Located a little less than an hour’s drive from the heart of Orlando, New Smyrna Beach is a favorite day- or weekend-long excursion for Central Floridians. The sleepy seaside town offers plenty of options whether you’re a foodie, drinkie, or just want to relax and enjoy some sand, surf and sun.
NSB is known as one of the best small towns in the country for artists, so if you find yourself over there, think about stopping in to the Atlantic Center for the Arts (1414 Art Center Ave., atlanticcenterforthearts.org), a nonprofit residency community for artists from across the world with several galleries open to viewing.
Over in the town’s historic downtown area, you’ll find Arts on Douglas (123 Douglas St., artsondouglas.net), a complex of connected galleries showing visual art by both locals and visiting artists. And if you’re an aspiring artist yourself, harness a little of the magic of New Smyrna’s most famous artist, Bob Ross, at the Bob Ross Art Workshop (757 E. Third Ave., bobrossartworkshop.com). The workshop displays a large collection of original oil paintings, and you might even be able to take a morning class and create some happy little trees yourself.
Finding a good meal in New Smyrna isn’t hard; it’s deciding where to go that’s the problem. The resort town has drawn the attention of some serious culinary talent, resulting in some delectable options for foodies of all tastes and bank account sizes. Obviously, seafood is a specialty here, but it’s hard to find it fresher than at JB’s Fish Camp (859 Pompano Ave., jbsfishcamp.com), where you can dig into a platter of fresh crab or a fried grouper sandwich, then work off the calories by renting a kayak for a scenic trip on the Indian River. Diners who want to indulge will find more gourmet options at Norwood’s Eatery & Treehouse Bar (400 Second Ave., norwoods.com), a local institution offering up gourmet seafood alongside steaks, burgers and pasta dishes. Popular Gotha barbecue-and-sandwich spot Yellow Dog Eats also has a successful New Smyrna location with plenty of veg-friendly options (147 Canal St., yellowdogeats.com).
For scenic dining, it’s hard to go wrong with the Garlic (556 E. Third Ave., thethegarlic.net), a homestyle Italian restaurant with a lush garden patio with enough canopy cover to blur the lines of indoor and outdoor dining. If you prefer your Italian a little lighter, check out the brick oven-fired Neapolitan pizzas at Third Wave (204 Flagler Ave., thirdwavensb.com).
For casual Floribbean cuisine, dig into the gator bites or conch fritters at Corkscrew Bar and Grille (235 Canal St., corkscrewbarandgrille.com), or head over to Outriggers at the New Smyrna Marina (200 Boatyard St., newsmyrnamarina.com/outriggers) for fish & waffles and extra-strength cocktails so strong that guests are limited to two each (though we’ve never actually seen anyone get cut off).
East Volusia County hasn’t quite reached peak craft beer yet, but brew fans will want to check out New Smyrna Brewing Co. (112 Sams Ave., newsmyrnabrewing.com), a microbrewery that serves up varieties like the Shark Attack IPA and Disappearing Island Apricot ale along with seasonal varieties. The big news for NSB beer fans, though, is the imminent opening of the Half Wall Brewery (1887 State Road 44, halfwallbrewery.com), slated to open this summer and sporting enough space to handle several brew kettles along with a lakeside patio bar perfect for relaxing and crushing a few pints.