Closest beach to Orlando

 

Flagler Park - New Smyrna Beach

 Flagler Park beach access, New Smyrna Beach, FL

 

GPS coordinates: 29.038259, -80.895620

Directions: From Orlando go east on I-4 about 20 miles to County Road 44. Drive east on C.R. 44 to New Smyrna Beach. After you cross the bridge onto the island, turn left (north) on S. Peninsula Avenue and proceed to the traffic light at Flagler Ave. Turn right on Flagler and drive through the somewhat quaint downtown area a couple of blocks to the beach access. There is a free unpaved parking lot on the south side of Flagler or, conditions permitting, you can pay the fee and drive onto the beach to park (free beach driving in December and January).

There are no dunes or beach vegetation at this access, just a sea wall with stairs and a ramp to the beach.

Flagler Avenue beach access, New Smyrna Beach, FL

The reasons I picked this as my recommended beach on New Smyrna are many:

  • It’s located in a historic downtown area with quaint shops and boutiques. You can walk from the beach and do some shopping.
  • It has a great casual restaurant right on the beach (The Breakers) as well as several others within walking distance, including the New Smyrna Beach Fish House. Last time I was there the fish house offered a lunch special fish sandwich with one side and a soda or iced-tea for $6.99. I like The Breakers though because it is literally right on the beach with an ocean view.
  • It has free off-beach parking and public restrooms with a changing area. It has outdoor rinse-off showers.
  • There is a beach shop across the street called “Wild Side” where you can buy anything you might need for a day at the beach.
  • There are vendors on the beach during the high season that rent surfboards and other beach equipment. Also, the beach shop, Wild Side, offers bike rentals, mopeds, electric cars, and stand-up paddle boards. Nichol’s Surf Shop, just up the street rents bicycles and surfboards. Another surf shop, Inlet Charley’s also rents surf boards.

Amenities:

Lifeguards: The beach patrol’s headquarters are located at the southern end of the Flagler access and there are lifeguard towers on the beach.

Picnic tables and grills: None. They want you to eat in the restaurants.

ADA Access: This access may also have a special beach wheelchair on hand as part of their Beach Wheels Program. Call 386-424-2345 to check availability. The beach seawall is accessible to wheelchairs from the parking lot. Although the restrooms are marked as wheelchair accessible, they do not appear so to me. The step up is too high. No doubt the renovations will greatly improve access for the mobility challenged.

Beach Rules:

  • No animals allowed on the beach.
  • No alcoholic beverages on the beach. (But you can order a beer or wine at The Breakers and enjoy it with a view of the ocean).
  • No glass containers allowed on the beach.

Flagler Under Renovation

It is important to note that beginning November 1, 2011, through Spring 2012, the Flagler access will be under renovation. The free parking lot may be partially or fully closed and the restrooms may not be available. I would expect that they will put up portable bathrooms. You can still drive and park on the beach, weather and tide conditions permitting.

The Flagler access restrooms are badly outdated and in need of upgrading, so this is a welcome renovation. The parking area is free and first-come-first-served, but did not have marked spaces. This resulted in poor use of space. They will be fixing this and will also fix the rusted metal roof on the beach facade.

When you visit, if you find the beach parking closed due to a high tide and the free parking lot full or closed, then you should consider proceeding south to the 27th Avenue beach park.

Flagler Avenue Beach Ramp, New Smyrna Beach, FL

Parking on New Smyrna Beach, FL

Flagler Park beach

Low tide on New Smyrna Beach, FL

Flagler Park beach patrol tower

Flagler beach fascade