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Top 5 Beaches Near Orlando: Sun, Sand, and Adventure Await!

Top Beaches on the East Coast Near Orlando

Hey there, sun-lovers! You must have heard about Orlando's rip-roaring theme parks, right? But let me let you in on a little secret - the real magic happens when you swap the rollercoaster for a beach towel! Just a hop, skip, and a jump away, you'll find some of Florida's finest sandy shores. Start your beach quest at Cocoa Beach, an absolute gem that's as sweet as its name. Then hotfoot it to Clearwater Beach - it's a slice of sandy heaven that lives up to its crystal-clear name. So, get your flip flops ready because from dazzling sunrises to dreamy sunsets, these beaches promise a sun-soaked adventure like no other!

Here’s our guide to the top 5 beaches near Orlando

Cocoa Beach: A Surfer's Paradise

Alright, let's dive deeper into the charm of Cocoa Beach! It's the closest beach to Orlando, just 59.8 miles away, and let me tell you, it's worth every mile. This starlet of a beach sits proudly on the splendid Atlantic Coast and boasts beaches that are as white as sugar, set against crystal clear waters — it's like a postcard come to life! But get this, it's also home to the Ron Jon Surf Shop, one of the largest surf shops in the world. Feeling adventurous? Cocoa Beach has got you covered! There's surfing, swimming, kayaking, fishing, and plenty more to get your pulse racing. And when you're done riding the waves and soaking up the sun, there's a smorgasbord of restaurants and bars waiting for you to kick back and relax. So, are you ready to make some waves at Cocoa Beach?

Now, you might be thinking, what's the big deal about Cocoa Beach? Well, I'm glad you asked! Aside from the rockin' surfing scene, Cocoa Beach is also famous as the launchpad for some of history's most memorable space missions. Can you believe it?! You can catch a glimpse of space shuttles launching into the vast cosmos from here. But that's not all, folks! This beach town is also known as the home port of luxurious cruise liners. It's like having a front-row seat to a maritime fashion show!

Hotels near Cocoa Beach, FL:

La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Cocoa Beach-Port Canaveral
Hotel ratings 8.0 Very good

La Quinta Inn by Wyndham Cocoa Beach-Port Canavera

1275 North Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, us
International Palms Resort & Conference Center Cocoa Beach
Hotel ratings 5.2 Fabulous

International Palms Resort & Conference Center Coc

1300 North Atlantic Avenue Cocoa Beach, us

But here's the best part - Cocoa Beach isn't just a tourist destination. It's a beloved getaway for locals too. It's the kind of place where you can leave the buzz of the city behind and sink into the laid-back beach lifestyle. Whether it's chilling by the waves, enjoying a sunset barbecue, or simply strolling along the shoreline, Cocoa Beach offers a truly immersive beach experience. It's like a slice of paradise, right in Florida's backyard.

  1. Catch a Wave: Whether you're a seasoned surfer or a total newbie, Cocoa Beach is the perfect place to hit the waves. Take a surf lesson or rent a board and ride the Atlantic swells.
  2. Watch a Rocket Launch: Feel the ground shake beneath you as you witness a live rocket launch from the Kennedy Space Center. It's truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
  3. Visit the Ron Jon Surf Shop: Explore the world's largest surf shop, and maybe even pick up some beach gear or souvenirs to remember your trip.
  4. Dine SeaSide: Cocoa Beach offers a diverse range of eateries. From fresh seafood to local favorites, there's something to satisfy every palate.
  5. Explore the Banana River by Kayak: Get up close and personal with Florida's wildlife by taking a guided kayak tour on the Banana River.
  6. Go Fishing: Charter a boat or cast a line from the Cocoa Beach Pier and see what you can catch!
  7. Visit the Cocoa Beach Pier: Speaking of the pier, it's a must-see! With restaurants, gift shops, and stunning ocean views, it's the heart of the city.
  8. Enjoy the Nightlife: From beach bars to dance clubs, there's no shortage of post-sunset fun to be had in Cocoa Beach.
  9. Take a Sunset Walk on the Beach: There's no better way to end the day than a peaceful stroll along the shoreline, watching the sun dip below the horizon.
  10. Embark on a Cruise: If you've got time, why not set sail from Port Canaveral on a luxurious cruise liner for a few days of additional relaxation and fun?

