Our Prime in Sand and Sun
by Visit New Smryna Beach, FL
You’ll feel right at home at Aunt Catfish’s on the River in Port Orange. At this seafood joint, cheerful servers are called “cousins,” drinks are served in old-fashioned canning jars, and the menu boasts southern specialties that would make your mama blush with pride. Succulent-beer battered shrimp, tender meatloaf with mushroom gravy, and savory fish chowder are just some of the stand-outs from this star-studded line-up. Opt for the salad bar add-on to partake in the crisp, refreshing greens and toppings. Plus, you’ll also get access to the “Fish Camp Fixin’s” bar which boasts baked beans, cornbread, cinnamon stewed apples, and more. And the pièce de résistance? Almost every entrée is accompanied by an Aunt Catfish signature cinnamon roll. These decadent morsels are so popular that the restaurant sells over 1500 each day.
Your dinner also comes with a view. Perched on the edge of the Halifax River, Aunt Catfish’s woos diners with its scenic water vistas. You can request a table by the window for a close-up view, but honestly, there’s not a bad seat in the house. Take time before or after your meal to meander down the dock for a photo op with the giant faux catfish. A small playground keeps the kids busy while you wait for a table at this Port Orange favorite.
A favorite indeed, especially on Sunday mornings. Served from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Blue Jeans Brunch lures in locals and visitors with its buffet-style offerings. Queue up for homemade pancakes with an assortment of flavors and toppings, made-to-order omelets, seafood and more. A chocolate fondue fountain elevates this from standard brunch fare to a diner’s delight. Get there before 10 a.m. to score the special “early bird” pricing.
Whether you’re wanting a smorgasbord breakfast buffet or just a heaping plate of southern seafood goodness, you’ll find it at Aunt Catfish’s in Port Orange—where good food runs in the family.
Plan a Reunion to Remember in New Smyrna Beach
Don’t drift apart—instead, host your next family reunion in New Smyrna Beach. With an array of accommodations, restaurants, and activities, our charming barrier island appeals to all generations.
One big happy family? Renting a private home or condo is the way to go. Rental companies like Ocean Properties and Great Ocean Condos offer a large portfolio of both, including some that sleep up to 17 people. If you’re not sure you can handle that level of togetherness, then a hotel might be a better fit. Book individual rooms at the Best Western or SpringHill Suites for amenities like mini-fridges, microwaves, and coffee makers.
For families looking to stay and play on a budget, the beach is always a bargain. Family members of all ages are usually content to laze happily in the sun and splash in the surf. All you really need is sunscreen and a towel to enjoy the blue water and white sand. Want to add some action? Kick it up a notch with a family surf lesson from a local pro from Surfin’ NSB or Jimmy Lane Surfing Academy. They’ll have your whole group riding the waves in no time.
Spend a relaxing—and educational—afternoon out on the water with a Marine Discovery Center family eco-tour. The Dolphin Discovery Tour, a guided two-hour trip along the Indian River Lagoon, gets you up close to manatees, dolphins, and more. A covered, 40-person pontoon boat makes this outing accessible for everyone.
Home to a vibrant arts community, New Smyrna Beach’s galleries and workshops are wonderful little locales to explore. Stroll through free local art galleries, like The Hub on Canal and Arts on Douglas. Or sign up to create your own happy little masterpiece at the Bob Ross Art Workshop and Gallery.
Need a space for a family presentation? You can reserve a meeting room in your hotel for a reasonable fee or rent space in a community venue, like the Coronado Civic Center. For a fancier affair, local event planners and rental companies are also available to assist you in organizing your family reunion.
From small getaways with your closest loved ones to celebrations with every branch of the tree, New Smyrna Beach is the perfect place to create fond memories with family. Experience the joy of reuniting and reconnecting in NSB.
Sometimes wine nights and group texts just don’t cut it. For the ultimate escape, plan a girls’ getaway to New Smyrna Beach.
Book your stay at a cute Insta-worthy spot like The Salty Mermaid. This luxury boutique hotel is perched right on the Atlantic, perfect for catching a sunrise with the besties. It’s also just steps away from Flagler Avenue, where you’ll be able to do some retail therapy at charming boutiques like Sue Who?, Look Charmed, and Olio Boutique.
No girls’ trip is complete without a spa day. Take time out from shopping with a stop at The Riverview Spa. Tucked away on Flagler Avenue, this tropical oasis features a heated therapeutic waterfall pool and a myriad of rejuvenating treatments. Indulge in a luxurious massage or pedicure with your girls by your side.
Once refreshed, pop over to Third Wave Café to enjoy lunch in the verdant garden. With light fare such as the refreshing watermelon salad, plus savory pizzas, and delicate crepes, there’s something for even the most discerning foodie in your group.
