Best Beaches Near Orlando

Choose between beaches packed with attractions and others practically undeveloped along the Atlantic or Gulf Coast.

Cocoa Beach view of Cocoa Pier at sunset

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Visitors to the City Beautiful are sometimes surprised to discover that Orlando is landlocked. Although the metro area is full of gorgeous lakes, it's smack dab in the middle of the state, so reaching a beach takes a bit of time.

Fortunately, with the exception of the Panhandle, Florida is relatively narrow. From Orlando, you can easily drive east to watch a beautiful sunrise over the Atlantic or head west to see it set over the Gulf Coast. In fact, you can even do both — ideally while listening to Florida band Sister Hazel’s album "Chasing Daylight," inspired by that very notion.

If you’re longing for a bit of salt and sand while you’re in town visiting one of Orlando's parks, here are five great beaches to try. Most are just an hour's drive away.

Cocoa Beach

Lifeguard hut on Cocoa Beach in Florida

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One of the beaches that Orlandoans consider their own, Cocoa Beach sits just east of Orlando, a straight shot down the Martin Andersen Beachline Expressway (toll road State Road 528). It’s incredibly easy to reach — you just follow the expressway for about an hour, until you pass the cruise ship port and hit the beach. Cocoa Beach is a treasured surf spot, home to a huge Ron Jon Surf Shop and the Cocoa Beach Surf Company. It has a historic boardwalk and pier that host a handful of popular beachfront bars, gift shops, live music, and more.

New Smyrna Beach

Sunset view of the city of New Smyrna Beach

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Quieter and more residential than the Cocoa Beach waterfront, New Smyrna Beach is further north on the East Coast, about an hour's drive from Orlando. Like Cocoa Beach, people flock here for the surf breaks. The white-sand beach is especially laidback and spotted with cute houses, not touristy restaurants or souvenir stands. But make sure to check out historic Flagler Avenue, which stretches west to east from the Indian River to the beach; that's where you'll find plenty of eateries and shops.

Clearwater Beach

View down busy Clearwater Beach, Florida, on sunny day

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If it’s the Gulf Coast you’re craving, venture southwest to Clearwater Beach, where the sand is powdery white and the sunsets are dazzling. Take to the beachfront promenade on a bicycle or skates. Then, enjoy the nightly Sunsets at Pier 60 festival with music, food, and street performances. If you have a bit of extra time, consider taking the 20-minute ferry ride to Caladesi Island, one of the prettiest beaches in the country. Clearwater Beach is a little more than a two-hour drive from Orlando.

Daytona Beach

Hotels along Daytona Beach at sunset

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Just as famous for its NASCAR speedway as its seashore, Daytona Beach nonetheless offers a great oceanside environment on the Atlantic. It’s easily accessible from Orlando — about an hour's drive via I-4 — and it has no shortage of hotels, restaurants. and bars to offer tourists. Kids will love the carnival feel of the lively promenade, especially all lit up at night, and adults relish the opportunity to drive right onto the hard-packed sand (at certain times, in designated areas). You wouldn't go here for a quiet beach getaway, per se; rather, expect vibrant nightlife and adventurous activities for all ages.

Canaveral National Seashore

Waves washing in on Canaveral National Seashore

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This National Park Service-run Canaveral National Seashore is the Orlando-adjacent beach for nature lovers. You won't find folks partying out of their truck beds or carnival rides on this beach. Instead, you might cross paths with threatened species like loggerhead turtles or manatees. Birders keep an eye out for falcons, wood storks, and bald eagles. Hiking and fishing are popular activities at the Canaveral National Seashore. This preserved stretch of the Atlantic Coast suffered some damage from 2022's Hurricanes Ian and Nicole, but most of the park has since been restored and reopened. It's about an hour's drive east of Orlando.

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