New Smyrna Beach: The Sunshine State’s Best-Kept Secret

Tucked away along Florida’s Central Atlantic Coast sits a charming coastal gem that has, for the most part, remained largely undiscovered by tourists. It’s beloved by surfers and sun worshipers, is an oasis for ecotourism, and a happy community with laid-back vibes. New Smyrna Beach is a Florida vacation offering authentic experiences. 

The area features miles of sun-kissed coastline and the convenience of a drivable beach. Luxurious tailored-to-you bed and breakfast accommodations are perfect for a romantic escape. Locally-owned restaurants feature freshly caught seafood and chef-inspired plates. Trails, waterways, and wildlife are waiting to be discovered and explored. The area also offers historic districts with boutiques, shops, museums, and art galleries, as well as a calendar of year-round events.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida, may be Florida’s second oldest city, but its vibrant spirit and timeless charm make it feel youthful and inviting.

Independent Hotels and Intimate Retreats

Black Dolphin Inn NSB
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

New Smyrna Beach has a variety of lodging options, making it an attractive option for families, as well as couples and friend groups. From Springhill Suites by Marriott to independent establishments like the Oceanfront Salty Mermaid Hotel, stepping out of bed and into the sand is as easy as it gets. 

But the real experiences are within quaint bed-and-breakfast options like the historic Black Dolphin Inn. Owned, renovated, and operated by brothers Scott and Brett Smith and their families, this upscale B&B has 14 unique units with spa-inspired bathrooms and stylish vintage furnishings — many with open-air balconies. Breakfast menus change daily and are made to order. Guests also have the option of requesting the meals be delivered to their rooms. 

Beyond Bars and Chain Restaurants

New Smyrna Beach: The Sunshine State's Best-Kept Secret
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

Vacationers won’t find the typical beach bar or chain restaurant in some areas of New Smyrna Beach. Instead, they’ll discover family-owned establishments serving locally sourced cuisine and craft cocktails in a relaxed atmosphere. 

Outriggers Tiki Bar and Grille offers views of the Indian River and a welcoming Sunday brunch menu with Southern style comfort food including chicken and waffles and shrimp and grits. Norwood’s, an open-air restaurant and bar in a treehouse, offers live music while diners enjoy  surf and turf options from above. Other unique dining experiences include Corkscrew Bar and Grille on historic Canal Street, the global flavors of Third Wave Cafe and Wine Bar, and the Polynesian-inspired menu at Avanu on Flagler.

Sugar Works Distillery, a family-owned and operated business, offers the community a cozy gathering spot where friends and family can enjoy handcrafted artisanal spirits, cocktails, and live music. The distillery’s name derives from the area’s rich history in the sugar cane industry, which traces its roots back to the 1800s.

Founder Tom McPeek uses his scientific background to produce whiskey, bourbon, vodka, rum, tequila, and moonshine with regionally sourced ingredients. He offers tours to anyone interested in the distillation process. 

Accessible Beaches and Surfable Waves

New Smryna Beach Surfing
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

For surfers, sun lovers, and snowbirds, New Smyrna Beach has 17 miles of coastline, perfect for water sports, fishing, and relaxation. Many beaches have hard packed sand, allowing residents and vacationers to drive and park along the sand, eliminating the need to lug around heavy beach essentials. 

Smyrna Dunes Park, a 184-acre inlet park, features two miles of handicap-accessible boardwalk, dog-friendly beach access, a fishing pier, and on-site facilities, making a day at the beach effortless and enjoyable. 

New Smyrna Beach has also earned a reputation within the surfing community. With water temperatures averaging 75 degrees year-round, in addition to consistent and reliable waves, American Surf Magazine reported the waves in New Smyrna Beach “are the best you’ll find in Florida!” 

Vacationers looking to conquer the waves can take lessons from local surf legends like Joe Surbaugh and Jimmy Lane, who have been riding New Smyrna Beach waves for decades. Surbaugh is part of the Jimmy Lane Surf Academy, a top-tier surf school that has been teaching kids and adults the art of surfing for over 30 years. 

Environmentally Friendly Outdoor Adventures

Canaveral National Seashore Kayaking, New Smyrna Beach
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

As Florida’s first One Planet Living destination, New Smyrna Beach is committed to minimizing the impact of tourism’s environmental footprint. Through expertly led ecotours, nature enthusiasts and outdoor lovers can explore the area’s remarkable biodiversity responsibly.

Vacationers can go on eco boat tours via the Marine Discovery Center and experience one of North America’s most diverse ecosystems through “hands-on, feet-wet” experiences. Viking Ecotours offers Canaveral National Seashore kayaking adventures featuring playful dolphins and gentle manatees, as well as after-dark bioluminescent kayaking, where the water comes alive with natural blue-green light displays.

A Creative Community 

Historic Canal Street, New Smyrna Beach
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

New Smyrna Beach also has a thriving art community and is recognized as one of “The Best Small Art Towns in America” by Americans for the Arts. On historic Canal Street, you’ll discover galleries and working studios at places like Jane’s Art Center, where you can appreciate and engage in the arts.  

The Hub on Canal, a nonprofit organization, also plays an integral part in the New Smyrna Beach community. The Hub is home to artwork by more than 70 local and regional artists, featuring a dozen active studios where you can observe their masterpieces come to life.

But perhaps the most endearing part of this organization is the volunteers’ incredible support and dedication to making the arts accessible to the community’s youth and underserved. The Hub on Canal offers scholarship programs, mentoring, and workshops to empower individuals and foster economic development.

Historic Districts: Unique Finds, Chic Designs

Flagler Avenue, New Smyrna Beach
Photo Credit: Alexandrea Sumuel

Historic Canal Street is also home to shops, boutiques, restaurants, and the New Smyrna Museum of History. Vacationers can easily spend a day window shopping, enjoying a meal, searching for the perfect keepsake, or learning about the area’s rich history. Boutiques like The Posh Pineapple, a trendy gift and clothing store, feature the latest in Florida fashion and one-of-a-kind finds.

On historic Flagler Avenue, a few blocks from the ocean, vacationers will find even more options like surf shops, designer swimwear, and lively bars. Music and seafood festivals and wine walks are also held annually. 

New Smyrna Beach is a relaxed coastal community exuding personality and charm. For those searching for a unique Florida vacation filled with relaxation, adventure, and lasting memories, this town should be on anyone’s list of must-visit destinations.

This article was produced by Media Decision.


New Smyrna Beach: The Sunshine State's Best-Kept Secret

Alexandrea Sumuel Groves is a nationally syndicated travel writer and founder of the Wander With Alex travel blog. Her work has appeared on MSN, YAHOO!, Euronews, and FOX, ABC, and NBC affiliates across the United States. 

Alex travels to experience, eat, explore, and occasionally escape! She collaborates with destinations, vacation property management companies, and hospitality technology firms to provide her readers with exclusive insights and information.