Best Miami Day Trips
Living in Florida can seem like a vacation to most, but as a Floridian, it’s way too easy to forget how awesome our state actually is. Floridians are quick to catch a flight anywhere but here, while others count down the days until they’re back in Florida. We Floridians, often forget that adventure, romance, or relaxation is only a few (give or take a hundred) miles away. Here are some of the best Miami Day Trips:
Best Miami Day Trip for Adventure: Everglades
There aren’t alligator souvenirs available at every Miami tourist shop for no reason. While it’s hard to realize it as you’re lying on South Beach drowning your pre-Miami life out with the background beats from Ocean Drive, the Everglades swamps are only 40 miles away.
If you’re a tourist or a Floridian looking for an adventurous day trip from Miami, the Everglades is your answer. Not only did I love visiting the Everglades as a child with my family from aboard, but my fiance and I also spent our 4th year anniversary looking out for Alligators.
The Everglades truly are wild and you might be surprised at what you might discover in the swamp if you keep your eyes open. I’ll never forget the look on TJ’s face when we were having a casual conversation on the sidewalk in the Everglades as I whispered, “Don’t freak out. There’s an alligator right behind you.” There he was, just chilling there feet away with dozens of people passing by him per minute totally indifferent.
Things to do in the Everglades:
Was it an unconventional way to celebrate our anniversary? Absolutely. On our day trip from Miami, we visited the Sawgrass Recreational Park to enjoy everything in one area. We started off the day with a guided airboat ride which gets the heart pumping. From the wind encircling your body, the drowning buzz of the fan, and ripping speeds gliding over the grassy wetlands, an airboat experience is unlike any Florida experience. It is recommended to take an airboat ride in the early morning or early evenings, although at 2 PM we were able to get up close and personal with 3 gators from the boat.
After our airboat ride, we headed into the animal rescue park on the way into the park was where I spotted the wild gator just chilling near the walkway. We spent the afternoon amongst peacocks, Florida cats, turtles, snakes, and gators. No trip to the Everglades is complete without a trip to a swamp shack. Things you might find on the menu at a swamp shack include gator bites and fried frog legs.
Be sure to let me know in the comments if you would rather try gator bites or fried frog legs. 😝
Things to do in the Everglades:
- Bicycle (Locals recommend Shark Alley)
- Airboat Rides
- Kayaking or Canoeing
- Visit the Sawgrass Recreational Park
- Night Tours
- Tram Rides
How to get to the Everglades from Miami:
The best way to get to the Everglades from Miami is by car. While you can Uber or Lyft to the Everglades, it might be impossible to ping an Uber or Lyft back to Miami. If a car is not an option, there are tours leaving from Miami every day that can be booked directly with a guide included.
The Everglades National Park is an excellent day trip from Miami for the whole family. There’s also a variety of ways to experience the Everglades from riding a bike around Shark Alley, guided airboat rides, and watching live alligator wrestling. If you’re planning to go on this adventurous day trip, don’t forget to pack the mosquito spray and sunscreen.
Don’t miss out on the Best Things to do in Miami
Best Miami Day Trip for Relaxation: Freeport, Bahamas
When TJ and I both worked two jobs each before quitting our 9-to-5 lifestyle, we were always on the lookout for quick and easy vacations that we could do on our days off. We wanted a vacation that involved doing a lot of nothing and drinking cocktails. The cruise capital of the world is 40 miles away making Freeport a fantastic day trip from Miami for relaxation.
We stepped onto Freeport half asleep from the early departure time and zero plans. Without doing any prior research, we just decided to go with the flow. Freeport was a lot like being in Florida with a few exceptions such as sandy roads, turquoise water, and lots of Bahama Mamas being served everywhere.
The only regrettable decision from our trip to Freeport was the hotel location. I opted for a family-owned hotel near the lagoon instead of the resorts because it looked close enough to the main tourist area and beaches. However, upon arriving to Freeport, it became very obvious that taxis are the mode of transportation. Apparently, my hotel was a few miles away in an industrial area with no resort perks.
Freeport is a great choice for a day trip from Miami because it will provide the serenity and relaxation that is hard to find in South Florida. While Freeport is a popular slice of paradise, it is very easy to navigate and all you need is a passport to leave the country for the day.
Things to do in Freeport Bahamas:
Visiting Freeport meant having the ability to spend one day lounging on Tanio Beach drinking cocktails and splashing in the aqua waters or taking a plunge near reefs infested with sharks the next. If you are taking a day trip from Florida to Freeport, it’s recommended to book your preferred tour in advance and schedule a shuttle to avoid wasting precious time dealing with on-site logistics.
