At some point we enter a phase in our life that pushes us to the brink; I have entered that phase in my life. When the realization of this hit me I decided to treat myself to a day trip to New Smyrna Beach. After all, NSB is branded as being “the beach where Floridians go” and I could use a little salt air therapy.
I packed up Blue Jean Baby, with Dodger the Dog excitedly pacing in the backseat, tuned to Radio Margaritaville, and hit I-4 East. I love hitting the road on the weekends, ready to explore. The journey is often as much fun as the destination itself.
Once off I-4, the road to New Smyrna Beach is unrecognizable as a typical “road to the beach.” The road is lined with pencil thin pine trees. Small ranch style homes and rustic farms don’t set a tropical tone. Yet, this is a common site in Florida. It’s not all palm trees and theme parks, ya know.
Prior to venturing off to NSB I looked up information about pet-friendly beaches and establishments. Smyrna Dunes Park is dog friendly and I couldn’t wait to have my first experience with bringing Dodger to a busy beach. Considering it was a holiday week, Smyrna Dunes Park was PACKED. The line to park ($10) was backed up into street. After watching half the cars turn around I followed suit.
Smyrna Dunes Park
2995 N Peninsula Ave
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32169
I headed back up Peninsula Ave and found a small, free parking lot near the intersection of Sapphire Road and Peninsula. Along the way I passed Grayce Kenemer Barck North Beach Community Park. This park is actually a little cluster of boardwalks through the shallow woods and seagrape groves that border the beach. As a new dog owner I have quickly learned to keep an eye out for doggy waste bags and trash cans so that I know if a park is dog friendly. Sure enough this park showed the signs that dogs are welcome, so Dodger and I went exploring along the boardwalk.
After a brief stroll I could no longer resist the call of the ocean. Hesitantly, with Dodger in tow, I approached the beach. Cars made a solid line along the shore. Chairs, umbrellas, canopies, people everywhere. Scanning the shoreline I saw that no one else had a four legged companion and thus I would have to smuggle mine.
Since it was just Dodger and I there wasn’t much reason to join the crowd so I found a little spot right next to the boardwalk. Setting up shop (what little of it one person and her dog needs) I breathed a little sigh of relief. I made it. The sand in my toes, the sound of waves crashing, the call of seagulls, the grace and humor of pelicans flying overhead, it all felt…….right. I hid Dodger right next to me, in the shade of the boardwalk. He lapped at his water bowl and grinned at the few observant beach goers who actually spotted him.
We didn’t stay long, but it was enough to give me my needed beach fix. It was time to take Dodger to enjoy some dog-friendly dining. A short 7 minute drive from the beach to the channel, passing many cute homes, lead me to Dolphin View. Located in a marina, Dolphin View is a very casual place that offers oceanside dining as well as dinner cruises.
Walking up to the counter to order I grew a little weary. The prices were $3-$5 more than I would have anticipated based on the casual atmosphere (see menu). I did, however, appreciate the free dog treats available. I selected the Flounder and Rice ($8.99 – not a bad deal) but wanted some veggies too so I added a side salad ($2.99). I felt this was one of the more economical options.
I enjoyed sitting along the water, letting Dodger sniff the salty air. A few smaller vessels drifted past on the water. After about 10 minutes my food was delivered. The flounder was a bit salty, which is often a challenge with blackened style seasoning. The rice was dry and there was a ton of it. I found that if I broke the fish up and mixed it with a generous amount of rice, the saltiness was less overpowering. The serving size of the salad was pretty substantial. It was a little difficult to enjoy simply because I kept one hand on Dodger’s leash most of the time.
Overall I’d like to venture off to a few more dog-friendly destinations in NSB to see how Dolphin View stacks up. It was a nice enough place, but not impressive enough to make me want to return sooner than later.
107 N Riverside Drive
New Smyrna Beach, FL 32168
While my day trip to NSB had a few speedbumps, a bad day at the beach is better than a good day any place else (usually). I am glad I made the hour drive from Central Florida to the coast and will definitely do so again, hopefully soon.