Sun and Shoreside Bliss: The Charms of Florida’s New Smyrna Beach

The historic and charming town of New Smyrna Beach is located along the picturesque coast of Florida’s east-central shoreline. It seamlessly blends beach vibes with exceptional artistic, recreational, and cultural activities. The town is divided by the Indian River and has two distinct parts: Canal Street and Flagler Avenue, which are connected via the ‘Waterfront Loop’ and linked via an iconic bridge that offers a picturesque vantage point to take in the breathtaking views of the river.

Crossing the bridge leads you to Flagler Avenue, the bustling thoroughfare that leads straight down to the shores of New Smyrna Beach. Lined with surf shops, beach bars, and cosy cafés, Flagler Avenue embodies the laid-back beach lifestyle that this coastal town is known for.

The Riverview Hotel and Spa is a historic landmark tucked at the top of  Flagler Avenue. It offers a perfect blend of old-world charm and modern amenities—luxurious accommodations, spa services, and sweeping vistas of the river. Its rich history dates to the late 19th century. Our room had a wraparound patio with views of the water and the street. Passing boats, dolphins and people fishing dockside or from the water can’t help but get you into the Florida vibe.

The Riverview serves a complimentary breakfast each morning at the adjacent Mermaid Cafe, while on the other side, the comfortable, casual elegance of The Grille at Riverview is so popular that it’s booked to capacity most nights. Its menu offerings include fresh seafood, steaks, pasta and salads for lunch and dinner daily, plus Sunday Brunch. The Grille’s Key West Deck is an exceptional bar that juts out over the Intracoastal Waterway; it’s the perfect location to watch the sunset. You can enjoy some martinis or beers while watching the dolphins frolic within eyesight. The Grille has live entertainment and simply superb staff.


We parked our car and took advantage of the complimentary bike rentals for guests. We rode the bikes everywhere during our three-day stay, including along various parts of New Smyrna’s 17-mile stretch of white sandy beaches, through the town’s beautiful tree-lined and well-manicured neighbourhoods, and along the brick sidewalks of Canal Street with its moss-draped trees.

Canal Street is the historic heart of downtown New Smyrna Beach, exuding a quaint charm with its tree-lined streets, historic storefronts, and vibrant art scene. The sidewalks have colourful murals, and there are lots of boutiques, galleries, and eateries offering everything from artisanal crafts to superb Florida cuisine.

New Smyrna History Museum

A trip highlight was a visit to the New Smyrna History Museum, which offers a glimpse into the town’s rich history and takes you on a jaunt through the area’s past via interactive exhibits and artefacts. New Smyrna Beach is the second oldest city in Florida. It holds a significant place in history because it was the site of the largest single attempt at British colonisation in North America.


Hub on Canal Street

We also loved our visit to the Hub on Canal Street, a dynamic art centre featuring galleries, studios, and workshops that highlight local talent and artists. The hub gives back by offering multiple community outreach programs that bring the arts to school-aged children. If you visit both these places, you will get a sense of the history, community, and people of New Smyrna.


Soaring When Touring with a Pedego Electric Bike

One of the best ways to explore the pristine shoreline and endless outdoor activities at New Smyrna Beach is to rent a Pedego Electric Bike. We rode our courtesy bikes from the Riverview here and rented two e-bikes for three hours to cover more ground and cruise along the scenic coastline.

Natural attractions include seventeen miles of sandy beaches from Ponce de Leon Inlet to Canaveral National Seashore and North America’s most diverse estuary – the Indian River Lagoon – which plays a special role in the Marine Discovery Centre’s exploration, conservation, and education initiatives. There is nothing like feeling the ocean breeze across your face as you soar along the shoreline. You can cover a lot more ground on an e-bike, passing all the activities on the beach, surfers, fishers, and even an ice-cream truck sporting a surfing cow!

New Smyrna Beach boasts some of the best waves on the East Coast for surfers, and you can’t help but notice the breaking waves as you cruise along. You learn very quickly upon arrival in New Smyrna Beach that it has earned its reputation as the “Shark Capital of the World,” drawing avid surfers from everywhere to its renowned breaks.

While encounters with sharks are rare, the town’s unique geography and abundance of marine life make it a hotspot for marine mammals. The town has embraced this theme as part of its branding, which adds to the allure. The barrier island is recognised worldwide for its surf, with Surfer magazine touting it as one of the “Best Surf Towns in America” and National Geographic magazine including it in its “World’s Top 20 Surf Towns”.

There are several notable restaurants and bars on Flagler Avenue that are worth a visit after a day of sun-soaked biking and water adventures.


