An hour south of Daytona and an hour east of Orlando, New Smyrna Beach is just far enough outside the hustle and bustle of two of Florida’s most notorious cities. This retro beach town has carved out its own niche as a surfing and beach destination. Grab a longboard and a rash guard and head out for the breakers.
CATCH A WAVE
New Smyrna Beach is routinely ranked as a top surf destination. A string of rock ledges sits off its coast, and these produce the kind of consistent breakers that have pro surfers lining its shores. Though the waves themselves are not towering—they top out at a few feet—they’re reliable. And reliability, any surfer will tell you, is key. Local favorite Nichols Surf Shop (307 Lytle Ave., New Smyrna Beach; 386.690.8420; nicholssurfshop.com) has been around since 1969, and it’s still the go-to spot for board rentals, repairs and surf lessons. For the best waves, try Ponce Inlet, where the Intracoastal Waterway, the Indian River and the Halifax Riverall come together.
TAKE A STROLL
New Smyrna Beach has some of the best stretches of sand in the state. Visit Smyrna Dunes Park (2995 N. Peninsula Ave., New Smyrna Beach) for sweeping views of sand dunes, sea oats and green ocean. A two-mile boardwalk offers a strolling path along the jetty. Dunes Park is also dog-friendly, and the facilities include thoughtful touches for pups like a shower station to clean sandy paws.
For the more daring—and less inhibited—the northernmost part of New Smyrna’s Apollo Beach has a clothing-optional section. Thankfully, there’s no danger of wandering in unawares, as plenty of signs indicate when beachgoers are entering the nude section.
GRAB A BITE
Toni & Joe’s Patio (309 Buenos Aires St., New SmyrnaBeach; 386.427.6850; toniandjoespatio.com) opened in1958, and the beachfront stand quickly became a local institution. Still owned by the original founding family, the bar and restaurant has a following for its signature cocktails and steak hoagies. Don’t miss the full moon parties held monthly.
It’s hard to miss the Breakers (518 Flagler Ave., New Smyrna Beach; 386.428.2019; breakersnsb.com). Located at the end of Flagler Avenue, the bright pink building offers ocean views and the kind of low-key vibe that feels just right in this surf town. With the usual beach-shack favorites such as fish sandwiches and fried shrimp—plus 14 different types of burgers—it the perfect spot for a sun-drenched lunch.
The Black Dolphin Inn (916 S. Riverside Drive, NewSmyrna Beach; 386.410.4868; blackdolphininn.com) offers one of the most charming stays around New Smyrna Beach. Set inside a home originally built in 1947, the boutique hotel’s 14 rooms are each thoughtfully decorated with a blend of antique and modern decor. The inn serves a continental breakfast during the week and a scratch-made southern breakfast on the weekend. Set in a quiet residential neighborhood with views facing the river, the Black Dolphin elevates the typical bed and breakfast experience.