When people who have never been to Florida think of the Sunshine State, you know what comes to mind? Disney World and Miami.
Very few folks outside the Floridian peninsula know just how many laid back beach towns, quiet lake communities and peaceful lagoon campsites exist in our sunny paradise. One such laidback seaside town is New Smyrna Beach, Florida. A water lover’s playground, the surfing, the fishing and the beaches are some of the best Florida has to offer. The estuary is the most biologically diverse in North America with more than 4,000 species of birds, mammals, reptiles and plants, and waves are the most consistent surf breaks in the state.
Where is New Smyrna Beach?
New Smyrna Beach is the area encompassing Port Orange, Osteen, Edgewater, Oak Hill and New Smyrna Beach. It’s about and hour from Orlando and 90 minutes from Jacksonville, sandwiched comfortably in between Daytona Beach and the Space Coast. There are 17 miles of sandy beaches including 5 miles you can actually drive on. I only just learned that New Smyrna Beach was founded in 1768, making it the second oldest European settlement in Florida after St. Augustine.
That means for more than 250 years, New Smyrna Beach has been one of Florida’s best kept secrets.
Holiday Shopping in Downtown New Smyrna Beach
New Smyrna Beach is best known for outdoor pursuits, but don’t sleep on historic Downtown NSB. Canal Street is lined with swaying palm trees, specialty boutiques, art galleries and restaurants. I spent a sunny November day doing my holiday shopping and found that as always, small towns are the best place to celebrate Christmas. The lights, decorations and window displays seemed extra sparkly this year.
I felt like I was in a Hallmark movie… well, without the drama of the big city gal returning to her hometown and falling in love with a handsome, plaid-wearing lumberjack. (OMG I JUST REALIZED THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME.)
There are dozens of shops along the peaceful street, some with traditional Florida necessities like bikinis and flip-flops; others with beachy home decor and still others with custom local fabric prints and moisture-wicking golf attire. A little of this, a little of that… but definitely something for everyone.
Especially if that someone is me. I found about 25 things I’d like to buy myself for Christmas, so I have to chalk the day up as a success.
My Favorite Boutiques on Canal Street
If outdoor holiday shopping in shorts and a T-shirt sounds good to you, hit up some of these local boutiques next time you’re in New Smyrna Beach. I came home with far more ornaments and decorations than anticipated… shhh, don’t tell anyone!
- Southern Trends Home Furnishings
- The Posh Pineapple
- The Seaside Cottage
- Bikini Company
- LuSea Boutique
- Pink Flamingo at Petals
Arts & Culture in Downtown New Smyrna Beach
Many shop owners I spoke with pointed out that while Canal Street, which once was an actual canal that transported goods on flat-bottomed boats to the Indian River, is a top shopping destination, it is also an arts and culture magnet for the area. On the first Saturday of every month, there’s a Gallery Walk where you can explore Artists’ Workshop, Arts on Douglas, Jane’s Art Center, A Potter & A Sculptor and the Hub on Canal in one go. All the galleries stay open until 7 p.m., so it’s a great way to take in the best of local artists and to buy some gorgeous art to take home.
I enjoyed the Hub on Canal, a home/gallery for 70 artists with 24 studios and all different styles, from 3D to collage to oil paintings and everything in between. I loved wandering around after a big meal at Yellow Dog Eats and just chatting with the artists as they created. Such a fun and inspiring spot! And get this – you can take classes at The Hub, from painting to ukulele.
Restaurants along Canal Street in Downtown New Smyrna Beach
Barbecue in a quirky space. Grab a table out back and get the What the Fig sandwich with pork, goat cheese and figs.
Popular spot for Sunday brunch.
Ok, it’s not an eatery and it’s not on Canal Street, but it is worth a visit on your way in or out of New Smyrna Beach! Don’t skip their cinnamon whiskey, lovingly called Shark Bite.
Where to Stay in New Smyrna Beach
I didn’t have the chance to sleep over on my recent shopping trip to New Smyrna Beach, but my friends at the visitor’s bureau recommend the following historic bed and breakfasts on Riverside Avenue. I did drive past them and I will be bringing Mr. Away here for a romantic getaway!
The Night Swan Intracoastal Bed and Breakfast
Just blocks from Canal Street overlooking the Intracoastal Waterway and the A1A Bridge, the Night Swan has 16 rooms and won the Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible: Showdown competition.
The Black Dolphin Inn
A few blocks further down upscale Riverside Drive, the Black Dolphin overlooks the Indian River and has a private dock you can fish on. Oh yes, Mr. Away will enjoy this place.
Weather in New Smyrna Beach, Florida
I’m writing this from a cafe on Canal Street as we speak on a gloriously sunshine-y late fall day. It certainly can get chilly in the winter months, but Florida winters are nothing like the rest of the country and you can expect far more mild days than cold ones. They call it the Sunshine State for a reason! A very cold day here would drop into the 40s, and a very hot day might be in the mid-90s.
Whatever brings you to the New Smyrna Beach area, don’t miss the chance to #PutNSBUndertheTree and do your holiday shopping on Canal Street. Explore the historic district, make friends with local artists at The Hub on Canal and eat to your heart’s content at any of the local spots along the way.
You’ll never run out of things to do in New Smyrna Beach!
Have you ever visited New Smyrna Beach’s holiday shopping headquarters? If you have any favorite restaurants or stores I missed, please leave them in the comments so others can be sure to hit them up when they visit!