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butterflygirl3
07-14-2012, 12:23 AM
Hello, we are driving to Disney World the end of September. Are there any beaches on the way or slightly off course :) from st. louis, mo to Orlando? And how far out of the way would it be? Thanks for all the help :)

MickeyMouseFanNJ
07-14-2012, 11:43 AM
Hello, we are driving to Disney World the end of September. Are there any beaches on the way or slightly off course :) from st. louis, mo to Orlando? And how far out of the way would it be? Thanks for all the help :)

I'm also driving to Disney from NJ on 7/24/12 and we are planning to go to the beach. Daytona Beach is on the way to Orlando and it is about 1.5 hour away from Disney area.

swilshire
07-14-2012, 01:35 PM
Do you travel down I-75 from St Louis?

If so, best bet would be Clearwater Beach. Just go right at the fork of I-75 and the Florida Turnpike instead of left. When you get close to Tampa, follow the signs. When you're done at the beach, it's roughly 1 1/2 hours straight east to Orlando.

Many people, including my family, prefer the Gulf beaches to those on the east coast. Particularly if you have any children, they seem safer to me because you can go a long way out before the water gets very deep. Even without kids, the white sands of the Gulf beaches are much better for walking.

Sheila

HayGan
07-14-2012, 03:13 PM
Do you travel down I-75 from St Louis?

If so, best bet would be Clearwater Beach. Just go right at the fork of I-75 and the Florida Turnpike instead of left. When you get close to Tampa, follow the signs. When you're done at the beach, it's roughly 1 1/2 hours straight east to Orlando.

Many people, including my family, prefer the Gulf beaches to those on the east coast. Particularly if you have any children, they seem safer to me because you can go a long way out before the water gets very deep. Even without kids, the white sands of the Gulf beaches are much better for walking.

Sheila

We also love Clearwater. In fact DH & I plan on retiring there someday (too many years from now - unfortunately!) The water is so - well - clear! The sand is great. My kids love it and ask to go every trip now. I would highly recommend it over beaches on the Atlantic side.

Sunnywho
07-14-2012, 06:37 PM
We'll be driving through in late November so are not expecting us or the kids to swim (too cold) so the st augustine beach looks like the least out-of-the-way for us. Beautiful beach.

swilshire
07-15-2012, 09:39 AM
We'll be driving through in late November so are not expecting us or the kids to swim (too cold) so the st augustine beach looks like the least out-of-the-way for us. Beautiful beach.

The St Augustine beaches are nice. The last couple of times we've visited the town, however, the traffic was awful and parking not to be found. We wound up leaving without even stopping.

Sheila

AJKMOM
07-15-2012, 11:07 AM
Coming from Missouri, if you drive through the Florida Panhandle, there are some beautiful beaches there, as well as further south on the Gulf of Mexico side. The water action is milder there. Panama City Beach is one I always see in the Top 10 lists.

alice99
07-15-2012, 11:38 AM
We also love Clearwater. In fact DH & I plan on retiring there someday (too many years from now - unfortunately!) The water is so - well - clear! The sand is great. My kids love it and ask to go every trip now. I would highly recommend it over beaches on the Atlantic side.

Is there a lot of public parking/public access beaches?

Can you direct me to some, if possible?

GirlDreamer
07-15-2012, 03:13 PM
I'm tempted to try Clearwater on our trip. I've been to Sarasota Beach which was beautiful, but I want to try something new this time. It was a bit difficult to find parking at Sarasota as well.

NJRRK
07-15-2012, 03:19 PM
I'm also driving to Disney from NJ on 7/24/12 and we are planning to go to the beach. Daytona Beach is on the way to Orlando and it is about 1.5 hour away from Disney area.

This poster is from NJ, probably used to Atlantic Ocean beaches.
The east coast beaches have their charm too, especially to those of us used to ocean beaches. I agree that the gulf coast beaches are nice and probably more to the liking of those not used to ocean beaches.

ready2vacation
07-15-2012, 06:38 PM
^ I agree. Growing up on the East Coast (NC), the Gulf is like a big bathtub to me. Pretty, but a little boring compared to the eastern beaches (JMHO)

However, now that I've lived in TN for 7 years, most folks around here go to Destin and Panama City Beach which would add a couple of hours or so to the trip, depending on how you went.

