New Smyrna Beach is a coastal gem located on Florida’s east coast. New Smyrna Beach has a lot to do while still having that small beach town feel. And with a population under 25,000, it is a small beach town. Divided by the Indian River, you have a small beach town feel on one side and a prospering downtown district with art galleries, shopping, and distilleries on the other.
Best Things to Do in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Let’s just get to the fun part. All of the fun things to do in New Smyrna Beach! This blog post will be your ultimate guide to all of the fun things to do in New Smyrna Beach. From restaurants to beach days, this post will have you covered. If you don’t want to read and would rather just have the lists, scroll to the bottom. There, you’ll find a quick list of each category discussed in this blog post.
I think this goes without saying because if you’re coming to New Smyrna Beach, you’re probably expecting to get in some good, quality beach time. There are 13 miles of sandy beaches here! You can drive your car on the beach, for a fee, which makes it pretty unique. The fee for nonresidents is $20 per day or $100 for an annual pass.
It’s worth noting that New Smyrna Beach is the shark capital of the world. Are there sharks there? Of course. But they’re mostly smaller sharks that [typically] don’t bother people.
Surfing at New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach is known as a surfer’s destination due to its incredible waves. Even if you’re not a surfer, it’s fun to watch other people take on the waves. If you’re not a surfer and want to be, or if you just want to try something new, you can get a lesson with Nicols Surf Shop.
Dunes Park is a large state park with a boardwalk that is two miles long. The boardwalk winds through marshes and dunes with lookouts over beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Indian River, and Ponce de Leon Inlet. There is a $10 entry fee (or $20 annually) to enter. On leash pets are allowed, but there are some restrictions; they are not allowed on the elevated boardwalks after 10 am and are also not allowed on the Atlantic Ocean Beach. Dogs are allowed to swim in certain areas along the park river shore.
When you picture a seaside beach town, you probably find yourself picturing something like Flagler Ave. Full of boutiques, surf shops, restaurants, and other small businesses, Flagler Avenue is a must visit when you visit New Smyrna Beach. With plenty of bars, it’s also where the nightlife is after the sun goes down. There are often events going on as well.
Canal Street Historic District
Located across the river, Canal Street is to the Historic District as Flager Ave is to the beach community. Parking here is free. This is worth noting because I personally find to be quite rare in Florida! You’ll find restaurants, shopping, arts, and more. They also have frequent events, such as 1st Saturday. 1st Saturday is a sip and stroll along the historic district where you can sample craft beer and wine while you wander the shops. They also have 3rd Thursday where the shops stay open and there are vendors on the street (including food vendors) for a family friendly night on the town. Here, you’ll find more B&Bs than hotels for a quaint, small town feel.
Marine Discovery Center
The Marine Discovery Center is a great spot to learn about marine life. Their mission is to protect the Indian River Lagoon and educate the community on preservation of lagoon systems. They offer kids programs and tours. If you decide to take their nature cruise, you will ride on a pontoon boat while your tour guide points out wildlife.
Rent a Moped, Bike, or Golf Cart
This is a really fun way to get around New Smyrna Beach! There are several places to rent all over New Smyrna Beach, some even located onsite at the various hotels on the island. Most of the golf carts have bluetooth speakers so you can jam out to your favorite beach tunes while cruising the island.
Located in the Canal Street Historic District, The New Smyrna Museum of History was founded in 1768. You’ll learn about the history of New Smyrna Beach, including some photographs of New Smyrna Beach from as far back as the late 1800’s. There are several exhibits including Native American artifacts, displays from the Civil War, England’s largest colonial plantation, railroad memorabilia, and more. This is definitely a great place to stop no matter what, but would be especially great on a rainy or extremely hot day.
Sugar Mill Ruins
This is a really interesting stop that won’t take too much time out of your day (I’d say around 25-45 minutes). Once a part of the Cruger-dePeyster Plantation, the sugar mill ruins give you a little trip back in time. On your visit, you can read the signs that will give you a history of the sugar mill to help you understand the process of plantation sugar making. The site was ruined in the war between the Seminole Indians and the U.S., and can view the ruins. There is also a nature trail on the property. It is free to enter.
Best Restaurants in New Smyrna Beach
Breakers Restaurant is an iconic pink restaurant located right on Flagler Ave. It is located right on the beach with a beachy-colored pink exterior. Breakers has the best burgers in town. A lot of people consider this place a “must” so it can get busy.
The Garlic and Blu Bar is one of the best places to eat in New Smyrna Beach and a great option for a fancier date night. They have authentic Italian food and a really nice ambiance with a tree-covered entrance and open air courtyard.
