If you are planning a visit to Orlando with kids, then you may be planning some down time after some busy park days? This guide to the best beaches near Orlando and Disney World, covers the closest beaches from Orlando, the main facilities as well as other family things to do in the area, making it an easy day trip from Orlando. With beautiful white sandy beaches with watersports, to shallow shores perfect for toddlers to the best beaches near Orlando for collecting shells, we have you covered.
From Orlando and WDW, both the east coast and west coast beaches are within easy driving distance and each has its advantages. The closest beach, Cocoa Beach is 59 miles from Orlando.
As a general rule the beaches on the east coast aren’t as clear and the sand can be rocky but there are exceptions as you’ll see below!
These Atlantic beaches are also slightly closer by about 30 minutes and great for waves and surfing. Gulf beaches on the west coast of Florida have whiter sand and the water is warmer as they lie on the Gulf of Mexico, but can take longer to reach. Also look out for Florida beach front camping opportunities.
So when you’re ready for a change of scenery from all the things to do in Orlando, check out these beaches close to Disney World! In driving distance order!
Note: Peak traffic times may result in your journey taking longer.
14 + Family Beaches Near Orlando, Florida
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Cocoa Beach (1 hr) – 59 Miles
Overview: The Cocoa Beaches are about 1 hours drive from Orlando, and is the east coast surfing capital! It’s a long 72 mile sandy, soft beach but with plenty of shells to collect. For the best shell finding, search around 2pm when the high tide come in. Cocoa beach is also the closest beach to Disney World. nearby is the Kennedy Space Center. To get here, take the Beachline Expressway State Road 528.
Facilities: Lots of beach parks, (full details below) beachfront parking, a playground, a dog park and lifeguards in season.
COCOA BEACH BEACHES & PARKS
ALAN SHEPARD PARK
5-acres, ocean-front park, providing picnic, shower, and restroom facilities. Facilities include 10 large picnic pavilions, several smaller covered picnic tables and a bathhouse. More than 300 parking spaces are available for automobiles and recreational vehicles.
ANOVA BEACH DOG PARK
This is the only dog friendly beach along the Space Coast. Free to access. Showers and restrooms are available.
CANAVERAL NATIONAL SEASHORE
7611 S. Atlantic Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169, USA
A secluded and beautiful beach near Orlando is the Canaveral National Seashore. It’s a refuge for flora and fauna with sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand.
Parking is $10 per vehicle for the day. You can rent canoes and participate in a Night Sky Exploration event. Grills Seafood Deck & Tiki Bar offers breakfast, lunch & dinner; Outdoor Dining is available. There are a number of beach access points within the park and each access point has it’s own parking lot, restroom and shower. It’s not as well known or crowded, making it a good contender for the best family beach near Orlando.
Open Summer: daily from 6 am to 8 pm. Winter: daily from 6 am to 6 pm
CHERIE DOWN PARK
Offers restrooms, showers and picnic areas. Parking is free.
Beach rentals are available for a cost and parking fees are $15 per vehicle, which includes all vehicle occupants entry to the Pier. Local tip: Park down from the pier on 16th Street parking which is free. Bonus is there are bathrooms and fresh water to rinse off in.
Beach rentals include chairs and umbrellas, boogie boards and kayaks. Features a concession stand run by local restaurant favorite Fish Lips, bike paths, a fishing pier, playground, showers and pavilion rentals. $5.00 per vehicle for Brevard County residents and $15.00 per vehicle for non-residents (ID is required).
LORI WILSON PARK
A whopping 33 acres of beach park makes this beach ideal for families with plenty of space making it a quieter option! Parking fee is $15 per vehicle. Offers visitors a playground, BBQ grills, a dog park, showers, picnic areas, nature trail, beach rentals, beachfront parking, and lifeguards in season.
ROBERT P. MURKSHE MEMORIAL PARK
Provides picnic tables, picnic shelters, showers, restroom facilities, showers, fishing and free parking
SIDNEY FISHER PARK
Offers a playground and BBQ grills. Parking is $15.00 for cars and recreation vehicles.
