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19 Amazing Things to do in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

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Looking for the best things to do in New Smyrna Beach? From surfing to watching a rocket launch, check out my amazing New Smyrna Beach itinerary!

things to do in new smyrna beach

I’ve been to Florida a handful of times now, and New Smyrna Beach is quickly becoming my favourite of them all.

I just loved the boho chic vibes and the laid-back atmosphere of this beachside town. It’s one of those places where shoes and shirts are optional, you know?

Like with a lot of destinations in Florida, it’s got an incredibly beautiful beach, but it’s so much more than that. There are nearby nature reserves, the food scene is banging, and there’s a really vibrant art scene too.

Also, you can see a rocket launch from nearby Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex while standing on the beach. How cool is that!? For me this was one of the highlights of my trip here – it was my first time I’ve ever seen a rocket launch, so a real Florida bucket list moment for me.

best things to do in new smyrna beach
New Smyrna Beach is such an amazing place to visit

If you’re planning on visiting New Smyrna Beach, then make sure you bookmark this article. In it I’ll go through all the best things to do in New Smyrna Beach. I’ll also give loads of other practical advice on where to stay and where to visit nearby.

Honestly, I really hope you love this place as much as I do. It definitely flies under the radar, but it’s got so much going for it. Hopefully I can show you that in this article!

Heading to a different part of Florida? Then check out the best adventures in Florida, and my detailed guide to Fort Myers.

Getting to New Smyrna Beach

getting to new smyrna beach
The drive from Orlando airport is very quick and easy

Coming from the UK, we flew from London Heathrow (LHR) to Orlando (MCO) which took 8 hours. Once we arrived in Orlando, we picked up our hire car and then drove 75 minutes to New Smyrna Beach.

I found the drive really easy, even at night. One thing I would say is make sure you have a few dollars with you before travelling. There are three toll roads on this route that you have to pay at, and they only take cash. It’s not much money, only $1.25 each time, but it can be tricky if you don’t have cash on you.

I would always encourage you to hire a car when travelling around Florida. It’s one of those places where life is so much easier with a car!

Things to do in New Smyrna Beach

Walk on the beach

what to do in new smyrna beach
It’s beach time!

Now that you’ve made it to New Smyrna Beach, it’s time to hit the beach! I mean, this is what holidays in Florida are all about, aren’t they?

Because of the tidal range, the beach here is massive. So much so people are allowed to drive their cars on the beach and park-up for the day. Don’t worry, there are specific lanes for driving, so it’s not like you have to jump out the way of cars all the time.

If you want the beach to yourself though, the best time for a walk is either at sunrise or sunset. This is when the cars haven’t arrived yet, or most of them have left for the day. The further you head down the beach, the quieter it gets. The beach really is a highlight of NSB – it’s all in the name really!

Cycle on the beach

cycling new smyrna beach
You can actually go cycling on the beach here

One of the top things to do in New Smyrna Beach is to hire a bike and go cycling on the beach. Because the sand is compacted down, it makes the perfect surface for cruising along. Like, the perfect surface. There are definitely no pot holes here.

I hired a bike for a couple of days for zooming around town, but I mainly used it on the beach each day. I found it really relaxing cycling along the beach with waves crashing beside me.

If you keep cycling north for about 20/30 minutes, you’ll eventually get to an inlet where you can see Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. This is by Smyrna Dunes Park too, and it’s much quieter on this section of the beach.

Go surfing with Beyond the Waves

surfing new smyrna beach
NSB is an amazing place to go surfing

If you’re looking for something a little more active, then I’d really recommend going surfing with Beyond the Waves. I had a one-hour surf lesson where I learned the basics before jumping on a board.

I’ve been surfing a fair few times before, but it was great having an instructor giving me a few pointers on how to improve my technique. It wasn’t long before I was popping up and catching some waves again. And I can’t tell you how good it felt being in the water surfing again. I’d really missed this!

I would say New Smyrna Beach is perfect for beginners. The waves are very gentle meaning you’ve got a good chance of standing up. The team at Beyond the Waves are brilliant and really encouraging too.  

