Some beaches feature pedestrian-only areas that are perfect for families with children. Other beaches allow cars on them, which is perfect for disabled visitors or for folks with a lot of gear—like surfers.
Besides beach access at most street-ends, the area boasts plenty of larger public parks. Read on to discover which one is right for you.
Beaches and parks are listed geographically from north to south.
Discover 23 miles of sandy beaches on Florida's central Atlantic coast.
New Smyrna Beach offers beaches you can drive on as well as traffic-free beaches.
This quiet beach town is the northernmost in Volusia County. It's primarily a residential community, so there are plenty of quiet spots where you can bask in the sugary-white sand. Take a nap in the dunes, take a dip in the ocean or just enjoy a beautiful sunrise. Al Weeks Sr. North Shore Park provides beachfront recreation and 100 paved parking spaces, as well as dune walkovers, a ramp for disabled beachgoers, restrooms and showers, and picnic tables and grills. Just south of North Shore Park, you’ll find Tom Renick Park, which offers features sheltered picnic areas, a playground, outdoor showers, restrooms and plenty of parking.
Al Weeks Sr. North Shore Park provides beachfront recreation and off-beach parking.
This Ormond Beach park is located on the east and west sides of the beach road, and features spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Halifax River. The complex features baseball fields, basketball courts, a boardwalk, fishing dock, fitness trail, nature trail, pavilion, picnic area, playground, racquet ball court, restrooms, shuffleboard courts, soccer and football fields, and tennis courts.
Beach driving is a tradition here where world land speed records were set on the beach during the early 1900’s. You can still drive on a section of this beach, but the atmosphere is more relaxed, and reading a good book in the sun is the perfect activity. There are more than a half-dozen beach access points that have restrooms and showers. Visit the Birthplace of Speed Park that commemorates the area's first automobile timed trial in 1903. This park has a picnic area, restrooms and a dune walkover.
Driving on the beach is great if you’re carrying a lot of gear—and it’s fun!
Nicknamed “The World's Most Famous Beach,” this is where the center of the action is. Fish the surf, parasail, people watch on the old-fashioned boardwalk. Everyone in your family will have a blast. In addition to the public beach access points where you can drive right onto the beach, there is a mile-long, pedestrian-only zone surrounding the Daytona Beach Pier. Oceanfront Park offers a beautiful green space with volleyball courts and historic sites for a pleasantly relaxing day at the beach.
Daytona Beach is home to the Sunglow Fishing Pier, where you can enjoy a Grouper sandwich, fish, or just kick back and enjoy the views.
Sun Splash Park
Beachgoers can sun, splash and beat the heat here. The park features an interactive water fountain, decorative walkways, a shaded playground, volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, showers and two beach access ramps. This is a perfect park to stay cool and happy.
Daytona Beach Shores
This 5.5-mile beach located just south of Daytona Beach is home to only 5,500 locals, and features many attractions commemorating the racing industry. Public access is available at several street ends, and if you are looking for a larger public park, Frank Rendon Park features sheltered picnic areas, grills, a playground, restrooms, showers, a beach walkway and an observation deck.
This tiny town located at the southernmost tip of the area's barrier island provides a perfect spot to stop and enjoy the beach and sparkling Atlantic Ocean. In addition to swimming, surfing and sunbathing along the beach, the 52-acre Lighthouse Point Park has nature trails, an observation deck and tower, and picnic areas. Fishing along the beach or the inlet is a fun treat and a number of marinas offer easy access to deep-sea fishing charters and outfitters.
Discover a beautiful beach at Lighthouse Point Park, as well as nature trails and picnic areas.
Smyrna Dunes Park
Perched on 73 acres of pristine land on the northern tip of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula, this park is surrounded by water on three sides: the Indian River in the west, the Ponce de Leon Inlet in the north and into the Atlantic Ocean to the east. It's a unique environment that is home to a variety of animals, birds, reptiles, marine life and vegetation. Explore the more than two miles of elevated boardwalks that wind through the principal habitat, sand dunes. Guided nature walks are educational programs are also available. The park also features picnic areas, pavilions and an observation tower. Pets on a leash are allowed here.
New Smyrna Beach
Consisting of more than 13 miles of beautiful white beach, New Smyrna is considered a safer area beach due to the rock ledges 45 miles offshore, which eliminate dangerous undercurrents. There are a number of public access points and city and county parks. The beach is open to vehicles from sunrise to sunset in certain areas, and quaint restaurants and shops line the nearby streets.
New Smyrna Beach is famed for surfing, and your whole gang will love its laid-back vibe.
Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park
This six-acre park between the Halifax River and the Atlantic Ocean has a boardwalk on the oceanside and a fishing pier on the riverside. In addition to basking in the sun and dipping your feet into the warm Atlantic water, you can play basketball and tennis, watch the kids play in the playground or have a picnic. The park features a pavilion, grills, picnic tables and restrooms.
Canaveral National Seashore, Apollo Beach
Located approximately seven miles south of New Smyrna Beach, this is the northern beach access to the Canaveral National Seashore. The park is a barrier island which features ocean, beach, dune, hammock, lagoon, salt marsh and pine flatland habitats. It's a beautiful, quiet place to spend your time. This additional 24 miles of beachfront is undeveloped, so be sure to bring any supplies you may need for the day. There is a parking area with boardwalk access over the dunes. The park also has nature trails, lagoons, the Eldora State House historical site and the Turtle Mound archeological site.
If you’re looking for soul-soothing solitude, Canaveral National Seashore is the place to go.
All photos by Lauren Tjaden for VISIT FLORIDA