Daytona Beach: Racing and Relaxing

Just a quick hour's drive from Orlando and you'll find yourself in one of Florida's most beloved spots. This 23-mile stretch of beach isn't just a pretty face, it's loaded with bucket loads of activities. Fancy riding the waves? Surf's up! More into soaring high? Hop on a parasail! And it's not just seaside fun, nearby you'll find the iconic Daytona International Speedway for some adrenaline-pumping auto racing action. Not so into fast cars? No worries! A saunter down Main Street Pier offers killer shopping and dining options. Daytona Beach is a smorgasbord of fun, sun, and thrills. Ideal for those looking for more than just a day at the beach!

Beer at the beach


Okay, now let's get real for a moment. You might be wondering about cracking open a cold one on the beach, right? Hey, it's a fair question. But here's the deal - alcohol bottles or disposable cups with alcohol are a big no-no on the beaches of Daytona Beach. Yes, it's a bummer, but those are the rules, folks! Hey, don't let that kill your buzz though - the boardwalk's got you more than covered! It's brimming with a whole bunch of cool watering holes where you can grab your choice of icy beverage or a fancy cocktail. So you can still have your beach fun and a drink in your hand - just not directly on the sand!

Hotels near Daytona Beach, FL:

The Streamline Hotel - Daytona Beach
Hotel ratings 8.5 Very good

The Streamline Hotel - Daytona Beach

140 South Atlantic Avenue Daytona Beach, us
Boardwalk Inn and Suites
Hotel ratings 7.7 Good

Boardwalk Inn and Suites

301 South Atlantic Avenue Daytona Beach, us

Top 10 things to do in Daytona Beach, FL

  1. Visit the Daytona International Speedway: Get your heart racing at the world-renowned race track that hosts the Daytona 500 and NASCAR championships. Don't miss the guided tour!
  2. Explore the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS): This Smithsonian-affiliated museum houses over 30,000 objects, from fine art to science exhibits.
  3. Stroll down the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier: Enjoy the amusement area filled with rides, games, shops, and eateries.
  4. Take a ride on the Daytona Beach Bandshell: This historic amphitheater hosts free concerts all summer long. You can't beat music with an ocean view!
  5. Spend a day at the Daytona Lagoon: It's a water park and family entertainment center all in one. Perfect for kids and kids at heart!
  6. Discover the Marine Science Center: Learn about the area's marine life and their conservation efforts.
  7. Visit the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum: Climb 203 steps to the top for a breathtaking view of the Florida coastline.
  8. Dine at Ocean Deck Restaurant & Beach Club: This beachfront restaurant offers a great selection of seafood, steaks, and drinks.
  9. Enjoy a fun-filled day at the Beach Street: This district has everything from shopping, dining, to recreational activities.
  10. Surf or paddleboard at Sunglow Fishing Pier: Rent a board and catch some waves or just lounge around and watch day turn into dusk.

But wait, there's more! You might be thinking, "All this fun surely comes with a hefty price tag?" Well, think again! Pedestrians and bicyclists get to access the beach absolutely free of charge. If you're driving, there's a modest $20 per day per vehicle user fee to join the beach party. And for those who can't get enough of this sandy paradise, we've got annual beach passes. If you're a Volusia County resident, it's just $25 for a whole year of beachy bliss. Not a local?

No problem! For non-residents, it's $100 for an annual pass. So pack up that picnic basket or rev up that engine, because Daytona Beach is all about fun that won't break the bank!