Anc96
07-16-2012, 08:36 AM
I'm also driving to Disney from NJ on 7/24/12 and we are planning to go to the beach. Daytona Beach is on the way to Orlando and it is about 1.5 hour away from Disney area.

I've found Daytona Beach very crowded and touristy, and very hard to park at! If you're coming down the east coast, hop onto A1A when you get into Florida between St. Augustine and Daytona. There are many places to get onto the beach all along that hwy... with small parking areas in front of the walkways. You'll have a nice quiet spot all to yourself,or very few people. When you're done you can get back onto 95 the rest of the way to Orlando.
We usually take A1A all the way up the coast going home to PA. We love to stop at different beaches and towns along the way. We love Amelia Island/Fenandina Beach:)

We also like Cocoa Beach, though further south than you need to go. We pass the more touristy area by about 1/2 a mile, and park on the metered side streets. Way less crowded and never had a problem parking. We go there when we need a down day from the parks.

We used to fly every year, but for the passed 3 years we have been driving to save money. We've ever had more fun! So many places to stop and see if you have the time. I'm lucky in that I don't work during the summer, so we always have lots of time.

Have fun!

HayGan
07-16-2012, 08:50 AM
Is there a lot of public parking/public access beaches?

Can you direct me to some, if possible?

There are public parking places for the beach all along the main street (sorry can't remember the name right now.) They are very eay to find and clearly marked. Some have meters and some do not.

Check out these links
http://www.clearwater-fl.com/info/about/geography/beaches.asp
http://www.visitclearwaterflorida.com/visitor_information.aspx

mickeyluv'r
07-16-2012, 09:03 AM
One unique thing about Daytona, if you want to park for the day - you can actually park/drive ON the beach, esp if you have four wheel drive.

If you want to do a quick overnight, the Hampton Inn is quite nice.
Parts of Daytona are not super nice, but the Hampton Inn is in a decent section.

There's also great seafood place in Port Orange called "Boondocks" It's a bit rustic, but the food is great! Go early to avoid a long table wait. If you do wait, sit out back by the marina. They serve more than seafood, but the seafood is really great.

I also second that St. Augutione is a neat area. I've never actually spent a day at the 'beach' there, there's too many other unique things in St. Augustine.

Orlando Vic
07-16-2012, 06:58 PM
One unique thing about Daytona, if you want to park for the day - you can actually park/drive ON the beach, esp if you have four wheel drive.

Yes, and a number of people (including some small children) have beet hit by these cars.

butterflygirl3
07-17-2012, 01:18 AM
OP here - thank you for all the tips!!! My hubby and I were talking about a beach day on the way down and he said, "I will have to research it to see what I can come up with!" I said, "Don't worry about it, I will ask on my disboards, they will help us!!! " And you didn't let me down :) Thanks so much!!!

butterflygirl3
07-17-2012, 01:29 AM
So, I want to take my kids to the beautiful soft sandy beach, look for seashells, build sandcastles and jump in the waves. Which beach am I wanting? Or is it out there? :) Forgive me if I sound like in a fantasy world I haven't been to the beach in over 15 years. :)

alice99
07-17-2012, 06:54 AM
There are public parking places for the beach all along the main street (sorry can't remember the name right now.) They are very eay to find and clearly marked. Some have meters and some do not.

Check out these links
http://www.clearwater-fl.com/info/about/geography/beaches.asp
http://www.visitclearwaterflorida.com/visitor_information.aspx

Thanks so much for the great link! I will be visiting Clearwater this August!

So, I want to take my kids to the beautiful soft sandy beach, look for seashells, build sandcastles and jump in the waves. Which beach am I wanting? Or is it out there? :) Forgive me if I sound like in a fantasy world I haven't been to the beach in over 15 years. :)

I think Gulf Beaches are better for what you are looking for. there are parks attached to some of these beaches, for grilling , hanging out.
I haven't been to a Gulf beach in 15 years myself, but with small kids I'd head to the Gulf instead of to the Ocean.
The BIG waves are on the Ocean side, like Cocoa Beach or Daytona Beach.

mickeyluv'r
07-17-2012, 10:45 AM
I've actually never been to the FL Gulf coast, to be fair, or at least not since I was very young, but I've been to other bay areas and lakes. To me, it's not a real beach unless there are real waves. A big part of the beach is hearing the sound of surf.

