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Top 8 Beaches to Visit With Kids in Central Florida

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Sunny days and warm weather make for perfect beach days!  Days, that we as parents during this difficult time, are all looking forward to.  Taking your kids to the beach to make memories is always fun and magical.  My daughter LOVES the beach, from rolling around in the sand, to building sandcastles, to splashing in the waves, what’s not to love?!  Here is our list of best beaches near Orlando that are great for the entire family.

top family beaches near orlando

Closer to Orlando

Andy Romano Beachfront Park at Ormond Beach

Ormand Beach has great charm as small town and is located on the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a popular place for families to take their kids that is not too far from Orlando.  Just a short drive from 95, Andy Romano Beachfront Park is a four-acre park offering parking, picnic areas, beach access, splash pad and restrooms.  It is one of the best beaches near Orlando to setup for the day to enjoy the beautiful scenic beach and water.

Where to park: Andy Romano Beachfront Park at 839 S Atlantic Ave, Ormond Beach, FL 32176

Cocoa Beach

If you live in Lake Nona or Sandford, Cocoa Beach is practically a stone’s throw!  Cocoa Beach has always been a fave as it is located just east of Orlando.  Cocoa Beach is known as the quintessential beach town.  Visiting what is referred to as the Space Coast, makes for a great day trip or make it an overnight and check out Kennedy Space Center while you’re there.  From sand and sun, to a more affordable beach town experience, it’s a perfect throwback to the days of the early space shuttle launches.  Being the closest beach to Orlando, it makes a great place to take the kids to play at the beach.

Where to park: There are numerous places to park along A1A in Cocoa.  From free and metered parking at Ron Jon’s Surf Shop to Lori Wilson Park where there is even a playground.

Ron Jon Surf Shop Parking: 4151 N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931
Lori Wilson Park: 1500 N Atlantic Ave, Cocoa Beach, FL 32931

What’s a beach day, without beach toys for the kiddos? Grab some great beach toys to take to the beach with you.

New Smyrna Beach

Known as the Redfish capital of the world, New Smyrna Beach offers world class fishing and a beach that is only one of three throughout the state of Florida that you can drive on.  Some parents love the drive on aspect as they do not have to shuffle all of the beach toys and chairs and bags from the parking lot to the beach.  Others find it a bit unrelaxing, as then you have to worry more about cars and kids together on the beach.  So, it’s totally a personal choice on what you prefer.  The beach is only an hourish from Orlando making it a super close drive to get to.  With a cool historic district to walk around that is lined with beautiful palms, there is also a specific section of the beach where you can even bring your dog.

Where to park: Being a 17 mile stretch of beach, check out their website for locations of where you can enter as the beach is driveable.

Related Post: Splash Pads and Water Playgrounds for Kids in Orlando

Ponce Inlet

Just a bit north of Cocoa Beach, Ponce Inlet is a popular beach for Orlando families.  Boasting themselves with a laid-back attitude and less crowds, enjoy the beautiful white sands and gorgeous water.  While most of the beach is closed off to vehicle traffic, the southernmost tip is, at a rate of $20 per day, if you prefer to drive on.  Ponce Inlet is known for their family friendly beach perfect for soaking up the sun with the family.

Where to park: Public Beach Parking at 4801 S Atlantic, Ponce Outlet, FL 32127 or Winter Haven Park at 4589 S Atlantic Ave, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127

Highlights is a great magazine for kids and perfect to pack in their beach bag. Get $5 OFF of Highlights with the code SUNNY5.

A Little Further Afield

Clearwater Beach

Though Clearwater can be very touristy, there is a reason why it is so popular.  There literally is no better sand than at Clearwater Beach as it is so powdery.  The town is very walkable, so once you park your car in one of the many lots, head over to beach or the boardwalk and enjoy the scenery.  In 2018, Clearwater was rated top beach in America and one of the top ten beaches in the world on TripAdvisor by traveler’s choice.  Other than the beach, if your kids are a fan of the “Dolphin Tale” movie, you must take them to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium to meet Winter!

Where to park: Free parking is available at the Belleair Beach Marina, on the east side of Gulf Boulevard and a lot between the Hyatt and the Pier and is a lot for $10 per day.

Holmes Beach

Located in the small town of Anna Maria Island, just along the Gulf of Mexico, Holmes Beach is one of many gorgeous beach areas on the island.    If you are looking to go to the beach here, you are going to want to look for Manatee Public Beach, which is in Holmes Beach.  With beautiful white, sandy beach, playground, restrooms, and changing cabanas, it is a great place to visit with your family.  There is also a café located on the beach to offer beverages and food for your convenience.  You literally do not even have to leave the beach to get it.   Just south of St Pete, Holmes Beach in Anna Maria Island offers a great environment to play and enjoy time with the kiddos.

Where to park: Do note parking is not the easiest to find as it is a small island.  There are scattered lots around, but if you are staying at one of the hotels, your car will surely have a spot to park.

This is a great beach bag to fit everything you need to take with you for the day.

Indian Rocks Beach

Take the kids for a fun day, or weekend, at Indian Rocks Beach, which is a beautiful beach on the west coast of Florida.  This beach is much quieter than St Pete Beach and Clearwater, and is definitely more of a laid-back feel than some of your busy tourist beaches.  With multiple parks and access points to enter the beach, some with playgrounds and restrooms, you will also find some lovely restaurants to dine at while you are there.

Where to park: With 27 different access points and parks with some parking, there are also spots on the side streets.  Check out Pinellas County 18th Avenue Park as one of your parking options.

St Pete Beach

Enjoy the beautiful west coast beach of St Pete.  Just a little ways past Clearwater, St Pete Beach is an awesome place to take your child for some beach time.  As a resort town that is set on a beautiful barrier island, St Pete is known for their beaches and amazingly beautiful water.  Located on the Gulf of Mexico and views of the Intracoastal and is just a short drive from the quaint town of St Petersburg.  This beach town is worth checking out.  If you are in St Petersburg, also check out Fort De Soto, as that is another beach that is super close to that area.

Where to park: With lots of public parking, there is a public lot at 129th Avenue across Gulf Boulevard from the beach.  There is also metered on-street parking in the John’s Pass Village & Boardwalk complex, which includes a multi-level parking garage adjacent to Hubbard’s Marina.

Which beach is your favorite?

by Megan Daniels

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