Have brunch at Third Wave

third wave nsb
Third Wave is one of the best restaurants in town

I first became aware of Third Wave on the TV show “Jimmy’s Taste of Florida”. This was one of his top spots to eat at in New Smyrna Beach, so we just had to come here ourselves. Well, it was every bit as good as Jimmy said.

Located at the back of a peaceful garden, Third Wave serves up some of the best food in town. From thick fluffy pancakes to smoked salmon bagels, this is such an amazing spot for brunch. They also serve pizzas in the morning too. Any place that serves pizzas on their brunch menu I’m down with.

We met Dave the head chef and owner, and he really wants to champion local produce and Floridian classics. One dish that epitomises that is the shrimp and grits. The shrimp were massive and so succulent, and the grits were so creamy and buttery. Foodie heaven!

Hit the boardwalks at Smyrna Dunes Park

smyrna dunes park
We really enjoyed a relaxing stroll along the boardwalks

One of my favourite things to do in New Smyrna Beach was walking along the boardwalks at Smyrna Dunes Park. This is a huge 184-acre park located along the southern shoreline of Ponce de Leon inlet.

Inside the park itself there are over two miles of boardwalks you can explore with raised viewpoints along the way. There are lots of shaded picnic spots too if you fancy having lunch here.

places to visit near new smyrna beach
This was a really family friendly spot too

It took us about 90 minutes walking around the boardwalks, but this was stopping a number of times along the way to take photos. Also, there are lots of gopher tortoises here, so it’s fun watching them as the boulder along the sand dunes.

Tickets cost $10 per vehicle which you pay when you arrive.

Watch a rocket launch

rocket launch new smyrna beach
That massive ball of fire is a SpaceX rocket

One of the reasons I was so excited to visit New Smyrna Beach was the chance to watch a rocket launch. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is just an hour away, and that means it’s close enough to see SpaceX rocket launches when they happen.

SpaceX launched 93 times in 2023, and they’re aiming for 144 times in 2024. That means if you’re staying in New Smyrna Beach for more than a few days you’ve got a good chance of seeing a rocket launch. Amazing, right?

Some locals were surprised at how excited we were to watch the launch, but this was our FIRST EVER ROCKET LAUNCH! Obviously we were super excited, and it was such an amazing experience.

things to do in new smyrna beach with kids
Look, a rocket! We took this photo just before the rocket launch

We went down to the beach about 20 minutes before the launch time, then streamed it on our phones so we could see the exact moment it took off. Almost immediately after you could see a bright orange blaze as the rocket accelerated skywards.

All in all the whole launch took about 4 minutes but this was one of our favourite experiences while we were here. Make sure you add this one to your New Smyrna Beach itinerary!

Explore the colourful shops on Canal Street

shopping canal street
I really enjoyed wandering around Canal Street

So New Smyrna Beach is basically split into two main parts. You’ve got the beach with Flagler Avenue – this is the main hub with lots of shops and restaurants. If you want a beach day, then this is the spot for you.

Then you’ve got Canal Street which is over the river. This is where you’ll find the art galleries and museums, and it’s much more creative.

I really liked the fact the NSB was split into two like this. Both have their own very different personalities which means you can have two different types of holiday in one spot. Beach and arts – what’s not to love about that!?

nsb shopping
All the shops are very colourful in Florida

Just walking along Canal Street is a joy with all these art deco buildings and pops of colour wherever you look. A few shops that highlight that are LuSea Boutique, Posh Pineapple and Pink Flamingo at Petals.

One of the things I love about Floridian style is everything is so bright and vibrant. Expect lots of pinks and blues. They definitely bring the holiday vibes that’s for sure.

Visit independent art galleries

art galleries nsb
This is one of the workspaces at The Hub on Canal

Also along Canal Street are a number of independent art galleries. Again, get ready for A LOT of colour.

The main spot is The Hub on Canal. This is a creative arts space where local artists rent rooms to display their work. It’s a great spot because you get to see so many different types of art on display.

Two other places I’d recommend are Jane’s Arts Center and Arts of Douglas. Both of these places specialise more in ceramic art and sculptures. Jane’s Art Center has a lovely garden out back too, and you can even pop into the artists work space to see where the magic happens. 

