Last Updated on February 18, 2023

New Smyrna Beach is reminiscent of a 1960’s surf town filled with funky shops, beach bars and hip, relaxed restaurants. You can almost expect Gidget to come bebopping down the street in an old Woody with a surfboard on top and Jan and Dean blasting from the stereo.

New Smyrna Beach is an ideal destination on Florida’s East Coast. It’s a short distance from both Daytona Beach and Orlando International Airports. New Smyrna is one of those destinations where you can relax and let go of all the stress of life and just be.

New Smyrna Beach is Dog-friendly

When my husband and I travel, we intentionally seek out dog-friendly destinations. In New Smyrna Beach, we are treated like VIPs and our senior dog Zach is a Very Important Canine (VIC). In New Smyrna Beach, there are dog bowls for your four-legged pals, treats in abundance, and lots of loving lavished on your VIC.

NOTE: New Smyrna Beach welcomes well-behaved dogs at outdoor restaurants, parks, and other places, but dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Sunrise on the Beach

With over 17-miles of gorgeous oceanfront, New Smyrna is a beach lover’s paradise. Start your day with a sunrise walk on the beach as you immerse yourself in the quiet beginnings of the morning.

You’ll encounter terns and other small shorebirds searching for breakfast. Perhaps you’ll be lucky and spy an exhausted mama turtle lumbering down to the sea after spending the night digging a nest for her babies and then giving birth or a dolphin off shore – if you see a dorsal fin, 99.99% of the time that’s a dolphin, not a shark.

Soak Up the Sun

New Smyrna Beach, FL
©Visit New Smyrna

Grab your towel, sunscreen, and a beach read and head down to the sand for the day. You can relax on the beach, catch up on your reading, and catch the surf action.

Pro Tip: New Smyrna Beach is one of the top surf destinations on the East Coast. It is also the perfect place for beginners to learn the art of surfing and for experts to hone their wave riding skills.

Try Your Skill at Surfing

Always wanted to try surfing? New Smyrna Beach is ideal. There are several places to learn the basics. Jimmy Lane Surfing Academy is one of the top surfing schools in the area. The Surfing Academy offers classes for all ages and levels and offers daily and weekly lessons.

Grab a Paddle and Hit the Water

Spruce Creek - New Smyrna Beach FL
©Visit New Smyrna Beach

New Smyrna is filled with outdoor water-centric activities. Explore the wild side of New Smyrna Beach with a kayak or paddleboard tour. For those who like a little bit more, try a SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard) Light Up the Night Tour with Pure Island Tours.

You never know what you’ll see on a paddleboard tour. Dolphins, manatees, and ospreys are all in plentiful supply as you explore the waterways at sunset. Paddling a SUP is an excellent way to be up close to New Smyrna Beach’s beautiful nature. Each tour has an experienced guide, and you’ll receive an introduction to paddleboarding before departing for your tour.

Take a Dive in the Deep

New Smyrna Beach has over a dozen wrecks right off the coast, making it one of Florida’s best dive sites. Sea Dog Dive Center offers diving instruction and dive trips.

Spearfishing enthusiasts love to dive New Smyrna Beach in search of flounder, snapper, grouper, triggerfish, cobia. The Gulf Stream’s proximity to shore brings in an abundance of fish and sea life. It is perfect for the diver looking to bag a catch or a photographer looking to snap sea turtles, angelfish, right whales, sunfish, and manta rays in their natural habitat.

Take a Drive on the Beach

New Smyrna Beach offers a unique opportunity to drive on the beach. Five miles of wide beach with hard-packed sand await you. Unlike some of the other driveable beaches, there’s no need for a four-wheel drive vehicle, the beach is all hard-packed sand.

Explore the Marine Discovery Center

Marine Discovery Center
©Jim Hill

One word sums up the Marine Discovery Center at New Smyrna Beach: awesome! The Marine Discovery Center is a small indoor marine center. Some of the exhibits are unusual, but there are lots of hands-on fun for everyone.

The seahorse exhibit is fascinating as you see these tiny creatures with their tails wrapped tightly around a slender stalk of seagrass. These little fish have long thin snouts that enable them to probe into the smallest nooks and crannies searching for food. They are mesmerizing to watch as they sway in the current.

Don’t miss the live aquariums and feedings. These exhibits highlight some of the incredible animals and marine life living in and near the Indian River Lagoon and the coastal environments.

Pro Tip: The Marine Center offers a choice of eco-tours that will captivate all ages. You have a selection of boating tours, kayak tours, or walking tours. You’ll discover some of the fascinating animals and sea life that call the Indian River Lagoon home.

Eat Dinner Overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway

Outriggers - New Smyrna Beach
©Jim Hill

Outriggers is the place for a delightful meal, slowly savored, with good company, watching the sun slowly slip below the horizon.

Nothing beats sitting outside as the boats slip past while sipping on a glass of wine or a cocktail. Outriggers offer a fantastic menu filled with tasty food, plus an extensive cocktail, and wine list.

Explore the Arts District on Canal Street

Canal Street - New Smyrna Beach FL
©Jim Hill

The Hub on Canal is an ideal starting point for your art exploration. This incubator for artists is a showcase for new and established artists alike. The exhibits are constantly changing and evolving. The Hub is a working artist’s studio, allowing visitors a birds-eye view of artists at work.

You’ll find every type of art, from textiles to guitars to jewelry, photography, and various painting styles. You may be tempted to buy more than one piece of art from the Hub.

Pro Tip: Scattered along Canal Street you’ll find other art offerings as well. Canal is the perfect spot to spend time window shopping or gathering design ideas on an afternoon stroll.


  • Betsi Hill

    Betsi is an influencer and the CEO of Betsi’s World, showcasing the exquisite dining, travel, and culture of your next travel destination. Betsi and Jim, her travel companion, travel the world while documenting their adventures and gathering travel tips to share with their readers. Betsi focuses on destinations that cater to multi-generational travelers, as well as luxury travel getaways and all-inclusive resorts.