25 beach towns within driving distance of Orlando worth exploring

Orlando's great and all, but one can only take so much of Disney and massive tourist hordes. That's why we put together a few of our favorite beach towns that deserve a weekend road trip. If you give these beach towns and their natural preserves, museums, historic sites and, of course, great beaches a chance, you can thank us later.

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Villano Beach
2 hours and 2 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: This incredibly small beach community is the perfect place to unplug. Nease Beachfront Park is right across the A1A, and just north you’ll find the historic Castle Ottis, a thousand-year-old Irish castle. It’s open by appointment for those who want to see the blue glowing light through the windows in the evening. The oldest masonry fort in the U.S., Castillo de San Marcos, is also nearby. Cap’s On The Water’s seafood fare overlooks the Tolomato River for a meal—and sunset—to remember.
Beaches to check out: Vilano Beach, Surfside Park, North Beach Park, Nease Beachfront Park 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Villano Beach

2 hours and 2 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: This incredibly small beach community is the perfect place to unplug. Nease Beachfront Park is right across the A1A, and just north you’ll find the historic Castle Ottis, a thousand-year-old Irish castle. It’s open by appointment for those who want to see the blue glowing light through the windows in the evening. The oldest masonry fort in the U.S., Castillo de San Marcos, is also nearby. Cap’s On The Water’s seafood fare overlooks the Tolomato River for a meal—and sunset—to remember.
Beaches to check out: Vilano Beach, Surfside Park, North Beach Park, Nease Beachfront Park
Photo via Adobe Stock
Satellite Beach
1 hour and 10 minutes
What’s great about it: This beach town is right below the Patrick Air Force Base on the southern part of the Space Coast. It’s a pretty low-key gem. There’s incredible Japanese cuisine at Haru Sushi Bar & Grill, a local town center with a Publix serves the community’s needs, and you’re just a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean no matter where you stay in this area. Samsons Island Nature Park is an outdoor haven for nature lovers who want to kayak or bird watch, and it’s only accessible by boat. And if you want to go up or down A1A seeking more adventures along the coast, it’s a reasonably quick drive.
Beaches to check out: Pelican Beach Park, Canova Beach Park, Hightower Beach 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Satellite Beach

1 hour and 10 minutes
What’s great about it: This beach town is right below the Patrick Air Force Base on the southern part of the Space Coast. It’s a pretty low-key gem. There’s incredible Japanese cuisine at Haru Sushi Bar & Grill, a local town center with a Publix serves the community’s needs, and you’re just a few blocks from the Atlantic Ocean no matter where you stay in this area. Samsons Island Nature Park is an outdoor haven for nature lovers who want to kayak or bird watch, and it’s only accessible by boat. And if you want to go up or down A1A seeking more adventures along the coast, it’s a reasonably quick drive.
Beaches to check out: Pelican Beach Park, Canova Beach Park, Hightower Beach
Photo via Adobe Stock
Atlantic Beach
2 hours and 37 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it:Historians believe Atlantic Beach to be the first year-round Native American settlement in North America. This is a dog-friendly beach, so bring your furry child with you. A new local town center supplements the area with a variety of restaurants and other places of interest. Check out the Hanna Park campgrounds for more than 20 miles worth hiking and biking along the northern border of the small city. Fill up with some worthwhile eats at Ragtime Tavern & Seafood Grill. 
Beaches to check out: Atlantic Beach, Circle Regional Beach, Tom Doe Memorial Beach 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Atlantic Beach

2 hours and 37 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it:Historians believe Atlantic Beach to be the first year-round Native American settlement in North America. This is a dog-friendly beach, so bring your furry child with you. A new local town center supplements the area with a variety of restaurants and other places of interest. Check out the Hanna Park campgrounds for more than 20 miles worth hiking and biking along the northern border of the small city. Fill up with some worthwhile eats at Ragtime Tavern & Seafood Grill.
Beaches to check out: Atlantic Beach, Circle Regional Beach, Tom Doe Memorial Beach
Photo via Adobe Stock
Venice Beach
2 hours and 13 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: Venice Beach is known for its shark teeth and seashell galore along its Atlantic sands. If you’re looking for even bigger shark teeth, though, grab a mask and snorkel in Caspersen Beach. River boat tours along the Myakka River provide a different side of Venice, complete with alligators, herons and other animal life in their natural habitat for you to gaze at. If you want to bring your best friend, the Brohard Paw Park is dog-friendly, and it’s also a perfect spot for a picnic. The Venice Museum & Archives offers free admission for guests to observe fossils and artifacts of the historic town. 
Beaches to check out: Venice Beach, Nokomis Beach, Brohard Beach, Carperson Beach 
Photo via jeb1nge/Instagram

