Unlock Adventure: Day Trips From The Villages Florida
There is an amazing number of things to do in The Villages. But that doesn’t mean every now and then you don’t want to get away for some day trips from The Villages Florida.
Florida Travel Blog has assembled some incredible and unique ideas for day trips from the Villages within a two-hour drive. Each of the day trips describes the location, miles from The Villages, what there is to see and do along with our recommendations.
Here is our list of adventurous day trips from The Villages Florida.
Micanopy, Florida is a 200-year-old town named after an Indian Chief.
To Do and See in Micanopy; The town is made up of historical old buildings and landmarks. Rustic is the keyword throughout the town.
Recommendation: Micanopy is also known for its antique shops and quaint restaurants. A good place to roam around the small town. There are plenty of older homes. Don’t make the mistake of believing everything you see is an antique, some may be in use!
Distance – under an hour on a day trip out of The Villages, just south of Gainesville off I-75 (about 55 miles)
Crystal River Florida is on the Gulf Coast. It is known as the Manatee Capital of the World. Easy place to see and interact with manatees.
To Do and See in Crystal River; Must visit Three Sisters Springs to see manatees or take a boat tour of Kings Bay from the Plantation Inn. Good tiki bar also.
Recommendation; Stop at the Tiki at Plantation Inn. Good food and manatee sometimes are in the canal next to you.
Distance – under an hour, straight west off Rt. 44 from The Villages (dead ends at Crystal River), about 45 miles
Rainbow Springs State Park (Dunnellon, Florida)
Rainbow Springs State Park is northwest of the Villages. It is in a beautiful setting with a very active spring.
To Do and See at Rainbow Springs; As you enter the park you have a stunning view of the river below. You can hike, swim, paddleboard and kayak – or just enjoy the view and watch others enjoy the park.
Recommendation: Take a camera for some great pictures of the scenic river. If you are adventurous, try tubing down the river.
Have a hot dog at the concession or drive into Dunnellon for lunch at Swampy’s Bar and Grill right on the river.
Distance – about an hour, off Rt. 41 in Dunnellon, 42 miles (multiple ways to go)
The Florida Aquarium (Tampa)
The Florida Aquarium is the best in Florida. You can easily spend a half day here.
To Do and See at The Florida Aquarium; The exhibits are amazing. Every type of fish and other wildlife greets you. The dozens of aquariums house fish you will most likely ever see anywhere else.
Recommendation; Plan for lunch at their café (indoor and outdoor), there is a splash pad for kids outside. The room-size exhibits are mesmerizing as large fish swim through the coral.
Distance – under 90 minutes, straight south on I-75, then I-275 will take you within a mile of the Aquarium. 82 miles on a day trip out of The Villages.
Mount Dora Florida is a must-visit from the Villages. It is on everyone’s list. The shops and restaurants are spectacular.
To Do and See in Mt. Dora; There are many shops all through downtown Mt. Dora. Everything from clothes to crafts. Shopping is a sport in Mt. Dora.
Recommendation; There are many restaurants in Mt. Dora. One exceptional place is Pisces Rising Restaurant. We suggest lunch or dinner on the bluff overlooking Lake Dora.
Distance – A day trip out of The Villages will be under an hour east on Rt. 44 or Rt, 466 to Rt. 441 south to Mt. Dora. 30 miles.
Silver Springs, Ocala
Silver Springs State Park is one of the oldest parks in the system. However, it is one of the most popular.
To Do and See at Silver Springs; This is one of the largest springs in Florida. The crystal-clear water is best viewed by taking a glass bottom boat from the park entrance. Hiking trails, kayaking and paddle boarding is also popular.
Recommendation; The glass bottom boats are great for the river views and learning about the rich history of the park. Many movies were made here like Tarzan (1932-36) and The Creature from The Black Lagoon (1954). You must walk the boardwalk into the forest. You may see a band of rhesus monkeys that have made the park their home.
Distance – under an hour, Rt. 441 from Spanish Springs to Rt. 35 north. 30 miles.
St. Augustine Florida may be a stretch to be under two hours unless you live in Spanish Springs. However, it is well worth the extra 15 minutes.
To Do and See at St. Augustine; This is the oldest city in America. History is literally everywhere. St. Augustine was fought over by four nations. Architecture and culture reflect each country with Spanish the most prevalent.
Recommendation; Take a horse-drawn carriage through the old brick streets of the town. Your driver will tell you about the history of the old buildings. Visit the Oldest House Museum to see life in colonial times. A stroll down George Street is a must. The shops and restaurants are located on an old narrow colonial street.
