The 9 Best Things to Do in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

High Angle View Of Beach Against Sky in New Smyrna Beach
Christopher Lumbert / EyeEm / Getty Images

While New Smyrna Beach is a smaller town, you don't want to overlook it when visiting northeast Florida. Dubbed as one of the best surf towns in America by Surfer Magazine in 2017, the main draw to this beach-side town is the waves. However, there's much more to do than surf. Whether you're an art lover looking for your next purchase, a foodie looking for somewhere fun to eat, or a history buff wanting to explore one of Florida's oldest towns, New Smyrna has a little something for everyone. These are the best things to do during your trip to this historic town.

01 of 09

Spot a Dolphin on a Marine Discovery Center Boat Tour

Marine Discovery Boat on the water

Courtesy of Marine Discovery Center

520 Barracuda Blvd, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169, USA
Phone +1 386-428-4828

Connect with Florida's natural life by visiting The Marine Discovery Center. The center's primary mission is to protect Florida's Indian River Lagoon by educating its guests through "hands-on, feet-wet education." The center offers many different kinds of learning experiences. Inside their facility, they have indoor saltwater marine exhibits where guests can come in and learn about the many creatures that live in the lagoon for free. Guests can also visit their grounds for free, with wildflower and butterfly gardens and a nature playscape for children.

They offer various eco-tours, ranging from boat and kayaking tours to tours on foot. You can navigate the lagoon while looking for dolphins on their Dolphin Discovery boat tour or help clean up debris on the Garbage Gurus Kayak Tour. Tours start at $30, and each one has its own set time, so make sure you book accordingly.

02 of 09

Appreciate the Arts at the Hub on Canal

Interior shot of the The Hub on Canal

Courtesy of The Hub on Canal

132 Canal St, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168, USA
Phone +1 386-957-3924

If you're a fan of the arts, The Hub on Canal is the destination for you. Located on Canal Street, The Hub showcases the artwork of over 70 artists, all local to the community. There is no one medium at The Hub; art pieces range from paintings and photography to handmade shoe design and jewelry.

Not only can you go and enjoy the local art, but The Hub also hosts classes for all ages, ranging from language classes to jewelry-making lessons. They also put on events scattered throughout the year, most notably their receptions for new gallery exhibits every first Saturday of each month.

03 of 09

Step Back in Time at the Sugar Mill Ruins

Photo of the Sugar Mill Ruins covered in a green moss

Jamal Fanaian / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

600 Mission Dr, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168, USA
Phone +1 386-427-2284

Built in the early 19th century, this mill was created to make and distribute sugar throughout New Smyrna Beach and other parts of Florida. However, during the war between the Seminole Native Americans and the U.S., the mill and the sugar plantations were all destroyed, leaving nothing but ruins behind. This historic site is about 17 acres long, and guests can enjoy this little slice of history from many different angles, although the ruins are roped off. There's helpful signage all around to give you a closer look at the location's history. There's also a nature trail that runs from one end of the ruins to the other, with scannable signs to get information on the local flora and fauna. There are two usable bathrooms on the site, and this area is open daily, from sunrise to sunset. Be careful—this location is hard to find on Apple and Google Maps. Pay attention to signage on the road, which will point you in the right direction.

04 of 09

Explore Canal Street Historic District

Canal Street lit up at sunset

Courtesy of Visit New Smyrna Beach

If you're looking for the small-town charm of Old Florida, Canal Street is where you'll find it. The focal point of New Smyrna, Canal Street, is lined with unique stores, businesses, and eateries and has become the area's arts and cultural district. Grab a bite to eat at the Corkscrew Bar & Grill, where American classics take on a Southern twist (the conch fritters and house guacamole and chips make for the perfect appetizers and the NSB Cuban is mouth-watering as an entree). After you've had your fill, you can pick up some fun new beachwear at Bikini Co. or sample some unique flavors of oil and vinegar at The Gallery. If you're interested in art, The Hub on Canal isn't the only spot you'll want to visit. Swing by the Artists' Workshop and the Ring Gallery to see more from the local artists of New Smyrna and beyond.

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05 of 09

Catch a Wave and Walk the Boardwalk at Smyrna Dunes Park

Nature walk boardwalk at New Smyrna Dunes Park

Dock Drumming / CC BY-NC 2.0 / Flickr

2995 N Peninsula Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169, USA

If you're looking to hit the beach and catch a wave, Smyrna Dunes Park is where you want to go. The 184-acre inlet park is situated on the northern tip of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula. It has 2 miles worth of elevated boardwalks that circle the entire edge of the park. It holds five ecosystems, including ocean, river, scrub zone, and saltwater marsh ecosystems, but it's named after its vast dunes. The park offers many fun things, including swimming, surfing, and boating. Bring your dog and jog along the inlet shore or bring your friends and have lunch in one of the stunning pavilions located on the boardwalk. There is a $10 per vehicle admission fee, and the boardwalks are handicap accessible. Check the Volusia County Smyrna Dunes Park page for park hours and other rules.