Venice Beach

2 hours and 13 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: Venice Beach is known for its shark teeth and seashell galore along its Atlantic sands. If you’re looking for even bigger shark teeth, though, grab a mask and snorkel in Caspersen Beach. River boat tours along the Myakka River provide a different side of Venice, complete with alligators, herons and other animal life in their natural habitat for you to gaze at. If you want to bring your best friend, the Brohard Paw Park is dog-friendly, and it’s also a perfect spot for a picnic. The Venice Museum & Archives offers free admission for guests to observe fossils and artifacts of the historic town.
Beaches to check out: Venice Beach, Nokomis Beach, Brohard Beach, Carperson Beach
Photo via jeb1nge/Instagram
Flagler Beach
1 hour and 17 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: This unique seaside community is home to six miles of sand along the Atlantic. The Flagler Beach Municipal Pier is a popular spot for fishing, and there’s a great deal of green like the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, 150 acres of scenic trails leading to a monument of Florida’s history with sugar plantations on the eastside. There’s a beachfront winery and plenty of seafood options. Try Funky Pelican for happy hour and late-night eats, and head a block north to Finns Beachside Pub for a nightcap and karaoke.
Beaches to check out: Flagler Beach, North Peninsula State Park 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Flagler Beach

1 hour and 17 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: This unique seaside community is home to six miles of sand along the Atlantic. The Flagler Beach Municipal Pier is a popular spot for fishing, and there’s a great deal of green like the Bulow Plantation Ruins Historic State Park, 150 acres of scenic trails leading to a monument of Florida’s history with sugar plantations on the eastside. There’s a beachfront winery and plenty of seafood options. Try Funky Pelican for happy hour and late-night eats, and head a block north to Finns Beachside Pub for a nightcap and karaoke.
Beaches to check out: Flagler Beach, North Peninsula State Park
Photo via Adobe Stock
Cape Canaveral
56 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it:There’s more to Cape Canaveral than just the Kennedy Space Center. The Exploration Tower has seven floors of interactive exhibits, and you may even be lucky enough to catch a rocket launch from great heights. The Canaveral National Seashore is a 24-mile beach home to 1,045 plant species and 310 bird species, but if you’re looking for more aquatic critters, check out the Manatee Sanctuary Park. The 1848 Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is a great spot for history buffs. Papa Vito’s Italian Restaurant could satisfy your desire for classic comfort foods, and there’s craft beer and live music at Hogan’s Irish Bar.
Beaches to check out: Canaveral National Seashore, Jetty Park, Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area 
Photo via audreyhelminiak_realtor/Instagram

Cape Canaveral

56 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it:There’s more to Cape Canaveral than just the Kennedy Space Center. The Exploration Tower has seven floors of interactive exhibits, and you may even be lucky enough to catch a rocket launch from great heights. The Canaveral National Seashore is a 24-mile beach home to 1,045 plant species and 310 bird species, but if you’re looking for more aquatic critters, check out the Manatee Sanctuary Park. The 1848 Cape Canaveral Lighthouse is a great spot for history buffs. Papa Vito’s Italian Restaurant could satisfy your desire for classic comfort foods, and there’s craft beer and live music at Hogan’s Irish Bar.
Beaches to check out: Canaveral National Seashore, Jetty Park, Sebastian Inlet State Recreation Area
Photo via audreyhelminiak_realtor/Instagram
Boca Grande
2 hours and 52 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it:The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse is the oldest structure on the island where this beach village is found. If you’re seeking fishing feats, try the Boca Grande Pass, one of the deepest natural channels in Florida. Cruise or stroll through the historic district of Downtown Boca Grande for a variety of options for grub. For those up to take a boat into the wild, try the Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve, a rich habitat with shallow waters perfect for kayaking, bird-seeing and fishing. 
Beaches to check out: Boca Grande Beach, Gasparilla Island State Park, Englewood Beach, Manasota Beach 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Boca Grande

