Quiet New Smyrna Beach has 13 miles of white-sand beach. Its offshore rock ledges create excellent wave breaks -- which surfers love -- and lessen dangerous undertows. National surfing championships are held several times a year at Ponce Inlet, north of New Smyrna. Surfboards and boogie boards can be rented from concessionaires and surf shops.
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- New Smyrna Beach
This beach ranks in the top 5 for... closest to Orlando.
Driving time from Orlando: 1 hour, 8 minutes minutes
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North New Smyrna Beach is accessible to cars, but most of the beach, starting at 27th Avenue and going south, is traffic-free. At the south end of New Smyrna Beach is the north entrance to Canaveral National Seashore, which boasts 24 miles of coastline framed by cabbage palms and palmettos. The 57,000-acre reserve serves as a refuge for a variety of bird species and as the nesting grounds of loggerhead sea turtles. Park programs in June and July give visitors the chance to watch the turtles come ashore to lay eggs. The program is free, but space is limited; call 386-428-3384 for reservations and more information. While at Canaveral, take a walk on its winding nature trails or visit Turtle Mound, an archaeological site of the Timucua Indians. Park fees are $5 per vehicle.
Visitors also can view wildlife at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, near Kennedy Space Center east of Titusville. The 140,000-acre refuge, open sunrise to sunset, serves as a haven for many native creatures. Call 321-861-0667.
There's no shortage of accommodations that will suit a family's needs in New Smyrna. Many properties are on the beach or within walking distance, and most have pools. When you call for reservations, ask if there are special packages or summer deals available.
An elegant lodging option is the restored 1880s Riverview Hotel, 103 Flagler Ave., New Smyrna Beach, on the Indian River. Lounge by the historic hotel's pool, or walk a few blocks to take a dip in the Atlantic. Guests get continental breakfast and free bicycles. For information, call 386-428-5858 or check out riverviewhotel.com.
New Smyrna is surrounded by water, so you can expect to find lots of fresh seafood in local restaurants, many of which have great water views.
At the Riverview Hotel, you'll find a casual restaurant called Kelsey's Riverview Restaurant (386-428-1865). As they enjoy such dishes as macadamia-encrusted grouper or bourbon-molasses New York strip, diners can watch dolphins play in the Indian River. Java lovers might want to try the flaming citrus coffee. Live music is offered most evenings.
J.B.'s Fish Camp, 859 Pompano Ave., New Smyrna Beach, is housed in a down-home building with screened windows that overlook Mosquito Lagoon. You'll find plenty of seafood, and there's live music on weekends. Hours vary. For information, call 386-427-5747.