The Halifax River flows to the Atlantic, separating Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Museum and the Smyrna Dunes Park (note the park’s boardwalks). 

Travel from Atlanta: A weekend in New Smyrna Beach, Fla.

Weekend in New Smyrna Beach, Fla., one of three ways: on a budget, spending a bit more, or when the getaway calls for a splurge.

Trip tips: Laid-back New Smyrna Beach charms with its “old Florida” feel and one of the longest pristine shores in Florida. The 73-acre Smyrna Dunes Park, located at the northern tip of the New Smyrna Beach peninsula, features 2 miles of elevated walkways, picnic areas, an observation tower, rolling dunes and abundant wildlife, $10 per vehicle.

Stroll the pedestrian-friendly historic Canal Street District with its specialty boutiques, galleries, restored historic buildings and the New Smyrna Beach Museum of History. The area hosts many events such as a Saturday morning Farmers Market, a Craft Beer Walk and Art Stroll, the Canal Street Cruise and a Wine Walk. The five blocks of Flagler Avenue has more family-run restaurants and souvenir beach shops.

The Marine Discovery Center offers island adventure, dolphin and guided kayak eco-tours:

Trip planning:,

Getting there: New Smyrna Beach is just an hour’s drive from Orlando, the Canaveral National Seashore and St. Augustine. One-way rates to Orlando from $40, Frontier, Spirit; $54, Southwest; and $68, Delta.


Stay: Oceania Beach Club offers two-bedroom/two-bath individually owned and decorated condos with fully equipped kitchens and private balconies. The property sits along a broad white sand beach with a pool and oceanfront sundeck. Quaint Flagler Avenue shops and restaurants are steps away. 421 S. Atlantic Ave., 386-423-8400,

Eat: The Dolphin View is a dockside Tiki bar eatery known for fresh seafood sandwiches, $6-$20. The restaurant offers a casual 90-minute river cruise with buffet dinner ($19.95) with $2 beer/wine, $1 sodas/water, and $6 mixed drinks. 107 N. Riverside Drive, 386-402-8859,

Experience: Every Saturday night through November, catch classic stock car racing at the New Smyrna Speedway. For more than 45 years, this half-mile asphalt track has been home to some of the finest stock car racing in the country. A full concession serves food and beverages (and adult beverages). $15 adults; $13 military/seniors; under age 11 free. 3939 Fla. 44, 386-427-4129,


Stay: The compound of the Night Swan includes two historic homes and a cottage located directly on the Intracoastal Waterway. Bring your paddle boards and kayaks and launch from the property. Each guest accommodation is unique, from $114-$184, including full breakfast. Both houses have guest kitchens with refrigerators, microwaves, and wineglasses and silverware for in-room dining. 512 S. Riverside Drive, 386-423-4940,

Eat: Ice cold drinks, burgers and great Atlantic Ocean views have been drawing patrons to the Breakers since the 1900s. The iconic beach shack is a Flagler Avenue landmark, $11-$25. 518 Flagler Ave., 386-428-2019,

Experience: Step aboard the 53-foot Schooner Ondine for a day sail, sunset sail or a full moon cruise. Coastal day cruises combine sailing offshore and on the beautiful Indian River. This unique two-masted, full keel schooner is rigged with Chinese junk sails and passengers can be a part of the crew to help hoist and trim the sails. A three-hour cruise for one to six passengers is $240; $350 for a 4.5-hour cruise and $600 for a full day.


Stay: Watch the dolphins cruise the Intracoastal from the private dock of the AAA Four-Diamond Black Dolphin Inn, located about a 12-minute walk to Canal Street. This upscale villa guesthouse includes soda and water 24/7 and full breakfast with rates from $229 a night. The Luxury Bay Front room features midcentury decor, red oak wood floors, a free-standing soaking tub centered under a sky-lit cupola and use of the second-floor community deck overlooking the Indian River and Atlantic Waterway. Arrive on a Sunday or Monday through Dec. 19 and receive a fourth consecutive night free. 916 S. Riverside Drive, 386-410-4868,

Eat: Head straight up to the Treehouse at Norwoods for daily specials, appetizers and drinks ($5-$15). The lower dining area features an expansive wine menu, fresh seafood, aged steaks, $6-$28. Live music every night. Serving New Smyrna Beach since 1946, Norwoods also has a retail wine shop. 400 E. Second Ave., 386-428-4621,

Experience: National Geographic recently named New Smyrna Beach one of the top 20 surfing towns. All ages can learn to surf at a morning camp at North Beach Park (Mondays-Fridays). The $200 fee includes three hours of instruction, watermelon, a rest break, ocean safety and education. Take a two-hour surf lesson any Saturday at North Beach Park (corner of Sapphire Road and Atlantic Avenue) through September or Sunday by appointment, $60. Surfboard rentals, $45. Sapphire Road, 386-314-1356,

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Clara Bosonetto is a retired travel consultant.