Closest Gulf Coast Beach To Disney World: Clearwater Beach
Driving Distance: 92 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Heading almost due west from Disney World and Orlando on the I-4 then Highway 60, you hit Clearwater Beach. Clearwater Beach itself is a small island, packed full of restaurants, hotels, shops, and a busy marina, along with a popular aquarium. If you wanted to add on a fishing trip or boat cruise to your Florida vacation, this is the place to do it!
Parking here is paid, then you can stroll the beachfront before picking your favorite spot. It is quite touristy as you might expect, and busy no matter the season. The water here is calm, the sand lovely and soft. Lifeguards patrol the beach and youll find washroom facilities on hand as well as playgrounds for the kids.
If you want to enjoy the calmer Gulf coast waters but dont fancy the crowds, a good option can be heading just 10 minutes further south to Sand Key County Park. Still busy on weekends and holidays but a less high rise and touristy feel.
TOP TIP! Dont have a car? Several tour operators will take your family from Orlando to the coast on a day trip to Clearwater beach, including meals and a boat ride: Check out some options here > >
Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
Clementine’s Beach at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort is possibly the largest and widest of all of Disney World’s beaches. It’s large enough for a rousing game of volleyball, while not disturbing those catching rays or seeking a few moments of quiet. Its casual atmosphere reflects that of the resort, so you’ll feel right at home. Possibly its best feature though maybe its shade. Shade is something that usually isn’t found on a beach, but is welcome to those seeking a bit of relief from Florida’s heat.
Located adjacent to the Fort Wilderness Landing, where guests may catch a skiff to neighboring resorts, the Magic Kingdom theme park or rent a boat to explore Bay Lake, Clementine Beach and the adjacent Fort Wilderness Landing deck is also a great vantage point to watch the musical electrical pageant that floats along Bay Lake each evening.
If you’ve had a rough day visiting the theme parks and laying in the sun, on your way back to your RV, you’ll want to grab a very tasty and satisfying to-go pizza from Crockett’s Tavern.
Downtown Disney World Hotels
Disney Springs, formerly known as Downtown Disney, is a large complex on Disney property that hosts many retail establishments and restaurants.
You can find a large variety of hotels in the Disney Springs area. These are our top two choices of hotels right outside the Disney Springs entertainment district:
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Beaches Near Walt Disney World You Bet
If youd like to squeeze in some sun-bathing and wave-catching with your Disney trip, then youre in luck! Whether youre looking to the Atlantic or the Gulf Coast, there are several beaches within an hour or two of Walt Disney World.
There are so many great ones to choose from you cant really go wrong with any Florida beach! but here are five of our favorite beaches near Walt Disney World! We hope youll love them, too!
Four Of The Best Beaches To Visit Near Walt Disney World
If you are looking for a vacation away from your Walt Disney World vacation and you are in need of some serious beach vibes, then look toward the Florida Coast! Lets face it, though, Walt Disney World is situated in central Orlando, so you will need to do a little planning before you head for beaches near Walt Disney World.
To help you decide what beaches near Walt Disney World are the best fit for your family beach outing, we located four of Floridas most popular beaches near Walt Disney World that have everything you desire for a nice beach day escape.
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Also Check: Disney World Park Ticket Packages
Closest Beaches To Disney World: St Pete Beach
Driving Distance: 96 miles
Approximate Drive Time: 1 hour 40 minutes
Heading just a little further south, past Tampa you come to a stunning stretch of Florida coastline including Madeira Beach, Treasure Island and St Pete Beach. Frankly, you cant go wrong with any of these but we have a little sweet spot for St Pete Beach.
We love playing on the wide expanse of beach and enjoy the condo-style accommodation along the waterfront, watching the sun gracefully set each night into the magnificent Gulf waters from our balcony. Theres plenty happening on and off the water making this a family favourite beach close to Orlando.
Beaches Near Disney World To Add To A Disney Vacation
If you can wing it, I would definitely add a beach trip to finish off your Disney World vacation. Though a Disney World vacation is amazing and magical, but it does take a lot of energy.
If youre like most people, your Disney vacation is the highlight of your year. But what do you do when its over? Many families choose to take a beach trip to finish up their summer. Here are a few tips on making the most of your post-Disney beach getaway.
First, make sure to book a hotel close to the beach. You dont want to spend hours in traffic every day.
Second, plan some fun activities for the entire family. Going to the beach is great, but it can get boring after a while if you dont have anything else planned.
Finally, pack plenty of sunscreen and swimsuits! Youll need them for all of the sun and fun that awaits you. More on packing in a bit!
