St. Augustine has its fair share of fantastic things to do. But if you’ve lived here for some time, you can start to feel the need to do some exploring outside the city walls. Luckily for us, St. Augustine is situated just a short drive away from all sorts of fun activities that are perfect for a day trip – springs and tigers, scientific exploration and botanical gardens. So in case you aren’t familiar with them (or just don’t realize how close they are!), we’ve compiled seven attractions that are only around two hours away from the Ancient City (ones that aren’t Disney or Universal, at least). So take a day to pile in the car and go on an adventure.
Dive the largest clear water cavern located in the heart of freshwater spring country. The Blue Grotto lets you dive down to a depth of 100 feet in crystal clear water all the way down at a water temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit all year round! Diving the Blue Grotto does require an Open Water Diving Certification, so this is a day trip that needs a little preparation or prior experience. But learning to dive is worth it for the breathtaking, untouched beauty of the rock formations, water, and cave. The park offers a dive shop, facilities, and a picnic area.
CATTY SHACK RANCH
This one is a little closer than the others, but it’s definitely worth knowing about. Take an afternoon to learn about big cats at a sanctuary that is dedicated to rescuing these amazing creatures from bad situations. You’ll get to meet lions and tigers and panthers and more while you learn about the way these exotic animals live in the wild.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER
If you’re a Floridian who hasn’t yet been to the Kennedy Space Center, start planning your trip now. You could easily spend more than a day here, exploring NASA’s incredible history and starting your own space adventure. Meet the heroes, legends, and pioneers of NASA’s early days, get access to historic launch sites and working spaceflight facilities on bus tours, and get up close and personal with the Saturn V moon rocket. It’s an awe-inspiring experience like no other, for kids and adults alike.
Cumberland Island, Georgia
It’s easy to not realize how close we are to the Georgia line. But if you’re going to make a day trip adventure into the Peach State, Cumberland Island is a good place to start. It’s Georgia’s largest barrier island and the natural habitat is nothing short of stunning. You have to arrange with the National Park Service to take a ferry from St. Mary’s, but once you get there, you’re free to roam around to hike, bike, and kayak as well as take a ranger-guided tour. And if you want to extend your stay, you can camp or stay at the Carnegie family-owned Greyfield Inn. And did we mention that there are wild horses all over the island?
High Springs, Florida
Ginnie Springs is a fairly popular destination for St. Augustine locals and it isn’t hard to see why – Ginnie Springs is one of the clearest springs in Florida. The 72-degree water is perfect for river tubing, swimming, snorkeling, scuba and cave diving. You can camp or rent a cottage overnight (if you want to extend your stay) or simply picnic, swim, snorkel, scuba dive, canoe, kayak, tube down the river, and play volleyball. That is if you can distract yourself from how beautiful the water is around you.
ORLANDO SCIENCE CENTER
Orlando is more than just the home of Disney World and Universal. It also happens to be where you can find a pretty crazy science center. If you have budding little scientist or just happen to be fascinated by the world yourself, this trip is a necessity. There are four floors of exciting (and often hands-on) exhibits, big screen movies, and live programming. It’s the perfect place to spend the day satiating your curiosity. Especially if the forecast is a little gloomy since it’s completely indoors.
KANAPAHA BOTANICAL GARDENS
Heralded as one of the best things to do in Gainesville, the Kanapaha Botanical Gardens has 24 different collections – like the state’s largest public display of bamboos and the Southeast’s largest herb garden. If flora is your forte, you won’t want to miss out on the Victoria water lilies, the Hummingbird Garden, the Fern Cobble, and the Palm Hammock. And pack a picnic lunch because this might just shape up to be the most peaceful and relaxing day trip ever.
Featured image via Blue Grotto Facebook page
To find more events in St. Augustine, visit our online calendar of events!