It’s getting to be that time — spring break has the the kids out of school for a solid week! What to do? New Smyrna Beach (NSB) is just a short, one-hour drive east and can provide endless experiences for the entire family. Trust me. I live here. Consider me your Volusia County connection. I’ve been lucky enough to grow up by the sea, and now I’m raising my own little beach bum.
Whether you’re entertaining toddlers, tweens or teens, this little beach town has it all — world-class surf, an impressive arts community, shopping designed for fashionistas and casual cuisine from fresh seafood to Central American and Spanish dishes.
Take the Toddlers
My husband and I decided on a staycation (no longer a trendy term, I know) this past summer. We vowed to stay at a friend’s condo in NSB for a long weekend and to not cross the bridge until we were heading home. It was a very cool experience to vacation as a “local.” My daughter is only three, so we did spend the bulk of our time playing on — and sometimes buried in — the sand or swimming in the surf. But, we also had fun poolside and enjoyed game night while taking in a stunning view that we couldn’t get at home. Seeing the Atlantic from your rented living room really does make Princess-opoly more entertaining!
A fully-equipped kitchen is also a huge plus and makes lunch time and snack time quick and easy. In the evenings, we splurged, dining on fresh fish at JB’s Fish Camp at the southern tip of New Smyrna Beach and Italian fare at The Garlic. Both locales provided incredible, live entertainment that kept our kiddo mesmerized. And if there’s ever a rainy day, take advantage of a recent newcomer and kid-favorite: the Jam Spot on Canal Street in historic downtown. You do have to cross the bridge, but it’s so worth it with its indoor, pint-sized play place
and café for the grown-ups.
Treat the Tweens
If you have outdoor fans, then they’re in luck. Several local outfitters are offering the latest and greatest for stand-up paddle boarding, hydro bike rentals, and eco tours. Choose from Paddleboard NSB on the North Causeway, East Coast Paddle launching from JB’s Fish Camp, or New Smyrna Standup in Callalisa Park. The eco tours are amazing with up-close and personal encounters with manatees and dolphins. But if your family members are more land lubbers, then pack a picnic and head to Canaveral National Seashore for an afternoon of exploration. Tour the Eldora State House, go hiking through the coastal hammock, or choose to overnight at a campsite.
Transform the Teens
There’s always that world-famous surf that I mentioned earlier. The beach draws teenagers like a moth to a flame. They can try surfing at the Inlet or, if they’re driving, it’s pretty safe to let them practice that new skill on the sand; the speed limit is just 10 mph in some areas. A popular beach on-ramp is Flagler Avenue. And if they’d rather venture a little farther offshore, several area captains offer nearshore and offshore charters for angling adventures by the half day or full day.
There’s so much more to tell, but I’ll save some must-visits and one-of-a-kind finds for the next post. Don’t miss any of this Spring’s events in NSB! Stay informed with this calendar.
See you at the beach,
Don’t just take my word for it — Travel + Leisure voted New Smyrna Beach as one of the world’s “Coolest Surf Towns” in 2013, National Geographic Traveler said it’s one of the world’s “20 Best Surf Towns,” and just last week SmarterTravel.com listed this city as one of the “10 Best Beach Towns in Florida.” If that isn’t proof enough, the readers of the Orlando Sentinel (many of you) have voted it “Best Beach” for the last six years.