Florida is one of the best states for road trips. We have a huge array of awesome attractions, but not necessarily the most affordable. These 9 inexpensive road trip destinations will keep your whole family entertained without breaking the bank.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Sweet Pete's, Jacksonville
This massive 23,000-square-foot candy store, factory and restaurant, located in a beautiful historic building in downtown Jacksonville is one of the largest candy stores in the country. With ice cream, baked goods, and more than 1,000 kinds of candy to choose from, you'll feel like a kid again. Visiting is free, and a factory tour where you make your own candy bar is only $5.
2. National Naval Aviation Museum, Pensacola
Come check out more than 150 historic aircraft at this 35-acre indoor/outdoor naval aviation museum, which is the world's largest. It's fun and fascinating for kids and adults. Incredibly, entrance to this museum is free (though donations are appreciated). Some optional activities, games, etc., do have a fee.
3. De Leon Springs State Park, De Leon Springs
This state park doesn't just have a concession stand, it has one of the coolest breakfast places in the state. At the Old Spanish Sugar Mill, the old sugar mill is now used to grind fresh flour, creating the perfect pancake batter. Then guests get to pour their own pancakes on griddles set into the tables.After breakfast, guests can experience all the fun of swimming and exploring this scenic state park, too.
4. Dinosaur World, Plant City
Do you know a child or child at heart who is obsessed with dinosaurs? They would love a trip to this incredible park located between Tampa and Orlando, stocked with more than 200 life-sized dinosaur sculptures and other related activities. The day rate is $16.95 for adults and $11.95 for kids, and they offer a very affordable membership for folks who plan to return throughout the year. (Certain activities within the park do cost extra.)
5. St. Augustine
Visiting our nation's oldest city doesn't have to be an expensive trip. Try free wine tasting at San Sebastian or a free tour of the St. Augustine Distillery. A tour of the Castillo de San Marcos is only $10, and tours of the historic and beautiful Flagler College campus and Lightner Museum are very affordable.
6. Solomon's Castle, Ona
This roadside attraction in Ona is a delightful trip for the whole family. Built by one man, this funky found-art castle is a testament to what passion and creativity can accomplish. Admission is only $10 for adults and $4 for kids 12 and under, but remember to bring cash.
7. St. Petersburg
The Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg is one of the best museums in the state and houses the largest collection of Dali's work outside of Europe. It's normally $24 for adults, but thrifty visitors can enjoy the museum from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Thursdays for only $10 for adults, and only $8 for children ages 6-12. To complete this artsy road trip, visit the Morean Art Center, which features tons of glass art and pottery and is free and open to the public. Certain special temporary exhibits do have admission costs, but a ticket to a glass-blowing demonstration is only $8.95.
8. Winter Park
The Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art in Winter Park, FL, features the most comprehensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany's work, including tons of glass pieces, decorative art, paintings, and pottery. Admission to this museum is only $6 for adults and free for children under 12. The town of Winter Park also has a fabulous farmers market and lots of cute cafes and shops to explore.
Many people assume Gainesville is only for college students and overlook its attractions. The Florida Museum of Natural History has free permanent exhibits, and a visiting exhibit and butterfly rainforest that charge admission. Florida residents can see all of the exhibits and the butterfly rainforest for only $12.50. Children ages 3-17 can see it all for $10. Nearby Micanopy is famous for its antiques, and nearby Williston has some incredible diving spots (Devil's Den and The Blue Grotto).
Have you visited any of these fabulously affordable road trip destinations? What are your favorite inexpensive attractions in Florida?