With the Atlantic coast only about an hour from Orlando, hitting the beach for a few days in the area is a fabulous idea. Maybe you want to unwind from the chaos of Orlando, or maybe the family wants to hit the waves. Anyway, I recommend you to visit one of these beaches. Some are totally undeveloped where you will find calm and pristine lands bordering the Atlantic. Other places are very crowded and have loud and lively beachfront bars and restaurants. All are quite close to Orlando, so you can even take a day trip and get back to Orlando in time for bed. .
1. Cocoa Beach
There’s plenty of fun to be had at Cocoa Beach, located just an hour east of Orlando. Known as the surfing capital of the United States and the hometown of famous surfer Kelly Slater, you can watch surfers ride the waves while relaxing on the beautiful beach. Stroll the iconic Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier. Besides checking out the beach shops on the pier, head to Pelican’s Bar and Grill and grab a stool at the bar. Perched above the water, it’s a prime spot to watch the waves crash below, and the drinks are tasty. Try a refreshing strawberry daiquiri or a Miami vice. In addition to tropical drinks, they also serve all the fresh seafood dishes you would expect, including oysters on the half shell, clam bowls, and blackened fish tacos. There are actually four different bars and restaurants on the pier, each serving the same menu. You can choose your location based on which one suits you best and which view you prefer. There’s a lot going on on the pier. You can even sign up for the surf school right on the pier. Speaking of surfing, another Cocoa Beach must-do is a visit to Ron Jon’s gigantic beach shop, the largest surf shop in the country. This two-story mega store is absolutely gigantic with every possible surf and beach-related item you could possibly need, including some very cool custom surfboards. Even if you don’t need anything, it’s impressive and worth the trip. While in Cocoa Beach, make time to head to another beach destination, Coconuts On The Beach. Enjoy the ocean breeze while relaxing with a cool drink and appetizers, or one of their lunch specials. We love the freshly caught prawns to peel and eat and their delicious fish and chips! You can dine outside by the waves or inside in the dining room. Before you go, spend some time watching one of the frequent bands, playing live music here most weekends.
2. Daytona Beach
With over 23 miles of white sand beaches and plenty of entertainment options, Daytona Beach has a lot to offer and is less than an hour from Orlando. Known for its famous beaches that you can drive to, Daytona also offers other ways to enjoy the coastline. Consider a bike ride on the beach, a stroll on Daytona’s popular boardwalk and pier, or lunch at one of the city’s many waterfront restaurants. Try Ocean Deck for seafood served in a fun and relaxed atmosphere on the beach. After reaching the beach, visit the famous Daytona International Speedway, home of the famous Daytona 500 and other auto races. Here they offer all sorts of ways to experience Daytona racing. Sign up to drive your own car on the track and have full control of your vehicle! If you’re not ready for that much excitement, you might want to take a tour where you let a professional driver take the wheel. Another perfect option for the whole family is a tour of the facility. During a tour, go behind the scenes and get an overview of the track and facilities. The Speedway offers daily tours that last approximately one hour.
3. New Smyrna Beach
The beaches at New Smyrna Beach are renowned for their beauty as well as some of the best surfing beaches on the entire East Coast. With over 17 miles of beaches, there are a number of public access points via city and county parks. And in some places you can drive your car and park directly on the beach. The saying “Fins up” takes on a whole new meaning here as New Smyrna Beach is known as the unofficial shark capital of the world! Volusia County has a 5-year annual average of nine attacks, according to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF). In 2021, ISAF reported 17 shark attacks at New Smyrna Beach. But that doesn’t seem to deter surfers as the beaches here are some of the most popular and well-known surf beaches on the East Coast. If you happen to have a four-legged family member with you, head to Smyrna Dune Park where your four-legged friend will enjoy romping on the beach. For drinks or fresh seafood right on the beach, try Tony & Joe’s Patio or The Breaker’s.
4. Canaveral National Waterfront
Located inside Canaveral National Seashore, Playalinda Beach offers over 20 miles of undeveloped beach to explore. In fact, the Canaveral National Seashore is the longest stretch of undeveloped Atlantic coastline in Florida. This barrier island is home to thousands of species of plants and animals, making it a haven for wildlife. The Canaveral National Seashore and nearby Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge were purposely created to surround the Kennedy Space Center. If you are in Playalinda during a rocket launch, you will have one of the closest and most unobstructed views possible. Keep in mind that you will need to purchase a pass to enter the Canaveral National Seashore. And, if you’re in the area during turtle nesting season (May through mid-November), the National Park Service (NPS) usually runs turtle-watching programs where you can spend an evening watching and watching. learn more about sea turtles and their environment. Keep an eye on the NPS website for updates on turtle watch bookings in 2022. If you prefer to spend your time in the water, Playalinda also offers world-class surfing. Also, some parts of Playalinda beach are known to be optional. Keep this in mind when walking on the beach; you may or may not see more than you expected!
Pro Tip: There are two entrance stations: Apollo Beach via New Smyrna and Playalinda Beach via Titusville.
5. Melbourne Beach
Sebastian Inlet State Park in Melbourne Beach, Florida offers plenty of opportunities for beach fun. Located about an hour and 20 minutes southeast of Orlando, Sebastian Inlet offers over 3 miles of Atlantic coast beaches where you can enjoy sand dunes and beautiful views. Hammock Trail is a mile-long nature trail that runs alongside mangroves and other tropical plants native to Florida. Many plants are identified along the trail. Check it out if you want to learn more about the natural plants of the Florida habitat. If you are ready to test the fishing waters, this area is ideal for fishing and there are two different piers that stretch out into the Atlantic where you can cast your line.
6. Cape Canaveral
Just an hour east of Orlando, Cape Canaveral offers many public beaches, all of which are open year-round. Most have super convenient and free parking at the ends of the streets around town. There is a good chance of seeing a good deal of beach wildlife here, including three species of sea turtles: loggerheads, leatherbacks and green turtles. These three native species are endangered or threatened. Special precautions are taken during sea turtle nesting season to ensure their safety. Port Canaveral, the seaport located in Cape Canaveral, is home to a unique beach and campground, Jetty Park. The unique views you can see at Jetty Park include all the gigantic cruise liners that depart from Cape Canaveral. Plan to get there before 4 p.m., when ships usually start departing.
7. Satellite range
Satellite Beach, a small town south of Cocoa Beach, is ideal for an off-the-beaten-track beach experience. Nearly half of the beachfront properties are state-owned, according to the city, which means sunbathers should have easy access to a number of area beaches. Check out Pelican Beach if you’re looking for a quiet, uncrowded afternoon. Pelican Beach Park offers a beautiful shaded green space with picnic tables adjacent to the beach. Pack a lunch, head to a shady spot, and dine al fresco right by the beach. There are on-site bathrooms and even a clubhouse with great beach views that can be rented out for private parties and weddings.