Cocoa Beach is one of the most popular beach destinations in Florida and for good reason: with beautiful beaches, tons of great restaurants, and plenty of things to see and do, it makes for a great beach weekend getaway, and makes a great day trip from Orlando as one of the best beaches near Walt Disney World! It’s a very family friendly place to visit, so take a look through this list at the best things to do in Cocoa Beach with kids!
Things to do in Cocoa Beach with kids
How to get to Cocoa Beach
Cocoa Beach is about an hours drive from Central Florida, and it’s the quickest beach to get to if you’re visiting the Central Florida theme parks. Since public transportation is scarce in Florida, you’ll need to hire a car to get there from the Orlando area; you can rent a car from Orlando International Airport or from the Alamo Rental Car facility on Walt Disney World property. You could also use Uber or Lyft to get there, although this is likely to be on the pricier side, and I would recommend having a car in Cocoa Beach anyway.
If you’re flying in, Orlando International Airport is the closest major airport and is less than an hours drive away. Melbourne International Airport is closer at about 30 minutes drive away, but it’s a much smaller airport and flights in and out are less common (and will probably be more expensive).
Port Canaveral is also a few minutes away, and Cocoa Beach would make for a great stay before or after a cruise.
Where to stay in Cocoa Beach with kids
There are no shortage of beachfront hotels in Cocoa Beach, but we recently stayed at the Westgate Resort Cocoa Beach and would absolutely recommend it as a great place to stay in Cocoa Beach with kids. The resort is just a few steps from the beach, but also has an amazing water park area for the kids to play. Each villa in the resort is a two-bedroom so they’re perfect for families, and thanks to recent renovations, the rooms are modern and comfortable. The resort offers free parking as well as a complimentary shuttle to Cocoa Beach Pier, and is within a few minutes walk to restaurants and shops. You can read my full review of Westgate Resort Cocoa Beach with plenty of photos so you can see the resort for yourself!
Where to eat in Cocoa Beach with kids
Cocoa Beach has a huge amount of fantastic places to eat with kids, many of which are right on the beach! We found plenty of places for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as places to grab a cocktail and watch the sunset or just pick up a quick snack.
Pelican’s Bar and Grill
On our first night in Cocoa Beach we ate at Pelican’s Bar and Grill on Cocoa Beach Pier, which ended up being our favorite restaurant of the whole trip. The restaurant is located about halfway along the pier and with huge glass windows looking out over the ocean, it’s a fantastic place to watch the surfers, look out for passing boats, and even spot a dolphin or two if you’re lucky! It also makes for the perfect place to watch the sunset!
When we visit the beach, I always try to eat as much of the local seafood as possible, and Pelican’s did not disappoint; the restaurant had some amazing seafood offerings, including some freshly caught fish options, and everything we ate was delicious. There was also a great kids menu and some fantastic cocktails – oh, and being as environmentally friendly as possible, they use pasta straws in their drinks, which is one of the cleverest things I’ve ever heard! The service was wonderful, and we really enjoyed our evening there; I can’t recommend this restaurant enough!
Florida’s Seafood Bar and Grill
While not on the beach itself, Florida Seafood Bar and Grill is just a few minutes walk (or an even shorter car ride) away. It’s a small restaurant and can get busy during peak dinner hours, but it’s absolutely worth the wait; the seafood here was incredible! I tried the Seafood Cioppino with shrimp, mussels, clams, and fresh fish in a spicy tomato sauce over linguine, and it was every bit as good as it sounds! They also had a great kids menu, and the fish tanks around the restaurant provided ample entertainment for the kids while we waited on our food. Service was quick and efficient, and the prices were very reasonable for such high quality seafood.
Florida’s Fresh Grill
Florida’s Fresh Grill came highly recommended from so many people we spoke to over the course of our weekend in Cocoa Beach – and since it was ranked the number one restaurant in Cocoa Beach on Trip Advisor, I can see why! This is an upscale dining location complete with a dress code (think heels instead of flip flops) so it’s not somewhere you would want to visit right off the beach, but it does make for a wonderful place for a nice evening meal. With fresh seafood (are you seeing a pattern here?!), steaks, salads, and a great cocktail list, this is a great place to relax after a long day at the beach. I would probably recommend this as a location for older children, although all well behaved children are welcome and there is a kids menu with some great kid friendly options.
Coconuts on the Beach
If you’re looking for a locally owned restaurant then look no further than Coconuts on the Beach, which has had the same owners for 40 years! This fun, casual restaurant serves up plenty of lighter seafood options like calamari, peel and eat shrimp, and conch fritters, but also offers soups, salads, sandwiches, and larger portions like fish and chips and a freshly caught catch of the day. There is also a small kids menu, and happy hour for any parents who have had a long day! The food here is delicious but what really makes Coconuts on the Beach stand out is its location, literally steps from the beach and with a sweeping view of the Atlantic.