Daytona Beach (1 hr)
Overview: known for Daytona International Speedway, which hosts February’s iconic Daytona 500 NASCAR race and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. With 23 miles of sandy beaches – take a swim, build a sandcastle, hunt seashells or relax under a beach umbrella. For food and drink savor local flavors, from casual eateries to waterfront dining. There is a vibrant ambience here in certain areas, especially in the evenings and weekends which teenagers may prefer but as you can see below there are plenty of younger family places too!
Daytona Beach & Parks
BREAKERS OCEANFRONT PARK AND ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING CENTER
Walking areas, children’s fountain, volleyball and playground. The public facility is open daily, sunrise to sunset. Splash Park and restrooms hours 10:30 – 5, Seasonal hours apply.
SUN SPLASH PARK
Amenities include a shaded playground, picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor showers, beach access ramps and off-beach parking. The Splash Pad is closed for the months of December, January, and February.
This waterfront park features three fishing piers, covered pavilion with picnic tables, restrooms and a boat ramp.
FRANK RENDON PARK
Features sheltered picnic areas, grills, children’s playground, restrooms and outdoor showers. Beach walkway and observation deck.
LIGHTHOUSE POINT PARK
Cars can’t park on the beach here but there is a playground, picnic areas and water sports outfitters, where you can board a banana boat, rent paddle boards and personalized water crafts, or book a parasailing excursion.
Ormond Beach (1hr)
Overview: Visit Ormond beach for beachfront parks with splash pad, outdoor grills, tables and more. Ormond is just one of the beaches near Orlando for sunbathing and picnicking!
ANDY ROMANO BEACHFRONT PARK: Andy Romano Beachfront Park. With onsite bathrooms, splash pad, benches and free parking! . 839 S Atlantic Ave, Ormond Beach, FL 32176
BIRTHPLACE OF SPEED PARK: The Birthplace of Speed Park is a .7 acre oceanfront park that is open from sunrise to sunset. The park provides a lovely pavilion, picnic tables, outdoor grill, shower, and drinking fountain. Paid parking is available nearby on the beach
MICHAEL CROTTY BICENTENNIAL PARK: Beachgoers may park across the street from the ocean on the park’s east side to enjoy the sand and surf. Has lots of facilities including:
- Picnic area
- Racquetball court
- Tennis court
- Baseball field
- Basketball court
- Boardwalk and nature walk
- Canoe/kayak launch
- Community building
- Dog park
- Fishing dock
- Football/soccer field
TOM RENICK PARK: Tom Renick Park is handicapped accessible and has picnic pavilions, a playground, restrooms, showers and bike racks. 1565 Ocean Shore Blvd., Ormond-by-the-Sea, 3 miles north of Granada Blvd.
New Smyrna Beach (1 hr)
Overview: One of the most popular beaches near Orlando for surfing and for residents of Orlando. 17-mile stretch of white sandy beaches and a favorite with surfers, with a drive on beach approach. There is a $20 per day per vehicle access fee to drive on the beach – parking wherever you like to sunbathe or swim. A dog beach is located on the north side of the jetty at Smyrna Dunes Park.
New Smyrna Beach Parks
SMYRNA DUNE PARK – one of a few county parks that is pet-friendly, well known to surfers, 73 acres of pristine land. The park consists of five ecosystems (ocean, river, dunes, scrub zone, saltwater marsh).
Picnic areas, pavilions and an observation tower is available
There is a $10 fee per vehicle to get in to the park
Vero Beach (1.5 hrs)
Overview: located along Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Vero Beach is a haven for golf, water sports and fishing. There are peaceful beaches, museums, nature tours and a range of hotels. Disney even has a resort here, Disney’s Vero Beach resort, with a Pirate themed play area, sing-alongs, campfires and more so make the best of Disney and the beach!
Vero Beach Parks
SOUTH BEACH PARK -offers wide sands and volleyball courts.
