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Summer Guide 2014

Central Florida beaches, springs and pools

A listing of Orlando's public pools, plus nearby beaches and springs

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SALT LIFE
Beaches We Frequent

Cape Canaveral Beach Access
State Road A1A, Cape Canaveral; free
Drive time from Orlando: about an hour
There’s really nothing super-remarkable about the beaches along the coastline in the city of Cape Canaveral – they’re wide and littered with shells, and the dunes are lovely – but one of the things we love about the beaches here is that there’s easy boardwalk access at the end of nearly every side road, making it impossible to get lost finding your way to the shore. And there’s no parking fee at the end of those roads, which means you don’t have to run out to feed the meters every two hours, so you can truly escape without a care in the metered world. If we’re looking for a quick, close, unfussy trip to the beach, we head to the cape and park it.

Cocoa Beach
Route 1A, Cocoa Beach; free, except for the cost of metered parking
Drive time from Orlando: about an hour
Oh, Cocoa Beach – it’s the place we find ourselves most often, mostly because it’s the closest beach to us, and it’s so easy to get to. There’s a ton of metered parking on the streets leading to the beach boardwalks, which makes it even more convenient to unload and get to taking a load off. This makes it the perfect beach for a quick trip. Drive, park your car, park yourself in the sand for a couple of hours, then get out of there before it’s too hot and crowded. The best people watching is over by the pier, where things can get a little crowded and chaotic, but if you head down to First, Second or Third Streets, you’ll find plenty of prime spots to plant your umbrella. Stop by Coconuts on the Beach for a frozen drink if you find yourself parched.

Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park
6656 S. Atlantic Ave., New Smyrna Beach; free
Drive time from Orlando: about an hour and 40 minutes
Why drive all the way down to this remote part of New Smyrna Beach, when you could just hang out near Flagler Avenue or at one of the beaches closer to civilization (and the main roads) at New Smyrna? For one, because you can’t drive on the beach at this park, as you can at Flagler and some other NSB beaches, so it’s less clogged up by cars. Two, because this beach-access park is practically across the street from JB’s Fish Camp, one of the best fish camps in the area. Spend your day in the sand, then head to JB’s for some cold beer and steamed seafood to add a little extra grit to what we suspect will become your favorite summertime daytrip.

Playalinda Beach at Canaveral National Seashore
212 S. Washington Ave., Titusville; $5 per car; open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during summer
Drive time from Orlando: about an hour and a half
In Spanish, “playa linda” means “pretty beach,” and this is indeed one of the prettier Central Florida beaches on the Atlantic coast – save for some science and research structures and roadways, this is unspoiled seashore. Miles of it. The drive there can be a bit tedious, but you’ll forget all about that once you’ve parked the car and crossed the boardwalk to dip your toes in the roaring waves. If you’re into nude sunbathing, the furthest parking lot from the entrance is still a haven for naturists looking for a place to go about their business without any hassle from more prude beachgoers.

Summer Guide 2014
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