During our trip to the Bahamas, we spent an entire day at Tanio Beach enjoying the on-site rentals. Within a few hours, we went full throttle on jet skis, battered waves in our kayaks, and laid under shaded day beds feeling the breeze and cocktails kicking in. We also booked a half-day tour for a snorkeling adventure which included unlimited alcohol, lunch, and a trip to a private beach. The boat was filled with many day-trippers and cruisers who also never snorkeled before. Skimming above the surface of 15-22 foot waters allowed us to see nurse sharks, live coral, turtles, conch, and fish.
Things to do in Freeport:
- Diving or Snorkeling
- Visiting Tanio Beach
- Swimming with Pigs Excursion
- Sailing Cruises
- Jet Skiing
- Enjoy a Bonfire
- Visit the National Lucayan Park
- Visit a Brewery
- Visit Port Lucayan Marketplace
How to get to the Bahamas from Miami:
Getting to the Bahamas is easy and takes less than 3 hours including immigration and customs. For a more detailed explanation, see my post Miami to Bahamas Day Trip. Getting to Freeport and returning to Florida in a day is easy, however, getting to Nassau typically requires more time and is not recommended for a day trip. For our 3 day trip to Freeport, we took the Balearia Express with round trip tickets purchased from Groupon leaving from the Port of Everglades.
TIP: With the Balearia Express, those holding day trip tickets get priority de-boarding once the boat arrives in Freeport. Once you’re through customs, there are many shuttles and taxis that can take you to the heart of Freeport where you can experience Bahamian cuisine and book a tour.
Best Miami Day Trip for Enjoying the Outdoors: Key Largo
Skip the haul to Orlando and head South 70 miles to the Florida Keys instead to enjoy the finest of what Florida has to offer. Key Largo is the closest Florida Key to Miami and offers a taste of what life down under is really like. The pace is slow, the breeze is light, and the views are unparallel. Unlike most road trips, the drive to Key Largo requires minimal time on the highway giving a prime opportunity for uninterrupted views of the picturesque beauty of Florida’s water. Half the fun of going to Key Largo is slowing down to enjoy the surroundings.
If a glass-bottom boat ride to see the only living coral barrier reef in the Eastern United States and its inhabitants or a snorkeling trip to see the first underwater park sound like a great way to spend the day, you must plan between 4-6 hours visiting John Pennekamp Coral Reef Park. Pennekamp Park offers guided glass-bottom boat tours, guided snorkeling tours, and rentable equipment such as powerboats, paddleboards, and kayaks. Picnicking is allowed in the park where marked, so this is a great excuse to organize an alfresco meal along the shore.
As a kid, I grew up going to Key Largo primarily to enjoy the wildlife. Dolphin Cove was a popular destination with my family because unlike an aquatic theme park, Dolphin Cove’s dolphins have access to the ocean and are not kept in concrete tanks. The dolphins do not have to perform tricks in exchange for food. The focus is on education and making visitors aware that these majestic animals need our help to stay safe in the ocean. As we drove down to the Florida Keys, I often stared out to the Historic Overseas Heritage Trail which runs parallel to the main road in Key Largo. Visitors can bike, run, or walk the trail and feel like they’re on the world’s longest pier.
On our last trip to Key Largo, TJ and I opted for a fishing trip that took passengers for a deep-sea fishing experience equipped with bait, crew and fishing poles. For hours, the salty mist drenched us and we quickly discovered that we were both prone to motion sickness. While no fish was caught that day by us, we did enjoy the boat ride and general experience. If you’re unsure about getting motion sick, it’s a safe bet to pack relief for motion sickness that won’t make you drowsy for activities like snorkeling and fishing.
Things to do in Key Largo :
- Go Snorkeling or Scuba Diving
- Take a Glass Bottom Boat Ride
- Go kayaking or paddleboarding
- Enjoy local eats from beloved establishments like Alabama Jack’s
- Explore the Historic Overseas Heritage Trail
- Get up close and personal with an untrained, wild dolphin at Dolphin Cove
- Take a fishing trip
Which of these Miami Day Trips sound like somewhere you’d want to go?
It’s easy to love Miami on a vacation, but if you’re in Miami for more than a few days or if you’re a resident, you’re missing out if you’re not leaving the city. Many Miamians consider places like Key Biscayne an escape, but actually seeing what inland or Southern Florida can offer you is a great way to spend the day outside of Miami. If you’re planning a trip to Miami see my other posts: Best Things to do in Miami and How To Take a Day Trip to the Bahamas from Miami