Art aficionados will want to head over to Canal Street, part of NSB’s historic arts district. Leisurely peruse galleries like Arts on Douglas, The Hub on Canal, and Gallery One Twenty, then flex your craft skills at DIY workshop Hammer & Stain.
In the evening, catch up over cocktails at CorkScrew Bar and Grille. The drink menu changes seasonally, so there’s always something delicious to sip. Stay for dinner to try entrees like the chicken & goat cheese salad, mojito scallops, and osso bucco.
Charming, yet undeniably chic, New Smyrna Beach is a top destination for a weekend away with your girls.
Bike the Beach
In New Smyrna Beach, we believe spinning your wheels is a good thing. Our 17 miles of hard-packed sand make cycling on the beach an easy, enjoyable sport for all ages. Race the kiddos down the stretch as the waves roar alongside you or pedal along at a leisurely pace with your companion.
Bring your own set of wheels and unload right at the beach for fast fun. Traveling by plane or just don’t want to tow along a bike? Hire one from local businesses like Salty Rentals, East Coast Bike and Beach Rentals, Nichols Surf Shop or Beachside Candy. Choose from a range of cheery pastels—some even come with baskets to store a snack or stow away beach treasures. Several of the shops will deliver your ride right to your condo, so you’re ready to roll. Rental times vary from an hour to weekly, making a bike rental a handy, eco-friendly option for long-term guests.
Stick to the beaches around Flagler Avenue and the inlet for sand suitable for every type of bike. It’s also close to the action, so you can pull over for a cold cocktail or brew at popular spots like Toni and Joe’s Patio or Chase’s. If you head south of 27th Street, you’ll most likely need a beach cruiser or fat tire bike for ease. Low tide is the most popular time to go for a spin, as the sand is tightly packed. Check online for the daily tide chart or inquire with a shop employee when renting.
For invigorating exercise or just an afternoon of fun, add a bicycle cruise along the coast as part of your next New Smyrna Beach vacation.
Sip on Something Special in New Smyrna Beach
Whether you’re in pursuit of a quiet little enclave to sip and soak in the ambiance or a boisterous beachfront bar, New Smyrna Beach offers a variety of locations to imbibe. From taprooms to treehouses, here’s where you can toss back a tipple in NSB.
Wine aficionados will want to branch out with a glass of vino at Norwood’s Treehouse Bar. With over 30,000 bottles of wine, the decision isn’t easy. Savor your grapes in the cozy treehouse, draped with romantic Edison-style string lights. There’s also live music every night.
Sample something strong at New Smyrna’s newest spot—Sugar Works Distillery. Premium rum, whiskey and bourbon are made on-site at this family owned business. Stop in for a free tasting and tours from Thursday to Sunday. You’ll probably want to pick up some spirits to take home as a special souvenir.
Hops lovers should visit Canal Street, where the New Smyrna Beach Brewery Co. serves up specialty ales. Belly up to the bar for handcrafted suds that sport local names like “Disappearing Island” and “Old Fort.” You’ll also get a front row seat of the brewing process, with working tanks in the taproom.
Next up? Outriggers Tiki Bar and Grille at the New Smyrna Marina. The signature drink menu is full of favorites, like the Bloody Mary. Garnished with olives, peppered bacon and shrimp, this mouthwatering bevvy also includes a beer chaser. The covered outdoor tiki bar is the perfect spot to sit and watch the mega-yachts and sleek fishing boats.
Flagler Avenue, with its casual beachside vibes, is home to several hotspots. Tucked inside Flagler Tavern, The Bounty is a unique speakeasy with an eclectic mix of nautical and vintage décor. Try a tempting favorite like the ‘Dah Porker. It features bacon-infused bourbon and pecan liqueur, served over an ice sphere and garnished with candied bacon. For ocean views, The Breakers sets the bar high. This beachfront joint is known for its hamburgers, but there’s nothing like enjoying a cool bevvy while watching the waves roll in. Daquiris, mai-tais, and other cocktails dot this drink menu. For a different kind of water view, head down A1A to JB’s Fish Camp. This seafood joint is perched right on the breathtaking Indian River Lagoon. Grab a house cocktail like the “Salted Sea Dog” and watch for dolphins, manatees, and birds from the dock. Snag a seat at any one of New Smyrna Beach’s bustling local bars for libations fit for a relaxing holiday at the beach. Cheers!
Surf the Waves
No matter if you’re in search of thrills of a lifetime or moving moments with the ones you love, there’s plenty of must-do activities in New Smyrna Beach. Here’s our top 6 experiences for visitors (and locals) in our charming beach town.
