New Smyrna Beach, FL–You’d Hate It, Please Don’t Go!

New Smyrna Beach - Flagler Ave
Flagler Ave entrance to beach access for vehicles. That building on the left is Breakers, a great beach bar/restaurant that is home to some of the best burgers anywhere. (Photo by author)

New Smyrna Beach, Florida is a laid back beach town located on the Atlantic Coast about a half hours drive south of Daytona Beach down I-95. I’ve been visiting there for 30 years. To my immense delight, it has remained virtually unchanged in terms of its laconic pace and its unpretentious charm.

The beach itself is composed of sand so fluffy and soft it has the consistency of cake flour, and yet at the water is so densely compact that you can drive on it. This is what many of the visitors to NSB do, they purchase a pass and drive onto the beach where they can park and enjoy some of the best surf on the East Coast.

On the other hand, NSB is the self-proclaimed shark bite capital of the US. In fact, some of the art galleries that line Flagler Avenue, the main drag, sport the unofficial city slogan:

“New Smyrna Beach, 

A little drinking town with a Shark problem.”

The week before our visit, 2 individuals were bit in knee deep water. Thankfully, we didn’t encounter any Dangerous Marine Life – The warning often displayed by the life guard flags and signs on the beach.

The town has numerous bars, restaurants, gift shops, and beachwear boutiques. Several of the restaurants are gourmet quality. The three-quarter mile Flagler Avenue is lined on both sides with every possible venue that makes for a fantastic vacation. 

The town doesn’t have an arcade, or a Ferris wheel, or big flashy dance clubs, or even any topless bars. So, it’s way too slow and boring for anyone to really like. You can head north and go to Daytona for that. Or I’m sure Myrtle Beach in South Carolina would love to have you.

It’s amazing that the town has remained so true to it’s essence for the 30 years I’ve been going. It is what I think of when I think of the beach. But I’m pretty sure you’d hate it, so please stay away and leave it just the way it is.

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