-downtown there is the local citrus industry
-on the outskirts there is the McKee Botanical Garden which has tropical plants and water lily–filled streams
-to the north there is the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge which shelters brown pelicans
SEBASTIAN INLET STATE PARK: 3 miles of beach – take the Vero Beach entrance to Sebastian Inlet State Park. This is a popular surfing spot for teens and also boasts a shallow swimming cove (located at the northern end of the island) for younger children.
MCKEE BOTANICAL GARDEN– situated on an 18-acre tropical hammock in Vero Beach, Florida
-features a diverse botanical collection, award-winning art exhibitions, special events and educational opportunities for all ages
-has an all-new Children’s Garden where children can explore
ROUND ISLAND BEACH PARK – the last stop in the Indian River County parks system before entering St. Lucie County.
-Lifeguards are on duty and may operate within seasonal hours.
-The park is open from sunrise to sunset, year-round.
-Onsite amenities include handicap beach access, restrooms, showers, picnic tables, grills, playground, covered pavilions, paved parking, boat launch and observation tower.
-The beach is stunning and you can walk across the road to the boat launch / deck overlook
-There are lots of manatee and porpoise, a perfect place to kayak!
HUMINSTON PARK – lots of parking, restrooms, playground and lifeguards.
Clearwater Beach (1.5 – 2.5hrs depending on traffic – 108 miles)
Overview: The famously beautiful soft, white powdery beach! Dig down for some shells otherwise head to Sand Key Park where there are lots of shells and not much sand as you get closer to the water. There are lots of public restrooms and outside showers. It’s also one of the best family beaches near Orlando. No car? No problem! Organized tours with hotel pick ups and options for lunch, pirate cruises, and the Sea Screamer to hopefully see wild dolphins are a great way to get to Clearwater. Clearwater Beach is a popular spot for watersports but there are lots of other things to do in Clearwater too: We also like these tips for visiting Clearwater Beach.
At Clearwater you can:
- Go on a dolphin boat tour
- SUP Stand up Paddle boarding
- Cyclists and rollerbladers can glide along a winding beachfront promenade.
- Dine in casual seafood restaurants and cafes
- A great place to find conch shells, Sand Key Park in Clearwater is a haven for shell collectors
- Pier 60 hosts a nightly festival with street performers and craft vendors
- A nice playground and a concession stand is available
Best Family-friendly restaurants in Clearwater:
- Marina Cantina
- Poke Havana
- The Salty Crab Bar
- Grill North Beach
Clearwater Areas & Parks
Best places for kid-friendly nature & parks in Clearwater:
- CLEARWATER BEACH
- BEACH WALK
- SAND KEY PARK-Plenty of metered parking available($5 flat-rate parking fee applied); Great place if you are considering to picnic with play areas; Low tides and perfect for kids and shells
- OTHER ATTRACTIONS: Clearwater Marine Aquarium & Ream Wilson Clearwater Trail
St. Pete Beach (1.5 hrs)
Overview: St Pete Beach is set on a barrier island, west of St. Petersburg, great for the beach walkers and people watchers. There are 235 parking spaces (parking fee), restrooms, showers and a water fountain. Pass-a-Grille Beach is an undeveloped stretch of public beach – it is good if you heading to the beach with a baby or toddler as there are lots of access to the beach via boardwalks. Another popular St. Pete Beach area is Fort De Soto Park, which has a large pirate ship playground near the North Beach entrance.
-Don’t forget to visit the pink Moorish-style Don CeSar Hotel, a 1928 landmark, that looms over the shore.
-The Pass-A-Grille area offers galleries, shops and the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, which displays postcards and other artifacts in a 1917 church
-Nearby, boats depart to Shell Key, a nesting site for seabirds and turtles.
-Lots of shops to meander along nearby Gulf Boulevard, hotels, restaurant and bars
-Corey Avenue Sunday Market – An open-air fresh market in the heart of St. Pete Beach that supports 50+ vendors selling a variety of locally produced products! Free parking – Live music
-Merry Pier – Historic fishing pier with bait and tackle shop, fishing charters, island excursion charters and fresh seafood for sale. Bike and rod rentals.
