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Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
Near Kennedy Space Center (Kennedy Space Center is a must-see). Considered one of the most beautiful stretches of beach in the U.S.A., many rare and endangered species call these places home. If you are an eco-tourist, you might consider visiting this environmentally sensitive and protected area. The fastest way here is to take State Road 528 (the Beach Line Expressway, it's a toll road) East to Merritt Island, to State Road 3 north. If you want to go to the Canaveral National Seashore, take 528 East to U.S. 1 North, when you get to Titusville, watch the local signs to the beaches.
Cocoa Beach
Close to the Orlando/Kissimmee attractions area. It's an hours drive directly east of the attractions area on the Atlantic Ocean. Kennedy Space Center is just a couple of minutes north if you want to make a side trip. One popular landmark store is Ron Jon Surf Shop® which specializes in surf culture goods. Also nearby is the Cocoa Beach Surfing School (Cocoa Beach - (321)868-1980 - 150 E. Columbia Lane, Cocoa Beach FL 32931). There are free outdoor showers, rest rooms and inexpensive to free parking. Take State Road 528 (called the Beach Line Expressway, it's a toll road) East, follow the local signs to to beach, which is just off of highway A1A.
Daytona Beach
"The Most Famous Beach in the World", this beach is popular with tourists and easily accessible from the attractions area, being about a 1 1/2 hours drive northeast of it. Famous years ago for its automobile races on the beach, today cars are still permitted on the beach. Parking is $5 on the beach and free off of the beach. Local proprietors offer jet skiing, windsurfing, para-sailing and boat rentals. If you want to go deep-sea fishing drive down to Ponce Inlet (also see Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse below) and go out on a charter boat. Take the Interstate Highway I-4 East, and then just follow the local signs to the beach area. There are many events in the Daytona area throughout the year.
New Smyrna Beach
Just south of Daytona Beach and just north of Canaveral National Seashore, this a slightly less busy beach if Daytona is too much for you. Driving is permitted on part of the beach, but there are also conservation areas where driving is prohibited. Take I-4 East to State Road 44 East, then follow the signs to the beach.
Ormond Beach and Ormond-by-the-Sea
Just to the north of Daytona Beach, this is a less busy, quieter beach than Daytona. There is less development here and there is a stretch of beach that is so secluded, at Ormond-by-the-Sea, that you can feel almost all alone. This is an amazing trait for a beach so close to Daytona. There are also nice-sized, innumerable sand dunes here too. Take I-4 East to I-95 North, to State Road 40 East until you see the signs to the beach.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
Ponce Inlet, just south of Daytona Beach - (904)761-1821 - it is a wonderful old lighthouse completed in 1887, which is fully functioning, in which you are permitted (for an admission fee) to go up its 203 steps to the top and go outside to the walkway which encircles a the top, which has a beautiful 360 degree view of the area. It is said to be the second tallest lighthouse in North America. The admission fee also covers the lighthouse museum, a micro-theater historical film, historical grounds, nature-walk and the gift shop. This is a definite must-do if you are in the Daytona area. 4931 South Peninsula Drive, Ponce Inlet, Florida 32127. From Daytona Beach, take A1A south (which becomes Atlantic Ave and then S. Atlantic Ave. and then Robert A. Merrill Parkway) to the Lighthouse.
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