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Published on Friday, September 13, 2019

Stay cool in this chilled Florida hang out

TravelMole's Graham McKenzie tried some serious chilling in New Smyrna Beach, Florida

In a nutshell:
It's all about the chill out factor in New Smyrna Beach. Go and renew your energy, revitalise your spirit and decompress from the hurly burly of modern life. Everything is at a slower pace, relaxed and no trouble.
The surroundings help given that the destination is surrounded by water, sand, wildlife and when I was there gorgeous temperatures tempered by a sea breeze. The downtown area of NSB (as its known locally) has the Indian river, the intracoastal waterway and links to the barrier island via two causeways. It would be difficult to design something better than what nature has already created.

Why your clients should go:
In keeping with the theme, it is easy to get to, easy to book (many UK tour operators and bed banks carry NSB) and easy to stay. NSB offers a range of accommodation to suit almost every pocket. The range of activities are wide and varied should you wish to get off the sun bed, put your book down and break into a sweat.

Just over an hour's drive from Orlando international Airport or for the slightly more adventurous a three-and-a-half-hour road trip along the Atlantic coast from Miami its easily accessible. With the frequency of service to these two airports combined with the array of accommodation on offer you should be able to construct a very cost-effective package.

What to see and what to do:
As a coastal destination there are the obvious benefits of water and beach related activities but being the capital of chill, I focussed on the growing reputation for art and history that NSB is acquiring.
Only having 24 hours in town I visited two institutions.

First up was the Museum of History where you learn that NSB was founded in 1798 by a Scottish doctor Dr. Andrew Turnbull and his colleagues from Europe and specifically the Island of Minorca. Like much of this part of the world it has suffered or benefitted from a mix of Spanish, British and laterally American influences in its architecture, nomenclature and food. The museum, whilst small, takes you on a journey of NSB's development since that time with some fascinating artefacts, paintings and photos of the town. Especially captivating for me was the period between the Civil war and the early 1960's.

Next was the Hub. Only established in 2009 the hub has made quite an impact on the relatively small community of NSB residents. Having been a magnet for artists from across the country for some years (who wouldn't want to produce art here?) a bunch of them got together to try and create a more community based, inclusive set up where by the artistic skills could not only be shown off in a smart gallery but the people producing would be in residence to show and teach the skills required. From the evidence I saw it is a success on all those fronts with a wide variety of paintings, sculpture, and photography.

Eat and Drink:
I chose to dine at the rather splendid Outriggers Tiki Bar and Grille. Splendid because it not only has a comprehensive menu of fresh fish and seafood, but it is outdoors and has views across the marina and onto the Indian River North.

Where to stay:
The area has a wide-ranging accommodation from smaller self-catering apartments through to the properties by SpringHill by Marriott (suites), Hampton and Best Western.

The Black Dolphin Inn has been restored to its mid-fifties heights with very comfortable rooms and excellent personalised service. I had a loft like double room with a giant tv screen, good Wi-Fi and the offer to pop downstairs to the open kitchen to grab a snack or a drink should I desire. Breakfast is served in the same kitchen. The property is directly opposite and adjacent to the Indian River.

Don't Miss:
Take a trip up Flagler Avenue where the entertainment and vibe is a little livelier. Named after the father of Floridian Tourism and renowned railroad builder Henry Flagler the street is not long, as it stretches from the Atlantic coast east to west until it reaches the causeway across the Indian River, but it packs a lot in. Restaurants, art shops, cycle hire, kayaks and of course bars. I chose to spend the last few hours of the evening at the aptly named Flagler Tavern. Apart from the food and alcohol you will be able to enjoy, every evening, live music from 5pm onwards.

Top Tip:
Try a mid-morning muffin and coffee at the cafe in downtown directly opposite the Hub on Canal street. Jason's Corner is a local favourite not just because of its food, ambience and ability to watch the world go by but it is dog friendly and I mean friendly. Dogs get their own breakfast menu with scrambled eggs, hamburgers and  diced turkey - water is free.


Grahams trip was part of the VisitFlorida Huddle convention and sponsored by NSB CVB

Car hire in the USA with  starts from £32 a day. For further road trip inspiration, head to Hertz American Road Trip Planner  and discover iconic and off-the-beaten track routes, downloadable maps and insider guides.

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