Indian Rocks Beach (2hrs)
Overview: Indian Rocks Beach (a Pinellas county park) boasts 27 public beach access parks with free parking. Public restrooms are available at three locations within the city; Main Beach Access Park, Kolb Park, and the IRB Nature Preserve/ Dog Park.
Most beach access areas are equipped with beach showers & bicycle racks & park benches. Each access boardwalk is marked by a sign on the beach and also at the entrance of the walkway going out toward the beach. You’ll want to make a mental note of which access park you parked near; that way you can easily find your way back to your car.
Address: 1700 Gulf Blvd.Indian Rocks Beach, FL 33785
Anna Maria Island (2 hrs)
Overview: Anna Maria Island is a barrier island on Florida’s Gulf Coast and is a good base for exploring the southern area of Tampa Bay. If you are looking for shells, then try: Holmes Beach, Coquina Beach, Bayfront Park, Bean Point.
Both public beaches (Coquina and Manatee beach) have showers outside & restrooms space to change.
Best places for kid-friendly outdoor activities in Anna Maria Island:
- Gulf Islands Adventures
- Egmont Key Adventures
- AMI Charters
- Captain Aaron Lowman Fishing Charters
- Anna Maria Charters
Things to Do with Kids on Anna Maria Island:
- Snorkelling, Surf camp, Fishing on the Piers, Horseback Riding in the Water, Toot around the island in a Golf Cart, Paint a Sand Dollar, Try Freakishly Fresh Donuts, Bike Riding, Anna Maria Historic Museum
- Manatee Park – many sports activities.
- Coquina Park – great place if you would like a long bike ride. It’s also a life-guarded beach with water sports rentals, concessions and a playground.
- Bayfront Park – it’s playground and picnic facilities, a great place to wade in the water and explore marine life that need a bit more protection like crabs, starfish, etc
Kid-Friendly Restaurants: Poppo’s Taqueria, The Donut Experiment, Anna Maria Island Beach Cafe, Ginny’s and Jane E’s, Ginny’s and Jane E’s
Lido Beach Sarasota (2 hrs)
Overview: 15-acre Lido Beach is a year-round spot for beautiful beach days with the family. With 3,000 feet of white sand which meets with the turquoise gulf waters, it weaves down to the mangrove on Lido Key. Parking spots are very close.
Things to do with kids at Lido Beach
- Visit Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium
- The outdoors eco experience if you like mangrooves and kayaking
- Meet birds at Save our Seabirds
- Visit Ted Sperling Nature Park, also known as South Lido Park.
- Also nearby is the Brush Bayou, which is a small shallow lake with an abundance of marine life.
- Visit Ken Thompson Park, with its canopy-wrapped boardwalks, mangroves, picnic shelters, fishing pier, trails, and playground.
- Take a walk at the nearby pet-friendly Bayfront Park.
- Shell collecting-a great spot for seeing shells is on the Captiva or Sanibel beaches, south of the Sarasota area.
Searching after a storm is the best time to find shells have been stirred up from the bottom of the ocean and washed ashore
Where to eat
Most places in the area are kid friendly.
-Cha Cha Coconuts on St. Armands is great for kids.
-Also:Dolphin Cafe, Columbia, Olde Salty Dog by Mote Marine Aquarium, DryDock Waterfront Grill on Longboat
-The beach has parking for 400 cars along with restrooms and outdoor showers at most beach access points.
Caladesi Island State Park (2 hrs)
Overview: Caladesi Island State Park isa Florida State Park located on Caladesi Island in the Gulf of Mexico. It’s
accessible by passenger ferry or by private boat from a dock on Honeymoon Island. Amenities include a three-mile nature trail, a marina, picnic pavilions, bathhouses, a park concession stand, and a beach. Once at Caladesi, families can explore the island’s nature trails, swim in the clear blue-green waters (an alternative to the incredible natural springs near Orlando), and relax on the white-sand beaches. Explore the mangroves by canoe or kayak.
