The Best Beaches
Central Florida Area Beaches
So... when you think of a Sunshine State vacation, two things spring to mind, theme parks and beaches, and thanks to Orlando's central location in Florida, you don't have to choose, pretty awesome!
Orlando is practically in the middle of both the historic east coast beaches and the stunning gulf coast beaches in the west coast of Central Florida. So after spending lots of fun time at the parks, take time to yourself, and relax at the beach and soak up our famous Florida sunshine.
Here are our favorite Central Florida beaches, all within an easy two hour drive of Orlando.
East Coast Beaches
St Augustine Beach
The charming coastal town of St. Augustine awaits with it's historic city known for its Fountain of Youth and the first permanent settlement in the United States, established way back to 1565.
After a history lesson downtown, head to the beach, attractions along the coast include St. Augustine Lighthouse, St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Marineland, where you can swim with dolphins.
The world's most famous beach is just an hour from downtown Orlando, Daytona Beach is all about the cars, a place to catch a NASCAR race and even drive your own car right on the beach.
Free summer concerts with movies and fireworks are offered May through October at the Bandshell, and there's plenty of entertainment and fun at the nearby boardwalk and fishing pier.
For a quieter corner, head to Ponce Inlet and climb to the top of Florida's tallest lighthouse, built in 1835. Plus, for shopping and dining, a visit to Beach Street is a popular choice.
New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach is a hot spot for surfing, quirky shops, and delightful eats, plus you can drive your car onto this beach’s wide, compacted smooth sand! A must do on your trip for sure!
Once you’ve gotten your fill with paddle boarding and sunbathing, check out Flagler Avenue with Old Florida shops, local boutiques and casual eateries.
Orlando's closest beach is well known for its surfing culture with Cocoa the home of the world's largest surf shop,
Ron Jon Surf Shop at 52,000 square feet.
Open 24 hours a day, the huge store features everything under the sun, from T-shirts and seashells to beach bikes, paddleboards, and of course, surfboards.
The Cocoa Beach Pier area is fun with lot's of beach activities, while many families like the quiet of Lori Wilson Park where you'll find free parking, restrooms and outdoor showers.
Gulf Coast Beaches
America’s number one beach, Clearwater is definitely a renowned hot spot, complete with shopping, dining, live entertainment, and a revitalized downtown area. White sand and clear, shallow waters make this beach a destination that can’t be beaten for families.
Don’t miss the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, and the awesome sunset celebration that is held nightly at the always fun Clearwater Beach Pier. Don't miss it!
At Madeira Beach, the sun, the white sand beaches and emerald turquoise waters invite swimming and sunning, be a beachcomber, or just sit and watch the world go by from the shade of a beach umbrella.
Set sail on a sunset cruise or a daylong fishing excursion or just stroll the wooden boardwalk and check out the waterfront shops and dining options.
The main draw here is three miles of sparkling white, sandy beaches on shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Go swimming, shelling, sunning, snorkeling, parasailing and more, or simply walk the beach and take in one of the most stunning and memorable sunsets that you will ever see.
Hang out at the world's longest waterfront bar, Gators Cafe & Saloon, to catch the sunset and enjoy the atmosphere at the surrounding beach bars, for live music and dancing.
St Pete Beach
With miles of beaches, surf shops and boutiques, along with dining and water sports for all ages, it's easy to see why St. Pete Beach is voted one of the best beaches in the U.S.
At the heart of St. Pete Beach is the historic pink palace, the Loews Don Ce Sar Hotel, built in 1928 at the heart of America's Jazz Age. It's worth a visit to soak up the nostalgic, Gatsby-like atmosphere.
Make time to see the Salvador Dali museum in downtown St. Petersburg, housing the largest collection of Dali's work outside of Spain.