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Florida

Orlando to Tampa: Best Stops on Your Florida Road Trip

By: Idoia Gkikas

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  • States:
    Florida

Be sure to visit these hidden gems and smaller parks for a uniquely memorable Florida road trip.

You probably already know about Disney World, Universal Studios and Busch Gardens, but what about all the other great attractions between Orlando and Tampa, Florida?

In and Around Orlando – Unwind after the Parks

Golf: It’s the unofficial Florida pastime. In Orlando alone, there are a whopping 170-plus courses. Some of the most famous public courses include Arnold Palmer’s Bay Hill Club & Lodge, the Ritz-Carlton Golf Club and the Waldorf Astoria Golf Club – all of which are included in Golf Digest’s “Top 75 Public Courses in Florida.”

If golf isn’t your thing, don’t worry – Orlando’s world-class resorts have amenities galore. From award-winning spas to on-site water parks and family-friendly activities, Orlando’s resorts cater to travelers of all ages and interests.

For outdoorsy travelers, Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka is a great place for hiking, biking, camping, and swimming or snorkeling in the refreshing, 72-degree springs. 

Family fun at a water park in Orlando

Family fun at a water park in Orlando
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Between Orlando and Tampa – Small-town Treasures

On the way to Tampa, take a detour to Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales. Relax in the meditation gardens, enjoy hiking trails and marvel at the melodies chiming from the 60-bell carillon tower.

Less than 20 minutes away is LEGOLAND, one of the most family-friendly theme parks outside Orlando. Kids and adults alike will love the rides and attractions fashioned after those timeless LEGO bricks.

Budding paleontologists can take a side trip to Dinosaur World to encounter life-sized dinosaur replicas amid lush, tropical foliage. And before you arrive in Tampa, stop at a U-pick farm in Plant City – the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World – to pluck juicy red berries right off the bush.

The Singing Tower at the center of the historic landscape gardens at Bok Tower Gardens

The Singing Tower at the center of the historic landscape gardens at Bok Tower Gardens
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In and Around Tampa – Animal Encounters and Beautiful Beaches

Wildlife abounds in Tampa. Book a tour at Big Cat Rescue, a rehabilitation sanctuary for tigers, lions, cougars and other wild felines. The Lowry Park Zoo is day of animal-filled fun, from the hoots of the howler monkeys to the feed-a-giraffe experience.

Of course, you probably came here for the beaches, and the Tampa Bay area won’t disappoint. West of Tampa, from Clearwater to St. Petersburg, there are heavenly stretches of sugar-white sand and sparkling waves that earn accolades year after year. Don’t miss Florida’s legendary sunsets over the Gulf of Mexico – it’s one of Mother Nature’s finest daily productions.

A boat anchored in the clear waters off Shell Key on Florida's Gulf Coast near St. Petersburg

A boat anchored in the clear waters off Shell Key on Florida's Gulf Coast near St. Petersburg
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Getting There

This road trip itinerary is guaranteed fun. Rent a car from Avis; it’s simple with dozens of convenient locations at all points between Tampa and Orlando. And if you want to experience why Florida’s called the Sunshine State, make your rental a convertible and take a drive with the top down.

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