Canaveral National Seashore: Unspoiled Natural Beauty

Get ready to tickle your toes in the sand at Canaveral National Seashore! Just a quick road trip from Orlando and you'll be in Titusville basking in the glory of one of Florida's most untouched beaches. Spanning a whopping 24 miles, this beach is a natural wonderland, boasting untouched white sand dunes, the rustle of sea oats, and a vibrant display of wildlife. You'll be rubbing elbows with manatees, dolphins, and sea turtles in no time. Whether you're in the mood for a laid-back fishing trip, a refreshing dip in the ocean, or just to sit back on the sand, this secluded beach offers an unrivaled escape. The view? Oh, it's just Mother Nature doing her thing, and trust us, it's a sight to behold!

In addition to the stunning beach and abundant wildlife, Canaveral National Seashore offers visitors a chance to engage in a variety of activities. Swimming, fishing, and boating are popular pastimes, and the park offers plenty of opportunities for exploration and adventure. For those who prefer to relax and take in the scenery, the park provides ample opportunities for picnicking and sunbathing.

If you're looking for a secluded and peaceful getaway, Canaveral National Seashore is the perfect destination. The park's unspoiled beauty and abundance of wildlife make it a must-visit destination for nature enthusiasts and beach lovers alike. everyone.

Hotels near Canaveral National Seashore:

Best Western Edgewater Inn
Hotel ratings 8.6 Very good

Best Western Edgewater Inn

1730 South Ridgewood Avenue Edgewater, us
Hacienda del Sol II - 416
Hotel ratings 7.7 Good

Hacienda del Sol II - 416

4301 South Atlantic Ave New Smyrna Beach, us

The Best Times of Year to Visit Canaveral National Seashore for Optimal Wildlife Sightings

While the Canaveral National Seashore is a beautiful destination year-round, certain times of year offer optimal wildlife sightings. If you're looking to catch a glimpse of manatees, dolphins, and sea turtles during your visit, plan your trip accordingly.

One of the best times to visit for wildlife sightings is during the winter months. From December through February, manatees flock to the warmer waters surrounding the park. Visitors can often see these gentle giants swimming and playing in the lagoon areas.

Another great time to visit for wildlife sightings is during turtle nesting season from May through October. During this time, visitors may be lucky enough to witness sea turtles coming ashore to lay their eggs or watch as baby sea turtles hatch and make their way back into the ocean.

If you're interested in bird watching, consider visiting in the fall or spring when migratory birds pass through the area. The park's diverse habitats provide a home for over 300 species of birds throughout the year.

New Smyrna Beach: A Surfer's Paradise

Man, if you've been feeling cooped up and yearning for a taste of freedom, New Smyrna Beach is the place to be! Just picture it: 13 beautiful miles of sun-drenched beaches, right on Florida's Atlantic coast, and only a hop, skip, and a jump away from Orlando. It's like a dream come true for all you city-dwellers looking for a quick and easy escape! They don't call it “the amusement park without rides” for nothing. Whether you're a pro surfer, a fishing enthusiast, or a beach bum, there's something for everyone. And let's not forget about the sparkling clear waters that are just perfect for a refreshing swim or snorkeling adventure. You might even spot some starfish or sea turtles if you're lucky! So next time you need a break from the hustle and bustle, remember New Smyrna Beach. It’s a slice of paradise, right in your backyard.

Hotels near Canaveral National Seashore:

The Riverview Hotel - New Smyrna Beach
Hotel ratings 8.9 Very good

The Riverview Hotel - New Smyrna Beach

103 Flagler Avenue New Smyrna Beach, us
Hampton Inn New Smyrna Beach
Hotel ratings 8.3 Very good

Hampton Inn New Smyrna Beach

214 Flagler Avenue New Smyrna Beach, us

Fishing in New Smyrna Beach

For fishing enthusiasts, New Smyrna Beach is a haven for catching a wide variety of fish. From the famous redfish and trout to the elusive snook and tarpon, there's always something biting. The area is also known for its abundance of flounder, pompano, and sheepshead. Whether you prefer fishing from the shore or taking a boat out into deeper waters, it's hard to beat the thrill of reeling in a big catch while surrounded by the breathtaking scenery of the Atlantic coast. So grab your gear and head on over to New Smyrna Beach for an unforgettable fishing experience!


