New Smyrna Beach is Florida’s Best Kept Secret
New Smyrna Beach is just over an hour from Orlando airport but it couldn’t be more different. A closely guarded secret by the locals, it’s all about the independent unique quirky bars, restaurants and B&B’s.
The warm Florida sunshine also gives it huge appeal for surfers, all board sports in fact, so if you wanted to try your hand at paddleboarding or surfing, this is the place to do it.
Paddleboard Past Dophins
The watersports scene in New Smyrna Beach is pumping, with plenty of surf, kayak and paddleboarding options. We visited Paddleboard New Smyrna Beach to try our hand at a chilled out paddleboard down the Indian River and the North Causeway Canal.
Along the way, we paddled passed a school of six Dolphins and a giant Manatee, which playfully stopped off to say hi - this place is like the IRL Finding Nemo!
Turtle Mound River Tours
Rated the No.1 wildlife tour in New Smyrna Beach, our excitement immediately doubled when we spotted a tray of meat, cheese, crackers and a bucket of wines. This was basically a classy family friendly version of a booze cruise.
As we crossed the water, dolphins flipped in the air chasing the wake of the boat, herons flew alongside and if you are lucky you may spot another Manatee or two, dreamy!
The Christmas Parade
On December 1st, NSB threw their annual festive parade. There were all kinds of floats, decorated cars, scooters, young children baton twirling and beauty pagent winners.. GO USA!
The Willy Wonka float was our favourite and of course Santa came out to finish the fun throwing sweets out as they paraded along. And not just a few sweets, we mean hundreds!
The Community Arts
New Smyrna is synonymous with arts, culture, history (and the beach)! We visited the local art collective whose main focus is inspiring the local community through art and workshops.
They have a whole tons including music jam’s with the locals, there’s Kentucky derby days, a student film festival, charity outreach programs, poetry nights, jazz and blues performances and many different fitness classes.
Inside the Hub you can find hand-made, sustainable locally crafted art is on sale, with artists working directly in front of you, did we mention this was also a converted cinema?
Cruisin’ The Shoreline
We hired beach cruiser bikes from Salty Rentals (located at the Salty Mermaid Hotel) to ride along the sea edge. We rode the stretch of sand for an hour, there’s lots out to sea from schools of seagulls, to surfers, paddleboarders and the lighthouse at the end of the inlet.
New Smyrna Beach Brewing Co.
We visited the New Smyrna Beach Brewing Co., created by New Smyrna local, Chris. The business started after he made a home brew beer in his garage for a friend’s wedding gift. It was such a hit, he left his office job has opened his own brewery.
Chris flavours the beers naturally, adding slices, fruits, pumpkin, cocoa nibs, vanilla etc creating truly unique flavours.
The tap room was hand built with banquette seating made out of wooden barrels as well as a ‘buy your friend a beer’ board, basically a much cooler version of a gift certificate. They also host nights where you can drink beer and paint your own bespoke beer mug.
Sugar Works Distillery
Also on the list for you brewery lovers is Sugar Works Distillery. The owner Thomas spent fifty one weeks building up his distillery, from the fermenter and still equipment right down to laying the floor. Made using local ingredients, from the molasses, corn, barley and rye to make whiskey, rum and moonshine.
WHERE TO EAT
The Corkscrew Bar & Grill
This place served up gator bites (if trying Alligator is on your bucket list, NSB is the place to try it)! Also their mojito scallops were huge, the biggest I’ve ever seen, so sweet and perfectly pan roasted, this hands down was the best thing we ate the whole trip.
JB’s Fish Camp
Decorated with saxophones, road signs, autographed photography and pianos. It’s perched on the riverfront and has been an institution in the area for around forty years. Their rock cakes were absolutely delicious and stuffed full of rock shrimp (pretty much like langoustines). They also have GIANT crab sticks you can crack open and dip in warm melted butter and the scallops were so sweet and addictive, no matter how full you are, you’ll find a second stomach.
They specialise in giant sandwiches and beer tasting flights (with some of the beers, IPA’s and stouts are made in their on site micro brewery). Their bourbon vanilla oatmeal stout was incredible! There was also coconut and milk stouts and a ‘Florida and European Vacation’. We tried fried green tomatoes and their incredible and HEAPED Reuben sandwich.
Situated on Flagler Avenue, which is host to the busiest strip of bars and restaurantas in NSB, Flagler Tavern is one of the loudest and proudest of them all with live music every evening, a surf 'n' turf menu and fantastic cocktails for a jolly old night out.
A few minutes walk away from Flagler is the local marina where Outriggers is based. Specialising in florida caught seafood, we were spoilt for choice but can seriously recommend the lobster mac 'n' cheese. Wash this down with their signature cocktail, The Zombie, which uses three different variations of rum - seriously YUM!
Yellow Dog Eats
Pulled pork BBQ, taco 'mountains', huge sandwiches, peanut butter Oreo cookie pie; if your mouth isn't salivating after reading that list, we don't know what will. So when the stomach starts, rumbling head over to Yellow Dog Eats for a big tasty menu in a quirky homely setting.
Ricky's has recently opened and specialises in poke bowls. With based of jasmine, yellow or forbidden rice, we tried the most amazing honey caramelised brussels sprouts and their gumbo poke, packed full of seafood inc. ahi tuna, salmon, octopus and shrimp.
PLACES TO STAY
We stayed in the newly built SpringHill Suites by Marriott, which is situated right on the beach at the end of the Flagler parade of shops and bars. There’s a heated pool, huge rooms and breakfast naturally includes a DIY waffle making machine, guaranteeing perfect waffles, every time!
Black Dolphin Inn
The Black Dolphin Inn rooms were HUGE! With a giant jet stream bath IN the bedroom, a massive walk in shower and separate living room, kitchen and balcony. They made us so welcome, with fresh baked cakes, candies and a coffee/tea station available complimentary 24/7. And wait for it... a dolphin cam! Literally a camera they’ve set up in the water that powers on every time you switch on your TV.
MTV Travelled With... VisitNSBFL. For more information on New Smyrna Beach, Florida, go to www.visitnsbfl.com. Rooms at ‘Black Dolphin Inn’ (www.blackdolphininn.com) start from $179 per room, per night, including breakfast. Rooms at ‘SpringHill Suites by Marriott New Smyrna Beach’ (www.marriott.co.uk) start from $159 per room, per night, including breakfast. Virgin Atlantic (www.virginatlantic.com) operates daily flights between London Gatwick and Orlando with fares starting from £328 return.