, 20 minutes.

2. Snorkel with manatees in the Crystal River

If you’ve ever wanted an up-close experience with one of Florida’s highly treasured, yet endangered creatures, this is the trip for you. The Crystal River National Wildlife refuge allows people to snorkel with manatees in their crystal-clear waters. The wildlife refuge rehabilitates many endangered animal species in Florida like bears, panthers and manatees, while allowing the public to experience these delicate creatures first hand.

Travel time from UF: approximately 1 hour, 20 minutes.

3. Pick Strawberries at Henscratch Farms 

Down south in Lake Placid, FL, Henscratch Farms is known for its close experience with farm animals and having the best wine in Florida. The farm offers group tours around its farm and winery while offering a gourmet lunch and wine tasting year-round. In the spring, make sure to go strawberry picking while they’re in season!

Travel time from UF: approximately 3 hours, 30 minutes.

4. Be a tourist for the day at Disney

Disney is offering some killer Florida-resident deals right now. Tickets are selling at $159 for a three-day passes, but even if that’s not in the budget for this spring break, there are plenty of other things to do at Disney besides the theme parks. For daytime entertainment, check out one of Disney’s two mini-golf courses, go to Disney Springs or Disney’s Boardwalk. Take a free shuttle-bus from Disney Springs, and go explore one (or more) of their 25 resorts.

Every night, several resorts host a Movie Under the Stars family event where they show a Disney movie after roasting marshmallows. Visit Disney’s Fort Wilderness to roast marshmallows and do a sing-along with Chip and Dale around the fire. Stick around after the movie to watch fireworks from the resort. The best views of Magic Kingdom fireworks are from the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian resorts.

Travel time from UF: approximately 1 hour, 45 minutes.

5. Take a drive through the jungle at Lion Country Safari

Located just outside West Palm Beach, Lion Country Safari may not be the most updated theme park in Florida, but it’s one of the most unique. To get to the amusement park parking lot, you drive your own car through an African safari (basically like Kilimanjaro Safari at Animal Kingdom, but with your own car)! See lions, elephants, rhinos and more through the cage-less drive-through safari. While in the area, go shopping at City Place, a premier shopping center in West Palm. Highlight: Use the restroom in Sloan’s ice cream; just make sure to lock the door or everyone will see inside (if you know, you know).

Time from UF: approximately 4 hours, 20 minutes.

6. Visit real mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs

Whoever said mermaids don’t exist has never been to Weeki Wachee. Every day the state park presents shows performed by a cast of real-life mermaids from the park. These world-famous shows are performed in front of a submerged 400-seat auditorium. Each performance includes musical numbers and historical information while the mermaids perform difficult underwater feats. Admission to the shows are free with any ticket purchase into the park. Be sure to also check out the water park and springs to kayak, canoe, or enjoy the Florida sun.  

Travel time from UF: approximately 1 hour, 40 minutes.

7. Adventure through Bok Tower Gardens

The Insta-worthy gardens are a must-do for the free-spirited. The Bok Tower Gardens is a garden and bird sanctuary with a view that’s hard to beat. At the gardens, you can explore nature’s beauty while also attending a concert or other various events. Located in Central Florida, the spring weather will make this trip unforgettable.

Travel time from UF: approximately 2 hours, 30 minutes.

8. Go into a sugar coma in Miami

Arguably the largest city in Florida, you can never be bored in Miami. You’re bound to find whatever it is you’re looking for and often you’ll find things that you can’t get anywhere else. If you’re looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, check out the Sugar Factory and Museum of Ice Cream. The Sugar Factory is a restaurant chain specifically for sweets. With a whole menu of colorful, sugary drinks you won’t be able to resist breaking your diet. The Museum of Ice Cream is exactly what it sounds like. You may have seen pools of sprinkles in pictures on Instagram, courtesy of the Kardashians.

The museum is something made of dreams, with free ice cream, bananas hanging from the ceiling, and well — the candy wonderland you would imagine. Be sure to check online for tickets, they go quickly! Both confectioneries aren’t exactly exclusive to Miami, other branches of these businesses are scattered in other locations, but these places are still world renowned. There is another Sugar Factory in Orlando, but the only Florida location for the Museum of Ice Cream is in Miami.

Travel time from UF: approximately between 5 and 6 hours. (Miami traffic is unpredictable!)

Spring break is by far the best part of the spring semester, whether you decide to stay home and sleep for 7 days, or try to visit every single one of these day excursions. Rest up, have fun, and stay safe.