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New Symrna Beach preserves “Old Florida” Feel


If I didn’t have friends who spend a couple of months each winter in New Symrna Beach, I probably would have never gone there.

It’s one of the many beach towns that doesn’t get much publicity, but gets kudos galore from folks who escape the winter cold here.  In fact, I think most of them would rather NSB stay out of limelight. They like it the way it is.

It is quiet.  Low key. A mix of old homes and slightly shabby condos with an occasional new building, but nothing like the glitz and glitter of  Miami, South Beach, Naples or Sarasota.

I loved the funny funky little street of shops where retailers get together and make decisions about what lines to carry so you don’t see the same stuff in each shop.  The real estate agent does business outdoors sitting under an umbrella and the buildings are painted in bright colors, intense in the Florida sun as well as cleverly covering the old run down construction.

I loved shops like Gone Bonkers and the great restaurant where we sat up at a counter and gazed at an amazing full moon splashing its reflection on the water.  The beach restaurants absolutely live up to any stereotype one might have—grass huts, water volleyball, plenty of beer.  Made me think of Key West before the cruise ships started showing up three and four times a day, changing its character and charm.

What surprised me was that cars could drive on the beach here, making it easy to bring beverages, music and all the stuff one might need to keep one occupied for the day.  We saw more bicycles at our end of the beach, populated with condos and single-family homes.

It is close to Daytona, a big deal for racing fans.  Surfers, golfers, fishermen and sun worshippers come here.  Our friends have a whole tribe of friends from their home base of Sioux Falls who arrive loyally, make their plans for bridge and tennis and dinners out, happy to be out of the incredible cold S.D. weather.

For me, it was perfect getaway with my granddaughter and long time friend.  Relaxing and fun.  Sunny and warm.  A bit on the funky side.  New Symrna Beach is a great spot to visit when the snow is piled very high in Michigan.

Post Author
Susan J. Smith
Susan's career includes writing for newspapers, lots of community work and a wonderful family life. Now she is enjoying traveling, photography and writing for DesignDestinations and Grand Rapids Magazine. She welcomes you on her journey and appreciates your comments.


  1. posted by
    Mar 1, 2011 Reply

    Laughing is so good, that is why we are here.

  2. posted by
    Cindy Schad`
    Mar 1, 2011 Reply

    New Symrna Beach looks absolutely charming. I especially love the thatched tops over the picnic tables:) A nice change from all the development of larger cities in Florida.

  3. posted by
    Mar 1, 2011 Reply

    NSB has been a destination of ours every winter for over 10 years. I’ll take it’s quaint town atmosphere over Daytona any day. We hope to purchase a winter retirement home there in the near future to get away from these Chicago winters. Don’t spread the word too far. We don’t want too many people to know about this wonderful place!

  4. posted by
    Mar 1, 2011 Reply

    Those of us who live here know why NSB is so fantastic and altho I do appreciate your take on NSB, I wish you would keep your mouth shut. We want this place to stay exactly how it is, no newbies! (hope the sarcasm is coming across here!!)
    Fantastic take on NSB, we love you snow birds!! 🙂

  5. posted by
    Mar 1, 2011 Reply

    I can see why you love it so much. Look forward to a return visit.

  6. posted by
    Deborah Sanderson
    Mar 2, 2011 Reply

    Hi Susan! Love your posts! NSB sounds so charming. I am visiting my parents, who are snow birds in Fort Myers, over Morgan’s spring break. Wish that NSB were closer — I would go check it out!

  7. posted by
    Meegan Holland
    Mar 3, 2011 Reply

    NSB’s old Florida feel also reminds me of Anna Maria, a small town on Anna Maria Island, where Holmes Beach and Bradenton Beach are also located on the gulf near Sarasota. Bradenton Beach on the south end is touristy and lively, but as you head further north on the island, the towns transition to that old Florida vibe. No high rise condos. Just little shops, miles of beach, pier fishing and relaxation. I love it!

  8. posted by
    Mar 6, 2011 Reply

    Sounds wonderful!

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