New Smyrna Beach is first and foremost, a great beach vacation destination. What can you do at New Smyrna Beach? Once a major producer of indigo and cane sugar, New Smyrna Beach, Florida now fancies a much more laid-back way of life and a great escape to its bigger city counterparts. It has an inspiring mix of old and new, creating its own special Florida flavor.
When I take a day trip to New Smyrna Beach (or NSB as it is commonly called), I head straight to the the historic district for delicious eats, intriguing art, and fantastic scenery. Palm-tree lined Canal Street and Flagler Avenue are the major hubs of this area.
Check Out the Art Scene
New Smyrna Beach is home to The Hub on Canal, an art gallery venue that houses artists in residence. Not only can you watch the 25+ artists working or purchase their pieces, but you can also take classes at The Hub on Canal and learn the artistic skills for yourself. Some of the mediums represented are glasswork, painting, metal sculpture, pottery, abstracts, watercolors, gourd art, and bird-carving.
A lesser-known gem in New Smyrna Beach is the Atlantic Center for the Arts, containing award-winning artist studios. It is space created in 1977 where artists participate in three-week residencies. The building sits in a lovely wooded area, dotted with palmetto and pine trees.
Fitting into the category of art, antiques, and shopping is the Florida Galleria, a treasure trove of all those things. There is a huge collection of Florida Highwaymen artworks and plenty of other things. If you aren’t familiar with the Highwaymen, they were a group of talented self-taught African-American artists of the late 50s and 60s. They traveled the East Coast of Florida, selling paintings out of their cars.
Visit the Beach
The clouds and gorgeous hard-packed white sand in New Smyrna Beach against the Atlantic Ocean is a sight for sore eyes. New Smyrna’s laid-back vibe spreads over the 17 miles of beaches that super easy to access. Cars are even permitted on the Volusia County beach from sunrise to sunset November 1st to April 30th. All other dates allow cars on the beach from 8 AM to 7 PM.
Outdoor activities are in high demand in NSB, with surfing and Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) being two of the most popular. Fishing is not far behind.
Eat Delicious Food
Yellow Dog Eats Kitchen and Bar is a funky little spot (more than a century old) with gourmet food for you and your dog. The whole town rolls out the red carpet for your four legged friends. Try the Florida Cracker BBQ, with tangy coleslaw, gouda cheese, fried onions, and pecan-smoked bacon on thick-cut white bread. The Rufus is another exceptionally tasty BBQ sandwich with thick brie, cherry pepper rings, and a raspberry Melba sauce.
Thai Mango is a tasty option for curries and yummy noodle dishes, while you will find delicious brick-oven pizzas, fresh seafood, and really good coffee at Third Wave Cafe + Wine Bar.
Another one of my favorites is Half Wall Beer House, great for craft beers on tap (around 75 of them) and the best jumbo buffalo wings on Florida’s East Coast. Don’t stop there; order the Mussels in Beer (topped with parmesan cheese, red chili flakes, and parsley) and beer-battered cheese curds with marinara. Both are lip-smacking delish!
Shop Till You Drop
Flagler Avenue is the heart of fun in NSB. Running five blocks long (from the river to the beach), the neighborhood is bustling with restaurants, shopping, artisanal coffee bars, and art galleries. Some of the shops are upscale boutiques while others scream cheesy tourist shop. Surf shops and shuffleboard are both in high demand at New Smyrna Beach and represented well on Flagler Avenue.
I like The Posh Pineapple Gift Boutique on Canal Street. Check out the jewelry, candles, lotions, handbags, and gift selection. Butterfly Kisses is the premier babies and children’s shop in New Smyrna Beach. Need a new swimsuit for your beach adventures? The Bikini Company can take care of that.
NSB is home to several interesting antique shops, some with treasures, some with trash, but both very fun to visit and pilfer through. You will find a couple on Canal Street.
The Little Drug Co (established in 1920) has a long history and the distinction of being the oldest pharmacy in Volusia County. Eli Lilly Pharmacy honored Little Drug for filling its one millionth prescription in the 1980s. Today, it is a retro soda fountain, restaurant, gift shop, and pharmacy delivery company.
New Smyrna Beach offers monthly events and seasonal activities, such as the Classic Car Show “Cruise Night”, Halloween and Christmas parades, and Holiday Street Festival.
Visit Florida’s Second Oldest City
The town of New Smyrna Beach is a great place for a day trip or even a weekend getaway, with plenty to keep you busy. Its natural beauty, gorgeous scenery, outdoor attractions, upscale shopping, and restaurants are sure to please the most discerning traveler. Schedule some time for exploring Flagler Avenue and Canal Street for tastes of what this vibrant Florida gem has to offer.
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