17 Best Beaches Close to Disney World

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Florida has always been my go-to vacation destination.

The state is well-known for its theme parks like Walt Disney World and Universal, as well as attractions in and around the Orlando area. In fact, Central Florida is a hub for world-class entertainment and innovation.

If you want to see the best of Orlando, consider getting a CityPass, which can help you save on tickets to the most famous theme parks.

And if you enjoy a day at the beach, Florida is the only state that borders both the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. So, no matter where you are in the state, you are never more than about 60 miles from beautiful beaches and saltwater.

When planning a trip to Central Florida’s theme parks, you might choose to avoid the hustle and bustle of Disney to spend a day at the beach to relax in the Florida sunshine.

When planning your trip, check for rates on the best places to stay on trusted sites like Booking.com, Kayak.com or Hotels.com.

Below, I’ve put together a guide of what are, in my opinion, the best beaches in the state, with consideration for proximity to Disney World.


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What is the closest beach to Disney World?

The Orlando area is approximately 60 miles (about an hour drive) from the Atlantic coast and 90 miles from Gulf Coast beaches.

Both coasts are close enough for a day trip to the beach in between action-packed theme park days. Here’s a list of the best beaches that are in close proximity to Disney World:

Read Also: 5 Best Disney Resorts for Adults, a Guide With Pricing and Tips

The pier at cocoa beach
The Cocoa Beach Pier at Cocoa Beach (photo by aiisha/stock.adobe.com)

1. Cocoa Beach

Cocoa Beach is one of the closest beaches to Orlando. It’s about 60 miles to the east on the Atlantic coast.

If you’re driving south into Orlando, you’ll see billboards advertising Cocoa Beach and its Ron Jon Surf Shop flagship store, the largest surf shop with 52,000 square feet.

You’ll also see billboards advertising vasectomies. Parents who have experienced road trips with their darling children will understand why.

Cocoa Beach is known for its surfing thanks to its reputation for shallow waters and consistent waves. It’s also a great beach for deep-sea fishing.

You may also want to check out the Cocoa Beach Pier, which stretches 800 feet over the Atlantic Ocean and features a variety of dining options, gift shops, boutiques and live music.

If you’re very lucky, you might even spot a few sea turtles while you’re there. Plus, Cocoa Beach is located just five miles from Port Canaveral and less than 15 miles from the Kennedy Space Center.

It’s also nearby parks such as Lori Wilson Park and Alan Shepard Park, which are great places to visit for the picnic areas and wildlife. Alan Shepard Park also offers restrooms and showers for visitors.

An Aerial of New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach in Florida is about 60 miles from Disney (photo by JavierArtPhotography/stock.adobe.com)

2. New Smyrna Beach

Located approximately 60 miles from Orlando on the Atlantic Coast we have New Smyrna Beach.

New Smyrna is known as the locals’ beach for folks who live in the Orlando area. It’s a great low-key option known for its surfing and its historical district.

It’s also home to the 175-ft. Ponce de Leon lighthouse, which is the tallest in the state.

While in town, you might also want to check out the Canaveral National Seashore – part of the National Park System – located nearby.

Daytona Beach Florida
Daytona Beach boasts several attractions to entertain the family (photo by SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com)

3. Daytona Beach

Also located just 60 miles from Orlando, we have Daytona Beach.

Daytona Beach hosts NASCAR’s Daytona 500 each year at Daytona International Speedway in February, which kicks off the racing season.

Daytona Beach’s hard-packed sand means that driving is permitted in designated areas along the beach. 

ormond beach in florida
Ormond Beach offers a resort-like beach experience (photo by stbar1964/shutterstock.com)

4. Ormond Beach

About 60 miles north of Orlando we have Ormond Beach. For those looking for a resort experience, Ormond Beach is known for providing its guests with upscale relaxation.

It’s a nice getaway that’s not far from Daytona but offers a different vibe.

Read Also: 5 Tips on Visiting Disney World for Adults To Have the Best Vacation

5. Flagler Beach

Flagler Beach is located about 80 miles north of Orlando.

Along Flagler Avenue, Flagler Beach offers waterfront restaurants, natural parks and beachside shopping.

Surfers will be happy to know that this area is home to the third-best waves for surfing in the state.

clearwater beach
Clearwater Beach is located 90 miles west of Orlando (photo by Mariakray/stock.adobe.com)

6. Clearwater Beach

You’ll have to drive a bit further to dip your toes in the turquoise water of the Gulf of Mexico.

But for those who don’t mind a bit of extra time in the car, Clearwater Beach is all about 90 miles to the west of Disney World.

West Coast water can be warmer than the water at Atlantic beaches. If you visit in the spring, the long drive might be worth it if you want to swim. 

Clearwater is known for its calm ocean waters. It’s a great spot for watersports like parasailing, jet skiing and paddleboarding.

Also, Clearwater Beach is located less than two miles from the Clearwater Marine Aquarium.

St Pete
An aerial view of St. Pete Beach (photo by bonandbon/stock.adobe.com)

7. St. Pete Beach

St. Pete Beach is on a barrier island to the southeast of Clearwater, which is also about 90 miles away from Orlando.

Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy exploring Shell Key Preserve, which is only accessible by boat. History buffs might prefer to visit Historic Fort DeSoto, which was built in 1898 during the Spanish-American War.

a sign for madeira beach
Madeira Beach features two miles of white sand beaches (photo by K.A/stock.adobe.com)

8. Madeira Beach

There’s also Madeira Beach, also located about 100 miles from Orlando. Madeira Beach features two miles of white sand beaches and is home to a boardwalk with plenty of shops and restaurants.

Madeira Beach is quieter, making it an ideal destination for those seeking a simple, quiet day with their toes in the sand. 

9. Ben T Davis Beach

Located in the Tampa Bay area, Ben T Davis Beach is about 100 miles from Orlando.

It’s a narrow beach that connects Tampa with Clearwater. It’s close to the highway, making it convenient but a tad less scenic.

10. Davis Islands Beach

Nearby we have Davis Islands Beach, a sandy beach near downtown Tampa. It’s not recommended for swimming, but it’s a great place to catch some Florida sun.

melbourne beach with walkway and blue waters
Melbourne Beach has beautiful blue water (photo by Sergey and Marina Pyataev/shutterstock.com)

11. Melbourne Beach

Melbourne Beach is located a bit east of Orlando on Florida’s Space Coast, approximately 80 miles away. It’s a relaxing beach that is known for its family-friendly charm.

It has upscale dining options, kayaking tours, local museums and theaters nearby.

West Palm Beach in South Florida (photo by SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com)
West Palm Beach in South Florida (photo by SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com)

If you’re in the mood for a real road trip, there are several other great beaches in Florida, still within driving distance of Orlando, but a bit further out.

12. Siesta Key

Siesta Key Beach is about a two-hour drive from the Walt Disney World Resort.

It’s a beautiful beach south of Sarasota that is known for its turquoise waters.

While there, you can enjoy watersports or partake in a dolphin tour. It’s a great beach if you’re willing to make the trip.

13. West Palm Beach

West Palm Beach is approximately 180 miles from Orlando. Its climate is mild year-round, making it a popular winter destination.

In addition to its gorgeous beaches, West Palm Beach has a downtown area with shopping, restaurants and nightlife.

It also hosts spring training for four Major League Baseball teams each year. The list includes The Washington Nationals, St. Louis Cardinals, Houston Astros and Miami Marlins. 

Miami Beach Ocean Drive
Miami Beach on Ocean Drive at sunset (photo by SeanPavonePhoto/stock.adobe.com)

14. Miami Beach

Miami Beach is a 240-mile drive from Orlando. It is a distinct island city just east of Miami.

Miami Beach is famous for its wide, palm-lined beaches and vibrant nightlife.

South Beach
South Beach in Miami is a large metro area (photo by lazyllama/stock.adobe.com)

15. South Beach

And nearby South Beach – arguably the most famous beach in the United States, or at least South Florida – has especially distinct vintage architectural features with pastel-colored Art Deco buildings. 

The city of Miami is considered the core of the 8th largest metropolitan area in the U.S.

As you can imagine, Miami has just about everything any large city has to offer, including restaurants, arts and culture, shopping, you name it.

The two cities are connected by a series of bridges.

Destin Beach
Destin Beach is located in the panhandle of Northwest Florida (photo by Rotorhead 30A/stock.adobe.com)

16. Destin Beach

Destin has gorgeous blue water and white sand beaches. It’s known for shopping as well as its excellent seafood restaurants.

Destin is in the panhandle of Northwest Florida. It’s a 420-mile drive from Orlando. In other words, If you want to spend part of your Florida vacation in Destin, plan to devote a full day to the drive. It’s not particularly convenient.

17. Panama City Beach

Panama City Beach is about 50 miles east of Destin, and in between these two larger cities are a series of small towns and communities along Highway 30A. It’s also a popular destination for college kids on spring break.

Most of these communities have a small central hub with shops and restaurants surrounded by communities of two- and three-story beach houses.

Perhaps the most famous of these towns is Seaside, Fla. Seaside is known for its vintage food trucks and quaint small-town vibe. Many visitors park their cars and ride bikes or walk for the duration of their visit. 

But what is the best beach to visit near Orlando?

It really comes down to preference.

From the above-mentioned list, Cocoa Beach, New Smyrna Beach and Daytona Beach on the East Coast are the most popular beaches near Orlando.

Each is an easy drive, clocking in at a little over an hour. Therefore, these beaches are great options for a day trip to break up your theme park vacation.

If you’re spending a week at one of these beaches, Orlando’s theme parks are close enough for a day trip to the park of your choice. 

Although you might prefer visiting the Gulf of Mexico with its warmer, bright blue waters. If so, Clearwater Beach, St. Pete Beach and Madeira Beach are the closest Gulf beaches to Orlando.

But the drive will be closer to 90 minutes.

Are you looking for the perfect spot for your next beach trip? Have you been to any of these great beaches? What is your favorite? Let us know in the comments.

Photo of author


Kirby Russell

Kirby Russell is a freelance contributor for TheSmokies.com LLC – the parent company of TheSmokies.com and HeyOrlando.com.

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