by The Editors | January 29, 2024
An Artful Escape in New Smyrna Beach
Discover the hidden cultural and culinary gems of this East Coast enclave
New Smyrna Beach is one of Florida’s most idyllic coastal communities offering a cultural immersion with delicious diversions at every turn. The well-known surf destination attracts beachgoers from across Florida and the Southeast to its iconic shores, but while many visitors may head straight to the Flagler Avenue beach access for epic waves or a leisurely cruise on the sand, the town's lesser-known treasures await on dry land. A thriving culinary scene, award-winning chefs and an abundance of art galleries and festivals keeps this eclectic enclave ever-evolving. Let's explore a few ways to tap into the cultural side of New Smyrna Beach.
Expect the Unexpected
Nestled at the heart of New Smyrna Beach (or NSB as locals know it) is the Hub on Canal, a thoughtfully curated art gallery and workshop situated on Canal Street. Founded in 2012 by a close-knit group of friends, the Hub serves as a dynamic gathering space for community engagement, showcasing works by more than 80 talented artists and providing art classes across various mediums.
For those eager to dive into the world of artistic expression, Jane's Art Center offers a hands-on experience. Donn an apron and go elbows-deep in clay in one of their pottery wheel throwing classes or explore the ancient Japanese art of raku firing. The metallic glaze used in raku creates its signature crackle appearance, adding a unique touch to your artistic endeavors.
Wade further into New Smyrna Beach's arts scene by attending one of its many festivals throughout the year. Spring brings the soulful rhythms of the New Smyrna Beach Jazz Festival, featuring regional and local talents. As autumn rolls in, the NSB Plein Air Paint Out captures the magical collision of art and nature, drawing landscape artists from across the nation to paint live outdoors and offer their works for sale. And finally, winter comes alive with the annual Images: A Festival of the Arts, boasting more than 237 fine artists, live music, food vendors and a vibrant atmosphere.
Feed the Soul
Art and music aren’t the only ways to nourish the soul in New Smyrna Beach. The town opens its table to ambitious chefs and adventurous foodies, offering a caloric journey worth every bite. Begin the trip by satiating your sweet tooth with beignets at the Mermaid Café, a beloved breakfast spot that sets the perfect tone. Want to linger a little longer over your morning meal? The Third Wave Café and Wine Bar invites you to a Mediterranean-inspired (and slightly boozy) brunch, skillfully blending Moroccan and Italian influences with menu items like bananas foster and dulce-de-leche crepes. Then wash it all down with a Third Wave pink Sangria.
As you tackle your cultural itinerary, carve out time to sample more local favorites like Norwoods Restaurant and Treehouse Bar, an American grill specializing in fresh seafood and signature cocktails, promising an unforgettable evening under a canopy of oaks. For a little bit fancier affair, try the Spanish River Grill, an eclectic tapas eatery guided by James Beard semi-finalist Henry Salgado, who turns out dishes like baked Shark Bite oysters with nori butter, caviar and uni shoyu. For those with a hankering for authentic Italian flavors, The Garlic beckons, offering up wood-fired pizzas and homemade pasta worthy of its appearance on the Food Network.
Hungry for more NSB culture? Whether your creative spirit is fueled by food, music, art or just simply getting lost in a new place, the quintessential charm of New Smyrna Beach—woven into every dish, music note and brushstroke—will keep you craving its unique flavor for years to come.