2 hours and 52 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it:The Port Boca Grande Lighthouse is the oldest structure on the island where this beach village is found. If you’re seeking fishing feats, try the Boca Grande Pass, one of the deepest natural channels in Florida. Cruise or stroll through the historic district of Downtown Boca Grande for a variety of options for grub. For those up to take a boat into the wild, try the Cape Haze Aquatic Preserve, a rich habitat with shallow waters perfect for kayaking, bird-seeing and fishing.
Beaches to check out: Boca Grande Beach, Gasparilla Island State Park, Englewood Beach, Manasota Beach
Photo via Adobe Stock
Captiva Island
3 hours and 55 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: Neighbor to the hailed Sanibel Island, Captiva Island has much to offer itself, including great snook fishing spots, art galleries, parasailing and a variety of nature and wildlife tours. You don’t have to be in town during the new moon to go New Moon Sailing with your very own captain, but you could catch a beautiful sunset on the water with otters, dolphins and other wildlife nearby. Keylime Bistro is the spot for classic American goods and, of course, some pie. 
Beaches to check out: Turner Beach, Bowman’s Beach, Lighthouse Beach Park 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Captiva Island

3 hours and 55 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: Neighbor to the hailed Sanibel Island, Captiva Island has much to offer itself, including great snook fishing spots, art galleries, parasailing and a variety of nature and wildlife tours. You don’t have to be in town during the new moon to go New Moon Sailing with your very own captain, but you could catch a beautiful sunset on the water with otters, dolphins and other wildlife nearby. Keylime Bistro is the spot for classic American goods and, of course, some pie.
Beaches to check out: Turner Beach, Bowman’s Beach, Lighthouse Beach Park
Photo via Adobe Stock
Stuart Beach
2 hours and 7 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: 
How does feeding stingrays sound? ...No? Well, you can do it at Florida’s Oceanographic Coastal Center. Visit the Elliot Museum, or the House of Refuge Museum, which sports traditional architecture and tells the story of one of the last surviving refuge houses along the Florida coast. Before crossing over to the sand, try out Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House’s for happy hour and blackened dolphin fingers. 
Beaches to check out: Santa Lucea Beach, Hobe Sound Beach, Jensen Beach, Chastain Beach 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Stuart Beach

2 hours and 7 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: How does feeding stingrays sound? ...No? Well, you can do it at Florida’s Oceanographic Coastal Center. Visit the Elliot Museum, or the House of Refuge Museum, which sports traditional architecture and tells the story of one of the last surviving refuge houses along the Florida coast. Before crossing over to the sand, try out Dolphin Bar and Shrimp House’s for happy hour and blackened dolphin fingers.
Beaches to check out: Santa Lucea Beach, Hobe Sound Beach, Jensen Beach, Chastain Beach
Photo via Adobe Stock
Anna Maria Island
2 hours and 32 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: Anna Maria is home to an abundance of activities—self-guided tours, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and scuba diving… you get the point. But the Robinson Nature Preserve’s land and water trails are a good excuse to get away from the beaches, called a hidden west coast gem by visitors. There’s also the quaint and historic Bridge Street Pier with shaded benches, and you can rent a fishing pole for the day, no license required.
Beaches to check out: Coquina Beach, Bradenton Beach, Cortez Beach, Holmes Beach 
Photo via Adobe Stock

Anna Maria Island

2 hours and 32 minutes from Orlando
What’s great about it: Anna Maria is home to an abundance of activities—self-guided tours, snorkeling, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking and scuba diving… you get the point. But the Robinson Nature Preserve’s land and water trails are a good excuse to get away from the beaches, called a hidden west coast gem by visitors. There’s also the quaint and historic Bridge Street Pier with shaded benches, and you can rent a fishing pole for the day, no license required.
Beaches to check out: Coquina Beach, Bradenton Beach, Cortez Beach, Holmes Beach
Photo via Adobe Stock