Rikki Tiki Tavern
If you’re looking for drink and appetizers or a more casual light meal at the end of a long beach day, then head to the very end of Cocoa Beach Pier to Rikki Tiki Tavern, where you can find great tropical cocktails, appetizers like the Rikki Tiki wings and the seafood dip, and a great kids menu. This is yet another location with a fantastic ocean view as it stands right over the water, and is a short walk from the beach itself.
Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier
For most people visiting Cocoa Beach with kids, the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier is going to be the central focus of the trip. Not only is the pier in a great location right on the beach with all day parking, but there is plenty to do to keep the kids occupied. Originally built in 1962 and stretching over 800 feet long, the Cocoa Beach Pier is now owned by Westgate Resorts, and over $4 million has been put into the property since 2017 to re-imagine it as a world class family friendly tourist attraction.
The pier features restaurants, gift shops, and live entertainment, but also offers plenty for families to do; you can go fishing out on the pier, rent beach equipment, play on the beach volleyball courts, and even take surfing lessons! My kids also loved playing under the pier when the tide went out; we found some beautiful shells, crabs, and even a starfish! The Cocoa Beach Pier should definitely be your first stop on a trip to Cocoa Beach!
Visiting the beach in Cocoa Beach
Chances are that if you’re coming to Cocoa Beach, you’re going to want to spend a day or two actually on the beach! With over 72 miles of shoreline, the Cocoa Beach beaches have plenty of space for everyone, and are known for their amazing waves; you’ll spot plenty of surfers out there! Luckily for families visiting with kids, waves closer to the shore are more gentle, although I would definitely keep little ones within arms reach in case a bigger wave does come in. Those gentle waves do make for some fantastic body boarding for those who might be a little small for surfing, and of course there is lots of space for building sandcastles. We found that the middle of the day when the tide was out to be the best time to be on the beach since the waves were farther out – and those waves bring in lots of shells and smaller sea creatures; my kids loved hunting for crabs in the sand.
We stuck closer to Cocoa Beach Pier for most of our beach time since there are lifeguards on duty and we always paid attention to the flag warnings about the tide and the weather conditions. We’re definitely a family who loves the beach and we really enjoyed the Cocoa Beach beaches; read more of my tips on visiting the beach with a baby here.
Ron Jon Surf Shop
If you’re looking for souvenirs to take home after your Cocoa Beach vacation, or if you need some extra beach supplies, then head right for one of Cocoa Beach’s most famous sights, the Ron Jon Surf shop! This two story shop has everything you could possible imagine for a beach vacation including bathing suits and clothing for men, women, and children, towels, buckets and spades, beach toys, and of course their famous surf boards! You can also pick up souvenirs to bring home; there were smaller items like magnets, mugs, and photo frames, but also home decor and some beautiful items for a beach house.
We spent over an hour in the store, looking around and picking out some things to take home, and my kids love their souvenirs! If you’re visiting the store by car, just be aware that you have to park in the designated parking lot across the street since the parking lot at the back of the store is for buses only. The shop can also get very busy, and since it’s open 24 hours a day, I would recommend arriving as early in the day as you can to beat the crowds.
One of our favorite things to do on a beach vacation is to play mini golf in the evening when temperatures have dropped a little. We saw a few different mini golf locations but ultimately went with Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf at the recommendation of some of the locals. There were two different courses to choose from, and my kids had a fantastic time playing (or at least pretending to play!) Prices were very reasonable, and there is even a place inside the store to get ice cream afterwards. Mini golf and ice cream: what better way to end a day?!
Something we easily would have driven past if it weren’t for the recommendation of someone at Westgate Resort Cocoa Beach was The Dinosaur Store and Museum. Kelly at the front desk noticed my kids wearing dinosaur t-shirts and recommended we stop by this place at some point, and we decided to swing by on our last day for a quick visit. Well, that quick visit ended up being over an hour long, and we could easily have stayed longer!
Not only does the store have absolutely everything dinosaur related that you could ever think of, the dinosaur museum is a fantastic place with dinosaur exhibits, fossils, and passionate employees who were more than happy to not only talk to us about everything on display, but even let us touch things; I don’t think Harrison will ever forget holding a T-Rex’s tooth! There was so much to see and I would love to go back and spend more time reading all about the exhibits since the information was so detailed. If you have a young dinosaur fan, then this is the absolute perfect place to take them, especially if you need to escape the heat for a while or you have a rainy day.
We were hosted by Westgate Resorts on this trip and received a complimentary meal at Pelican’s Bar and Grill. As always all opinions are my own.