Festivals and Events in New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is not just a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, but it is also known for its vibrant festival scene. Throughout the year, the city hosts a variety of events that cater to all interests. One of the most popular events is the New Smyrna Beach Art Fiesta, which takes place in February and features over 200 artists showcasing their work. For music lovers, there's the New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival in September where you can enjoy live performances from local and national jazz musicians.

Other notable events include the Images Art Festival in January, which showcases fine art from over 200 artists across the country, and the NSB Balloon & Skyfest in November where you can witness hot air balloons taking off into the beautiful Florida sky.


Eco-Tourism in New Smyrna Beach

For those interested in exploring the natural beauty of the area, New Smyrna Beach offers a variety of eco-tourism opportunities. Just a short drive away is the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, which covers over 140,000 acres and is home to a diverse range of wildlife including manatees, alligators, and migratory birds. You can take a guided tour or explore on your own by hiking one of the many trails.

Another popular destination is the Canaveral National Seashore, which spans 24 miles along Florida's east coast and offers visitors a chance to witness sea turtles nesting and hatchlings making their way to the ocean. The seashore also has several nature trails that wind through coastal hammocks and provide stunning views of the Atlantic Ocean.

In addition to these larger destinations, there are also several smaller parks and preserves in the area that offer opportunities for nature walks and birdwatching.


Local Restaurants and Cuisine in New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna Beach is a food lover's paradise, with a variety of restaurants serving up delicious cuisine from all over the world. However, one thing that stands out is the abundance of fresh seafood options available in the area. From traditional fish and chips to grilled mahi-mahi, there's something for everyone.


Being a coastal town, New Smyrna Beach is known for its fresh seafood. You can find a variety of seafood restaurants offering dishes like shrimp, oysters, crab, and fresh fish.

  • JB's Fish Camp & Restaurant: Known for its seafood and Southern cuisine.

  • Off The Hook Raw Bar & Grill: Offers a variety of seafood dishes, including raw oysters.

American Cuisine

Traditional American fare is widely available in New Smyrna Beach, with many restaurants offering burgers, steaks, and other classic dishes.

  • The Breakers Restaurant: Famous for its burgers and oceanfront view.

  • Norwood's Eatery & Treehouse Bar: Offers a diverse menu with American favorites.

Italian Cuisine

If you're in the mood for Italian, there are several options to choose from.

  • That's Amore: A popular spot for classic Italian dishes like pasta and pizza.

Mexican Cuisine

For those craving Mexican food, there are some great options in town.

  • Mi Mexico: Known for its authentic Mexican dishes.

Breakfast and Brunch

New Smyrna Beach has several cafes and restaurants that specialize in breakfast and brunch.

  • Third Wave Cafe & Wine Bar: Offers a variety of breakfast options and a relaxing atmosphere.

  • C's Waffles: A local favorite for breakfast and brunch.

Fine Dining

If you're looking for a more upscale dining experience, there are a few fine dining options.

  • The Garlic: Known for its unique ambiance and gourmet menu.

  • SoNapa Grille: Offers a wine-inspired menu with a variety of elegant dishes.

Local Specialties

Don't miss trying some local Florida specialties while in New Smyrna Beach, such as:

  • Gator Bites: Often found on menus as an appetizer.

  • Key Lime Pie: A classic Florida dessert.

  • Stone Crab: Seasonal and a must-try if available.

Food Trucks and Casual Eateries

For a more laid-back dining experience, keep an eye out for food trucks and casual eateries that offer quick bites and unique local flavors.

Remember, restaurant offerings and quality can change, so it's always a good idea to check online reviews or ask locals for recommendations. Enjoy your culinary adventure in New Smyrna Beach!

Clearwater Beach

Get ready folks! You're about to discover Clearwater Beach, a gem on Florida's Gulf Coast. Just a two-hour drive west from Orlando, this place is on the bucket list for over 8 million visitors a year and for good reason. Imagine sinking your toes into three miles of sugar-white sands. Sounds like a dream, huh? Not only that, you've got endless adventures waiting for you, from jet skiing to parasailing. Or hey, if you're the chill type, just kick back under one of those iconic palm trees, soak up the sun, and enjoy the stunning views. Hungry? Clearwater's got you covered. Tuck into some mouthwatering seafood at one of the amazing local restaurants.

