Are you heading to Orlando soon and wondering about the best beaches close to Disney World and Orlando, Florida? Walt Disney World is an amazing family vacation, but it is filled with packed theme parks filled with hours of walking, amazing attractions and dining reservations. If you are looking for a great place to unwind after full days in the parks, the white sand of the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico are only an hour drive away from Central Florida. Keep reading to discover the best beaches for a day trip from Orlando or a weekend away.
Daytona Beach is about 75 miles from the Orlando area. Home of the Daytona International Speedway, it only takes about 1.5 hours to reach from the Disney World resorts, making it one of the best beaches close to Disney World. Daytona is well known for allowing cars on the sand, so keep this in mind if you are traveling with young children. The beach is about 23 miles long with plenty of hotels, resorts and restaurants.
Daytona is home of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier. This area has lots of shops, street performers, rides, and restaurants, making it a popular spot for tourists who enjoy live entertainment and live music. It is a great spot for people watching, fishing from the fishing pier and all things you would expect from a quintessential beach town. Daytona Beach is on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida.
Cocoa Beach is one of the closest beaches to Disney World on the Atlantic Ocean side. It is one of the most popular Florida beaches for a beach day from the Orlando area, only about 60 miles or one hour short drive from central Florida. Full of touristy, beachy fun things to do, Cocoa is home to miles of beaches, plenty of restaurants, high rises, souvenir gift shops and plenty of hotels.
Home to Cocoa Beach Pier, tourists will find lots of things to do. One of the most popular shops is the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop which is over 52,000 square feet! You can find any beach gear your surf-loving soul might want and be able to take surfing lessons here as well! Open 24 hours, you can easily get lost in the store.
Cocoa Beach is also known as the “Space Coast” due to its close proximity to Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. Older kids and adults will enjoy a tour of the Port Canaveral area to learn more about space exploration. Disney Cruise Line, along with many other cruise ships, embark on their adventures from the Port Canaveral port.
Canaveral National Seashore
If you are looking for an East Coast escape, Canaveral National Seashore is a part of the National Park Service. If you are looking for a more secluded option, this is one of the best beaches close to Disney World. The seashore is made up of 58,000 acres and 75% of that is made up of Mosquito Lagoon, a part of Indian River Lagoon. Apollo Beach or Playalinda Beach are beautiful beaches to explore.
Here, you will find camping sites, horseback riding, canoeing, kayaking, hiking, fishing, and swimming opportunities, complete with its own barrier island. If you want to get away from it all on the Atlantic Coast, this is one of the best places to find sea turtles, bald eagles, sand dunes and explore Florida’s natural habitat. You can also view rocket launches from Canaveral National Seashore, so make sure to check the website for info on upcoming launches.
Clearwater Beach is a bit further from Orlando, about a two hour drive to the Gulf Coast area. It is well worth the drive. This is definitely one of the best beaches close to Disney World! We love the white sand and warm water of the Gulf beaches. The calmer seas make it easier for younger children to handle. Clearwater is a famous for its beautiful beaches with sparkling blue clear water, similar to the look of more exotic locales. It is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway with picnic areas, parking lots for easy access, and home of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.
Clearwater Marine Aquarium is home to Winter the Dolphin, star of the movie A Dolphin Tale. Daily admission is currently $32.95 for adults and $26.95 for kids, ages 3-12. Seniors are $30.95 and children 2 and under are free. The aquarium is open from 10 AM-6 PM. This is one of the best places to spend a rainy day at the beach!
Flagler Beach is another quiet beach option, about 95 miles from Orlando. If you want a calm family beach vacation, this could be the right spot for you. With its unspoiled beaches, you will see nature up close and personal with whales, dolphins and sea turtles abounding. You are also allowed to bring your dogs here, as Flagler Beach is pet friendly.
Ormond Beach is only about an hour away from Disney World on the Atlantic, making it one of the closest beaches to Disney World and Orlando. This is a small, quaint beach town where you can get away from it all. Just let the kids jump in the waves and relax and read a book (well, if you don’t have toddlers. If you little ones, pull out the shovels and sandbuckets.) Enjoy the natural beauty of Ormond Beach!
New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach is about 75 miles away from the Disney World area. It takes about one hour, twenty minutes to drive there from Orlando. This is the perfect place for families with great beaches, playgrounds, bathrooms, picnic areas, volleyball courts, and parking lots. There is about 17 miles of beach at New Smyrna. Some portions of the beach allow cars to drive and park, for a fee. New Smyrna Beach is on the Atlantic side and perfect for all kinds of water sports.
Smyrna Dunes Park is a 184 acre park which includes a handicapped accessible boardwalk, beautiful overlooks, a fishing pier and dog-friendly beaches. Admission is $10/vehicle.
Vero Beach is located about 110 miles from Disney World, making it about an 1 hour and 45 minute drive. It’s a beautiful quiet resort town and home to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort. This is a DVC property which combines Disney service with a laid-back beach resort feel. There are regular hotel rooms, villa properties, and cottages available. Perfect choice if you want the Disney feel without the rush and pace of being in the parks!
St Pete Beach
St. Pete Beach is a lovely public beach about 90 minutes from Disney World. This beach is on the west coast of Florida and offers beautiful white sand and calm seas. It is also home to the grand Don CeSar resort, a beautiful property to explore with your family.
Siesta Key is located about two hours and 15 minute drive, but it’s well worth the drive. It has plenty of amenities for guests, including a playground, restrooms and showers, restaurants and gift shops to keep you busy during your visit. This is one of Florida’s most popular beaches with beautiful white sand and turquoise blue waters. The area actually includes three different beaches: Siesta Key, Turtle Beach and Crescent Beach. There are plenty of options for all beachgoers.
St. Augustine Beach
St. Augustine Beach is a 2.5 hour drive from Disney World. It’s a bit of a drive, but it’s a great beach to visit for its beauty and history. There’s a great trolley service option to get around town to experience this historic beach town. The beaches are beautiful and quiet, so perfect for a family wanting to get away!
Anna Maria Island
If you want the quietest of beaches, check out Anna Maria Island. About a two hour drive from Disney World, it is a lovely seven mile barrier island on the Gulf of Mexico side of Florida. It is super calm and natural with no high rises or busy boardwalks. Make sure to visit Anna Maria Island if you want quiet beach relaxation on the Gulf Coast beaches.
I hope this guide to the best beaches close to Disney World and Orlando has been helpful to you! Be sure to read my other articles before your next Disney World vacation: Magic Kingdom tips, Animal Kingdom suggestions, Disney Springs with kids, Disney World for adults, and the best backpacks for Disney! Happy traveling!