Sunday, March 14, 2010

New Smyrna Saturday

After two solid days of rain in an uncharacteristically cold winter we finally had the kind of great weather our state is known for (hence the Central Florida cities named Winter Park, Winter Haven, Winter Springs and Winter Garden.) I had to make a trip to New Symrna to take photos for an article about the Turnbull colony (future post) so I got on the road as early as I could. Nothing makes me happier than a road trip – no matter how far away I'm are going, I just like to get out and discover new stuff.

About an hour away, New Smyrna is my favorite Central Florida beach town, although on this day I never got near the ocean. I spent most of the day in the historic downtown area to the west of the river.

After shooting some of the archeological sites I found New Smyrna's shuffleboard courts which appear to still be in use by the Mainland Shuffleboard club.

Next door is the New Smyrna Museum of History which was small but interesting and very helpful to my research. In addition to a new display on the Turnbull colony, they had an interesting exhibit on an attempt to re-create the Hollywood Walk of Fame in New Smyrna in the early 2oth century. This story was almost lost until the autographed concrete blocks with footprints from big stars like Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy were recently rescued from the dump!

Just beyond the museum lies the Canal Street Historic District with antique shops, great historic commercial architecture, restaurants and galleries. Here are some of my favorite sights from the area.

I found this place with wonderfully distressed type a couple blocks off Canal Street.

This re-purposed gas station is between Canal Street and the Arts on Douglas gallery.

Veterans Memorial in Riverside Park.

This mid-century modern marvel is the Volusia County Courthouse Annex.

This Art Moderne beauty houses the Chamber of Commerce.

The artwork seen here is by Harold Garde, a well known artist who splits his time between New Smyrna Beach and Maine. It is displayed in the lobby of architect Kevin Schweizer, son of Frank Lloyd Wright protege Nils Schweizer.

Apparently there is a classic car show running the length of Canal Street once a month.

My absolute favorite place on Canal Street is Little Drugs because of its original soda fountain. Here's a little history from their website: "Little Drug Company, Inc has a long and illustrious history since its beginning in 1920. That was the year Bush-Little Drug Company opened on the northern end of Canal Street. In 1922 Mr. Little bought the business from Mrs. Bush and it became Little Drug Company, relocating to 501 Canal Street. In November of 1965 Little Drug moved across the street to the former Victoria Theater building where it is currently located."

While the food is pretty standard, the milkshakes are the great old fashioned kind, made by hand, served with chocolate syrup and then they give you whats left over in the metal mixing cup. Very few places are left like this in Florida and a milkshake here alone is worth the hour drive over.

Just outside of the historic area, this giant can of paint with a brush on top is located on US 1.


  1. What a great place. Love that folk-art Shell service man... he looks like the robot from "The Day The Earth Stood Still." Your posts are always great and make me want to visit these cool Fla. places.

  2. mmm you've got me craving a milk shake, or a frappe as we'd call 'em when I was back up in Boston! What a great day for a roadtrip, some great finds!