Hotels near Clearwater Beach, FL:

Residence Inn by Marriot Clearwater Downtown
Hotel ratings 9.2 Superb

Residence Inn by Marriot Clearwater Downtown

940 Court Street Clearwater, us
DreamView Beachfront Hotel & Resort
Hotel ratings 8.4 Very good

DreamView Beachfront Hotel & Resort

691 South Gulfview Boulevard Clearwater Beach, us

Take a Sunset Cruise

If you're looking for a romantic and breathtaking experience, don't miss the chance to take a sunset cruise in Clearwater Beach. As the sun sets over the Gulf of Mexico, you'll be treated to stunning views of the coastline, while enjoying a leisurely ride on calm waters. Many local tour companies offer sunset cruises that include live music, drinks, and snacks, making it an unforgettable experience for couples or groups of friends. Don't forget your camera because the views are truly Instagram-worthy!


Visit Pier 60

If you're looking for a lively and entertaining way to experience Clearwater Beach's famous sunsets, look no further than Pier 60. This historic pier is the perfect place to catch stunning views of the Gulf while enjoying daily sunset celebrations featuring street performers, live music, and local artisans. The festivities start two hours before sunset and continue until two hours after the sun goes down. It's a great way to soak up some local culture while experiencing one of nature's most beautiful displays. Don't forget to grab a snack or souvenir from one of the many vendors lining the pier!


Check out Caladesi Island State Park

Did you know that just off the coast of Clearwater Beach lies Caladesi Island State Park? This pristine and secluded island was named America's Best Beach in 2008 by Dr. Beach, and it's not hard to see why. The crystal clear waters and unspoiled nature make it a paradise for beachgoers and nature lovers alike. Take a ferry from Clearwater Beach Marina or rent a kayak or paddleboard to get there yourself. Once you arrive, take a hike on one of the many trails that wind through the island's mangrove forests and dunes, or simply relax on the beach and soak up some sun. Don't forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen!


Rent a Bike or Surrey

Exploring Clearwater Beach on foot is great, but why not rent a bike or surrey and cover more ground? Many rental shops are available throughout the beach, offering a variety of options from single bikes to tandems, and even family-sized surreys. Cruise along the coastline, feel the breeze in your hair, and take in all the sights and sounds that this beautiful place has to offer. Plus, it's a fun activity for all ages! Don't forget to wear comfortable clothes and bring plenty of water to stay hydrated during your ride.


Head to Captain Bligh's Landing

Looking for some fun-filled activities with the family? Look no further than Captain Bligh's Landing! This miniature golf course is not your average putt-putt experience. With stunning views of the Gulf, you'll feel like you're on a tropical island adventure. The course is beautifully landscaped with waterfalls, caves, and pirate-themed obstacles that will challenge even the most experienced mini-golfers. Plus, it's a great way to escape the heat of the day and enjoy some quality time with loved ones. Don't miss out on this exciting attraction during your visit to Clearwater Beach!


Take a Day Trip to Honeymoon Island State Park

Looking for a change of scenery? Hop in the car and take a day trip to nearby Honeymoon Island State Park. Just a short drive from Clearwater Beach, this beautiful park offers endless opportunities for adventure. Go shelling on the pristine beaches, where you can find unique and colorful shells that make great souvenirs. Take a dip in the clear waters of the Gulf of Mexico or go hiking on one of the many trails that wind through the island's lush vegetation. Keep your eyes peeled for local wildlife like ospreys, pelicans, and even dolphins! When you're ready for a break, head to one of the picnic areas and enjoy lunch with a view. Don't miss this chance to experience another amazing destination on Florida's Gulf Coast!

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About Author

Amanda Smith

Amanda Smith is a former journalist and now an award-winning travel blogger. She's 27 years old and on a mission to explore as much of the world as possible in other to show the travel enthusiasts how they can fulfill their travel dreams and indulge themselves in the adventure of traveling the globe!