Go on a boat tour with the Marine Discovery Center

boat tour marine discovery center
A boat tour is one of the best things to do in NSB

One of the top activities in New Smyrna Beach is going on a boat tour with the Marine Discovery Center. This is where you can see dolphins and learn all about the wildlife of the area.

One of the things that makes Florida so unique is it’s not just a coastal state – there are loads of inland waterways with inlets and rivers snaking their way through the state.

As they’re protected from the sea, this makes it the perfect breeding spot of dolphins and manatees. With virtually no predators, both are allowed to thrive, so you’ve got a very good chance of seeing both on a tour.

marine discovery center
This is another family friendly activity – our soon Cooper loved all the wildlife!

We saw dolphins almost immediately on our tour, but we also saw loads of pelicans and other birds too.

The boat tour was great though. I loved just sitting back as we thread our way through all the mangrove forests learning all about the wildlife along the way. We had our son with us for this one, so it’s baby/kid friendly too.

You can also go kayaking through the mangroves if you’re looking at getting a little closer to the water. We saw a few people kayaking and it looked great fun!

Enjoy a craft beer from New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company

new smyrna beach brewing company
Craft beer? Yes please!

Whenever I get somewhere new, I always see if they have a local brewery around. Well, in NSB that’s New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company.

Located on Canal Street, this is a great place for all your beer lovers. From hazy pale ales to fruity sours, they have a great range of beers on offer.

I really enjoyed their Detour Sign white chocolate wheat beer and the Eureka Effect double IPA. At 9.4% its punchy but it’s super smooth with it. I really liked the warehouse vibes of the space. We came around 4pm on a Thursday afternoon and it was packed, so that’s always a good sign too!

Have an amazing lunch at Outriggers

outriggers nsb
Outriggers is one of the best foodie spots in town

One of the top spots in NSB for lunch or dinner is Outriggers. This is a waterfront restaurant by Indian River, and the views are amazing. Most of the tables have a view of the river, and if you’re lucky you can even spot dolphins from your table.

Chloe and I shared the spicy ahi tuna tacos and the fish sandwich, and both were delicious. One of the sides we ordered were honey glazed brussel sprouts. It doesn’t have to be Christmas to enjoy a good brussel sprout!

Watch sunrise on the beach

sunrise new smyrna beach
How beautiful is this sunrise?

If you’re an early riser like me (obviously helped by the fact we were travelling with our one-year-old), then head down to the beach. As I’ve already said, the beach is super quiet between the hours of 7 and 8am – all you see are other walkers and joggers on the beach.

Also, because New Smyrna Beach is on the east coast of Florida, you have the most gorgeous sunrises over the Atlantic Ocean. It’s well worth getting out of bed for.

And for those of you looking to burn off a little energy, I’d really recommend running on the beach. I’d suggest wearing trainers as the sand is very firm, but it’s a great way to start the day.

Enjoy a cocktail at Sugar Works Distillery

sugar works distillery
The cocktails at Sugar Works Distillery are incredible

If you’re more of a cocktail lover as opposed to knocking back the beers, then add the Sugar Works Distillery to your New Smyrna Beach itinerary. This is a really cool cocktail bar just off Canal Street.

As the name suggests, they distill their own spirits here. They have whiskey, tequila, rum and moonshine. They also do their own cocktails too, and they are damn good. Their cocktails are constantly changing with the seasons, but I had a really interesting tequila cocktail with lots of peppery notes.  

Discover all the amazing street art

street art florida
There’s lots of street art dotted all over NSB

One of the things you can always guarantee wherever you are in Florida is bright colourful street art. Big shout out here goes to St. Petersburg who have some of the best street art in the state.

Well, if you’re looking for the best street art in NSB then you’ll find it in the two main spots – Canal Street and Flagler Avenue. There are some great pieces around here. From sharks to pelicans, it is all very Floridian. There’s a really cool piece on the side of Hub on Canal which showcases what the street art here is all about.

