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beach day trip from Orlando

mentalbreak

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I am looking for recommendations for a drivable beach day trip from Disney World in mid-March. Children ages 8 and 6 want to go to the "ocean" (gulf would be fine too). Looking for family-friendly, wading in the waves, playing in the sand, etc.
2-3 hours each way max.
mb
 

Talent312

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The easiest + quickest beach is Cocoa Beach, a straight shot East to Atlantic on the "Beachline Expressway" (SR 528). But some prefer Melbourne Beach, a little further South (via I-95), saying its classier.

However, March is still a bit chilly for swimming, unless you're a polar bear.

You'll find a bit warmer surf temps on the Gulf at Clearwater Beach (I-4 -> I-275 -> SR 60) or Honeymoon Island St. Rec. Area (w-changing rooms & showers) a little further to the North.
 

SunSand

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The water and beach is great from Clearwater south to St. Pete Beach. It's a little further away from Orlando, but the beaches are very nice for families. The water stays shallow for quite a ways out on the gulf side. Coco Beach is fun too, but you can get some pretty rough water.
 

moonstone

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However, March is still a bit chilly for swimming, unless you're a polar bear.
Or unless you are Canadian!! Our Kids were always in - thick blood I guess!

Another vote for Coco Beach - easy drive & if you go to the public beach there are change houses with toilets right there as well as a choice of restaurants.
~Diane
 

MoiAl

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Ther're has been people in the water all week in Cocoa. But not today-burr!!. I was in on Friday, the beach is wide and water quite shallow. There are change rooms and showers in the park areas in Cocoa Beach, life guards on beach as well. We're staying for 4 weeks in The resort on Cocoa Beach, just next to the Hilton and a nice park for any visitors.
 

GeraldineT

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As a "jersey shore" girl I would suggest a gulf beach over one on the Atlantic unless you and your children are Ocean Swimmers. The Atlantic Ocean beaches can be rougher than those of the gulf. The water gets deep faster and the waves and undertow can be very overwhelming to someone not accustomed to them.

St Pete Beach is great. We leave Orlando 9:30ish, arrive 11:00. Swim and beach for a bit then we love to go to Bongos for lunch, let the kids swim a bit more after lunch. Then head over to Johns Pass to walk around the shops, have some dinner and then head back to Orlando. If you go on a weekend day a lot more going on. Bands, festival type events, etc.

We are going down the first week in March and the water temp is on the cool side. Probably high 60's. A few degrees warmer than the AO beaches but not by much. My kids don't seem to mind though.

Whatever you decide, enjoy!
 
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I was at Cocoa Beach today, and like others have said, VERY COLD! But, there are plenty of public access areas to the beach all along Atlantic Avenue.
 

Big Matt

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Drive to Clearwater or St. Pete. Much better sand IMO and calmer water. There are some real good beaches at Treasure Island.
 

mentalbreak

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Thank you for all of the tips. It sounds like we can't go wrong with Cocoa or Clearwater/St. Pete beaches.
I think we'll check the weather and choose the place with the best beach forecast.
Any tips on parking, time of day, etc? Are there meters that we will need change for, parking lots? How about places to rinse off the salt water before driving back to Orlando?
Appreciate all of the info. Thanks again.
mb
 

Talent312

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wcfr1

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East Coast may be closer but West Coast is better.

Prettier
Warmer
Less crowded

I would recommend Treasure Island. (Between Clearwater and St. Pete Beach)

Widest cleanest beach around. Nice concrete "boarwalk" of about 1.5 miles.

Easy to get to from the interstate and plenty of places to eat or pick up supplies or groceries.
 

strandlover

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We were at the Pier at Cocoa Beach last Thursday March 8. Easy drive from Orlando in less than one hour and it cost $3.25 in tolls each way.

Parking was $10 in the adjacent lot. There were metered parking spots but all were occupied when we got there.

It was a lovely day for walking, however the water was cold, even for a Canadian. There were only a handful of bathers.
 
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moonlightgraham

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However, March is still a bit chilly for swimming, unless you're a polar bear.
Or unless you are Canadian!! Our Kids were always in - thick blood I guess!

Another vote for Coco Beach - easy drive & if you go to the public beach there are change houses with toilets right there as well as a choice of restaurants.
~Diane

Depending on which day you go to Cocoa Beach you can also watch the cruise ships depart. Jetty Park adjoins Port Canaveral and you would have a great view as the ships head out to sea. Saturday and Sunday you'll get the Disney, CCL and Royal Caribbean ships heading out one after the other beginning at 4pm. Thursday will have the same ships as Sunday as the 4-day/3-day cruise rotation rolls around. There are several restaurant/bars (Grills, Fishlips are two I can recommend) along the inlet to watch from as well if you're hungry or thirsty by that time of the day!
 

chapjim

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I don't want to hijack the thread but one of our favorite places in Cocoa Beach was a little place called The (New) Old Fish House, on SR 520, steps from Atlantic Ave. Next to a USMC Recruiting office.

It was one the best places for simply prepared seafood -- grilled, blackened, fried. Not one of these places that messes things up with a sauce or mango chutney.

We haven't been there in three or four years and I'd heard it had changed owners. Wondered if was still any good.

Jim
 
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