Historic Cocoa Beach Pier Offers Closest Sand and Surf to Orlando’s Theme Parks

Each spring I venture from Western New York’s snow belt, to Florida with a group of college students to volunteer at Give Kids The World Village.  This alternative spring break trip is to help families with children battling life-threatening illnesses, but even socially-conscious minded college students want a little beach time on spring break.  The sandy stretch closest to Orlando’s theme parks is Cocoa Beach, 55 miles east, and I took the group to Cocoa Beach Pier for a group dinner to celebrate our week of service.  Continue reading for more on our experience at Cocoa Beach Pier, and what you can expect from this family-friendly spot.

Cocoa Beach Pier

The historic Cocoa Beach Pier dates back to 1962 during the height of the space race when throngs of tourists flocked to the area for a glimpse of Apollo rockets streaking towards the heavens – or possibly a scantily clad genie from I Dream of Jeannie.  Now owned by Westgate Resorts, the Cocoa Beach Pier recently received a multi-million dollar renovation, and boasts a wide-variety of family-friendly dining and entertainment options.  Restaurant options on the pier include the Boardwalk Bar and Restaurant, Keith’s Oyster Bar, Pelican’s Bar & Grill, and Sea Dogs.

Cocoa Beach Pier

I took the group to Pelican’s, a family-friendly sports bar with floor to ceiling windows offering views of the ocean and surfers below.  Everyone enjoyed fish and shrimp tacos, burgers, salads, and crab – there was plenty of fried seafood and pub snacks to satisfy this 20-something crowd.  Oh, and the crispy Bent Arm Ale beer-battered Sidewinder fries were absolutely “to die for.”

Cocoa Beach Pier

After dinner the group dispersed to stroll the pier, soak in the sun, watch the volleyballers, and dip their toes in the surf.  I poked through the souvenir shop and boutique and perused the selection of t-shirts, postcards, shells, and other mementos of the area.  I enjoyed reading about the history of the Cocoa Beach Pier and insight into the Siegel family who now owns it.

Cocoa Beach Pier

“A large part of my family grew up in the Cocoa Beach area and we have many wonderful memories of the time spent here,” said Pier owner David Siegel. “We are honored to become the custodians of this magnificent landmark and we are fortunate to have the resources necessary to ensure that the legacy of the Pier is protected and renovated in a first-class manner.”

A tongue in cheek retro signpost also points the way to local (and not so local) landmarks such as the Kennedy Space Center, Patrick Air Force Base and Cape Canaveral.

Cocoa Beach Pier

The Cocoa Beach Pier is also becoming a hub of local events such as an upcoming celebration in honor of International Surfing Day and the summer solstice on Monday, June 20.  The Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier encourages everyone from seasoned surfers to surfing spectators to enjoy the longest daylight hours of the year at the beach through discounted surfboard rentals, specialty food and drink deals and the grand opening of its own surf school, Cocoa Beach Surf School by Flohana.

Cocoa Beach Pier - Surfboards

Image courtesy Cocoa Beach Pier

For the first time, you can take surfing lessons at the popular spot on Cocoa Beach, known as the East Coast Surfing Capital of the United States. The Cocoa Beach Surf School by Flohana provides a variety of lessons to cater to the type of learning environment preferred, from private and semi-private lessons to group lessons and surf clinics. Experienced instructors offer training covering all aspects of the sport, including water safety and basic board skills. Lessons will be offered daily from 9 am to 5 pm, with surfboards provided and prices varying based on the type of instruction.

If you’re traveling to Orlando and looking for a beach destination, the short excursion to Cocoa Beach is well worth the trip.  The historic Cocoa Beach Pier makes an excellent family destination for food, fun, fishing, and frolic in the sand.

Cocoa Beach Pier

Image courtesy Cocoa Beach Pier

 

For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.

About Dave Parfitt

Married, father of two girls, and living in the heart of the Finger Lakes. I'm a runner with a PhD in neuroscience and a passion for travel.