06 of 09

Enjoy Dinner in a Treehouse at Norwood’s

Table in front of tree at Norwood's Restaurant

Courtesy of Visit New Smyrna Beach

400 2nd Ave E, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169, USA
Phone +1 386-428-4621

It's every kid's dream to have a treehouse, and it should be every adult's dream to have dinner in one. Originally a gas station, general store, mosquito control center, and more, Norwood's was bought in 1946 by Earl Norwood and finally turned into what it was meant to be all along—a seafood restaurant. It has now grown into one of the most unique dining experiences in New Smyrna Beach. There's a little something for everyone at Norwood's. If you're looking for delicious seafood, try the seafood puttanesca, which features scallops, shrimp, and muscles sauteed in a tomato sauce with olives, capers, and housemade sausage tossed with fettuccine noodles. If you aren't interested in food from under the sea, you can try Norwood's Filet, which comes with a charbroiled filet medallion, a Yukon gold potato cake, a cabernet demi, chive oil, and red onions. They even offer gluten-free and vegetarian options. Try to go around 6 p.m. to catch live music with your dinner.

07 of 09

Take a Distillery Tour at Sugar Works Distillery

Bottle of Sugar Works rum and mixed drink next to it

Courtesy of Sugar Works Distillery

214 N Orange St, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168, USA
Phone +1 386-463-0120

Calling all cocktail fans: New Smyrna has the best destination for you. This family-owned distillery puts out award-winning spirits, some inspired by the local charm of New Smyrna Beach itself. You can try their Shark Bite Cinnamon Whiskey if you like dark liquor, made from a corn whiskey with natural cinnamon, red pepper, and raw honey. Or, if you want something clear, try their Turnbull Bay Silver Rum, which won them a bronze medal in the American Distilling Institute's Craft Spirits Awards in 2020. If you're interested in how it's all made, sign up for one of their free tours, where they'll walk you through the entire process. Try the New Smyrna Beach Rum Runner for a mixed drink—its fruity flavor makes it delicious and easy to drink.

08 of 09

Learn the Town History at the New Smyrna Museum of History

Photo of a Native American exhibit inside the New Smyrna Beach Museum of History

Courtesy of the New Smyrna Beach Museum of History

120 Sams Ave, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168-7039, USA
Phone +1 386-478-0052

You'll want to stop in at the New Smyrna Museum of History while you're visiting, as this town's past is just too fascinating to miss. New Smyrna Beach is the second-oldest city in Florida, and this museum has all of the artifacts to back that statement up. The museum is set up in a fun way to keep guests curious—the entire perimeter of the museum is called The Perimeter Gallery and creates a timeline of New Smyrna, starting with the oldest artifacts and history from the Native Americans and ending with a special tribute to the locals who fought in the Vietnam War. The gallery's center focuses on the "Smyrnea Settlement," founded in 1768 and had its own unfortunate history. The museum also offers a view of their archaeology lab, where guests can watch archeologists at work, The North Room, which holds temporary and special exhibits, and a research library. Stop by the gift shop on your way out and purchase some local goods, like seeds to grow an indigo plant or locally made board games.

Continue to 9 of 9 below.
09 of 09

See Mysterious Ruins in Old Fort Park

Picture of old ruins at Old Fort Park

Courtesy of Visit New Smyrna Beach

115 Julia St, New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168, USA
Phone +1 386-424-2175

Mystery surrounds this rock foundation at Old Fort Park, an archeological site in New Smyrna. These coquina ruins sit in New Smyrna's downtown and draw many curious visitors to it. Even with extensive research of the ruins, no one knows exactly what this stone foundation is. Guesses range from the ruins of an old Spanish fort to the home of the town founder, Andrew Turnbull, and even the original Castillo de San Marcos (the oldest masonry fort in the U.S.). The purpose of the 40-by-80-foot ruins will probably always remain a mystery, but it is a beautiful piece of history and causes fun speculation. The site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2008. Also in the park is the historic New Smyrna Beach Free Library, which houses the New Smyrna Beach Community Redevelopment Agency. There are plenty of benches and pathways around the area for those who want to spend a little more time outside. The park sits across from City Hall and is often the location for special events and summer concerts.

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The 9 Best Things to Do in New Smyrna Beach, Florida