1.Surf the Waves
Get on board with our friendly locals for the experience of a lifetime. Book a lesson with a popular instructor, like Lindsey Baldwin of Surfin’ NSB, who has competed professionally all over the globe. Surfin’ NSB offers private and group lessons and will drive to the beach location of your choice. They’ll also outfit you with a board, so all you need to bring is a willingness to learn. Or, sign up your little thrill-seeker for a summer vacation camp they’ll never forget. Jimmy Lane Surfing Academy has offered surf camps since 1985—just look for the blue school bus, an iconic sight in New Smyrna Beach.
2. Fly the Skies in a Vintage Plane
NSB is even more heavenly when you’re soaring above it all. Board BiPlane FunFlight’s classic open cockpit aircraft and glide through the air, reveling in the sparkling blue water and white sand beaches below. Choose from 10, 20, 30, and 70-minute tours. Feeling fearless? Upgrade your flight to include heart-pumping performance maneuvers like steep turns, lazy eights, steep climbs, and chandelles. You can also select sunrise and sunset tours for added romance.
3. Dive Below the Surface
Go below the surface for a peek at the New Smyrna Beach area’s artificial reefs and abundant sea life. Created out of sunken ships and concrete culverts, these vessels are now home to species like marlin, amberjack and more. Get certified at Sea Dogs Dive Center in NSB, offering a variety of courses. For those with some experience, Sea Dogs’ local boat trips will take you right out to the action.
4. Get on Board
Lights, boards, action! Glide across the Indian River Lagoon at sunset, guided by the glow of your LED-lit paddleboard. A handy personal remote lets you shuffle between 16 colorful options. Offered by Pure Island Tours, this excursion gets you up close to dolphins, manatees, and birds. Tours are led by an experienced guide and include an introductory lesson to paddle boarding, making this perfect for beginners.
5. Hit the Sand with Man’s Best Friend
If you’ve ever dreamed about splashing in the sea with your furry friend, then bring Fido along on your NSB getaway. Smyrna Dunes Park, our dog-friendly beach, is the perfect place for an afternoon with your pup. Nestled among 73 acres of land and surrounded by water on three sides, there’s plenty of room to romp around. Pack a picnic, some extra water for your canine companion, and a camera to catch all the fun.
6. Branch Out with Dinner in a Treehouse
If you ever dreamed of living in a treehouse as a child, then a stop at Norwood’s Eatery and Treehouse Bar in New Smyrna Beach is a must. Nestled in a large live oak tree, this local gem is a whimsical spot to sip on hand-crafted cocktails and snack on appetizers like bacon-wrapped scallops and smoked fish dip. At night, dangling Edison-style bulbs illuminate the boughs, creating an enchanting atmosphere. There’s also live entertainment each evening, performed by local musicians and bands.
Start crossing off your bucket list on your next vacation to New Smyrna Beach.
Handmade Souvenirs at Palms Up Pottery
Spend a day puttering down Flagler Avenue and you’ll see everything from surfer-chic boutiques to a cutie-pie candy shop. It’s also a veritable gold mine for finding one-of-a-kind souvenirs. And one of the most popular shops on the block to score a treasure? Palms Up Pottery Studio and Gallery. Visitors and locals give Palms Up, two thumbs up. In fact, TripAdvisor rates it #1 for shopping in New Smyrna Beach.
Honestly, you’d have to have a heart of stone not to love some of the stoneware creations at Palms Up. Some of the most unique? A line of quirky little catchalls called “Happy Head Fun Pots. These silly pieces of art come in a variety of googly-eyed creatures, from sharks to frogs to crabs. They’re ideal for storing everyday things like loose change, soap, or keys. More traditional wares are also on the shelves. Select a beautiful, yet functional item like a mixing bowl, mug, or shell-shaped plates—all come in beachy shades of blue, seafoam green, and teal.
Owner and artisan Richard Collison opened Palms Up Pottery back in 1987 and is often found at the pottery wheel, creating his next masterpiece. Collison has won numerous awards for his handiwork over the years and loves sharing his passion with others. Stop in for a chat and pick up a piece of his latest pieces on your next visit to New Smyrna Beach.
Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum
Learn about New Smyrna Beach’s rich African-American history with a visit to the Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum, located in the Historic Westside Neighborhood. The museum honors the culture and history of the black community in small town Florida. Housed in a restored 19th century building, the museum was once a place of worship for black Roman Catholics. Today, you’ll find exhibits and displays, like an underground railroad quilt, replicas of black inventions, and other memorabilia. Guests can also see photos and listen to the oral histories from area residents. The Mary S. Harrell Black Heritage Museum is open Wednesday to Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free; however, donations are accepted.
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.
Turtle Watch at Canaveral National Seashore
Each year, from April to October, giant sea turtles arrive at Canaveral National Seashore to nest on its beach. Four species frequent the area: loggerhead, green, leatherback and kemp’s ridley. Visitors can catch a glimpse of the process on select nights in June and July by booking a guided tour through the park. Available three to four nights per week, the cost is $14 per person, ages 16 and under are free.
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 want 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)
We know 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.