Have lunch at Da Kine Poke

da kine poke
This is one of the healthier options in town

Da Kine Poke started as a food truck in April 2016 by founders Pete Downing and Aaron Smith after realizing the lack of poke in central FL. Since then they’ve opened up two restaurants – one in DeBary, and one here in NSB.  

If you’re looking for a healthier lunch spot, then this is a great option. Located on Flagler Avenue, here you’ll find yummy poke bowls with fresh ahi tuna and salmon.

I had their best-seller, El Diablo. This was tuna with scallions, toasted rice, crispy onions, avocado and a spicy mayo. So so good.

Grab a coffee for Luma’s

luma new smyrna beach
This is the latest trendiest cafe in NSB

I’m not going to lie, I always find in hard to find good coffee in the States. I’m not a fan of Starbucks, and drip coffee doesn’t do it for me either. That’s why I was delighted when I found Luma’s while searching for the best things to do in New Smyrna Beach.

Located on Flagler Avenue, this is the latest trendiest spot in town. You can tell that because it’s packed with locals each morning. Oh, and they even open at 7am which is exactly what you want from a coffee shop.

Not only do they serve great coffee, all the pastries are great. It’s a really cute café so be sure to save this spot.

Visit New Smyrna Museum of History

new smyrna museum of history
It was fascinating learning about the local history of the area

If you want to learn more about the history of the area, then I’d suggest visiting New Smyrna Museum of History. With history dating back to the first colonisers, there are a number of exhibits and interactive displays detailing what happened. You can delve into the stories of early settlers, the development of the area, and its diverse cultural heritage.

There’s also a really cool section all about the history of surfing in New Smyrna Beach which I liked. It made me appreciate how important surfing is to this part of Florida.

Enjoy a beachside burger at Breakers

the breakers burger
Obviously we had to have a burger after this recommendation

When I arrived at Orlando airport and said to the border control guard that we were visiting NSB, he said head to Breakers and have a cheeseburger. He said they were the best in Florida. With a recommendation like that, how could we not go!

Breakers is pretty much the only restaurant that’s directly on the beach in NSB. If you manage to grab a stall by the window, then you can watch everyone playing on the beach below while you have lunch or dinner.

Obviously I had the burger, and obviously it was incredible. Chloe had the fresh fish though and that was delicious too. I can see why everyone raves about this place!

Visit the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

kennedy space center visitor tips
I’d really recommend visit the KSCVC while in Florida

Okay, so this one is technically outside New Smyrna Beach, but I just had to include it; it’s too good not to.

Just an hour away, the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is such an amazing place to visit. If you’re interested in astronauts, rockets and space (who isn’t?), then it’s a must. What I loved about the Kennedy Space Center, everything was brought to life in a really easy-to-understand way.

From interactive displays to IMAX films on the James Webb Telescope, there’s something for everyone. Even the little ones will love Planet Play.

So yeah, technically not in NSB, but it’s definitely one of the top things to do in Florida that’s for sure.

Where to stay in New Smyrna Beach

springhill suites new smyrna beach

As the name would suggest, the main attraction to NSB is the beach. That’s the biggest selling point of coming here. So where’s the best place to stay? By the beach of course!

That’s why we stayed at SpringHill Suites by Marriott New Smyrna Beach. This hotel is literally moments from the beach. A lot of rooms come with an ocean view too which is really nice.

where to stay in new smyrna beach

Our room was massive and easily fit a cot which was great. It meant our son could have his own space and we didn’t have to disturb him when he went to sleep.

Outside there’s a big swimming pool with sun loungers if you want somewhere a bit more secluded. Or there’s direct beach access which I found handy. Breakfast is included too which is a nice touch. All in all this is a fantastic place to stay when visiting New Smyrna Beach.

This post was in association with Visit Florida and Visit New Smyrna Beach promoting the best things to do in the area. As always, all views are entirely my own and without bias.

If you have any questions about what to do in New Smyrna Beach, let me know if the comments below and I’ll help plan your trip here.

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18 Amazing Things to do in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

About the Author

  • Macca Sherifi

    Macca Sherifi is the founder of the multiple award-winning blogs An Adventurous World and the Great British Bucket List. Every month he inspires over 200,000 avid readers to travel the world.

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