Orlando, FL

If You're Moving to Orlando Check Out These 3 Beautiful Beaches in Easy Reach

Caroline de Braganza

Lake Eola, OrlandoRalf Gruber/Pixabay

Summer break is only two months away!

Whether you're relocating to Orlando, Florida, or just planning a holiday, why not include a day trip to the seaside to relax after you and the kids have done the theme parks?

Splendid news is The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has unveiled updated guidelines on Tuesday, April 27, detailing activities that vaccinated people can safely resume two weeks after their last jab.

(You can read the key points here.)

That means you can take a stroll on the beach and romp in the surf without a mask!

All the more reason to get your vaccination.

Imagine the joy of exposing your full face to the sun and sea breezes!

Pack a picnic, beach towels and sunscreen and hop into your car to enjoy one of these beautiful beaches.

#1 Cocoa Beach

Because of Orlando’s location, the city of Cocoa Beach is only an hour’s drive east to the Atlantic Coast.

The city is famous for its surf culture and the largest surf shop in the world, Ron Jon's—52,000 sq ft! You’ll find it at the Cocoa Beach Pier which stretches 800 ft over the Atlantic with stunning views of the beach.

(Please note because of Covid you may experience a long wait to get onto the Pier. Let’s hope that will be behind us come summer!)

If you want to eat outside, Fat Kahuna’s Beach Side Grille is a superb choice. (Closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)

More suited for adults, Coconuts on the Beach is great for a beach lunch, cocktails and live music and events.

If you prefer tranquillity, you and your family can spend the day at the 32-acre Lori Wilson Park featuring a maritime hammock which allows visitors to experience Florida’s natural coastline. Free parking and admission away from the crowds.There are three pavilions along a boardwalk*, 6 dune crossovers, seasonal lifeguards, and surf fishing. Restrooms, outdoor showers, with free parking lots on both the north and south sides of the hammock.

Recent negative reviews on the restrooms and showers suggest you avoid them for now. Free parking fills up fast in season and on weekends so get there early.

* (The 3,155 foot boardwalk is now closed and the Rails Trail, 2.3 miles north of the Aurantia Trailhead, closed on 4/26/21 for drainage improvements. Hopefully come summer they’ll be open again.)

While in the neighborhood, why not take a drive north along the Space Coast and visit the nearby Kennedy Space Center or explore Port Canaveral?

Next, we’re heading west to the Gulf of Mexico in the Tampa Bay region to visit two seaside resorts with pristine beaches.

#2 Clearwater Beach, Clearwater

This is a longer drive, around 2 hours, but worth it to enjoy the warm Gulf waters on the west. Leave early or spend a few days here to soak up the atmosphere.

Clearwater Beach, on a barrier island, is a 3-mile stretch of white sand backed by hotels and restaurants. You reach it from the city via the Clearwater Memorial Causeway—a 9-minute drive.

Here you can enjoy three miles of snowy-white fine sand but with less wave action than the Atlantic. The gradual slope of the sand generates knee to ankle-high waves—safe and ideal for kids, and even babies to experience their first splash.

You can rent umbrellas, beach chairs, etc. from vendors if you want to just laze on the beach. Here you will find sand volleyball courts and excellent conditions for a variety of water sports, including snorkeling, Jet Skiing and parasailing.

Include a visit to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, famous for its interactive exhibits. Here they rehabilitate injured marine animals such as dolphins and sea turtles. Feed the pelicans, stingrays, and other creatures, or catch sight of the resident dolphins, Winter and Hope, as well as river otters, nurse sharks, and sea turtles.

Your kids will love it—and so will you.

The Beach Walk promenade encourages pedestrians and connects Pier 60 to parking at the end of south beach. Sunsets at Pier 60 are spectacular! Clearwater’s Beach Walk oozes old-fashioned charm with classic ice cream parlors and cafes nearby. You’ll find restaurants, boutiques, craft shops, and souvenirs along the route.

Pier 60, located off of Causeway Boulevard a mile west of the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, is great for fishing or a stroll, with spectacular views of the Gulf of Mexico and the sunset. Street performers love to entertain the crowds here.

Despite all the activities, this destination keeps its small-town charm.

#3 St. Pete Beach

I left the best till last—voted America’s best beach by Trip Advisor and fifth in the world!

The city of St. Pete is located 20 miles south of Clearwater Beach and sits on a barrier island west of St. Petersburg.

The city boasts 361 days of sunshine a year and 35 miles of white-sand beaches—three of them!

  1. County Park Beach, 4700 Gulf Blvd—parking and restrooms
  2. Pass-a-Grille Beach, 900 Gulf Way—Paradise Grill, parking and restrooms
  3. Upham Beach, 6850 Beach Plaza—Paradise Grill, picnic tables and restrooms

The feeling is laid back and uncrowded.

Freebee is a free, door-to-door, on-demand transportation service, which caters to any age, from children to seniors, and many types of pets. Freebee vehicles are 100% electric, and emission-free! Your guide will share what’s happening in St. Pete Beach. You request a ride by flagging down an available Freebee. How cool is that?

A 1928 landmark, the pink Moorish-style Don CeSar Hotel looms over the shore. The Pass-A-Grille area offers galleries, shops and the Gulf Beaches Historical Museum, which displays postcards and other artifacts in a 1917 church. You’ll find many wonderful restaurants along Gulf Boulevard, within walking distance of Trade Winds, a family-friendly resort.

Nearby, boats depart to Shell Key, a nesting site for seabirds and turtles. You can take a dolphin tour or sunset cruise. Or just keep walking on that silky soft sand, collecting shells along the way.

Sunset at St Pete BeachKathleen Huk/Pixabay

Enjoy the summer and sunsets with your family!

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Published essayist. Follow me for local news that impacts our lives, plus stories on public and mental health. Through writing, I also share my passion for music, politics, our environment and social justice, and hope you find value in my words.


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