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  • Aline Gill

Beyond the Beach in New Smyrna

While we’re still soaking in the sun, enjoying pool day every day, sleeping in, and hitting the pillow hard at night, I know the return of school is just around the corner and if history repeats itself, our summer vibes and laid-back attitudes will quickly begin to fade (along with our tans). Last year we took a spur-of-moment Fall Break trip to New Smyrna Beach, a Florida town known for its laid-back surfer vibes and outdoor adventures and it was just what we needed to overcome our Vitamin Sea deficiency. I’m happy to say I just clicked the “book now” button to ward off those end of summer blues and to keep the tradition going.

We were thrilled with our stay at the Country Inn and Suites in Port Orange. If you do your research, it won’t take you long to discover that this is the best bang for your buck around. It has a solid 5.0 excellent rating on TripAdvisor and has been ranked the #1 Hotel in Guest Satisfaction for Carlson Rezidor Hotels World Wide for five years in a row! The rooms are comfortable and clean, and the kids were won over at check-in when they discovered hot, gooey cookies (let’s be honest, it won me over as well). The pool and hot tub were perfectly nestled beside a relaxing patio and grill to enjoy. And starting each day with a free, hot breakfast really set us up for success.

With the goal of spending all of that cooped up energy that comes with the back-to-school grind, and the added bonus of being so tuckered out we slept like babies at night, we started our exploration of the area with a guided kayak ecotour with the Marine Discovery Center. After some safety basics and kayak how-tos the certified Florida naturalist guide led the exploration through mangroves, salt marshes, and oyster reefs across the Indian River Lagoon, the most biologically diverse estuary in North America! We were amazed at the wildlife we saw, including bottlenose dolphins, egrets, and redfish, and we even learned some crazy facts about the history of Florida. Did you know New Smyrna Beach was the largest attempt at colonization in the New World?

Another trip highlight, that will certainly be on repeat this year is a visit to Norwood’s Eatery & Treehouse Bar and the onsite Saturday Farmers Market. Last year there was live music as we shopped local artisans, sampled yummy cheeses, pickles, and breads, and then enjoyed lunch at the restaurant. It was so cool to admire the treehouse, and the food was delicious. Even now I can smell the savory scent of my BLT and am reliving that perfect crunch. Yum. The countdown is on for our round two of outdoor bliss at New Smyrna Beach.


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