Best Beaches Near Orlando for Families

Clearwater Beach at sunset
Clearwater Beach at sunset

Orlando attracts thousands of families every year for its theme parks, city life, and bustling atmosphere. While there’s plenty to do in this concrete jungle, a little beach escape can come in handy when your family gets tired of the traffic, long lines, and searing summer heat.

Today we’re looking at the 13 best beaches near Orlando for families. We’ve broken it down into the best family beaches for activities, sports, peace and quiet, and surrounding entertainment. Let’s dive in!

Best Beaches Near Orlando for Activities

For active families who need events and activities to stay entertained, you’ll want to check out Daytona Beach and Jacksonville beaches with your loved ones.

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Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach, Florida, USA beachfront skyline.
Daytona Beach, Florida, USA beachfront skyline.

Daytona Beach hosts over 20 miles of white beaches with turquoise waters. You can find arcades and amusement for kids up and down the shore. There is also an old-school pier full of kid-friendly fun to do when you want to take a break from the sand and surf.

A 12-mile stretch of the beach is dedicated to kids, encouraging activities like sandcastle building and boogie boarding.

One piece of advice is to avoid this beach if you’re planning your vacation during spring break – that’s the one time of the year Daytona is overrun with college students who may rain on families’ parades.

Jacksonville Beach

Jacksonville Beach is a Suburb located in Florida on the Atlantic Coast
Jacksonville Beach is a Suburb located in Florida on the Atlantic Coast

Jacksonville Beach has a ton of fun activities, especially around music. They host rock festivals, blues concerts, jazz festivals, and more. For those who like shopping, you may find a pop-up market on some weekends.

Kids’ activities range depending on the nearest holiday. You could find Easter egg hunts, sandcastle contests, and Fourth of July special events. If you’re around in April, check out their Opening of the Beaches Parade!

Best Beaches Near Orlando for Sports

For those active families who love all things sports and outdoors, New Smyrna, Flagler, and Cocoa Beach are meant for you.

New Smyrna Beach  

Aerial view of New Smyrna Beach in Florida
Aerial view of New Smyrna Beach in Florida

As one of the closest beaches to Orlando less than an hour away, New Smyrna is sometimes called Orlando’s local beach. Situated on the eastern seaboard, New Smyrna gets all of the wave action from the Atlantic, making it a perfect place for surfers and boogie boarders. You can also rent beach bikes nearby and pedal along the shoreline.

Flagler Beach

Sunrise at Flagler beach Florida USA
Sunrise at Flagler beach Florida USA

Just a bit past New Smyrna you’ll find Flagler Beach, between Daytona and Saint Augustine. You’ll be able to surf here too, but you’ll find fewer tourists than on New Smyrna.

Flagler is also home to a great fishing pier built for families who love to cast a line. You’ll need to pay an entrance fee of a few dollars if you plan to fish, but otherwise, you can walk the pier for around $1.50.

Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach pier in Cape Canaveral of Florida near Orlando
Cocoa Beach pier in Cape Canaveral of Florida near Orlando

Forty-five minutes from Orlando we’ll find Cocoa Beach. Families can learn from the Ron Jon Surf School, enjoy local fishing, biking, and other watersports. For NASA-enthusiasts, you may be able to see a rocket lifting off from the nearby Kennedy Space Center. Don’t forget to check out the pier for more family fun options.

Best Calm Beaches Near Orlando

If you’ve had enough of the Orlando crowds and city life, you may enjoy a quiet family escape to Canaveral National Seashore, Clearwater Beach, or Indialantic Beach.

Canaveral National Seashore

Beach at Canaveral National Seashore at Cape Canaveral Florida
Beach at Canaveral National Seashore at Cape Canaveral Florida

For peace and quiet while being one with nature, you’ll have to drive about an hour and a half to Canaveral Seashore. Here you and the kids may run into a sea turtle, spot a bald eagle, or get lucky enough to swim near a manatee. The beach spans 25 miles and homes 14 threatened and/or endangered species.

Clearwater Beach

Clearwater Beach at sunset
Clearwater Beach at sunset

Clearwater Beach, although popular, is clean, calm, and relaxed for family fun. This will steer you west of Orlando, enjoying the calmer and warmer water from the Gulf of Mexico. Lay back and watch your children play in soft white sand. If you need further services, you’re only a stone’s throw away from Clearwater’s shops and stands.

Indialantic Beach

Early morning seascape panorama with water reflection and beautiful clouds in the sky in Indialantic, Florida.
Early morning seascape panorama with water reflection and beautiful clouds in the sky in Indialantic, Florida.

Indialantic Beach brings us back to the eastern shore and makes you feel like you’ve gone back to the 50s. This beach brings laid-back island vibes and also hosts a long boardwalk great for long family strolls.

Best Orlando Beaches for Entertainment

If you’re into entertainment, the beach itself may only be half the fun. These entertainment-focused beaches are nestled in cities or hubs for family fun. From luxurious surroundings to historical towns, we’ve got it all.

Vero Beach

Atlantic Ocean Beach at Vero Beach, FL
Atlantic Ocean Beach at Vero Beach, FL

Vero Beach is a posh destination standing between the Atlantic and the Indian River. The downtown is sprinkled with high-end boutiques, but you’ll also be able to find local cafes and shops to take a break from the heat and sand.

For those looking for a weekend stay, you may want to check out the Disney Vero Beach Resort.

Saint Augustine

St. Augustine, Florida, USA town square and fountain.
St. Augustine, Florida, USA town square and fountain.

Saint Augustine’s beaches are long and appealing for an average beach day, but the real charm lies a few miles inland in the historic city. As the oldest city in the nation, Saint Augustine boasts a colonial feel with great bed and breakfasts, an old castle, and a tall lighthouse with excellent views for a family field trip.

Ponte Vedra

Palm trees on Lake Vedra. Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida
Palm trees on Lake Vedra. Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida

If you’re looking for an upscale community to explore, Ponte Vedra is it. Here you’ll find the host areas for the PGA Tour and Players Championship. Take a local bike tour to see it all with your crew.  

Saint Petersburg Beach

White sand beach at sunset at Fort Desoto Park in Saint Petersburg Florida
White sand beach at sunset at Fort Desoto Park in Saint Petersburg Florida

St. Pete’s offers a pristine beach with plenty of amenities available when you need them. Families can rent SUPs, kayaks, boogie boards, and more. For those who enjoy art and a blast of AC among the heat, you can check out museums like the Dali or Museum of Fine Arts.

Madeira Beach

Madeira Beach Florida
Madeira Beach Florida. Editorial credit: Khairil Azhar Junos / Shutterstock.com

Madeira Beach is slightly west of Saint Pete and is great for foodie families. You’ll enjoy the smaller, 2.5-mile beach and must head to Saint John’s Pass afterward. This village and boardwalk provide shopping, fishing, dining, and pure family entertainment. You can even take a dolphin-watching and shelling tour or rent your own boat.

See Also

US Beaches

Best Beaches Near Orlando for Families

Hi and welcome to my travel blog! Based in London, I work in investment banking in a quantitative field and although I am not part of the travel industry, I have a ton of passion for travel. My blog is a reference guide for my fellow travelers with the same passion as me. Hopefully the blog is easy to navigate and my aim is to bring the most relevant and interesting information before you begin your journey!