From stunning sunrises and mile-high shine to gorgeous sunsets as far as the eye can see, Central Florida just happens to be one of the top beach destinations in the world. Located smack dab in the middle of both coasts—the East Coast on the Atlantic Ocean and the West Coast on the Gulf of Mexico—Orlando is a quick day trip to either destination. Let’s take a look at our three favorite beaches in Central Florida.
Insider tip Alcohol, pets and glass containers are not allowed on any of these Florida beaches (or any Florida beach, for that matter, unless specified). Fines are hefty.
#1: Clearwater Beach
At just under 90 miles from Orlando, Clearwater Beach is a great day trip. Aside from the hundreds of attractions, it’s home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the US, not to mention one of the widest – from boardwalk to water you’ll find hundreds of feet of sand, depending on the tide. Its powder-white sand, sunny skies almost every day and shallow, clear blue water draws visitors year-round from across the globe.
From the Sand Key Bridge to just north of the famous Palm Pavilion Beachside Grill, visitors will find restaurants, entertainment and shopping galore. A few local favorite restaurants include:
- Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill
- Tate Island Grill at the Sandpearl Resort
- Crabby’s Dockside.
Pier 60 is always entertaining and is packed wall-to-wall with fun vendors. Just after dusk catch a movie at the free outdoor movie theater.
The sand never gets too hot on Clearwater Beach, so even on the hottest of days, you can walk on it barefoot. Because of this, it happens to be a prime destination for beach volleyball.
How to get there: Take I-4 West to 275 South to 60 – from there, just follow the signs.
#2: Cocoa Beach
Located on Florida’s Space Coast, Cocoa Beach is 50 miles east of Orlando and approximately 10 miles south of Cape Canaveral’s Air Force station (See events here). The most famous of the Space Coast beaches, Cocoa Beach is action-packed, offering world-class surfing, kayaking adventures, dolphin cruises and so much more. Into the space program? Coca Beach—in our opinion—is the number-one spot to view rockets taking off; you’ll never forget the trembling under your feet as the ground shakes from the lift off.
Ready for dinner and drinks? Check out local favorite restaurants like:
- Coconuts on the Beach
- Jazzys Mainely Lobster
- Florida’s Seafood Bar & Grill
- Long Doggers Cocoa Beach
How to get there: Take 408 East to 417 South to 528 East. Once you cross over Route 1, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away.
#3: New Smyrna Beach
A one-hour trip northeast from Orlando is the fun and hip New Smyrna Beach. With 13 miles of white sand on the Atlantic Ocean, NSB is popular among surfers, sunbathers and sand-castle-building families alike. Every day is picture-perfect here. If it’s waves you’re after, National Geographic named New Smyrna Beach among the World’s 20 Best Surf Towns.
New Smyrna Beach also has deep historical roots, a fantastic and charming downtown and a very young attitude. Its famous Canal Street offers a trendy mix of restaurants, shops and even an authentic soda fountain. Culture and art also come alive in downtown New Smyrna Beach. Visit The Hub on Canal.
When hunger hits, check out an array of restaurants:
- The Garlic (Old-school steakhouse): Insider Tip – If you pop in, make sure you ask to sit below, where you can watch the chef dote over the steaks.
- Yellow Dog Eats
- The Breakers Ocean Front
- SoNapa Grille
- Third Wave Café & Wine Bar
How to get there: Take I-4 East to 44 West until you reach the beach.
Book Your Vacation Home Accommodations
After a day at the beach, come home to Encore Resort at Reunion. Our guard-gated community features modern, beautifully decorated 4- to 13-bedroom homes with backyard pools, washer/dryer units and fully equipped kitchens, plus resort-style amenities like an Aqua Park and free shuttle. Each of our homes offers ample room for you to socialize, relax and unwind or plan the week’s activities.