Sun, Sea, And Salty Air: 11 Closest Beaches To Orlando

When thinking about a vacation to Orlando, most people’s minds go straight to the iconic theme parks, the multitude of nightlife, and the spectacular dining. However, one thing that needs to be on your radar is the beaches.

11 Beautiful Beaches Close To Orlando

While Orlando itself is landlocked, in a short drive, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best beaches in the world. The beaches here are ideal for day trips with your family or weekend getaways with your friends.

Depending on the type of beach you’re looking for, there is sure to be something for everyone here.

Ranging from the vibey, Spring Break aesthetic of Daytona Beach to the old-school, welcoming feel of Vero Beach – whatever traveler you are, you’re sure to find somewhere to relax.

While there is a range of man-made beaches in the area, including Universal’s Volcano Bay and Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park (Also check out The Best Water Parks In Texas), nothing beats the real deal.

When checking out these gorgeous beaches, don’t forget to head into the vibrant beach towns where you’ll find everything from local restaurants serving the freshest seafood available to the local tiki bars – you certainly won’t regret it!

With this in mind, this article will explore 11 of the closest beaches to Orlando that are sure to be a hit with the whole family. Let’s get straight into it!

1. Cocoa Beach

1. Cocoa Beach

If you are looking for somewhere to take the whole family, then you can not go wrong with Cocoa Beach.

Nowhere gets as quintessential as the nearby beach town which features top attractions including various museums and the Kennedy Space Center – making it the perfect place to spend the whole day.

After dipping your toes into the sand, make sure to see all the other activities the town has to offer. From Orlando, the beach is situated around 59 minutes away, providing visitors to the area with various attractions thanks to the ideal and convenient location.

Water sports, deep fishing, and eco-tours are just a few activities that you can take part in when you travel down to Cocoa Beach. Plus, with four lifeguards keeping watch over the beach, you’ll have peace of mind that your children are protected at all times – allowing you to fully relax.

When in the area, don’t forget to stop at the famous Cocoa Beach Pier’s bars, shops, and restaurants.

Plus, nearby, you will also find Port Canaveral. Here, you and your family will be provided with the opportunity to spot massive cruise ships coming into the dock and launching out to sea.

On top of this, Port Canaveral is home to one of the best deep-sea fishing outings, too. As such, it makes it one of the best family destinations on this list. The best part?

You can park your car for free at George McLeod Park Landmark (345 N Azure Ln) and Lori Wilson Park (1400 N Atlantic Ave) – allowing you to enjoy your day with ease.

2. Vero Beach

2. Vero Beach

Situated approximately two hours southwest of Walt Disney World, you’ll find Vero Beach – which is home to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, too. The area itself is known for its magnitude of sea turtle nests popping up throughout the beach each summer on the sand dunes and shores.

If you are traveling to the area with the intention of seeing the turtles, then you should plan to visit between May and October. At night, one fun activity is to go down to the beach and watch the hatchlings make their way to the water.

However, make sure you’re taking a red light with you. This ensures you aren’t disturbing the turtles on their journey to the ocean.

3. Canaveral National Seashore

3. Canaveral National Seashore

If you are not looking to travel too far away from Orlando, then Canaveral National Seashore is the place for you. The beach itself sits north of Cocoa Beach and you have the option of visiting Cape Canaveral, too.

It is approximately the same distance from Orlando as Cocoa Beach, with only a 0.1-mile difference. This causes the drive to be approximately 60 minutes, although this is dependent on the traffic, too.

That said, Canaveral National Seashore is not your typical beach destination. Here, you’ll find lagoons, a barrier island, and one of the longest, most stunning, beaches on the eastern coastline of Florida (Also check out the Best Beach Towns in Florida). On top of this, the beach is packed with wildlife, too.

From bird-watching to admiring turtle hatchlings waddling into the sea – you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised with a trip to the area. Moreover, the national seashore is an ideal place to go fish and fine oysters, too.

Plus, you can kayak, hike, paddleboard, and even camp here, as well. On the seashore, you will find three different beaches here. These include Klondike Beach, Apollo Beach, and Playalinda Beach.

Since the latter, Playalinda Beach, is a famous nudist beach, it isn’t suitable for children.

4. Daytona Beach

4. Daytona Beach

Each year, Daytona Beach attracts crowds of teenagers and young adults who are ready for Spring Break. Moreover, you’ll also find racing fans too, thanks to its home of the Daytona 500. That said, the beach is home to much more than race car tracks and grubby beach bars.

In fact, each summer, the beach’s Bandshell puts on free concerts that include a variety of musical acts. Plus, the boardwalk is usually buzzing with activity as many people take to the streets to enjoy rides and carnival-style games.

Likewise, there are tons of ice cream shops and restaurants you can enjoy, too. Whether you’re looking for something to help you cool off or looking to grab a quick snack, you’ll find this and more, here.

5. New Smyrna Beach

5. New Smyrna Beach

Another beach situated close to Orlando is New Smyrna Beach. This beach incorporates everything you would think would be found on a Florida beach – including the ability to drive on the sand.

During an outing, you may even be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the New Smyrna Beach surfing tournament. The beach itself – situated only an hour’s drive from Orlando – provides guests with the opportunity to explore Ponce de Leon Inlet.

