Atlantic-side Florida beaches closer to Orlando?

We are all fully vaccinated now and want to go to Florida for a much needed break. My daughter will join us for a few days so we will have to pick her up at MCO during our stay, and we are using MCO also, so I want to be not much more than 90 minutes from Orlando.

We plan to see Kennedy Space Center, go tubing in Blue Springs (any better suggestion?), go to the beach, and, if there’s time, visit a friend in St. Augustine.

The catch is that there will be three young adults who will probably want a bit of a lively scene, but my husband and I do not like super touristy places with tons of bars and nightclubs. I have no idea what area to look at. I don’t know the beaches at all in Florida.

We don’t have to be on the beach, but it would be nice if there was some kind of life within walking distance.

Actually, St Augustine is quite lively in the old town area. Loads of restaurants and wine bars etc. It’s certainly touristy but the historic nature of the town and the local businesses in centuries old buildings make it seem more wholesome. Everything is walkable. It’s nothing like Daytona, which I would not recommend. On A1A and the beach there are also a number of lively restaurants/patio bars but you can’t walk from Old Town to the beach. You kind of have to pick where you want to spend the most time.

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Thanks, will keep in mind for the trip. I think St Augustine is too far from MCO for us to stay there the whole trip because I have to pick up my daughter midweek at MCO.

New Smyrna Beach! It’s not built up like Daytona, but there are some good beach side bars and a lively beach driving and tailgating environment (no alcohol) for the young adults. We stayed on the north end of the island last year, and loved it.


We love New Smyrna Beach. It is an hour and 15 minutes from MCO.

It is a wide beach with soft white sand. It has a lovely Main Street with great restaurants and shops. A large Publix is nearby. Many bars but I have no personal experience with these. There is a park you can go to to see Manatees.

Kennedy Space Center is an easy drive. As is the Ponce De Leon lighthouse.

The only caveat is it is the shark bite capital in the world! However, if you aren’t surfing, your risk is a lot lower. And I have been going there for 40 years and have never been there when this has happened.


You posted while I was writing!

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What about Cocoa Beach? It has a couple lively places at night, but not many. Coconuts on the Beach and another that escapes me. We’ve been there 3 times on spring break, so the kids weren’t 21 yet and we weren’t looking for night spots…I’m sure they are there. It’s not crowded like the gulf beaches. Close to MCO.


Thanks, I will check it out!

We also stayed in Cocoa Beach many years ago and visited Kennedy Space Center from there. We went to Orlando one day, but I’m not sure how long the drive was. I really liked Cocoa Beach, but wasn’t looking for nightlife at the time.

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Cocoa Beach is very commercial in the main part with very wide beaches, but there is the ‘old town’ cocoa beach where there are a few old hotels (think one or two stories). If you go south from there you hit the Melbourne beaches (Satellite, IndiAtlantic, Melborne beach) There are some stretches that are what I’d call ‘family beaches’ with major chain hotels but there are also some really cute old beach hut type hotels. Melbourne has a college (Florida Tech) so there are some clubs and bars for the kids.

Melbourne is about 1 hour from MCO and you take the Bee LIne (toll road, but only about $3) and that also takes you to Cocoa Beach. Daytona is also about an hour from MCO but you take I-4. St Augustine BEACH is a little farther, maybe 1.5 hours. You could take the A1A down to Daytona for a little bit nicer drive back to the airport. St. Augustine Beach is about 25 minutes from downtown St Augustine, but certainly close enough to bop over any time you want to and there are fun things to do there, including a winery, a whiskey tour, the Lightner museum. I love St Augustine but it is a little way off I-95 so not as easy to get back to MCO


Cocoa Beach has beautiful wide beaches. Plenty of eating spots Close to Kennedy Space Center and about an hour from Orlando airport.

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Cocoa Beach also has the quaint Cocoa Beach Village 15 min. Away. A nice afternoon. Restaurants, little shops. We’ve stayed at The Resort on Cocoa Beach, which I recommend. It’s sister condo rental is Discovery Beach Resort. Not as nice of amenities, but all units ocean front and right next to the pier. It’s busier by the pier. The Resort on Cocoa Beach would be more what you are after.

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If you go to St Augustine, eat at White’s. I repeat, EAT AT WHITE’S! Tons of outdoor seating in a beautiful setting and GREAT food!

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Thanks so much everyone. I am busy looking for,accommodation. CC’ers are the best.

Yay! We are going to Cocoa Beach! Thank you so much folks! I was totally clueless without your help.


Make it a working vacation ?

Rollins College in Orlando & Flagler College in St. Augustine

Lol. I’m going to do my best to not do any kind of work at all!

Great! Cocoa Beach was my recommendation, too!

Cocoa Beach, that is. (Sorry for the repetition, the edit in the previous post didn’t go through right away).

The Cocoa Beach village mentioned is Cocoa village (not Cocoa Beach) just across the bridge.
Heidi’s Jazz Club ( on Minuteman downtown) is one food suggestion. And Coconuts on the Beach is a great place to sit and enjoy the beach.