New Smyrna Beach
Just south of busy Daytona Beach is somewhat quieter New Smyrna Beach, a place nature travelers should definitely check out.
New Smyrna is where you’ll find the main entrance to Canaveral National Seashore (386-428-3384, ext. 10; www.nps.gov/cana) with its miles of undeveloped beach—one of the best beaches in Florida. This summer, if all goes well, the beach will be the scene of a good percentage of the state’s sea turtle nesting. Away from the beach, explore the seashore’s nature trails and get out onto Mosquito Lagoon in a boat to see the islands preserved there. Admission is $5 per day per car, or $3 per person on foot or bicycle. Take I-95 to State Road 44 (Exit #249) and go east. Take the A1A extension across the river and follow the road south. At the end of the road, you’ll find the seashore entrance.
Up the road from the seashore is another great beach park, Smyrna Dunes Park (386-424-2935), which sits on the southern edge of the ocean inlet. Wander the boardwalk over the coastal scrub habitat to the beach or through the mangroves and look for birds and other wildlife along the way. Admission is $3.50 per car. Take I-95 to SR 44 (Exit #249) and go east. Take the A1A extension across the river to Flagler Ave. and turn north. At Peninsula Drive, turn right and take the road to the end at the park’s entrance.
If the beach isn’t your thing, try paddling Spruce Creek, a state canoe trail. Spruce Creek Outfitters (386-763-9417; www.sprucecreekkayaks.com) rents kayaks (starting at $15) and also leads guided tours for groups by reservation (starting at $40 plus rental fees). Or for a boat tour where you don’t have to do all the work, visit Marine Discovery Center (866-257-4828; www.marinediscoverycenter.org), which offers boat tours of Indian River Lagoon. Tours run Tuesday through Saturday. Tickets are $20 for adults, $16 for seniors and $10 for children 12 and under.
If you want an in-depth look at this part of Florida, order 30 Eco-Trips in Florida and turn to chapter 14, Space Coast.