Located just 15 miles south of Daytona Beach is where you will find New Smyrna Beach. This quaint little beach town offers the atmosphere that many Boomers are looking for, but also brings quite a few unique amenities to the table.
New Smyrna is only about 20 minutes away from where I live in Daytona Beach Shores, and we find ourselves down there for one reason or another (usually food or drink related…haha!) a few times per week.
New Smyrna Beach History
The first attempt to settle in the New Smyrna area happened all the way back in 1768, when Dr. Andrew Turnbull recruited 1,300 settlers to start his plantation community in Florida. Despite a promising start, the community was eventually destroyed by a combination of Indian attacks and disease.
After the last of Turnbull’s settlers migrated north to St. Augustine, the area was sparsely populated all the way up until 1892 when Henry Flagler’s Florida East Coast Railway established service to the community. Since then, New Smyrna Beach has been a popular destination for tourists, as well as the fishing and citrus industries.
New Smyrna Beach Demographics
From a town of only 119 people in 1880, the population of New Smyrna Beach had grown to an impressive 22,464 people during the 2010 census. That growth has since continued, and the population today is estimated to be just over 24,000 people.
New Smyrna Beach Lifestyle
Like most of the communities you will find along the Atlantic Coast, the lifestyle in New Smyrna Beach revolves around the great outdoors. Residents have a number of local parks available to them, including Flagler Avenue Park, Lake Ashby Park, Smyrna Dunes Park, and Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve.
In addition to the local parks, residents also pass the time by taking advantage of the many fishing charters available, three different golf courses, tennis facilities, and taking in a race at the New Smyrna Speedway.
Many people would describe New Smyrna as a surf town, as it has some of the best waves the East Coast of Florida has to offer.
But before you try to hang ten, be warned: New Smyrna is frequently cited as the “Shark Attack Capital of the World”, as there are more incidents per square mile than on any other beach in the world.
New Smyrna Beach Culture
Residents of New Smyrna Beach are known to have a tremendous amount of respect for local artists, which is why the community is known as one of “America’s Top Small Cities for the Arts.”
New Smyrna Beach also has the advantage of being located less than a half hour south of Daytona Beach and about an hour from Orlando, so residents also have access to big city-style cultural experiences that are only a short drive from home.
New Smyrna Beach Shopping
The heart of the shopping scene in New Smyrna Beach is located along Flagler Avenue and Canal Street. Here you will find a collection of small shoppes and boutique stores that specialize in local, handmade items. For everyday shopping needs, there are a few strip malls located throughout the city.
If residents are looking for a more upscale shopping experience, once again they have the advantage of being located close to both Daytona Beach and Orlando.
New Smyrna Beach Dining
Breakfast and brunch are the specials at the Third Wave Cafe, where you will find traditional breakfast items and the best crepes in town. But don’t overlook the dinner menu here either, because the tapas and pizza options are all delicious.
The Garlic is an excellent option for anyone looking to enjoy a classic Italian dinner experience. The lines can sometime run a bit long here, but they move quickly and the food is definitely worth the wait. As you might have guessed by the name, everything made with garlic here is absolutely wonderful.
At least a few times a week you’ll find me at Corkscrew Bar & Grille on Canal Street. If it’s just me and my wife for lunch we’ll sit at the bar and split a burger (phenomenal) or if its dinnertime (or if we’re really hungry at lunchtime) we’ll split the Swamp Pasta, but you really can’t go wrong with anything on the menu here.
Some nights after dinner there we’ll mosey on over to the New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company for a nightcap.
With all kinds of great outdoor activities, plenty of culture and shopping, and some of the best restaurants you will find along the Atlantic Coast, New Smyrna Beach is one of the few places that meets and exceeds the expectations of just about everyone who visits.
That is exactly why it is such a popular retirement destination for Boomers.