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Yacht Club And Beach Club Resorts
Christian Lambert / Flickr / CC BY 2.0
Disney’s Yacht Club and Beach Club resort near Epcot shares 795,000-gallon Stormalong Bay, a gorgeous three-acre aquatic playground with a seaside-themed pool, lazy river, and 230-foot-long waterslide that zooms out of a replica pirate ship. Kids can wade into the zero-depth entry of the sand-bottomed pool as if it were a gently sloping beach.
Final Thoughts On The Best Beaches Close To Disney World
Your family vacation to Walt Disney World Resort can have extra magic with beach time added to it.
Whether you take a day trip on an off day from the theme parks or extend your family vacation to include a few days at the beach, these 10 beaches close to Disney World will certainly enhance your vacation.
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Daytona Beach & Parks
BREAKERS OCEANFRONT PARK AND ENVIRONMENTAL LEARNING CENTER:- Walking areas, childrens fountain, volleyball and playground. The public facility is open daily, sunrise to sunset. Splash Park and restrooms hours 10:30 5, Seasonal hours apply.
SUN SPLASH PARK amenities include a shaded playground, picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor showers, beach access ramps and off-beach parking. The Splash Pad is closed for the months of December, January, and February.
SUNRISE PARK This waterfront park features three fishing piers, covered pavilion with picnic tables, restrooms and a boat ramp.
FRANK RENDON PARK features sheltered picnic areas, grills, childrens playground, restrooms and outdoor showers. Beach walkway and observation deck.
LIGHTHOUSE POINT PARK: Cars cant park on the beach here but there is a playground, picnic areas and water sports outfitters, where you can board a banana boat, rent paddle boards and personalized water crafts, or book a parasailing excursion.
Best Beaches Near Orlando: Daytona Beach
A popular choice: 65 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes
There is no escaping tourists in Daytona, but if you want action, youll find it here. The pier area anchors a traditional boardwalk bustling with amusements, games, carnival rides, bars, restaurants and hotels.
World Famous Daytona Beach bills itself as the worlds safest beach, largely because the gradual slope of the beach is swimmer-friendly. But watch out for the cars on the beach!
A big attraction is Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR headquarters, with events year around. When races arent running, visitors line up for the NASCAR Experience, where they pay big bucks to drive the track.
Daytona is a popular Spring Break destination for college kids, not to mention bikers on Bike Week and NASCAR fans for the Daytona 500.
Getting to the beach from Orlando: Take Interstate 4 North all the way to the end in Daytona Beach.
Another popular Spring Break destination, Clearwater Beach bustles year around and is a prime destination for residents of nearby Tampa and St. Petersburg.
If you are looking for sunsets, it would be hard to find better. If you are looking for tourists, you came to the right place.
But there is an escape! An adventure!
But alas, there is no place to park. You can ride a bike there, or you can walk. Its a three-mile hike north from the Clearwater Beach pier.
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Discount Walt Disney World Tickets
Our favorite Disney-approved re-seller, Get Away Today, offers the best Walt Disney World discount tickets around. In addition to great discount prices, their customer service and easy support is absolutely fantastic. They have an entire department dedicated to making sure every order has a wonderful experience and they are on-call to help you during your vacation if you need them.
And at no additional charge, you get FREE concierge Walt Disney World services! These services include having Get Away Today’s Walt Disney World expert Brooklyn take care of all your dining reservations, FastPass+ reservations, and more! This really takes all the stress out of planning a Walt Disney World vacation. Rather than waking up at odd hours of the night to book all your reservations, why not let their travel agents take care of it for you- for free!
Buying tickets from Get Away Today is easy and convenient since all their tickets are sent electronically. You can take their vouchers and head straight to the gate without needing to wait in any ticket booth lines. They also offer layaway plans so you can pay off your vacation over time.
You can read my review on my personal experiences booking through Get Away Today and how much you can save here!
Best Beaches Near Orlando: Canaveral National Seashore
The scenic choice: 60 miles, 1 hour
If youre looking for a pristine natural beach without hotel towers, Playalinda Beach in Canaveral National Seashore is your destination, but youll need to book lodging 10 miles away in Titusville.
Between Titusville and the beach lie the Kennedy Space Center and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, each of which are worth an extra day, perfect complements to a Disney vacation.
As for the beach itself, its hard to find better on the Atlantic Coast for swimming and surf fishing, and the Merritt Islands backcountry buffer is a haven for wildlife.
The closest hotels, motels and campgrounds are in Titusville.
Getting to the beach from Orlando: Take the 528 Beachline Expressway to State Road 407 North to Titusville.
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To The West The Gulf Of Mexico
Clearwater Beach: From Downtown Disney, head west on I-4, through Tampa on I-275 and continue on until the road ends on the sugar-soft and white sands of Clearwater Beach. Its broad beaches, turquoise water and hotels, shops and restaurants make it one of the most popular beaches in the area. The country has noticed, too Clearwater Beach was named #5 in the U.S. on TripAdvisors list of Top Beaches for 2020, and was #1 on the list in 2019, 2018 and 2016.
