CLOSE TO ORLANDO
Downtown Orlando is about one hour by car to the closest beaches on the Atlantic Ocean. This makes for an easy day trip to soak up the sun and salt water.
A visit to the beach makes a great addition to a vacation at the central Florida theme parks.
Cocoa Beach Pier
The quickest way to the Atlantic Coast is by way of the Beachline Expressway, also known as State Road 528. This takes you into the heart of the Space Coast, with many fine beaches both north and south.
The closest city to the best beaches on the Gulf of Mexico is Clearwater, about a two hour drive from Orlando via I-4. This makes it a more strenuous day trip than visiting the ones on the Atlantic, especially if the interstate is super busy.
BEACHES ON THE ATLANTIC COAST
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St. Augustine Beach is one of the best beaches in northeast Florida and is a 1.5 hour drive from Orlando. It is a good place to not only enjoy the beach, but the many family oriented attractions in St. Augustine.
It is an easy drive from here into downtown St. Augustine or to Marineland on the south, a wonderful and historic attraction.
Flagler Beach is a small town on the ocean between St. Augustine Beach and Ormond Beach.
It is located on State Road A1A and has a population of about 5,000. Flagler Beach has a clean sandy beach that is almost completely uncluttered by the high rise condos and hotels that loom over most Florida beaches.
This fortunate condition has resulted because Highway A1A is so close to the Atlantic Ocean that there is no room for buildings on the ocean side of the highway.
Ormond Beach is the first town north of Daytona Beach on Florida's east coast. Part of the town is on the mainland and the rest is across the Halifax River on the Atlantic Ocean barrier island.
Daytona Beach is probably the most famous beach in this part of Florida. Daytona Beach is on the ocean on Florida's east coast about 57 miles northeast of Orlando.
Daytona Beach is a modern city with top notch residential, educational, entertainment, and shopping opportunities. It is also home to Daytona International Speedway.
This is also one of the best places on this coast to drive your car on the hard packed sand beach.
Ponce Inlet is south of Daytona Beach on the peninsula bounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Ponce de Leon Inlet and the Halifax River.
In historic times, the inlet was known as Mosquito Inlet. The place across the inlet is New Smyrna Beach; a short swim but a pretty fair drive by car.
New Smyrna Beach is a beautiful city of about 20,000 people located about halfway between Daytona Beach and Titusville on Florida's east coast. It has nice shopping and dining districts both on the beach and the mainland.
Canaveral National Seashore is a pristine 24 mile long beach between New Smyrna Beach and Kennedy Space Center. It is on the barrier island and is adjacent to the huge Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.
Port Canaveral Jetty Park is on the south side of the entrance channel to Port Canaveral. It has a wonderful beach and some first rate camping facilities.
It is a short walk from the park to Port Canaveral itself, with many fine restaurants and Tiki bars serving fresh seafood.
Cape Canaveral is a small city along the Atlantic Coast with fine white sand beaches. It is a great place to stay while visiting the many attractions in the area. Cherie Down Park is one of the most beautiful beaches here.
Cocoa Beach is immediately south of Cape Canaveral and has great beaches, many restaurants and tourist attractions such as Ron Jon Surf Shop and the Cocoa Beach Pier.
Satellite Beach was born in the 1950s and has a fine beach. Although the beach is lined with high rises, there are several parks and access points to the ocean.
Indian Harbour Beach is on the barrier island located between the Atlantic Ocean and the Banana River section of the Indian River Lagoon.
Indialantic is on the barrier island across from Melbourne. It has a beach with a long boardwalk.
Melbourne Beach is a historic town with almost no high rises along the beach. Some of the quietest beaches in this part of Florida, and a great place to watch the nesting of the sea turtles during season.
Vero Beach believes in sunrises and not high rises. The wonderful beach has many public access points. If you are visiting Walt Disney World, you may want to consider staying at Disney's Vero Beach Resort.
BEACHES ON THE GULF OF MEXICO
Dunedin is a small city on the Gulf coast that has some fine beaches. It is a great place to access Honeymoon Island State Park and its wonderful beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.
Clearwater is a major city with access to Clearwater Beach and the long stretch of barrier island along the Gulf of Mexico. Although Clearwater itself is on the mainland, the beaches are a short distance away across a causeway.
The Pinellas County beaches stretch south from Clearwater Beach south to Fort Desoto Park, a distance of 25 miles. Some key beach towns along the way include Indian Rocks Beach, Madeira Beach, Johns Pass Village, Treasure Island, St. Pete Beach and Pass A Grille Beach.
Fort Desoto Park has great beachside campsites, picnic tables, and a view of the Sunshine Skyway bridge across Tampa Bay.
Fort Desoto Park
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By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2022
Florida Back Roads Travel is not affiliated with or endorsed by Backroads, a California-based tour operator which arranges and conducts travel programs throughout the world.