Florida is known for its many beautiful beaches full of surfers, retirees, and families on vacation during the summer months.
Of course, during this high season, you can barely find a spot on the beach to lay out, and with so many kids in the water, it’ll be 15 minutes before you realize you were watching the wrong child playing in the waves the whole time.
But a well-kept secret among travelers everywhere is that the beaches here are still just as nice throughout most of the winter. Plus they’re much less crowded, which means no wrestling another mom over the last beach umbrella.
Fun In The Sun
Cocoa Beach, located on the outermost eastern side of Florida, is just a little over an hour away from Orlando. Being the closest beach to Disney World, it makes for a nice day trip if you need some time away from all those theme parks.
Even in January, the temperature here stays in the mid-70s most days, which means the bathing suits and sandcastles are definitely still a go.
The water may be a bit more chilly than during the summer months, but you’ll get used to it after just a few dips.
While you’re soaking up the sun, keep an eye out for any mysterious little holes dug in the sand. The elusive ghost crab may just pop its head out during the day. These cool little guys are super cute with clear shells and big black eyes.
You’ll also find a variety of seashells scattered along the beach, so bring your buckets because the kids will want to collect them all.
And while it’s fun to look for seashells, they’re not so enjoyable to walk on. Many broken fragments throughout the sand create a dangerous scenario.
So bring a lot of band-aids, or better yet, some water shoes for the whole family. This way you can play all day without painting the beach red.
And don’t forget your sunscreen or you will be sorry… and red. The sun’s rays are still much stronger in Florida, even in the winter.
Also, be warned that the light gray sand here will cling to every inch of your skin and bathing suit. So bring a washcloth for rinsing off and a trash bag for storing wet bathing suits and towels, because they will be a mess.
If you’re planning on going out to eat or walking around town after your day of sand and surf, be sure to pack a spare set of clothes for everyone too.
Activities Shore Side
There is plenty to do in Cocoa Beach that will entertain the whole family, but one popular attraction is Cocoa Beach Pier.
This famous pier stretches a whopping 800 feet out over the Atlantic Ocean. There’s tons to check out with restaurants, bars, souvenir shops, and live bands playing along the length of the pier.
Spending the whole day here is easy with beach volleyball, fishing, and excellent surfing conditions. In fact, world famous surfer Kelly Slater grew up in Cocoa Beach, so go catch some of the same waves that made him great.
And if you didn’t have room to pack a fishing rod in your already stuffed minivan, no problem, you can rent them right from the pier.
For the true surfer enthusiast, check out the largest surf shop in the world right here in Cocoa Beach! Swing by Ron Jon Surf Shop on North Atlantic Avenue any time of day or night—they’re open 24 hours.
And of course, you can’t forget to visit The Kennedy Space Center just around the corner in Cape Canaveral. The kids will have a blast here at NASA’s primary rocket launch center.
Get The Best Food In Town
For a truly exceptional culinary experience, head over to The Green Room located at 222 North 1st Street in Cocoa Beach, open Monday-Saturday from 10:30am-9pm.
This is a mom n’ pop style restaurant—if Pop was a surfer and Mom was a hippie and both were vegetarians. The Green Room offers a delicious vegetarian twist on some of America’s favorite comfort foods.
The atmosphere here is calm, yet cheery with warm lighting and cozy dining room nooks. The staff here is gracious and accommodating, and sure to greet you with a smile.
One of the menu favorites at The Green Room is the Rubio, a vegetarian take on the Rueben.
With seasoned tofu, melted cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing piled onto grilled rye bread, this sandwich is delicious and savory. Of course, with a full menu and plenty of options for the kids, you can’t go wrong with anything you choose.
Book The Hotel Best For You
If you’re ready to call it a night after dinner, there are many hotel options to choose from in Cocoa Beach. While you can’t stay in Tony Nelson’s house from ‘I Dream of Jeannie,’ you can pick from one of the beachside hotels or resort-style accommodations.
Cocoa Beach Suites on North Atlantic Ave. has some of the best prices in town and gets an ‘A’ for location, being only a couple blocks from the beach.
Unfortunately, they rank pretty low on every other scale. The lobby smells like cigarette smoke (despite being a non-smoking building), and the rooms are outdated and just clean enough to sleep in. This isn’t the kind of place you’d want to hang out and chill for very long.
They also don’t have a pool, which isn’t totally a deal breaker since the ocean is so close, but there’s no Wi-Fi either, which may be unbearable for some. Or, could be all the more reason to go “offline” during your vacation.
At $200 a night, The Resort on Cocoa Beach is a much nicer hotel with up to date décor and amenities.
The kids will love the tennis and basketball courts, the outdoor pool, and hot tub. There’s also a fitness center onsite—so you can be sure the only thing flappin’ in the wind is your beach towel, if you know what I mean!
Birds really do have the right idea by flying south for the winter. It’s definitely way more fun.
So whether you’re a Florida lover who’s never visited Cocoa Beach, or you’ve never been to Florida at all, this laid back beach town has all the perks—without having to cram yourself onto the last few grains of unclaimed sand left on the beach.
Please let us know in the comments section if you have any places in Cocoa Beach that you would recommend!