If you are planning a visit to Orlando with kids, then you may be planning some down time after some busy park at Walt Disney World, Universal, and all the other amazing parks in Orlando. This guide to the closest beach to Disney World for families are all within 1.5 hours of WDW, making for a fun beach trip which is an easy day trip from Orlando.
The guide not only covers beaches close to Disney World but gives an overview of the main facilities as well as other family things to do in the area. With beautiful white sandy beaches with water-sports 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.
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.
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.
The Best Family Beaches Near Disney World
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Atlantic Beaches Closest to Disney World & Orlando
The closest beaches to Disney World are the Cocoa Beaches (including Canaveral National Seashore), Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach and New Smyrna Beach. All of these are located on the east Atlantic coast and take just over one hour to reach – making this perfectly doable for a day trip from Disney World.
Cocoa Beach (1 hr)
Overview: If you are wondering how far is Disney world from the beach, then the Cocoa Beaches are about 1 hours drive from Orlando along the State Road 528, and it 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 a great place to watch the space shuttle from Cape Canaveral being launched – check timings beforehand.
Facilities: Lots of beach parks, (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 – $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. If you are thinking of a space themed visit, then this beach is approximately 35 minutes from the Kennedy Space Centre.
CHERIE DOWN PARK – offers restrooms, showers and picnic areas. Parking is free.
COCOA BEACH PIER – each 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.
JETTY PARK – 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 -perfect for a picnic! 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, 10 mins)
Overview: Daytona beach to Disney World is about an hours drive. 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. If you don’t have a car, it’s easy to go by bus from Orlando to Daytona Beach.
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.
SUNRISE PARK– 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. ormod beach is an hours drive making it ones of the closest beaches to Disney World, Florida.
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, 8 minutes)
Overview: New Smyrna Beach is just over 1 hour from Walt Disney World. It has a 17-mile stretch of white sandy beaches and popular with surfers, with a drive on beach approach. There is a $20 per day per vehicle access fee to drive on the beach. 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.
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.
Gulf Beaches Close to Disney World and Orlando
Clearwater Beach (1.5-2 hrs)
Overview: The famously beautiful soft, white powdery beach on the warmer Gulf of Mexico! A good ride can you get here in under 2 hours on the I-4, but unless you are up early plan for longer and hope to be pleasantly surprised!
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 arguably the best beach near Disney World and 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.
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 /2 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.
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