Best Beaches Near Orlando You Ought to Visit

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Orlando has always been known to be the all-around destination that everyone loves. It is hard to think that a person would ever want to do anything else, aside from going to theme parks and water parks and visiting museums and shopping. But there are times that you wish to be free from the crowd and enjoy the convenience of more wide-open spaces — so why not visit the best beaches near Orlando?

Luckily for Orlando residents and visitors, there are plenty of vast destinations they can choose from. A quick drive to the east or the west will bring you to places where you can see all the way out to the horizon line without a rollercoaster or I-4 blocking your view. What are these magical places? Beaches! Deciding you want to go to the beach is easy. However, choosing which one from the best beaches nearby Orlando you want to visit can get overwhelmingly tricky. That is why we hope to help you streamline this decision to get you loaded up, in the car, and on the road in the right direction quicker.

 

What are the Best Beaches Near Orlando?

Here we have listed 8 beaches under 2 ½ hours from Orlando that will be the perfect fit for your long-awaited beach getaway.

Cocoa Beach

They don’t call it the “Beachline” for nothing! Less than an hour-long drive on the 528 toward the Atlantic– that’s how far Cocoa Beach is from Orlando. Famous for its surfing spots and surfing shops, Cocoa is home to the Florida Surf Museum, where you can learn more about your favorite sport. Proximity-wise, Cocoa Beach is your best bet as it’s the closest you can get away to from Orlando. If you want to enjoy the sun, sand, and stars with some cocktails, Coconuts on the Beach is one of the hottest spots around to hang out and socialize.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for a quieter place for a good breather, go a bit south along the beach to Lori Wilson Park, where you will not only find parking and beach access but even a dog park where you can surround yourself with enthusiastic dogs and pups. After some fun times with man’s best friend, end your day at the Cocoa Beach Pier. Located on the north end of the beach, dine in an array of restaurants and watering holes. We assure you! You won’t be bored when you visit Cocoa Beach– we consider it one of the best beach towns in Florida!

stop sign in cocoa beach florida with stickers for famous ron jon surf shop

Located off the A1A as far north as Arthur Ave down the coastline to 30th st, you will find 4 different parks to grant you access to the beach as well as popular stores like Cocoa Beach Surf Company and Ron Jon Surf shop, be on the lookout for some of the shops! Some even have free beach parking available to the public if you into walking a couple of blocks. But there is also plenty of metered parking available right at the beach if you don’t feel like going for a stroll.

 

New Smyrna Beach

Head up I-4 East to the FL 44, and you will soon find yourself at New Smyrna Beach where access can be seen from many spots off Flagler Ave Beachfront Park. This beach has drive-on access and is also a popular spot for beach cycling. On Flagler Avenue, you will find plenty of shops and eateries to keep your stomachs busy. And with New Smyrna’s over 13 miles of sand, you’re almost always guaranteed to find a great place to park and enjoy the day.

With great big waves, this best beach nearby Orlando offers the kind of waves you want and need, making it a popular surfing location, especially up north by the inlet. But like all good things, you should pay extra caution as this is also a popular location for shark bites. While shark bites aren’t as dangerous as Hollywood movies will lead us to believe, this is still something to be wary of.

Bringing a furry friend that also loves the beach? Smyrna Dunes Park, located at the north end of the beach, has dog-friendly beach areas on its borders, but be aware that dogs are prohibited on other areas of this beach for their own safety as many cars and bikes are riding up and down these sands all day.

 

Daytona Beach

Want to get away to the beach, but have someone in your party that isn’t a “beachy” person? Then Daytona just might be your answer. Head out to the Atlantic coast a bit north of Orlando, and you will find what is known as the “World’s Most Famous Beach.” Nearby, the non-beach goer can visit the famous Daytona Speedway, where they can enjoy a tour of the track and facilities while you enjoy some fun in the sun. There is no need to worry about parking here as you can drive your car right onto the beach to ensure you are close to the action.

daytona beach dunes looking out from promanade

The Daytona Boardwalk is home to fun games and rides as well as sidewalk performers, and if luck is by your side, you just might be able to catch a fun concert at the Daytona Beach Bandshell. If your friends are the competitive type, turn it up a notch and play a game of who could get the lowest priced seats. For reference, it can go as low as $4. Aside from these, you will also find many nearby beach shops, hot dog stands, ice cream carts, as well as staples like Joe’s Crab Shack, where you can eat to your heart’s content.

This beach is an easy drive from Orlando, just up I-4 East and out to US 92. When you reach the A1A you will have landed at the heart of Daytona Beach in just an hour. If you’d rather drive your vehicle nearby the beach, there are free beach parking lots peppered up and down the A1A, as well as ocean-front parking garages.

 

Clearwater Beach

If the Gulf side seems more your speed, but would much rather stay at a lively white sand beach near Orlando, explore Clearwater Beach. Because of its fine white sand and pristine waters, Clearwater Beach has always been included in several lists of America’s best beaches. Honestly, it’s not that difficult to understand why.

sunny day looking out at clearwater beach and pier in florida

Roughly 2hrs from Orlando due west and just past Tampa, the inviting waters of Clearwater Beach hosts a nightly sunset party at Clearwater’s Pier 60. The pier and sidewalks surrounding it will fill with vendors, street performers, and artists, and on certain nights you will even find a live band and dance floor available for all to enjoy. There is also no shortage of fun at Clearwater. You can take your pick of daytime as well as sunset dinner cruises (even a pirate ship!). Or check something off your bucket list like riding a speed boat, driving a jet ski, or go on a parasailing adventure and truly deep dive on why it’s one of the best beaches nearby Orlando, or even in the country.

