Top 5 Gulf Coast Day Trips Near Siesta Key

Nestled along the serene Gulf Coast of Florida, Siesta Key is celebrated for its unspoiled beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a relaxed coastal atmosphere. Yet, for those seeking to venture beyond Siesta Key and explore the diverse surroundings, we've curated a list of the top 5 day trip destinations that promise a tapestry of enriching experiences. From the lively urban charm of St. Petersburg to the captivating natural wonders of Myakka River State Park, these are the essential day trips that will elevate your Siesta Key vacation into an unforgettable adventure.

1. Myakka River State Park | 45 Minutes

Photo courtesy of Guide and Map

Discover the enchanting Myakka River State Park during your stay at Tropical Beach Resorts. This expansive natural haven beckons nature enthusiasts with its many outdoor pursuits, from strolls through untamed meadows to the allure of its wetlands.

Embark on an aquatic adventure by renting a kayak or take a chill boat tour to observe alligators, herons, and a fascinating array of wildlife. Don’t miss the Canopy Walkway, where you can marvel at the lush scenery from an elevated vantage point.

Check out all the things to do on their website here.

2. St. Pete Pier | 1 Hour

Photo Courtesy of the St. Pete Pier

Just an hour's drive from the pristine shores of Siesta Key, the St. Pete Pier beckons as one of our ideal day-trip excursions. This newly revamped pier boasts unique architecture and houses dining establishments with waterfront views and oodles of recreational activities.

Begin your adventure by capturing a photo beneath the mesmerizing "Bending Arc" sculpture. Next, take a leisurely saunter along Spa Beach, offering panoramic vistas of Tampa Bay and the stunning St. Pete City skyline. If you're traveling with kids or have a fondness for marine life, be sure to explore the Discovery Center, an interactive marine exhibit.

When your appetite calls, head to the Pier's end for a choice between a quick, waterfront bite at Driftwood Cafe or a sophisticated dinner with cityscape panoramas at Teak.

For a full list of activities on the Pier, check out their website here.

3. Busch Gardens | 1 Hour 20 Minutes

Photo courtesy of Visit Tampa Bay

For a day filled with thrills and excitement, head to Busch Gardens in Tampa, a mere 1 hour and 20 minutes away from Tropical Beach Resorts. This theme park is a paradise for adrenaline junkies and animal lovers alike, boasting a wide range of animal-themed roller coasters, water rides, and wildlife encounters. 

Take a wild ride on the Cheetah Hunt, get soaked on the Congo River Rapids, or observe majestic animals in their natural habitats at the Serengeti Plain. Busch Gardens promises an action-packed adventure that the whole family can enjoy.

Purchase your tickets here.

4. Tarpon Springs Sponge Docks | 1 Hour 40 Minutes

You won’t want to miss Tarpon Springs, a charming town with Greek influences, located just 1 hour and 40 minutes from Siesta Key. Renowned as the "Sponge Capital of the World," Tarpon Springs boasts a thriving sponge industry.

Meander through the historic Sponge Docks, where you can explore an array of unique shops. Here, you'll discover an assortment of locally sourced natural sponges, authentic Greek pastries, and charming trinkets to bring back as souvenirs.

Don't miss the opportunity to try authentic Greek cuisine at one of the picturesque waterfront eateries, where dishes like moussaka, souvlaki, and baklava await your palate.

To gain deeper insight into the region's sponge history and harvesting practices, consider taking a boat tour, which provides a fascinating glimpse into the area's heritage and natural sponge harvesting.

Visit their website for more information here

5. Weeki Wachee Springs | 2 Hours

Photo courtesy of Weeki Wachee Springs

Yes. Mermaids are real!

While Weeki Wachee Springs may require a bit more of a drive, the two-hour journey is well worth it. This enchanting natural spring is celebrated for its crystal-clear waters and its world-famous Weeki Wachee mermaids. 

The history of Weeki Wachee as a tourist attraction dates back to 1947 when it was founded by Newton Perry, a former U.S. Navy man. Perry developed the concept of an underwater theater and utilized the natural springs as the perfect venue for showcasing the beauty of the crystal-clear waters and the aquatic performances of the "mermaids." 

Today, you can still watch and be amazed at the mermaid show, where you can catch tailed beauties perform underwater ballets in a submerged theater. 

You can also rent a kayak or paddleboards and venture through the spring and its lush, natural surroundings. 

Keep a keen eye out for the frequent visitors - the manatees, these friendly mammals are a true highlight.

Learn more about how you can catch the next mermaid show here

Whether you're a thrill-seeker, a nature lover, or a history enthusiast, these Gulf Coast destinations near Siesta Key offer something for everyone. From the lively St. Pete Pier to the serene Myakka River State Park and “Old Florida” Weeki Wachee Springs, these excursions are guaranteed to create enduring memories. Enjoy your exploration of the Sunshine State!