Looking for cheap day trips from Bradenton this summer? Here are some suggestions.

If a big fancy vacation isn’t in the cards this summer, don’t fret.

Florida is hiding some hidden treasure when it comes to quick adventures.

Here are some suggestions for day trips from Bradenton that won’t take too big a bite out of your paycheck.

Bok Tower Gardens
The singing carillon tower at the center of Bok Tower Gardens was constructed from 1927 to 1929. Marc Masferrer mmasferrer@bradenton.com

Bok Tower Gardens

This famous singing carillon tower and the grounds surrounding it make for a lush afternoon walk (romantic, even).

The Blue Palmetto Café offers soups, salads, wraps and sandwiches, plus beer and wine.

Upgrade your visit with a tour of the Pinewood Estate, a 1930s-era Mediterranean-style mansion, for an extra $14 ($5 for children).

Travel Time: About 2 hours.

Details: 1151 Tower Blvd., Lake Wales. Adults: $14. Children 5-12: $5. boktowergardens.org.

scrub jays
Scrub jays perched on tree branches in East Manatee County. Herald file photo

Archbold Biological Station

The Florida scrub-jay is one of those curious animals that you will only find in the sunshine state, and they happen to roost at Archbold Biological Station.

The station is an outpost for biologists and biology students to get in some field experience and observation, but it has a lot to offer for visitors, too. Chances are good for seeing gopher tortoises, wildflowers and lots of other denizens of sand and scrub.

Travel Time: About 1 hour, 40 minutes.

Details: 123 Main Dr., Venus. Free. archbold-station.org.

The boardwalk at Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary runs 2.25 miles through pine flatwoods, wet prairie, a marsh and into the largest old growth bald cypress forest in North America. Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary began as a refuge for wading birds, but you can see all kinds of wildlife here.

Wild turkey, woodstorks, deer, black bears and the Florida panther are a few of the fauna types known to make an appearance to visitors on the boardwalk.

Corkscrew is also home to an active “super” ghost orchid, which is the biggest specimen of ghost orchid discovered so far.

It often blooms during the summer months.

super ghost orchid
Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary

Travel Time: About 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Details: 375 Sanctuary Road W., Naples. Adults: $14. Children 6-18: $4.

Dali Museum

On Thursdays from 5-8 p.m., admission to the Dali drops from $24 to $10 for adults and $8 for children.

That’s enough time to see just the right amount of Dali before things get too surreal.

Travel Time: About 30 minutes

Details: 5-8 p.m. Thursdays. 1 Dali Blvd., St. Petersburg. Adults: $10. Children: $8. thedali.org.

Dunedin Marina
The Dunedin Marina. City of Dunedin.

A day in Dunedin

Few Florida cities can boast of having so much to do in as small a radius as Dunedin.

There are seven breweries within the walkable downtown, with beer styles running the gamut from traditional (try Woodwright Brewing’s Hefeweizen) to outlandish (try Seventh Sun’s sour cucumber beer).

A similar range of style is available in cuisine. Try Dunedin Smokehouse or Casa Tina Mexican Restaurant for good eats on a budget, or make reservations at The Black Pearl or Bon Appétit for something swankier.

For an outdoor excursion in Dunedin, visit Hammock Park, a 98-acre mixed-hardwood forest with more than 300 native plants and animals, or Honeymoon Island State Park, where you can hang out on the beach or catch a ferry to Caladesi Island.

For arts, stop by the quirky Art Smart Coffee Gallery, where everything you see is for sale and the coffee is killer, or take a drive to nearby Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art in Tarpon Springs.

Travel Time: A little more than an hour.

Safety Harbor Pier
Safety Harbor Pier is a great place to watch enjoy the sunset hours...or to see the evening bats come out. City of Safety Harbor

An afternoon in Safety Harbor

If you don’t want to go home after Dunedin, make a weekend of it and head to another quaint Pinellas County city, Safety Harbor.

Safety Harbor is home to Philippe Park, where you can see a temple mound built by the Tocobaga, the Native American group that originally inhabited the Tampa Bay area.

If you want to find out more about the history, visit the Safety Harbor Museum and Cultural Center.

Afterward, stop in at Pizzeria Gregario, a low profile spot for wood-fired pizza made with fresh and local ingredients.

Walk the Safety Harbor Pier at sunset before heading to Crooked Thumb Brewery for a frosty mug of Shade Tree IPA. A good alternative for fans of wine is Sips Wine Bar on Main Street, where you can pour your own glasses from over 40 taps.

Travel Time: A little more than an hour.

Florida Aquarium Jellyfish
Jellyfish at the Florida Aquarium. Florida Aquarium.

Florida Aquarium

If you prefer your summer fun air-conditioned, take a respite in the cool blue halls of the Florida Aquarium.

Check Groupon before you go for a small discount on admission.

Travel Time: About an hour.

Details: 701 Channelside Dr., Tampa. Adults: $28.95. Children 3-11: $23.95. flaquarium.org.

Florida State Parks

Florida’s state parks are so beautiful and diverse that they get a whole subsection of this travel guide.

Here are a few gems that are worth the trip.

Hillsboough River State Park
Marc Masferrer mmasferrer@bradenton.com

Hillsborough River State Park

This park on the water has ample camping options, canoe and bike rentals, 7 miles of hiking trail and a huge swimming pool and a cafe.

Travel Time: About an hour.

Details: Open 8 a.m. to sundown. 15402 U.S. 301, Thonotosassa.

Ichetucknee Springs State Park
Ichetucknee Springs State Park. Florida State Parks

Ichetucknee Springs

This park is a bit of a trek from Bradenton, but sinking your weary bones into the refreshing springs at the end of the trip will make it well worth it.

Go tubing or swim freestyle. Afterward, Great Outdoors Restaurant in the quaint town of High Springs is a great spot for a bite.

Travel Time: About 3 hours.

Details: Open 8 a.m. to sundown. 12087 U.S. 27, Fort White.


Myakka River State Park

Myakka is one of Florida’s oldest state parks, and the sights and activities are endless.

Highlights include a walk in the treetops on the canopy walkway, fishing, canoeing and kayaking.

The Pink Gator Cafe located within the park is a great spot for lunch, dessert or a craft beer.

Travel Time: About 40 minutes.

Details: Open 8 a.m. to sundown. 13208 State Road 72, Sarasota. $6 per vehicle.

Silver Springs Glass Bottom Boat
Silver Springs was once an amusement park, but when it closed it was transformed into a state park. Silver Springs State Park

Silver Springs

Take a glass-bottom boat ride and peer through the crystalline waters of Silver Springs down to a riverbed that has been a backdrop for movies such as “Creature from the Black Lagoon” and the James Bond film “Thunderball.”

Travel Time: About 2 hours, 30 minutes.

Details: Open 8 a.m. to sundown. 5656 E. Silver Springs Blvd., Silver Springs. $8 per vehicle. Glass bottom boat rides depart every half hour and are $11 for adults and $10 for children ages 6-12.

Florida State Parks Passport

This nifty pocket-sized guide is good inspiration to get outside and see what Florida has to offer.

Each state park has a unique stamp that park staff will add to your passport at the front gate.

Collect all 175 stamps to earn free family entry to all state parks for a year. It’s a fun way to make visiting Florida’s parks into an adventure.

Details: $17.99 each. floridastateparks.org/Passports.