Flagler Tavern

You can’t miss Flagler Tavern on the strip just two blocks from the beach. Its two-storey patio is bursting with patrons day and night, as is the interior. The lively atmosphere alone is a draw for food and frolicking. The menu includes fresh seafood dishes, burgers, and hearty salads. There is a great beer list, craft cocktails and great service. (PHOTO: COURTESY NSB)



The Breakers Restaurant anchors the beach and Flagler Avenue. It’s big, right on the beach, and it has cold beer, burgers, crab cakes, calamari, and other local comfort food. The ocean view doesn’t disappoint. The Breakers is the definition of casual dining, but it’s one of those must-stop places popular with families who come back year after year. The price is right, and the burgers are fabulous. (PHOTOS: COURTESY NSB)


Canal Street Culinary Gem

The General Public House is a farm-to-table gastro-pub that serves exceptional southern cuisine made with local Florida ingredients. Located on Canal Street, this spot is the ideal setting to relax, unwind, and take in the best of New Smyrna beach hospitality. Housed in a historic Altwall Brewery building with unique architecture and design, the exposed brick walls, rustic wooden beams, and industrial-like street-front garage door windows create a welcoming atmosphere while capturing old Florida charm and mixing it with contemporary style. The restaurant changed hands in February 2024, and the new owner is an upstanding fellow who kept on the original staff.

There are lots of seating options, booths, and tables; we chose to sit at the bar, with a good view of the stage. This place is a cocktail destination point, and they make a variety of unique house cocktails that are worth discovering. The Strawberry Fresca and Honey Nut Lemonade were our favs but they also do a mean espresso martini. The beer selections are extensive, and the wine list is perfect for the offerings.

The menu at General Public House features exceptional and mouthwatering dishes, from creative small tapas-style plates to hearty entrees. Items range from classic comfort food to more upscale culinary dishes featuring seafood, beef and locally sourced vegetables and fruits. Try the fried green tomatoes (to die for), the grilled Mahi sandwich, the redfish, or the steak frites. There are so many culinary delights here — you’ll end up going back a few times!


Margarita Heaven

The sidewalk sign that read $5 Margaritas caught our attention as we were biking along the charming shops and galleries of Canal Street. The Cork Screw Bar & Grille stands out with its red brick exterior, packed patio, and relaxed Florida vibe. We stopped, and before we knew it, a friendly host had us seated in a great patio seat, and two margaritas arrived moments later. This delightful eatery features a diverse menu that caters to every taste, whether you’re craving fresh seafood, a hamburger, or vegetarian options. It’s a great hangout spot for tourists seeking a taste of New Smyrna Beach’s culinary scene.


Jefe Cigar Lounge

Picture stepping into a bar that is both casually sophisticated and relaxing, where the aroma of fine cigars mingles with the scent of aged wood. The Jefe Cigar Lounge is that place — its walls are adorned in rich, polished woods that exude warmth and cosy elegance. When you sit in the plush leather chairs, you can’t help but feel transported to a bygone era of indulgence and refinement. The bar staff makes incredible martinis, and if you want one of the best espressos in Florida, this is the spot. There is also a small menu that includes Cuban sandwiches, sliders, and tacos.

Jefe (pronounced Hefe) is steps from the beach and has a fantastic patio for people-watching. The lounge has a world-class walk-in humidor with superb cigar selections, including six of Jefe’s house brand offerings. The lounge offers a golf cart service that delivers phone-in orders to the beach; with an onboard humidor in the works, beachgoers will soon be able to flag down the golf cart to purchase cigars.


Abundant Health Float & Day Spa

The beach at New Smyrna offers an ideal setting for relaxation and unwinding. For an even deeper sense of tranquillity, we visited Abundant Health Float & Day Spa. Located in a strip mall just a 15-minute bike ride from the Riverview, the water therapy pods are highly sought after; however, we chose to indulge in a side-by-side couples massage instead. Our message therapists were real pros. Our massages created a cherished memory in a tranquil setting that truly deepened the enjoyment of our vacation together.


New Smyrna Beach is an exceptional place. It’s where old Florida meets Florida all in one quaint little seaside beach town. Whether you are taking in the historic charms of Canal Street, riding the waves at the beach, cruising on your bike through its picturesque neighbourhoods or simply soaking in the laid-back vibes, this coastal gem offers an unforgettable escape for all who like to travel, trek and tour.

Travel tips

We flew from Ottawa to Orlando and began our trip in Cocoa Beach. The drive from Cocoa Beach to New Smyrna is an easy 90-minute drive along what Florida Tourism has branded the Space Coast. There were a few tolls, but they were inexpensive.

If you rent a car, get some cash and opt to pay the toll booth attendants, who will happily make change — it’s much cheaper than having the car rental company charge you $9 or $10 per day for an EZ Pay transponder. Also, beware that even if you prepay for a rental, Alamo and others will still charge another $200 to $250 upfront for a security deposit when you show up to pick up your rental vehicle.

For more information on vacations in New Smyrna Beach, visit and  follow them on Instagram at visitnewsmyrnabeach