After your high energy, fun filled trip to the Magic Kingdom, take some time to unwind and explore the Orlando area and all of the beaches that surround it. We’ve compiled a list of the best beaches that offer more fun in the sun or lazy days in the sand.
One of the most popular beaches in all of Florida, Cocoa Beach offers much more than just the sand and the waves. Just 45 minutes from downtown Orlando Cocoa Beach is the home of the Ron Jon Surf Shop, the world’s largest surf shop. From T-shirts to kayak rentals to a surf school this 52,000 square foot surf shop will have everything you need for a memorable day at the beach. If surfing and sand isn’t your cup of tea, Lori Wilson Park is within walking distance as well as the world famous Cocoa Beach Pier which is lined with restaurants, bars, and free live entertainment. On top of all of that there is free parking and the beach is dog friendly. Cocoa Beach is known for its laid back surf culture at the beach and the surrounding town and is a great choice for a day at the beach.
New Smyrna Beach
Second of the more popular beaches in the area is New Smyrna Beach. It’s quieter and more residential than the party-packed Cocoa Beach waterfront. About 1 hour outside of Orlando the “locals beach”, as it’s known to many Orlandoans is home to great restaurants, great views, and great times. In certain spots you can even drive your car onto the sand to find that perfect spot to set up for the day. When you’re finished with the beach, you can also visit historic Flagler Avenue and find tons of local shops and eateries.
If you’re not quite done with the Disney experience, Vero Beach may be the perfect place to visit. Just under 2 hours away from Orlando, Vero is known for its posh downtown vibe and beautiful nature preserve along the Indian RIver Lagoon. So beautiful in fact, that Disney opened its own beach resort nearby, along the treasure coast. Disney’s Vero Beach resort offers campfires, kayaking, and even a surf school. Vero Beach is a breath of fresh air when it comes to overdone tourist traps and overcrowded beaches and is a hidden gem in the sunshine state waiting to be discovered by you.
Cedar Key Beach
Around 2 hours outside of Orlando, you’ll find Cedar Key Beach, an even more low-key beach town with tons of little shops and restaurants to explore. The beach is right near a large park to sit and relax. The beach itself is beautiful white sand with hotels and boat launches nearby. Cedar Key Beach is a perfect day trip waiting to happen.
Port Canaveral is home to a bunch of attractions. Firstly, it is the gateway to the Carribean via a number of cruise lines including Disney, Norwegian, Carnival, and Royal Carribean. Second, the beach itself is perfect for a day trip. It is one of the longest coastlines in America and it’s perfect to sit and relax, to run around and play, or to hop in the water to catch a few waves. However, don’t let the size fool you because Port Canaveral was named one of the quietest beaches in America. Aside from the beach, there are many things to discover on Florida’s Space Coast. The Kennedy Space Center is nearby, and is home to many amazing and historic exhibits from the stars. If you time your trip just right, you may even be able to catch a NASA shuttle launch after your day at the beach.
An hour and 45 minutes southwest of Orlando is Clearwater Beach, which definitely lives up to its name. Its calm, clear water is a perfect paradise for someone looking to kick back and catch some rays. It also has a few fun, family-friendly attractions such as the Clearwater Marine Aquarium where you can meet the star from the movie Dolphin Tale, Winter, who swims with a prosthetic tail. Clearwater is free of high rises, hectic urban life, and big crowds and is the perfect little get-away for families.
Last but definitely not least is Daytona Beach. The “World’s Most Famous Beach” is just an hour from downtown Orlando. Like New Smyrna, you are able to drive your car right onto the beach to find the perfect spot. Free summer concerts are offered May through October at the Bandshell stage on the beach. If relaxing on the beach isn’t exactly what you’re looking for, there are plenty of other entertainment options at the nearby boardwalk and fishing pier. However, among the more energetic options lies a quieter corner found at Ponce Inlet, where you can climb to the top Florida’s tallest lighthouse. Finally, after a day at the beach, you can head to Beach Street in Downtown Daytona for tons of popular restaurants, bars, and shops.
The beaches surrounding Orlando offers a myriad of entertainment options, beautiful sights, and relaxing days to make memories and have some fun in the sun.