You may not think of Orlando as a beach town, but we really are quite close to the beach. From Disney, you are only 90 minutes to either Gulf Coast beaches or the Atlantic coastline. If you live on the east side of Orlando, you can even be at the beach in under an hour. But what beach should you go to? Obviously, we are partial to the kid friendly ones. Take a look.
Best Family Beaches Near Orlando
Families have a lot of great options when it comes to Central Florida beaches. Here are or top picks.
New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna is not only closest option, it is the easiest for families.
- Drive On Access
- Gentle Ocean Slope
- Food Trucks Available
Why We Like It
New Smyrna makes beaching easy for many reasons, the chief one being the ability to drive right onto the beach. No more dragging all of your beach gear across a hot parking lot, hoping that you do not forget anything.
At New Smyrna Beach, you can simply drive on and park. Then, you can set up for the day feet from your vehicle. This takes a huge amount of stress out of the beach day. And don’t think that you need a four wheel drive vehicle, the sand is hard packed.
Another reason that this is one of the most kid friendly beaches near Orlando is the gentle slope. It is very gradual, with no steep drop off. You can be almost 30 feet out and still be standing in just 18 inches of water.
Finally, you have access to food. There are food trucks stationed along the beach allowing you to pick up a hot snack or lunch. This will be standard beach food like hot dogs, burgers and fries. If you have a sweet tooth, keep an eye out for the ice cream truck that you will see driving up and down the beach.
If you are a local, get the beach parking pass. Daily parking is $20 for non Volusia County residents, but the annual pass is just $100. If the beach is part of your regular routine, you will quickly realize the savings.
Parking passes get you access to the much less crowded ramp on Crawford Road. It is exclusive to pass holders from March through September.
You may hear that New Smyrna is known as the Shark Bite Capital of the world, but there is really no need for alarm. You have to take into account how many millions of people visit the beach and then you will realize that your risk is minimal. Most bites are minor and involve those taking part in risky activities such as surfing or swimming in deep water. The sharks are not targeting people, they are after the bait fish in the area.
Read our full review of New Smyrna Beach for more details.
Washington Oaks Gardens State Park
The Rocks – Washington Oaks Gardens State Park. You will swear that you are on the Pacific coast.
- Unique Rocks
- Cheap Parking
- Low Crowds
- Decent Shelling
Why We Like It
This is not a beach where you are going to do a lot of swimming with kids, but it is still one of the best kid friendly beaches near Orlando. You will find some unique features that make it worth a visit.
The first thing that you will notice is the coquina rocks which are very unique for Florida beaches. The rocks were formed over thousands of years as shells were deposited. Calcium slowly leached from the shells ans cemented them together. This is one of the few places that you will see rocks on a Florida beach and it is very reminiscent of the Pacific Coast.
Another great feature of the beach is that there is some decent shelling to be done. You are not going to find any huge shells, but there are certainly much larger shells here than you would find at a beach such as New Smyrna.
Finally, you have the lesser crowds. This beach is not as well known so you are less likely to run into large rowdy crowds. If you are looking for a relaxing day on the beach, this is it.
Parking is currently just $5 and on the beach side of the park which is divided by State Road A1A. The parking is self serve and will not get you access to the gardens located on the other side of the road, where there is an attendant. If you are interested in the gardens, hit them first and pay your $5 admission. This will also cover your parking for the beach, located on the east side of A1A.
The short route to Washington Oaks Gardens State Park will take you over the Hammock Dunes Toll Bridge. The fee is currently $2 for a passenger vehicle, have CASH.
There is a portable restroom in the parking lot, but no permanent facility. Additionally, there is no lifeguard on duty.
Read our full review of The Rocks Beach for more details.