4 One-Tank Trip Ideas

Don’t wait until the holiday break or spring break to pack up the family for a quick trip. Relieve the stress of the daily grind during weekends all year long on any of these one-tank trips.

Both fun and educational, they provide learning opportunities centered on Florida’s unique history and wildlife. All of these adventures are within a short drive of Orlando and in areas that include a variety of restaurant and lodging options so you can stay the night instead of rushing home.

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Animal Tours

Travel Time: 1.5 hours

Busch Gardens may be famous for its roller coasters, but the park also features an array of guided park tours that give visitors an up-close look at some truly amazing creatures. Reserve your spot on one of the park’s insider tours for the chance to connect with penguins, elephants, gorillas, cheetahs or tigers like you never have before. These tours also provide the opportunity for the animal care experts to share what goes into keeping these amazing animals healthy.

For the Serengeti Safari, hop in an open-air touring vehicle to roam the 65-acre reserve, where you will be able to hand feed giraffes and observe exotic animals like zebras and rhinos. Your expert guide will teach you more about these magnificent animals while you appreciate and interact with African wildlife.

Experiences with the animal care team are perfect for kids who may be interested in a career that involves animals. Keeper for a Day provides the opportunity to work alongside the team to see what it’s like to care for exotic species, including participation in giraffe and antelope feedings and learning about the diets and behavioral patterns of other species. The Animal Care Center Tour provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the treatment rooms, labs and surgical suites where veterinarians and zoological staff treat wildlife cases throughout the year.

Crystal River Outdoor Adventures

Travel Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

Crystal River is the perfect trip to partake in the popular pastime of recreational scalloping. Scalloping season runs from July to September, which provides plenty of time for a weekend family adventure that includes this safe and fun underwater adventure.

There is no shortage of tours available in the area, and most require you to bring only a swimsuit and a towel. However, check with your tour operator before you go to find out if you need to bring your own equipment. The best part? Some seaside restaurants will cook your catch when you get off the boat, treating you to a delicious dinner as a reward for a day of family fun.

There are plenty of other outdoor adventures in Crystal River as well. The warm water of the area’s springs draw manatees throughout the year. Tour companies offer guided manatee swim experiences to provide an up-close look at these gentle creatures in their natural environment. While you can see manatees all year-round, the cold winter months of December, January and February are ideal and provide the most opportunities for a manatee encounter.

Devil’s Den Experience

Travel Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

Take a step back into prehistoric North America with a trip to Devil’s Den, an underground spring and dry cave right here in Florida. Devil’s Den, which dates back 33 million years, is home to many extinct animal fossils and ancient rock formations that will transport you to another time.

The spring’s clear waters are 72 degrees year-round – the perfect temperature to cool you off on your scuba diving or snorkeling adventure. A certification level of open water or above and a dive buddy are required for scuba diving admission. No certification is required to snorkel. Both experiences are offered seven days a week. Children between the ages of 6 and 17 are permitted inside Devil’s Den, but they must be accompanied by an adult.

The Devil’s Den property has onsite lodging options, including cabins, an RV park and tent campgrounds. While you’re there, you can prepare a meal on one of the charcoal grills, swim in the onsite pool and play a selection of lawn games.

Weeki Wachee Springs State Park’s Mermaids

Travel Time: 1.5 to 2 hours

Where else can you find live mermaids? Weeki Wachee Springs State Park, one of the deepest, naturally formed caverns in the United States, is a staple for visitors seeking some marine magic. The park was opened in 1947 and became world famous for its mermaid shows featuring incredible underwater performances. Learn the history behind founder Newton Perry and the original cast of mermaids who established Weeki Wachee all those years ago.

During your trip, you can also stop by Buccaneer Bay, Florida’s only spring-fed water park, for some fun in the sun. If animals are more your speed, check out one of the park’s Wildlife Animal Encounter Shows for the chance to see Florida’s native alligators, snakes and more up close. Kayak rentals, paddle boarding and boating are also available to help you fully immerse yourself in the beauty of Weeki Wachee.


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Written by Ashely Garrett

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