If you’re looking to trade rollercoasters for refreshing waves, you may find yourself wondering on the location of the closest beach to Orlando, and how best to reach it. Fortunately, there is no shortage of reachable beaches from the city: its central location ensures that both the Atlantic and Gulf sides of Florida are accessible.
Sunny Florida is famous for its white-sand beaches, big open skies and ocean waves. If you’re staying in Orlando, you can easily escape the busy theme parks and sweltering streets by visiting one of these four excellent beaches.
Top 4 Beaches Near Orlando
From Orlando you can choose to travel east and hit the beaches of the Atlantic, or west to the calmer waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Both offer the soft sands, sweeping vistas and blue waters Florida is so famous for.
There are dozens of fantastic beaches near Orlando on the two coastlines, but these are four of the best.
Starting with the Atlantic side, Cocoa Beach is around an hour away from Orlando via FL-528 E. It is not the absolute closest beach to Orlando – the pristine Canaveral National Seashore is slightly nearer – but it is one of them, and Cocoa Beach is certainly one of the finest.
As is often the case with Florida’s tumultuous Atlantic side beaches, Cocao Beach is perfect for surfing. You will often find beginner-friendly sea waves hitting the shore; nothing too challenging, and an ideal environment for adventurous families. For those who prefer to lay back and soak up the sun, the soft and well-maintained sands of the beach offer an attractive alternative.
You can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the area from the beach itself or wander along the 800 feet of Cocoa Beach’s Boardwalk for unparalleled views of the Atlantic. Looking for places to eat? The seaside town that frames the beach is charming and traditional, and has plenty of options for foodies – whether your ideal meal is seafood by the beach or at a steakhouse.
If you’re looking for something to do besides visit the beach, the outstanding and educational Kennedy Space Center is only 14 miles from Cocoa Beach.
A little further out but still within day trip distance, the laid-back Vero Beach is worth the extra 30 minutes drive. It takes roughly an hour and a half via Florida’s Turnpike and E State Rd 60 E to reach Vero Beach from Orlando.
Like Cocoa Beach, Vero Beach is on the Atlantic side, and popular with families. It is not quite as good for surfing, though watersports are still enjoyed on the beach; the main attraction is the sublime scenery and serene atmosphere that pervades the area. This is a beach for people looking for a relaxing escape to the coast.
Vero Beach is peaceful and sophisticated, accompanied by a wealthy town with an elegant, upmarket feel. Boutiques, museums, chic bars, and fine restaurants can all be found in the town; making this an ideal beach visit for those with a taste for the finer things in life. Beach-goers who prefer wild parties and entertainment would be better suited heading further up the coast to Daytona Beach instead.
You can expect a beach experience here without all the bells and whistles; it is simply a chance to reconnect with nature, enjoy the sand and the surf, and spend some downtime by the coast.
Skipping over to the Gulf side of Florida, we have Clearwater Beach: a beautiful amalgamation of white sand, sea waves, and family fun. You can reach Clearwater Beach from Orlando within two hours when driving via FL-528 E.
Three miles of sand and shallow waters make this a favorite with families, and the atmosphere reflects this. While Clearwater is a beach popular with people of all ages and walks of life, the laid-back and easygoing beach is particularly family-friendly. As the name suggests, the waters are clean and clear, and the contrast of the turquoise sea with the pale sand merge together for an incredibly visually appealing beach.
Visitors can fill their time in Clearwater with lounging on the beach and swimming in the sea, or they can explore the town. There are plenty of restaurants to choose from, shops to explore, and activities to try. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium and Pier 60 are both fantastic places to visit!
Siesta Key Beach
If you don’t mind a bit of a roadtrip, you shouldn’t miss Siesta Key Beach. This is a beach in contention for best in Florida, which it puts it in the mix for best beach in the entirety of the United States. It is roughly two and a half hours away from Orlando via I-4 W and I-75 S however, so isn’t the closest beach to the city.
Nowhere in Florida has whiter sands than Siesta Key Beach. It is a beach comparable to those found on Greek islands, with sparkling aquamarine waters and spotless soft sands. Relaxing on the gleaming, powder-like sand is a rejuvenating experience, but equally, there are sports facilities like volleyball courts available for those who prefer to be a little more active. Siesta Village is characterful, but only small, so entertainment options are rather limited.
Siesta Key Beach is a breathtakingly beautiful beach, and one of the most exquisite places to watch the sunset in Florida.
The Beach Everyone Forgets About!
New Smyrna Beach is another beach on the Atlantic coast, so is roughly an hour away from Orlando via I-4 E and FL-44 E.
Compared to the likes of Clearwater Beach and Daytona, this beach often flies under the radar. But with 17 miles of white sand, it shouldn’t be ignored. Surfers in particular flock to New Smyrna Beach for its perfect wave conditions and laid-back vibe. In recent years, the food and entertainment offerings have made a resurgence, making this one of the most exciting up-and-coming beach resorts in Florida.
The Closest Beach to Orlando
Cocoa Beach is the closest beach to Orlando – or, at least, the closest beach you really should visit. Others may be a few minutes closer, but you will be traveling for at least 50 regardless. All of the beaches mentioned here are world-class, and all are reachable from Orlando in a day.