To visit, all you have to do is go west on I-4 until you get to FL 60 and take that until you quite literally run into the action of the beach. There are meters available beachfront, or you can follow the road down a bit south to find free street parking on any side streets. Clearwater is an excellent spot for locally-owned restaurants. From cheap beachside burger stands to incredible seafood restaurants, whatever you may be craving for, you got it here!

 

St. Pete Beach

With the lovely white soft sand along the gulf side, you will also find a lovely stretch of one of the best beaches near Orlando. The open beach offers plenty for the whole family to enjoy, from kayaking to sandcastles to dolphin spotting. Located 2 hours and 15 minutes Southwest of Orlando, St. Pete Beach is here for your entertainment, making it one of the most famous beaches near Orlando.

This beach has a quieter vibe than places like Clearwater, but not as quiet as Indian Rocks, with a bit more happening for the kids while being far from a “spring break” type of beach. While here, make sure to check out The Don CeSar, a luxury pink hotel that opened in 1928. With history made right up their sleeve, you can simply check out the classic architecture and its history. Or you can find one of the local sightseeing companies that lead two-hour ghost tours regarding the suspected hauntings of this hotel.

To get to St. Pete Beach, you will need to get to I-4 west and turn south once you hit Tampa; this drive will take you through St Pete, past Florida Orange Groves Winery (if a wine stop is on your agenda). Then, right on out Pasadena Ave to FL 699 and the beach. Most of the parking you will find here will be metered street parking, but there is plenty of spots to choose from.

 

Madeira Beach

Named after the legendary pirate John Levique, John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk in Madeira Beach is full of pirate and beachy character chock. They have over 100 vendors from restaurants to specialty shops! From here, you can embark on day-long fishing excursions, sunset cruises, or just enjoy some good dolphin watching from the Boardwalk in between your sunbathing and swimming adventures on Madeira’s 2.5-mile beach.

beach chairs and yellow umbrellas on Madeira Beach in florida

If you enjoy seafood, this is the place for you! Make it extra special by planning to visit in October when Madeira Beach plays host to the Seafood Festival at John’s Pass, a festival known to attract more than 125,000 visitors. Better SEAS the opportunity and be one of those visitors! 😉

2hrs and 10min outside of Orlando, you will find a scenic beach and a boardwalk in this quaint town by FL 699. There are many beach lots along with a large 6-floor parking garage to accommodate the daily visitors.

 

Indian Rocks Beach

Located just south of the famous Clearwater Beach is the small beach of Indian Rocks. At just under 2miles, this beach provides beautiful white soft sands and stunning sunsets, similar to what you see at Clearwater, but with less fuss.

If a quiet day at the beach with your book is what you are looking for, this nearby beach in Orlando is right up your alley. Indian Rocks has all the basics you love to have for a day of fun in the sun and sand without all the tourists buzzing around. After a day of soaking up the rays, there are plenty of local restaurants to check out, like JD’s. It’s famous for having some of the best live entertainment in the area. Their dance floor will most definitely be hopping both inside the restaurant and out on the deck.

A 2 hour and 15-minute drive west from Orlando to the Gulf, off FL 688, will get you to this little slice of paradise. A great perk of this beach is the amount of available parking. Since so many people stop in Clearwater and are too buzzed to travel this far down the gulf coast.

 

Vero Beach

If you like a side of nature with your suntan, head a bit further southeast, and you will find yourself at Vero Beach. It has everything you could want from a beachside town:

  • Locals riding bikes up and down the beachside walks
  • Sidewalk cafes
  • Unique shops
  • Beachside restaurants of all varieties

You will find numerous restaurants along the beachline in the winter that will serve you a delicious breakfast with a sunrise view.

look out over plants and grasses at vero beach florida

This beach isn’t just high traffic for travellers but also one of the best beaches near Orlando for sea turtles to nest; depending on the time of year, you may even see some in the flesh though it’s best not to approach them too close.

While there, the Indian River Lagoon is a must-see so make sure to take a kayaking trip there and count how many manatees you visit!

You can get to this beach/nature oasis in just under 2 hours from Orlando. Head south to I-95 or the 528 to the A1A– if you are out for a joy ride and not concerned about timing. You can take A1A along the coast all the way down and admire the architecture and beachside towns along the way. Popular locations to access this beach are Riomar Drive at Ocean drive on the south end and Jaycee Park at Mango Rd and Ocean Drive to the north, these roads can be found right off the A1A.

A Great Beach Day Isn’t Far from Orlando!

Whether you’re into the fun instagrammable beach spots or if you just want to go to the best beaches nearby Orlando and see how far an uninterrupted horizon line will let you, there is bound to be something on this list to hit the spot for you. Now pack your beach bags and hit the road; just don’t forget that sunscreen as you make the most of your beach trip at this sun-splashed coast.

Jessica Smith

Jessica is a former Florida resident, turned frequent visitor who is currently based in Brooklyn, NY where she is an Art Director and Prop Artisan for tv, film, and theater. She is a lover of travel, writing, and food (cooking and eating it, especially when a beach view is involved.)

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