Treasure Island : Tucked between St. Pete Beach and Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island is popular for offshore fishing and diving, in addition to beach time. It was home to Floridas first residents, settled more than 10,000 years ago by Native Americans trying to escape the Ice Age that was ravaging the Northern Hemisphere. Sound familiar?
St. Pete Beach: Surprisingly, St. Pete Beach is one of the few spots along the Gulf of Mexico known for surfing, not to mention its popular beaches. In fact, its TripAdvisors No. 1 beach in the U.S. in 2021!
Feature image: Clearwater Beach from the air.
Combining A Walt Disney World Trip With A Beach Vacation
With Walt Disney World at home in Orlando located in the heart of Florida, heading to the beach will require a little travel time. Whilst Orlando is slightly closer to the Atlantic, from its central location, you can head either East or West to find a fantastic beach.
Combining a beach vacation with a Walt Disney World trip is a great option for many reasons. If you start your vacation at the beach, you enter full on relaxation mode for the remainder of the trip whilst if you end your vacation at the beach, it is the perfect way to round off your break. Alternatively, if you are visiting Walt Disney World over a stretch of time, say a week or two, a beach day is perfect to throw into the middle of your trip. As fun and exciting as Walt Disney World can be, hammering the parks day in day out can be exhausting and overwhelming. A beach day adds a little break into the experience, allowing you time to chill out and recharge ready for your next big park day.
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Clearwater Beach Treasure Island And St Pete Beach
Clearwater Beach: Drive 94 mi, 1 hour, 39 minutes
Treasure Island: Drive 98 mi, 1 hour, 38 minutes
St. Pete Beach: Drive 98 mi, 1 hour, 38 minutes
These beaches are all located close together, so I have combined them so as not to repeat myself. We stayed in Treasure Island for one of our park/beach vacations, and the beach is one of my favorites. We also stayed at Clearwater Beach, and although the beach was beautiful and the water warm, it was very crowded compared to Treasure Island.
Clearwater Beach is located about 94 miles from Walt Disney World, and it is about an hour and a 39-minute drive. This makes it the closest gulf coast beach according to distance from the Orlando area.
Just south of Clearwater Beach is Treasure Island Beach. Treasure Island is about 98 miles from Disney World and takes roughly the same amount of time to get there as it does Clearwater Beach . Just south of Treasure Island is St. Pete Beach. St. Pete Beach is also roughly 98 miles from Disney World and the Orlando area and is 15 miles from Clearwater Beach.
Some things to know about Clearwater Beach, Treasure Island and St. Pete Beach are:
- These beaches are on the Gulf Coast.
- They are all known for their soft white sand.
- Located just 1.5 miles from Clearwater Beach is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium, which is the home of the dolphin Winter, the star of the popular Dolphin Tale movies. Thus, Clearwater Beach is also an excellent choice for families.
Whats The Best Beach Thats Close To Disney World
This is clearly an opinion based question. However, the answer depends on what youre looking for in a beach. Did you know that the West Coast of Florida has crystal clear blue water, with very small to no waves? And then on the Atlantic Ocean side, to the East, theres great surfing and sometimes very choppy seas?
With small children and toddlers, the West Coast of Florida can be a much more relaxing day at the beach. They can wade in much calmer water and see lots of ocean life as well. Some great beaches on the West Coast of Florida are Clearwater Beach, Madeira Beach, and Dunedin. These are all about 2 hours from Walt Disney World.
On the East Coast, on the Atlantic Ocean side of Florida, beaches are a little closer, and much more adventurous. Cocoa Beach and Daytona Beach are some famous Florida beaches that are only about 1.5 hours from Walt Disney World. They are known for amazing surfing and Spring Break hotspots. If you have older kids, this is where you want to be. If you have any surfers in your group, the East Coast of Florida is ideal.
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Who Has The Best Disney World Pool
It is impossible to pick just one, but there are a couple of standouts when it comes to themes, perks, and good old-fashioned fun.
Stormalong Bay, shared by Disney’s Yacht Club Resort and Disney’s Beach Club Resort, is a sprawling destination with features that will appeal to every age group in your party. The Polynesian Village Resort is also a great choice to feel as if you’ve been transported to the South Pacific. This tropical escape has a fantastic waterslide, a well-designed play area for kids, and delicious Dole Whips.
Beaches Near Disney World In Orlando Florida
Though the ocean is within couple hours’ drive of Orlando in either direction, visitors who don’t want to leave the city may feel land-locked. The designers of Disney World provided guests with numerous options for sandy water-side fun within a few minutes of all the Disney theme parks. Though swimming is prohibited at these beaches, a wide range of other activities provide plenty of entertainment. Guests to select Disney World resorts have access to these exclusive beaches right in Orlando.
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