Yes, you have to be careful with small kids at any beach, but especially ones where they allow cars. As far as I've seen though, the vehicles stay in a single lane/zone, and the blankets stay in another. But if I had toddlers, Daytona might not be my first pick for a week long visit.

The resort I mentioned also has a beautiful beach view pool. So that's the best of both worlds. You can go down on the sand for a bit, hit the surf, then head up by the pool.

alice99
07-17-2012, 06:40 PM
If I was going to an east coast/Atlantic beach I personally would choose Cocoa Beach, definitely over Daytona Beach.

fla4fun
07-19-2012, 09:48 AM
I used to live in Pinellas county, so I visited the beaches from St. Pete up through Clearwater often. Unless you need waves big enough to surf, there is plenty of wave action on the Gulf coast. The sand is softer and there are more shells than on the Atlantic coast.

That being said, now that I live near Orlando and have family in Cocoa Beach, I mostly go to the Atlantic side. Although I do spend time walking on the beach, even as an adult I often find those larger waves intimidating. But it's fun to watch the surfers fighting them.

If you want shells and good sand for sand castles, I recommend anywhere along the Gulf coast. It will be easier for the kids to get water without being knocked over by large waves, and the shelling is much better. I would imagine coming from St. Louis, that it would be less out of your way to choose a Gulf coast beach as well.

caribear
07-19-2012, 11:28 AM
Just got back from visiting both a Gulf beach and a beach on the Atlantic. I can say without a doubt that the gulf beach was much nicer. Hubby and I first went to Siesta Key (without the kids!) for 3 days. We enjoyed the soft sand and the beautiful clear water. We had some waves the first day, but after that the water was pretty calm. Lots of kids using skim boards/boogie boards on the beach. The water is great for younger kids as it is shallow for a long way out...and you can just sit in the shallow water and play. No rocky sand fillling the bottom of your bathing suit! We then got the kids and went over to Amelia Island for 4 days. The waves were pretty rough. The sand was very shelly/rocky....our bathing suits were filled with broken shells/rocks....very uncomfortable. Water is not clear at all....you cannot see your feet once you step into the water. The kids spent more time in the condo pool than in the ocean due to the waves ( DD10 and DS5). More unique shells were found on the Gulf beaches.

We are going to take the kids to Siesta Key for the day next weekend so they can enjoy the ocean...it is only 1 hour and 10 minutes from my house....and I live about 40 minutes from the parks.

Of course this is all my opinion...and yours may differ. We just prefer the soft, cool sand and the clear, calmer water. If you are not used to going to the beach....then I think any beach will seem like a great beach day, but if you are a little jaded like we are....then only certain ones will feel like heaven.

Macprincess
07-19-2012, 04:02 PM
So, I want to take my kids to the beautiful soft sandy beach, look for seashells, build sandcastles and jump in the waves. Which beach am I wanting? Or is it out there? :) Forgive me if I sound like in a fantasy world I haven't been to the beach in over 15 years. :)

If this is what your looking for go to Siesta Key! The beach is beautiful, sand is white powder that is cool to the touch and makes great sandcastles. While the waves aren't huge my son & friends manage to skim and boggie board here just about daily in the summer. There is a reason this beach is always listed in the top beaches in FL. Stay for sun set it is not to be missed.

Google Siesta Key for pics. We love it so much we moved here from a southern CA beach town 10 years ago and never looked back. People here are wonderful as well.

Parking can get crowded in season but in Sept you shouldn't have an issue with parking.

It's about 1.5 hours drive from WDW.

buffy24
07-26-2012, 09:24 AM
I would encourage you to look into Anna Maria Island. It is a few islands north of Siesta Key and much less crowded. Also, the buildings on Anna Maria are not as tall as those on Siesta Key & Long Boat Key, so you can view the water quite often as you drive along. We spent a week in the Holmes Beach section of Anna Maria and we absolutely loved it. We tried to go to Siesta Key for a day, but unfortunately they were having trouble with small jellyfish that day (and the day before that), so we didn't get to check out the water there. The beach seemed nice, though it was hard to find parking and easy beach access because we weren't staying on the island. I think the gulf island beaches are definitely the place to be.