Beaches Near Orlando
Beaches near Orlando are easy to come by, and it all boils down to two things. What kind of beach activities do you like, and how far do you want to travel? (Oh, and what do you prefer -- the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico -- decisions, decisions!)
Let's take a look at some of the beaches near to Orlando, Florida (or, if you prefer, the "Orlando beaches").
Cocoa Beach -- It's the Closest
Cocoa Beach has the distinction of being the beach closest to Orlando. It's due east of the city, roughly half an hour away (once you are to eastern Orlando, that is).
Cocoa Beach is a little on the quiet side, if you're away from the big resorts. Near to the resorts, you're likely to find all manner of beach rentals -- not to mention places like Ron Jon (which has been around for as long as I can remember). (Ron Jon used to be a little hole-in-the-wall, and now it rivals some of the Orlando attractions for size and visitors.)
Further away from the resorts, you'll find little side streets that have beach parking. Even in the summer, many of these areas have only a handful of people on the beach -- definitely room to spread out and enjoy! But make note of the fact that many of these side streets have parking meters -- do have change available.
In Orlando, take the Beeline straight over to Cocoa and head towards the beach!
Daytona is probably the best-known beach in Florida, and it's one of the few beaches you can drive you car onto! The beach is wide, the water warm and usually, the surf is up enough for those who can't get enough surfing time in!
Daytona Beach is close to Orlando, and you get there via I-4 East (which actually goes north...but what the heck). You can't miss Daytona, because it's where I-4 ends!
There is plenty to see and do at Daytona -- lots of beach toys for rent, a boardwalk with rides, and plenty of shopping to be had. During Spring Break you'll find lots of college students descending on the beach and the resorts. Most of the rest of the year, though, it's a great family beach.
That's it for the second of the beaches close to Orlando -- now let's try one that's relatively unknown.
New Smyrna Beach
When I lived in Orlando, New Smyrna was my beach of choice. Located between Daytona Beach to the north and Cocoa Beach to the south, New Smyrna combines the best of both (at least in my opinion).
My guess is that because New Smyrna Beach take a little more to get to (not quite a straight shot like Cocoa Beach or Daytona), it doesn't get quite as much of a write-up when talking about the ocean.
This is another of the very few beaches in Florida where you can drive directly onto the sand. Makes for a very easy set-up (you don't have anything to carry; just take it out of the car). But of course, there is a fee to drive on the beach.
As far as staying here, there is a multitude of hotels, motels and resorts for you to select from. Not to mention B&Bs and timeshares!
Other Beaches Near Orlando
Those are the beaches on the Atlantic that are nearest to Orlando. If you don't mind a bit of a drive, though, you can visit the Florida Gulf Coast beaches.
Clearwater Beach is probably the best-known of these, but St. Petersburg Beach isn't far behind. Expect to travel at least an hour to make it to these beaches, more if the traffic is tied up on I-4.
What's the difference between the Atlantic Ocean beaches and the Gulf beaches? Generally, the surf is higher on the Atlantic side of the state (great for playing in the waves), while the Gulf beaches are shallower and calmer (better for swimming). The actual sand is different, too -- the Gulf coast has more of the sugary-type sand, while the Atlantic beach sand is coarser, with lots of teeny-tiny shell parts.
If you're feeling a little adventurous, you might also try driving a bit south of Cocoa Beach to Sebastian Inlet State Park. If you love surfing, Sebastian is wonderful. If you just enjoy a great beach, you won't be disappointed!
And although it definitely doesn't fall into the "close to Orlando" definition, if you are an avdi sheller, try Captiva and Sanibel Island, on the Southwest Florida Gulf coast.
There you have it; some of the beaches near Orlando, Florida. Which one will you choose first?
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