Where to Spot Wildlife in the NSB Area
Home to 17 miles of beaches, a pristine national seashore, and North America’s most biologically diverse estuary, the New Smyrna Beach area is teeming with wildlife. Take a guided tour or head out on your own to get up-close to nature. Here’s where you can find wildlife in NSB:
Browns Bay Kayak Tour with Marine Discovery Center
Get up close to dolphins, manatees, birds, and more during this two-hour kayak tour through the Indian River Lagoon. A certified Florida naturalist leads the way, sharing educational and entertaining tidbits about the local ecosystem.
Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park
This county park is nestled between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River, at 6656 S. Atlantic Avenue. But for the best wildlife spotting, you’ll need to head to the river portion of the park. Manatees and dolphins frequent this “secret” spot, especially in the summer months. Walk out onto the fishing pier to catch a glimpse of these playful creatures.
East Coast Regional Trail
Birding enthusiasts will want to set out on this 52-mile stretch of trail, running from Enterprise to Edgewater. Here, you’ll find feathered favorites like the bald eagle, owl, hawk, woodpecker, and more. The trail is 12 feet wide and paved, so it’s accessible to walkers, joggers, cyclists, and those with disabilities.
Cracker Creek Canoeing
Rent a kayak or canoe, then set off down Spruce Creek for a chance to see a variety of wildlife. Deer, alligators, manatees, and birds galore can be found on this stretch of river. Not ready to head out on your own? Do a boat tour instead, led by a professional guide.
Goodrich Seafood and Oyster House in Oak Hill (Fall to Spring)
This one sounds a little weird—a seafood restaurant? But hear us out. Each fall, beautiful snow-white pelicans make their way to Florida for the winter. Sightings are common throughout the New Smyrna Beach area, but a popular spot is around Goodrich’s in quaint little Oak Hill.
Treats Fit for a Queen
For over 60 years, the historic New Smyrna Beach Dairy Queen has dished up delicious eats to hungry patrons. With its classic exterior, the DQ is truly a relic of days gone by. Retro signage with the image of an ice cream cone, complete with signature curl, beckons to passersby on Dixie Freeway. A cheery blue and yellow awning provides shade at its walk-up counter. On the menu, you’ll find traditional favorites like rich, velvety sundaes, chocolate-dipped cones, and shakes, as well as all beef hot dogs. Outdoor seating is available at umbrella-covered tables in a park-like setting.
The NSB icon was opened in 1953 by waitress-turned-owner Mary McGuirk. McGuirk invested her savings of $8,500 into the franchise and carefully selected a prime spot—a corner lot on US-1, right on the way into town. The investment proved to be a smart one, as the Dairy Queen still enjoys sweet success today. Stop in for a quick treat after a day at the beach.
Happy Little Moments in New Smyrna Beach
Known for his signature hair, soothing voice, and wet-on-wet painting technique, Bob Ross was an iconic figure in the 80s and 90s. His PBS show, The Joy of Painting, continues to enthrall today’s generation.
Fans and art enthusiasts will want to plan a visit to the Bob Ross Art Workshop and Gallery, nestled in a little shopping center in New Smyrna Beach. Inside, you’ll find a collection of 50 original paintings by Bob Ross, himself—many of which are recognizable from his popular television series.
You can also try your hand at creating a masterpiece with a make-it and take-it class. Each course is focused on a specific work of art, so all students paint the same project. Dab happy little trees across a snow-capped mountain or add a mischievous glint to a squirrel’s eye—no matter what your subject is, you’ll leave with a beautiful piece of art. Students can choose from a full day or half-day course; or sign up for certification classes and become a fully credited, trained instructor.
See your favorite Ross paintings in person or get inspired and paint your own during your next visit to New Smyrna Beach.
Make Time for Tee Time
Your best shot at a great round of golf is right here in the New Smyrna Beach area. With numerous courses to choose from, golfers are truly spoilt for choice. Avid golfers will want to make time for a round or two during their next vacation to NSB.Located in New Smyrna Beach, The Venetian Bay Golf Club features an 18-hole championship course with wide fairways and smooth, rolling greens. Novices and experts will enjoy the practice putting green, a chipping green with a practice bunker and a beautiful driving range.Cypress Head Golf Course, in nearby Port Orange, was designed in 1992 by architects Arthur Hills and Mike Dasher. With easy-to-hit fairways and generous greens, it’s ideal for all skill levels. The Preserve at Turnbull Bay runs through a beautiful nature preserve in New Smyrna Beach. The 18-hole course is marked by water-lined fairways and the well-maintained Seashore Paspalum greens give players a true and smooth roll. Ideal for the casual golfer, the Cypress Point Golf Club in Osteen, is a 9-hole executive course. It features a par-33 course, with short par 4s. Local wildlife can often be spotted during rounds.Pack your clubs on your next trip to New Smyrna Beach and explore the wide range of courses our area has to offer.
