New Smyrna Beach is a town divided by a river. One side is an up and coming downtown district with art galleries and distilleries, and the other side is a pure unashamed beach town with all the things you typically find in places like that – sun, sand, bike shops and beach cafes, and kids walking around with surf boards.
It’s wonderful and we’ve fallen in love.
Florida is synonymous with large tourist attractions. And you won’t find any of that here. Instead, you get the feeling of ease in this small community. It won’t be long before the charm of the place fully relaxes you and you’re forgetting about your life back home.
With colorful streets, incredible beaches, a thriving arts scene, and unexpected culinary delights, you will be amazed at all the things to do in New Smyrna Beach.
About New Smyrna Beach
Perfectly situated on the eastern shore of central Florida, it’s roughly an hour’s drive from Orlando’s International Airport to the charming seaside of New Smyrna Beach.
March through May is the ideal time to visit. The days are comfortable rarely getting above the low 80’s, while the evenings are brisk but not cold. July and August are the hottest months (as well as the months with the highest humidity) and the coldest months are January and February.
Where to Stay in New Smyrna Beach
If inns are your thing, then you’re going to fall in love with the Night Swan B&B. The inn is owned by the loveliest couple and their kids who live on the property and have an uncanny ability to make you feel like you’re part of the family instantly.
The Night Swan B&B is located right on the water, and the sunrise views are out of this world. And their scrumptious breakfast hits the spot giving you the energy for a full day of activities.
Sitting at the banks of the river, the Night Swan B&B gives you that feeling of being special. Sure, New Smyrna Beach has tons of hotels right on the beach, but do they make you feel special? Staying at the Night Swan B&B makes sure you have a perfect and personalized stay.
WHAT TO DO IN NEW SMYRNA BEACH
Though New Smyrna Beach may have the feeling of a quaint town, don’t let that fool into thinking that there isn’t much to do. On the contrary! The place is full of art, history, nature, and sand to make a long weekend pass by in the blink of an eye.
We were so surprised by just how much there is to do here. And the variety made sure that we were never bored during our trip. And if you don’t believe me, here’s all the amazing things to do in New Smyrna Beach.
Get your shop on: The Florida Local Market is a great place to start picking up items made in Florida to show your love for the Sunshine State. And before you ask, no, this is nothing like your typical souvenir shop. No tacky souvenirs here.
Get your tan on: We’re not kidding – go hang out on the beach. For most of the year, the temperature is in the 80s, providing perfect days to be lazy on the sand. And with 17 miles of idyllic beach, it’s impossible to resist the sand and the waves.
Surf’s up: New Smyrna Beach is renowned for its incredible waves making it one of the prime surfer’s destinations on the east coast. Either sit back and enjoy watching the surfers tackle the waves, or join in! At Nichols Surf Shop, the oldest surf shop in town, you can grab a board or even have a lesson.
Grab a paddleboard: We know that surfing isn’t for everyone. The more peaceful option of paddleboarding can be enjoyed as one of the top things to do in New Smyrna Beach. At Paddleboard New Smyrna Beach, you can rent out equipment or sign up for lessons.
Ride around: Rent a bike at the Salty Luxe and get to know the town a bit better. With their electric bikes, spending a day exploring New Smyrna Beach is a breeze. And with rental options by the hour or the day, it’s super easy to grab a bike and hit the road.
Brush up on your art: The art scene in NSB is surprisingly great to say the least. We highly recommend checking out The Hub on Canal – a collective that houses the workspaces of 80 different artists. It’s a colorful collective that is a treat to walk around. And if you feel inspired, you can join one of the many workshops offered weekly.
Go for an evening stroll: The Canal Street historic district is buzzing with activity. Tempting smells from the many eateries will have you pausing at every menu. And you’ll be endlessly window shopping at all the art galleries and independent shops along this palm-lined street.
Enjoy nature: Be lulled by the sound of the rolling waves as you explore the pristine wilderness of the Smyrna Dunes. Located on the peninsula, you can enjoy 2 miles of boardwalk taking you through marshes and dunes. And, you also get great views of the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse across the inlet.
Step back in time: Retrace the steps of New Smyrna Beach, one of the oldest cities in Florida. The charming history museum details the multiple chapters of the town’s story through interactive and engaging displays.
Celebrate black history: One of the few museums in Florida dedicated to African American culture, the Black Heritage Museum tells the stories of African Americans and their journey and struggles of living in small towns of Florida throughout the 20th century.
See a show: Enjoy a live show at the Little Theater. With multiple productions a year, there’s sure to be something playing when you’re in town. And it’s always great to support local theater!
Learn to paint: Who didn’t grow up watching Bob Ross create landscape after landscape on PBS. Well, at the Bob Ross Art Workshop and Gallery, you can take an enjoyable workshop showing you how to paint in the style of Bob Ross. But if holding a paintbrush isn’t for you, there are original works to admire and purchase.
Tour a garden: A long and storied history lies buried at the Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens. Once part of a plantation and mill, the area now houses the remains of the mill. Surrounding the ruins are a large botanical garden perfect for an afternoon stroll. And be on the lookout for the concrete dinosaurs!
Visit a sugar mill: Once a cornerstone of the Cruger-dePeyster Plantation, the ruins of the sugar mill are a reminder of the region’s past commerce. Destroyed during the war between the Seminole Indians and the U.S., the 17-acre grounds are the perfect spot to relax.
Where to Eat in New Smyrna Beach
The food scene in NSB was surprisingly way better than we expected. It may be a small town but it is a cuisine haven. The town has something for everyone including great, wonderful vegan and vegetarian options.
But if you want to know what are the best restaurants in New Smyrna Beach, you must visit these places:
Riverpark Terrace: located across the river (on the town side) and is a great place to stop by for dinner. Their modern American fare features locally sourced products that are enjoyed in a laid back atmosphere.
Yellow Dog Eats Restaurant: This hip and unique spot hits the spot if you’re in the mood for barbecue. But it’s not your traditional bbq. It may feel like a dive, but the unexpected flavors make up for it. And, they even have vegan and gluten free options!
AA Garden Fusion: This is the place to go if you’re feeling like you need a bit of asian food in your life. One of the most talked about restaurants in New Smyrna Beach, the pho here is incredible.
Third Wave: We stopped by here after dinner to grab dessert and loved the vibe. The outdoor patio with the string lights is very much a beach town jam. During the day, you can enjoy their signature crepes. At night, relax and enjoy the atmosphere with some pizza, coffee, wine or craft beer.
Breakers: Located right on the beach, this is where to eat in New Smyrna Beach if you are craving beach food: burgers, fries, shakes etc. With its unmissable pink exterior, we’re not sure which is better, the food or the beach views from inside. We recommend heading here after hanging out on the beach all day.
Prima: This place turned out to the biggest surprise of all and instantly named it one of the best restaurants in New Smyrna Beach. We loved (I mean LOVED), the Italian food here. Highly recommend getting the garlic knots which are out of this world, but be ready to share them. Oh, and the pizza is some of the best on the east coast, too.
The Pearl: If oysters are your jam then be sure to stop by here. Not only are their ingredients fresh, but the owners work with local fishermen and farmers and support sustainable programs. So not only are you getting great food, but you are helping the community and the environment at the same time.
Cafe Verde: This Latin American restaurant has a casual vibe but with gourmet tasting food. We really liked the tacos and the guacamole. And any place that does guac right is ok in my book!
There’s so much more to do in each of these cities, but the beautiful thing about each and everyone is that you can easily get lost and explore in order to find something that really speaks to you. We loved our time here and will be coming back to all of them soon!