JB’s Fish Camp is oceanfront and offers fresh, locally caught seafood. They often have live music, which pairs nicely with their ocean views, especially at sunset. You can also bring your own catch and the kitchen will serve it to your preference (blackened, fried, Cajun, or broiled).
Norwood’s Eatery and Treehouse Bar is literally a treehouse with seating on the top level or the ground level. It has been around since 1929.
You will find good BBQ and craft beer at Yellow Dog Eats. They have food sourced from local community farms and they even have vegetarian options. We love eating on their shaded patio if it isn’t too hot, but they also have indoor seating.
Half Wall is a brewery with several options for craft beer. They also serve delicious food. There is a nice outdoor area and plenty of TVs inside make this a great place to watch your favorite game.
Best Bars in New Smyrna Beach
During the evenings, you’ll find plenty of nightlife up and down Flagler Avenue. If you’re looking for some nightlife in New Smyrna Beach, I recommend roaming Flagler Ave and stopping in for a drink wherever you feel called. Many of the restaurants I mentioned above are also great stops for a drink if you don’t want a full meal. Likewise, many of these bars also serve food. I put each place under the food or drinks category just based on my preference but everyone’s preferences will be different. Here are some of my favorite options to grab a drink in New Smyrna Beach.
The Bounty is a Speakeasy with specialty drinks and live music. It is located upstairs above the Flagler Tavern.
Tayton O’Brien’s is an Irish Pub with a fun atmosphere, large beer selection, and music on the weekends. They also have a nice patio bar with games.
Flagler Tavern is a large building that you cannot miss right across the street from the beach. The building is from the 1920’s and I love their verandas. Whenever we visit, there are people sitting on the veranda, which overlooks Flagler. This makes a fun spot to people watch.
New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company is one of my favorite breweries. The last time we visited, I had a really difficult time choosing which beer I wanted to bring home with me because they were all so good. Their taproom has a really nice rustic vibe and there is some outdoor seating as well. It’s a bit on the small side so it can fill up quickly.
Chase’s on the Beach is a great beach bar with a full bar and food. They also have a pool! It’s one of the best views.
How to Get to New Smyrna Beach
Though centrally located to some amazing places, New Smyrna Beach does not have its own airport. The closest airport is Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB), which is about 25 minutes away. Orlando International Airport (MCO) is another option that’s 70 minutes away. Orlando Sanford International Airport is around 40 minutes away, but limited airlines fly there (typically budget airlines such as Allegiant Airlines or Sun Country Airlines).
New Smyrna Beach Hotels
There are a ton of airbnb and vrbo options in New Smyrna Beach. We stayed in a two bedroom condo on the 6th floor with a balcony overlooking the beach and it was incredible, but I don’t see that the listing is currently active. Therefore, it’s hard to give you a recommendation based on personal experience.
Everyone’s preferences will vary, but we prefer hotels while traveling. The Hampton Inn has a nice location to Flagler Ave. The employees were super friendly and we loved the exterior complete with a cute courtyard where we enjoyed our morning coffee. If you want to visit the bars, this is a great option. It isn’t beachfront but is definitely an easy walking distance. However, as beach people I think we prefer to be even closer to the beach. The rooms could use a bit of updating, but that’s no big deal since you don’t spend much time there anyways. It’s also pet friendly which is nice if you’re traveling with your dog!
When Should I Visit New Smyrna Beach?
The end of March through May or September through December is the best time to visit in my opinion. During these months, the days will be comfortable while the evenings will be a bit chilly without being too cold. July and August are the hottest months, so if you love hot weather then you may prefer to visit then. After all, there’s nowhere better to be hot than when you have the salty ocean water to cool you down. Hurricane season is June 1-November 30th. Also, expect thunderstorms in the summertime but know that they typically only last an hour or so before the sun comes right back out.
Things to do in New Smyrna Beach: Quick Overview
If you don’t want the explanation, but would rather just have the quick and dirty on all of the best things to do in New Smyrna Beach, this section is for you.
Best Things to do in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
Go to the beach
Drive on the beach
Go surfing or take surfing lessons
Visit Dunes Park
Wander Flagler Ave
Explore Canal Street Historic District
Visit the Marine Discovery Center
Rent a moped, bike, or a golf cart
Go to the history museum
Explore Sugar Mill Ruines
Best Restaurants in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
The Garlic and Blu Bar
JB’s Fish Camp
Norwood’s Eatery and Treehouse Bar
Yellow Dog Eats
Best Bars in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
New Smyrna Beach Brewing Co
Chase’s on the Beach