Closest beach to Orlando

 

Daytona Beach

 Daytona Beachfront

 

Long known for its custom of driving (formerly racing) on the beach, decadent spring break celebrations, biker bars and a carnival-like atmosphere around the Main Street Pier, Daytona often elicits strong feelings from those who have been there. You either love it or you hate it.

Daytona Beach loves sea walls. Instead of dunes and vegetation, Daytona likes concrete sea walls and towering hotels and condominiums. If you want dunes, you’ll need to drive to the southern end of the island to Lighthouse Park on Ponce Inlet.

International Speedway beach ramp, Daytona Beach, Florida

Beach Parks in Daytona Beach

BeachHunter's Recommended Beaches

The Breakers Oceanfront Park – This new park is located immediately south of and adjacent to the Main Street Pier. It has metered parking and restrooms. It puts you within walking distance of all the shops and restaurants around the pier.

Lighthouse Park, Ponce Inlet – Enjoy one of the most beautiful beach parks in Florida situated a solid half-hour drive south of all the bacchanal of the Main Street Pier scene. It even has a lighthouse you can climb, a great jetty to fish from (and they do some VERY serious fishing here), a beach you can drive on, and some of the most beautiful dunes anywhere.

Parking and Driving on the Beach -  During low tide, you don’t need a public beach park at all. Just drive right out onto the beach at one of the many beach ramps. Two of the most popular ramps are at the east end of International Speedway Blvd. and Dunlawton. The main problem with parking out on the beach is finding a bathroom when you (or the kids) need one. And, no doubt you’ll want to rinse off with a fresh water shower before heading back to Orlando. Also, if you’re visit happens to be interrupted by a high tide, the beach will be closed to cars as the tide comes in and you may have to find off-beach parking. I’m not discouraging you from parking on the beach, just letting you know about a few of the shortcomings of doing so.

 

Accommodations on Daytona Beach

Hilton Daytona room

Above: My room at the Daytona Beach Hilton.

Daytona Beach has plenty of hotel rooms and you can find something to fit almost any budget. The most convenient option is to reserve a hotel room immediately north of the Main Street Pier. The Hilton would be my choice. Everything you’ll need is right there—you won’t even need your car. If you’re only going to be there one or two nights, the extra cost is definitely worth it. Further away from the pier you can find hotels in all price ranges. Some hotels have a daily charge for parking your car in addition to the regular room charges.

Realize that these beach hotels get a lot of hard use; lots of sandy feet, wet towels, damp salty air day after day all year long. Many of the hotels have seen this hard use for many decades. Don’t expect the same kind of luxurious cleanliness that you might find in an Orlando hotel in the same price range. If you need that extra bit of clean, tidy and new, go for the Hilton. They do a nice job of providing a bit of luxury in the challenging beach environment, and they charge accordingly, though you can get deals.

Spring Break

Should you go to Daytona Beach during Spring Break? While Daytona isn’t the crazy place it once was during college Spring Break, it still sees a major influx of party-happy young people during March. Bottom line: if you want a relaxing and reasonably quiet family beach vacation, avoid Daytona Beach during Spring Break. If you don’t mind some loud music, long lines to get into restaurants, and lots of alcohol-and-hormone-charged college students, go for it. Don’t expect to get a lot of sleep at night unless you can sleep through all the party noise.

Bike Week

Bike Week is another time to consider a beach other than Daytona. Thousands of motorcycles clog the roadways and thousands of peaceful bikers make it much harder to get into restaurants and other businesses. Imagine the noise of thousands of motorcycles. It’s deafening, like constant thunder and can be heard for miles.

There are actually two bike weeks in Daytona—one in March and the other in mid-October. Visit http://www.daytonabikeweekevents.com/ for more information.

Alcohol on the Beach

Alcoholic beverages are not allowed on Volusia County Beaches. This rule is strictly enforced by the beach patrol (I’ve seen them make people pour their drinks out onto the beach).

Pets on the Beach

Pets, other than service dogs, are not allowed on the beach.

Volusia County provides a list of pet friendly hotels http://volusia.org/storm/pethotels.htm

Bonfires on the Beach

Fires are not allowed on the beach. However, Volusia County provides special concrete fire rings in certain locations for bonfires. You have to reserve the fire rings in advance. These bonfire rings may only be used from November through April so as not to interfere with turtle nesting season. For more info: http://volusia.org/beach/bonfires.htm

Surfing

Surfing zones in Daytona Beach are a little complicated. It often depends on the time of day and the season. If in doubt, ask the beach patrol. Alternatively, you can consult the municipal code online. To access the municipal code, go to this web site: http://volusia.org/beach/ and scroll down the page to the link to “Beach code.” That link will take you to another website where you’ll see Chapter 20 of the Volusia County Code of Ordinances. Click on “Article IV. Conduct” then click on “Sec. 20-121 Surfing, boating and swimming,” and scroll down until you see the regulations pertaining to surfing and permitted surfing areas. Good luck.

Generally, surfing is not permitted within 300 feet of a pier.