Distance – two hours from Spanish Springs, head north on state Rt. 207 off 466. Multiple ways to go. Just under 100 miles.
Homosassa (and Homosassa Springs)
Homosassa is just south of Crystal River. You must visit Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park and venture further west to the Homosassa River.
To Do and See at Homosassa Springs; The Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park will be one of your highlights. You can take a pontoon ride to the park that features almost every species of wildlife in Florida. After that, plan on lunch along the Homosassa River with a view of Monkey Island from Cracker’s Restaurant.
Recommendation; Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park is a special place to visit. Birds, animals, and flora of Florida are along your path in a forest setting. Easily a half day of interesting Florida nature. Venture a few miles down the road to Cracker’s for refreshments or food on the river.
Distance – under an hour, take Rt. 44 west on a day trip out of The Villages to county Rt. 475. 42 miles.
Ybor City (Tampa)
Historical Ybor City is a story of revival. The neighborhood of Tampa once was the thriving headquarters for cigar manufacturing in the United States. It is now a top attraction for visitors to Tampa.
To Do and See at Ybor City; 7th Street in Ybor City is a restoration model for taking old buildings and turning them into a charming community. The unique shops and now famous restaurants make this a visitors delight.
Recommendation; Take an old-style streetcar for a tour of Ybor and the downtown around the Channelside District in Tampa. This is a fun ride. Explore the buildings in Ybor. Visit Carmines, one of the famous restaurants on the strip. You may want to visit one of the oldest restaurants in Florida called The Columbia a few blocks from Carmine’s. They have been there since 1905. You could combine this with The Florida Aquarium above.
Distance – about 90 minutes from The Villages, south on I75. 90 miles.
Bok Tower (Lake Wales)
Bok Tower and the botanical gardens surrounding the tower are a fun day trip from The Villages.
To Do and See at Bok Tower; Bok Tower sits on one of the highest points in Florida. The hill, called Iron Mountain, overlooks a valley some 295 feet below. While the 205-foot tower is a sight to behold, the gardens on several acres around the tower are gorgeous. It is quite a task to create a tropical garden on top of a Florida hill this size.
Recommendation; If you are a nature photographer, bring plenty of lenses to capture the height of the tower and the minutia of the garden flora and fauna. Also, consider visiting the Pinewood Estate left virtually intact from the 1930s.
Distance – about 1 hr and 45 min. minutes from The Villages, south on Rt. 27. 90 miles.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park (Cross Creek Florida)
We doubt there is anyone that hasn’t heard the name Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and/or her book The Yearling. Her estate is now a state park.
To Do and See at MKR State Park; The book, The Yearling, was written on this patch of woods by Rawlings. She wrote about things she saw and the people (Florida Crackers) around her. Her ramshackle house and outbuildings still stand as part of the park experience.
Recommendation; It’s fun to see how people lived, famous or not, in the early 1930s. The horse drawn wagons, tools and utensils are part of the estate. She did have a vintage automobile on the estate. In the nearby hamlet of Cross Creek stands a restaurant by the name of The Yearling (same as the book). A visit there will take you back to the food of the period. Things like venison, frog legs, gator, and fried green tomatoes were staples on the Florida Cracker menu.
Distance – one hour or less from The Villages, north on Rt. 301. 45 miles.
The Devils Den (Williston, Florida)
One day a farmer saw part of his field sink into the ground. Today that sinkhole has been turned into the Devil’s Den.
To Do and See at Devil’s Den; Devil’s Den has become a top Florida attraction for the curios and divers who want to see a cave with an underground river. The name, Devil’s Den, came from the steam that rises on cold winter mornings from the hole above. The locals started calling this the Devil’s Den.
Recommendation; You can enjoy Devil’s Den in a couple of ways. If you don’t want to venture down into the cave or snorkel the river, there is an observation platform built above the opening. You can see people who want to dive the cave as they enter the water below. There is a lake and shelters around the property. It’s a great place to bring a picnic lunch! Williston is a horse town with plenty of sprawling ranches along the way.
Distance – one hour from The Villages, north on Rt. 27. 53 miles.
The List of Day Trips From The Villages Fl
The Villages is one of the most unique communities in the world. With that reputation comes dozens of questions about these villages. We have tried to answer all of those questions.
We are always adding to the list. If you have some great ideas, send them to us. There are dozens of things to do in the Villages.
It’s always fun in The Villages, but a day trip out of The Villages will add some new adventures you can share with Villagers.