Caladesi has some fantastic shells available, you’ll find a variety of shells that are still whole and rarer than in other spots around the state. It is a short walk across to the Gulf, beach side. On the way, are the bathrooms, with showers to rinse, also.
Things to do in Caladesi Island State Park
-Kayaking to Caladesi Island
-Taking a Ferry to Caladesi Island
-Camping at Caladesi Island State Park
-Hiking to Caladesi Island
Cedar Key (2 hrs)
Overview: Whilst Cedar Key is not your white sand beach it is a great place for shelling at low tide. Check the tide pools. Cedar Key is known for the Cedar Key National Wildlife Refuge: a group of small islands with trails and rich birdlife.
Things to do in Cedar Key
- Visit Cedar Key Museum State Park
- Cemetery point park, The cemetery has some beautiful flowering trees which could be viewed from the boardwalk.
- Kayak Cedar Keys
- Cedar Keys National Wildlife Refuge
- Lower Suwannee National Wildlife Refuge, Cedar Key
- The Cedar Key Railroad Trestle Nature Trail
- Cedar Key Scrub State Reserve, Cedar Key
- Waccasassa Bay Preserve State Park
- Voyles Guide Service, Cedar Key
- Tony’s Seafood Restaurant, Cedar Key, FL
- Steamers Clam Bar and Grill, Cedar Key, Florida
- The Island Hotel and Restaurant, Cedar Key, FL
Jupiter Island (2.5 hrs)
Overview: The town of Jupiter Island is located on the barrier island called Jupiter Island, in Martin County, Florida. If you wish to shell here there are 2 access points: public on A1A and another you have to pay to get in- Nathaniel P. Reed Park. At Hobe Sound beach there are public restrooms, showers to rinse the sand off your body, water fountains, picnic areas with tables, benches, and pavilions. At Jupiter Beach Park there is a guarded swimming area, sand volleyball courts, fishing & picnic sites.
Shelling on Jupiter Island
-Seashells at Coral Cove Park Jupiter Island
-If you wish to shell here there are 2 access points: public on A1A and another you have to pay to get in- Nathaniel P. Reed Park
Things to do and visit:
- Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
- Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
- Dubois Park – The park has a historical house built on a shell mound.
- Riverbend Park – AMENITIES fishing (freshwater) parking
- Jupiter Dog Beach
- Carlin Park – AMENITIES amphitheater, Seabreeze beach frontage, guarded (3,000 feet) beach surf
Where to eat: Jupiter Donut Factory, Dune Dog Cafe, Lazy Loggerhead Cafe, Berry Fresh Cafe
Little Moirs Leftovers, Food Shack, Center Street Nook, Shipwreck Bar & Grille
Fernandina Beach (2.5 hrs)
Overview: Ferandina Beach is in Nassau County, Florida, United States, on Amelia Island and is a great place for
-shark tooth and shells, there are plenty of both along the shoreline of Amelia Island
-Some favorite shells found on Amelia include sand dollars, great heart cockles, olives, lightning whelks and baby’s ear moon snails
What to do at Ferandina Beach:
- Kayak the Lofton Creek
- Tour the Pinball Museum
- View the Animals at the Amelia Island Nature Center
- Learn to Surf
- Learn the History of Amelia Island
- Take a Stroll Along Main Street
- Take an Amelia River Cruise
- Where to eat
-T-Rays Burger Station
-Timoti’s Seafood Shack
-Nana Teresa’s Bake Shop
-Tasty’s Fresh Burgers and Fries
-Hola! Cuban Cafe
Parks and amenities
-Egan’s Creek Park
-Nassau Humane Society Dog Park
-Fernandina Plaza Historic State Park
-Main Beach Park offers public restrooms
-Seaside Park offers public restrooms
-Amelia Island State Park Public restrooms
-PETERS POINT PARK
We hope you enjoyed our guide to the best beaches near Orlando for families. Which is your favorite?