Florida’s East Coast Beaches

woman enjoying herself on the beach

When I think of Florida, two images come to mind. A day at the theme parks and a day with the wind in my hair soaking up the sun. Luckily, Orlando is centrally located in the state, so getting to beaches on the east or west coast is quick and easy. Be sure to take a day off from the theme parks and enjoy some of Florida’s coastline.

Here is a list of recommended beaches located on the east coast.  All are about 1-2 hours drive from Orlando.

The Atlantic Ocean lies just about a one hour’s drive from Orlando. Here you can find a wide variety of beaches, communities, and activities for the whole family.

map of beaches on east coast

Daytona Beach

driving time: about 1 hour, 7 minutes

Ever dreamed of driving your car on the beach?  Well, welcome to Daytona Beach, known as “The World’s Most Famous Beach”.  Yes, drive in limited areas on the beach (dependent on the tides) from sunrise to sunset. Now is your time!

Daytona Beach is also home to the World Famous NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway which is open to the public every day.

Daytona Beach is also known for its “Bike Week” each March and Biketoberfest each fall when thousands of motorcyclists come together for event-filled festivals.

Nearby is Ponce Inlet, home of Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, Florida’s tallest lighthouse and Ormond Beach to the north has The Casements which was John D Rockefeller’s winter home in the early 1900’s.

 New Smyrna Beach

Referred to by the locals and most Orlandoians as “the real Florida” because of its laid back attitude, New Smyrna Beach is also known for its arts and culture. The town has two historic downtown streets.

The pedestrian friendly Canal Street District has many upscale shops, specialty boutiques, and independently owned restaurants.

Flagler Avenue has more of an old Florida feel with five blocks of family run restaurants, souvenir beach shops, local boutiques as well as access to the beach.

The Marine Discovery Center offers eco-boat tours to view the lagoon’s wildlife, including manatees and dolphins.

Just to the north, Smyrna Dunes Park is a perfect location to enjoy nature. You will find elevated walkways, picnic areas, an observation tower, rolling dunes and abundant wildlife as well as fishing and swimming. $10 per vehicle. Driving time from Orlando is about 1 hour, 8 minutes.

Port Canaveral

Disney Cruise Ship tied up at the Disney Terminal, Port Canaveral - Florida - (1)

Travel light to the beach at Jetty Park, Port Canaveral.  This beach has vendors with rentals from chairs to kayaks. And they have lifeguards on duty year round. The two-story, air conditioned beach pavilion has places to grab a snack and cool off.  The 1200 ft. fishing pier is a great place to take pictures of cruise ships or submarines or to spot dolphins. Driving time from Orlando: about 1 hour, 9 minutes.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando with a drive time of about 1 hour, 5 minutes.  It is known for its surfing culture and is home to the international headquarters of Ron Jon Surf Shop.  The store is open 24 hours a day. Be sure to sign up for a surfing lesson!

Watch and talk to the fisherman on the pier to see what the big catch of the day is.  Sometimes you can see Manatees swimming by.  There is also a couple of good restaurants to grab a bite to eat.

Spring breakers like this beach for its volleyball, surfing and partying. If you seek a quieter location, try Lori Wilson Park, where you will find free parking, bathrooms, and outdoor showers.

Vero Beach

Vero Beach is less than 2 hours southeast from Orlando and has much to offer.  Located on a barrier island across from Indian River Lagoon.  Noted for its wide open beaches, Jaycee Beach is perfect for families and South Beach Park is the local’s favorite for playing volleyball. Along with the beautiful beaches, you will find airboat rides, kayak tours, fishing excursions, golf, biking, art galleries, museums and even a botanical garden.

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