This is one of the best locations for surfing enthusiasts – with some of the best ways in the world. As such, it is the host of many surfing competitions. Since it is one of the closest beaches to Orlando, it is home to some of the best wildlife, too.

Around town, you can spot various bird species as well as the occasional gopher tortoise! Having said that, the best view of the wildlife would be during sunrise, offering both a gorgeous view of the painted sky, as well as birds dipping in and out of the waters.

If you’re traveling with children, you can have peace of mind that there is always a lifeguard there to protect your little ones – making it an excellent family destination.

Take a rented cruiser bike or walk along Smyrna Dunes Park for a beautiful walking path that takes you through the river, ocean, marsh, and dunes – it is sure to be a family favorite activity.

6. Flagler Beach

6. Flagler Beach

Situated only a few miles south of St.Augustine beach, you’ll find Flagler Beach. Here, parking is located on some of the access points for the beach which is by the side of the road. Although, you’ll also spot cars in nearby sandy areas for prime access to the waters.

The beaches here are linked to the intercoastal waterways. This is ideal for taking your family out on the boat or the paddleboards – making a whole day out of it. Plus, the stretch of sand here is best known for finding and hunting great shark teeth and shells.

If you’re looking to test your skills at surfing, they have some of the best waves here, too. Overall, it is one of the best sports to take the whole family to – they’re sure to enjoy the whole day.

7. Anastasia State Park

7. Anastasia State Park

As one of the closest beaches to Orlando, Anastasia State Park only sits about 40 minutes from the city. It is situated in the historic city known as St. Augustine – where visitors of the area can explore and enjoy 1,600 acres of unblemished lands.

At the Anastasia State Park, you are provided with a unique combination of marshes and sand dunes – offering tons of exploration.

Whether you’re looking to enjoy your time here shelling, hiking, picnicking, camping, boating, or even celebrating your wedding – there is something for everyone.

On top of this, there is also an amphitheater, campfire circle, restroom, and historic sites, with tons of amenities offered, too.

8. St. Augustine Beach

8. St. Augustine Beach

As the state’s oldest city, St. Augustine is home to a thriving beach-front community and glittering beach waters. While the two-hour drive from Orlando might seem excessive, trust us, you won’t want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the area.

There is much more than just a beach here. After you have had your fair share of the sun, you can make your way into the city and explore the Castillo de San Marcos, an old military fort located near the intercoastal waterway.

Likewise, you can opt to climb the seemingly endless stairs of St. Augustine Lighthouse, too. Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with scenic views of the city and beach.

When your stomachs start rumbling, you know it’s time to head over to A1A Burrito Works – here, you’ll find huge tacos, burritos, and a unique crunch wrap.

Moreover, if your car has four-wheel drive, you can even drive on the beach to gain access to some of the hard-to-reach spots. However, just be careful with children running around.

9. Ormond Beach

9. Ormond Beach

Among all the beaches, Ormond Beach has its own claim to fame – being one of the first locations of car racing, famously noted by John D. Rockefeller as one of the best places to live. From Orlando, Ormond Beach is located roughly an hour and seven minutes away.

Once you arrive, you’re provided with off-beach parking, bathrooms, concession stands, and a playground. On the beach, there are a few activities, including swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and windsurfing.

To explore the nearby town, you can hire a bike and cycle up and down the trails. Alternatively, you can even take a ride on a hot air balloon!

10. St. Pete Beach

10. St. Pete Beach

If you’re looking for a quintessential beach town, then you can’t get much more wholesome than St. Pete Beach. Here, you’ll find pastel-colored houses equipped with white picket fences.

For the perfect Instagram photos, make sure to check out the historic Don CeSar Hotel – which first opened its doors in 1928. Although, if you’re not staying there, don’t worry, you can easily snap a picture from the sands.

The beach itself is located on a barrier island inside of the Gulf of Mexico – providing spectacular views across the ocean during sunrise and sunset. The vibrant beach town is bursting with shops, art galleries, and restaurants that are both welcoming and alluring to visitors.

11. Clearwater Beach

11. Clearwater Beach

Spend the day at the award-winning beach of Clearwater Beach. This famous beach is located approximately an hour and 40 minutes away from Orlando. Therefore, if you’re looking to make the most of your trip, it’s best to book a short stay.

While the beach itself is stunning, featuring pristine sands and beautiful, clear waters, after 10 am, it tends to become a bit crowded. Plus, since the parking area itself is quite small, it is best to carpool with your fellow travelers.

Alternatively, you can hit the beach as soon as possible to try to find some parking available. Here, parking is charged by the hour, so don’t forget to pack as many quarts as possible.

If you’re looking for the perfect pastime, you can’t get much better than sunbathing on the Clearwater Beach sands. You can explore the area on foot by walking along the sands and dunes.

Plus, don’t forget to stop at Caladesi Island – featuring one of the best state parks in all of Florida. The best part? It is only a stone’s throw away, too.

Final Thoughts

While Orlando may not be known for its beaches, within under an hour’s drive, you’ll be rewarded with some of the best beaches in the state. If you’re making a trip to the state, a visit to one of the beaches is almost a requirement!

Alex Kallen
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