From Sea to Sand: Turtle Nesting Season in NSB
From May to October each year, giant sea turtles arrive in the New Smyrna Beach area to nest on the beaches. These creatures lumber ashore at night and lay their white, leathery eggs in the dry sand. Just 60 days later, the hatchlings emerge from their nests and make their way toward the ocean.
It is illegal to touch or disturb adult sea turtles, hatchlings or nests, however, visitors can catch a glimpse of the process on select nights in June and July by booking a guided tour through Canaveral National Seashore. Available three to four nights per week, the cost is $14 per person. Ages 16 and under are free.
There are numerous ways visitors can help during the turtle nesting season. A great start is by doing your part to keep our beaches clean. Be sure to remove beach furniture at night and pick up all trash—this will prevent entanglement and make it easier for hatchlings to reach the ocean. It’s also important to level all sandcastles and fill any holes prior to leaving the beach each day.
If your hotel room or condo is beachfront, you’ll want to turn off or block all lights at night. Artificial lights disturb the nesting female turtles and confuse hatchlings. Quiet, clean, and dark beaches are key for a successful turtle nesting. Together, we can protect these gentle creatures that call NSB home each summer.
Paint the Town
Each year, professional artists set up their easels around New Smyrna Beach, hoping to capture the essence of the coastal-chic town in their paintings. From curling, white-tipped waves to the yacht-filled marina, the scenes vary—but each one is painted outdoors. It’s all part of the Plein Art Paint Out, an annual event that brings approximately 25 artists from around the country to New Smyrna Beach. Throughout the week-long event, artists can be found from dawn to dusk at various outdoor locations throughout the city. Spectators are encouraged and invited to interact with artists as they work. At the end of each day, the artists hang their completed works in a gallery, which is open to the public for viewing. By the end of the week, the gallery contains anywhere from 150 to 300 pieces of art.
The week also includes special events like the “Evening Paint on Flagler Avenue,” “Art in the Park,” a live auction, and more. The 9th Annual New Smyrna Beach Plein Air Paint Out will be held October 20-26, 2019. This year’s viewable gallery will be at the Marine Discovery Center, located at 520 Barracuda Boulevard. Proceeds benefit the Marine Discovery Center.
Step Back in Time with a Walking Tour
Founded in 1768, New Smyrna Beach is the second oldest city in Florida. As such, the city boasts an impressive history and numerous historical venues. Visitors can explore the significance behind several New Smyrna Beach landmarks with a free audio-guided walking tour.
Developed by the Florida Humanities Council, Walk New Smyrna Beach is a downloadable app that tells entertaining stories about the city’s storied past and buildings. The walk includes 10 key points in New Smyrna Beach’s historic district, including the Old Fort Park Ruins, the Turnbull Canal System and Little Drug Co. Each stop has a three-to-five-minute audio feature explaining the historical importance of the location. There’s also a short slideshow of photos and illustrations that accompanies each section of the tour.
Download the free Florida Stories app to begin your free guided walking tour, today.
Let’s Taco ‘Bout Something Delicious
With its red and white barn-like exterior, The Taco Shack might look unassuming—but the eats at this little outdoor joint pack a punch. Since 2010, the restaurant has been serving up chill vibes and spicy grub to hungry patrons.
The menu is a blend of cultures, with traditional Mexican-style offerings and Latin staples. Fan favorites include the Gnarly Nachos and the Shack-a-ladas—soft corn tortillas filled with cheese and choice of meat and topped with queso and sofrito sauce. Craving a Latin-inspired dish? Try the Phatty Pastelon. This Puerto Rican baked lasagna consists of fried sweet plantains layered with seasoned beef and cheese and a dollop of sour cream and pico de gallo. Order some tostones with a side of guacamole to round out any entrée.
Locals know to start queuing early at The Taco Shack, as the line can get long rather quickly during peak hours. Wait times are usually pretty short, however. Guests order at the walk-up window before snagging a table in the covered, open-air dining area. The ambiance and décor are laid-back, with surf boards and stickers plastered across the walls. Mellow Caribbean tunes remind you that vacation-mode is always switched on in New Smyrna Beach.
Satisfy your craving for something spicy with a stop at The Taco Shack.