The Best Florida Beach Town!
Over the past few years, my husband and I have vacationed in many areas, searching for the perfect place to ‘hibernate’ during the winter. You may have read my post, Chasing Summer... which outlined a few of our ultimate beach vacation spots but the quest has continued… Our parameters for the perfect beachside oasis are that it be casual, beautiful, eventful and have easy air travel to and from the area. Hitting high points in all categories, we’ve decided the best Florida beach town is New Smyrna Beach! This laid back coastal town is jam-packed full of things to do, but if you feel like chillin’ and laying on the beach, it’s great for that too!
What’s Going On
Any given weekend brings with it a list of things to do, in and around the beach. The NSB calendar of events includes wine walks, craft beer walks, food festivals, chili and chowder cook offs, car shows, art shows, concerts, beach tournaments, sailing regattas and charity events to name a few. You’ll see some of their bigger events listed on www.partyonflagler.com.
There’s a speedway, marinas, a little theatre, and so many great restaurants and nightspots. Flagler Avenue is the main road for nightlife. Most restaurants and bars have live music every night. Over the bridge to the mainland side, you’ll find the recently regenerated Canal Street historic district has beautiful tree-lined streets with specialty shops, galleries and restaurants. This area also hosts the weekly Farmer’s Market. Of course, the 13 miles of sparkling white sand beach remains one of the main draws to the area.
Location, Location, Location
New Smyrna sits in a perfect spot on the east coast. Just a quick hour ride west takes you to the fun and fabulous city of Orlando. An hour north and you can stroll the beautiful cobblestone streets of historic downtown St. Augustine. Head south and in under an hour you can visit the Kennedy Space Center or hop on the next cruise ship leaving Port Canaveral for the Caribbean!
Where To Go
We arrived on a Thursday night, there was a great band playing on Flagler at the Om Bar & Chill Lounge. This place is set up for bands and has great acoustics. The Gnarly Surf Bar and Grill has a band playing outside most nights.
For dinner, there are so many restaurants to choose from, I’ve included some of the most notable… The Garlic has a great atmosphere and food to match. When we arrived for dinner there was a singer in the dining room and another at the outdoor bar. The food was truly enjoyed by all four in our party. Garden Fusion had great reviews but we found the food good, not great. The Grille at Riverview is a great place to go for happy hour with a nice view of the river. Outriggers at the Marina is perfect for lunch. For breakfast or lunch, an absolute must is the Beacon Restaurant. This place really brought me back to the 70’s. This place is classic. Their very basic menu offered grilled cheese sandwiches or meatloaf and potato type meals. Their menu prices are in keeping with the good ol’ days. I think it cost $8 for the two of us to have lunch. It was truly old-time ‘comfort food’ you crave.
It was a last minute trip and we chose to rent a small apartment via www.homeaway.com. It was a great little bungalow just a block from the beach. If you prefer a hotel, it seems the best local hotel is the Best Western due to its prime spot on the beach. Another great choice is the historic Riverview Hotel.
If you want to go into town for the evening, you can get a free car service. There is free service to Flager and back for those wanting to go out for the evening but not wanting to drive. The drivers work on tips and are sponsored by the businesses!
Cars are allowed to drive on the beach here! You are welcome to join the crowd and pick a spot to open your trunk and unload or if you’re looking for the ‘no vehicle’ area, go to the south side of the beach at about 25th Street.
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