New Smyrna Beach is one of our favorite beach towns in the entire state of Florida. It is certainly the type of beach town that puts other beaches to shame. It’s got everything from a gorgeous riverfront park to an historic downtown district packed with art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques. Then, of course, there are the beaches. New Smyrna has more than seven miles of pristine coastline for sunbathing, swimming and surfing. The best part? On top of that, it’s just a short drive for world-famous Daytona Beach!
Canal Street Historic District
This district is basically the downtown area of New Smyrna Beach, and while downtown areas are fairly common, we think that you will find that this historic downtown area has a fairly uncommon level of charm and appeal. A large portion of the buildings still maintain their historic integrity, and there are so many quaint boutiques, shops, and galleries that you could spend a whole day exploring.
One of our favorite stops during our visit was the Little Drug company–this historic drugstore had an operational pharmacy, a general store, and a lunch counter. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic and a shrinking customer base, it officially closed its doors just last year, but the good news is that a new business opened in its place–the Little Griddle offering breakfast, lunch, and treats within the same nostalgic, historic location. We haven’t been yet, but we definitely plan to stop by and check it our during our next visit to New Smyrna Beach.
Old Fort Park Archeological Site
While you’re visiting the Canal Street Historic District, be sure to head over to see the Old Fort ruins as well. This is just a mound along the water front. It doesn’t take very long to check out, but it is fascinating, and frankly, very little is known about its history.
Flagler Avenue is another shopping and restaurant district in the New Smyrna Beach area. This street connects the main land with the barrier island and is a hub for eating, shopping, exploring, and entertainment. There are so many neat businesses to explore, and there is also a giant shuffle board club located in this area.
Smyrna Dunes Park
Smyrna Dunes Park is a great place to go for a walk, or even just to sit and take in the scenery. There is a 1.4 mile scenic boardwalk loop, picnic pavilions, a fishing pier, and beach access. Dogs are allowed on a leash and there are plenty of bird watching opportunities.
New Smyrna Town Beach
Of course this list must include a beach recommendation. New Smyrna is a beach town after all. New Smyrna Town Beach is the perfect place to spend a day with your family. If you’re feeling athletic, you can rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the waters around New Smyrna Beach—you may even spot dolphins frolicking in the surf! For those looking for more excitement on the water, jet skis are also available for rent by the hour. There are also restrooms, lifeguards, and picnic pavilions scattered along the way.
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Turtle Mound National Historic Site
If you’re looking for something unique to do in New Smyrna Beach, Turtle Mound National Historic Site is the place to go. This mound is about 50 feet high and contains about 33,000 cubic yards of shell on nearly two acres of land. The mound is thought to have been constructed by Timucuan Indians and was used many years ago by Native Americans and Spanish explorers as a look out point and a navigational landmark. The area is reachable by boardwalk and provides excellent walking opportunities and beautiful views of the Atlantic Ocean!
New Smyrna Museum of History
The New Smyrna Museum of History is open daily except Tuesday, and is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Closed on New Year’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Admission is $5 for adults and $3 for children; free admission on Wednesday’s with paid admission earlier in the week and free admission all year long for active military members and their families (up to three).
Cruger-de Peyster Plantation Sugar Mill Ruins
There’s something so fascinating about exploring sugar mill ruins, and there are a few of them located throughout this part of the state.
Located within the New Smyrna Beach Riverside Park, this site is a great place to learn about the history of New Smyrna Beach. The ruins are open to the public and are located on the banks of the Indian River.
There is a small admission fee for visiting this site, but it’s well worth it if you want to learn more about our area’s history.
Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse and Museum
This lighthouse sits on the Ponce de Leon Inlet, and at 175 feet tall, it is the tallest in the state. The lighthouse was constructed in 1835. Soon after the tower was completed a strong storm washed away much of the sand around the base of the tower. During the Second Seminole War, Seminoles attacked the lighthouse, setting fires to the stairs and smashing glass in the lantern room. The on-going war prevented repairs, so the original lighthouse soon collapsed.
Although there were several ship wrecks along the shoreline, it wasn’t until about 1883 that there arose an effort to reconstruct the lighthouse. A new lighthouse was completed in 1887.
Today, the lighthouse remains open to the public as a museum.
New Smyrna is one of our favorite destinations. The amazing combination of history, pristine beaches, quaint shopping districts, and more, make it one of our absolute top picks for Florida Beach towns!
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