When you think about vacations to Florida beaches, one of the first places that comes to mind is Daytona Beach. But a hidden treasure is not too far away. Just 20 miles south of Daytona along I-95 is New Smyrna Beach, a lesser known beach community that offers a terrific destination for a beach vacation for families and people looking for a quieter vacation experience.
New Smyrna Beach – The Beach
New Smyrna Beach is one of my favorite Florida beaches. The sand is white and soft and the ocean is great for body surfing (or regular surfing). You’ll find the waters teeming with kids and adults, surfers and fishermen, as well as dolphins and manatees on the right day.
Oh. And sharks. But just don’t think about that.
The best way to experience New Smyrna Beach is to pull your vehicle right up on the sand. You can drive along the packed sand in designated areas from 8 am to 7 pm all spring and summer long. Pack a cooler in the back and enjoy an entire day with drinks and snacks and towels that are sand free when you’re ready to head home. There’s a $5 per vehicle fee to drive onto the beach.
New Smyrna Beach – Food and Drink
You can find restaurants all over the town of New Smyrna, but the most popular eateries are right on the beach. Restaurants like Chase’s on the Beach and Breakers provide a unique experience that I have yet to see perfectly imitated anywhere else. You can literally walk up to the restaurant from steps on the beach. Throw on a pair of flip flops and a cover up and you’re ready to go. Enjoy your meal in the open air and breathe in the authentic beach atmosphere.
New Smyrna also offers a small boardwalk area with more restaurants, beach shops and an old fashioned ice cream stand. It’s nostalgic and charming and a great area to spend a few hours walking around when you want a break from the sand and surf. There’s also a dynamite BBQ diner down there with picnic tables, plastic plates and silverware, and rolls of paper towels for napkins that I highly recommend. The name, as far as I can tell from the signage, is BBQ. Helpful, I know.
New Smyrna Beach – Where To Stay
Of course there are hotels in New Smyrna Beach. You can stay beach side, or save a little money by booking a room a few miles inland. If you have a rental car, it might be worth the savings because of the option to drive onto the beach and stay the day without the need to go back and forth to your hotel room. Although, you can’t beat the early morning view of the sun coming up over the water.
You can also rent houses along the beach. This is a great option for large groups or families who like to set up a real home base when on vacation.
New Smyrna Beach – Other Things To Do
Although the beach is definitely the main attraction in New Smyrna Beach, you’ll find plenty of other options for things to do in the area.
If you like to fish, go deep sea fishing out of Ponce Inlet, Florida. I highly recommend Critter Fleet Charters for the most bang for your buck and deep sea experience. (Even my fishing challenged, bad juju husband managed to catch fish on this boat – for only $45 for a four hour trip.)
Daytona is a short drive and offers flea market shopping, the Daytona International Speedway, and a boardwalk of their own. You’ll discover plenty of things to do in Daytona Beach if you find yourself rained off the beach during your vacation.
New Smyrna Beach doesn’t offer the flash or notoriety of Daytona Beach. It’s one of those hidden gems that locals relish and experienced travelers come back to over and over again when they’re looking to really get away from the hustle and bustle of every day life for a relaxing vacation.