A city that’s not often associated with a day at the beach – chances are you’re here for the rollercoasters – Orlando is just an hour’s drive from the Atlantic coast and 90mi (145km) to the Gulf of Mexico, so it’s easy to find a pristine spot of sand to soak up the famous Florida sun. Whether you’re looking for a slice of seclusion or a thriving strand pulsing with energy, these beaches are all within two hours’ drive of Orlando.
Those used to traveling with dogs know how tricky it can be to find pet-friendly beaches. Luckily for you, the clear blue waters of Fort De Soto Park and Dog Park welcome you both with open arms so your canine companion can frolic along the powdery white sands and enjoy the experience as much as you. The dedicated dog-friendly zones where you can let them off leash are extensive, clean and safe. Overall, it’s a great place to chill with your four-legged friend, play some fetch and perhaps even chat with other hound-loving humans.
It’s impossible not to feel relaxed at Madeira Beach. Wander across the sand, gaze over the bay from the pier with an ice cream in hand and perhaps take a dip in the calm, brilliantly blue sea, where all will seem right with the world. A 1.5hr drive from Orlando, it’s a little less busy than other options – but well worth it for the relative quiet, as well as opportunities to spot dolphins, whales and stingrays. Take a wildlife tour, or simply enjoy watching their silhouettes in the distance. You can hire boats and jet skis from the businesses in John’s Pass, the boardwalk area opposite the beach, where you’ll also find an attractive range of boutiques and dining options.
This is an updated version of an article originally by Kathryn Beeson.
Looking for more recommendations? There’s plenty of things to keep you busy, from exploring the most beautiful gardens in Orlando to enjoying natural wonders such as the best springs. Make a weekend of it and bring the whole family along; the kids will enjoy swimming with dolphins while these unusual things to do will keep everyone else entertained. If you’d rather keep the activities to a minimum, then you can enjoy a delicious meal at one of the best restaurants in Orlando.