This Florida Town Has 17 Miles of White-sand Beach and Some of the Best Surfing in the U.S.

It's home to a thriving arts scene, including a gallery dedicated to Bob Ross.

<p>Xianghong Garrison/Getty Images</p>

Xianghong Garrison/Getty Images

Florida’s Atlantic coast is lined with beaches, but one beach community is making waves (literally) for its stellar surfing and largely unspoiled natural beauty. New Smyrna Beach has 17 miles of white-sand coastline that sees “the most consistent surf break in Florida, if not the entire East Coast,” according to surf report site Magic Seaweed.

But beyond the consistent surf and sandy shore found on its eastern edge, New Smyrna Beach has a lot to offer. (The charming town is less than an hour from Orlando.) Artists flock to the area for its galleries, theaters, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts, an artists-in-residence community and educational facility.

The artist enclave was even home to the late painter Bob Ross, who opened the Bob Ross Art Workshop in town. The workshop remains open in its original location today, and those interested in Ross’ iconic “wet-on-wet” style of painting can train at the facility. It also has a gallery of Ross’s original oil paintings — some of which were featured in his television series, The Joy of Painting.

<p>Getty Image</p>

Getty Image

The diverse landscape of New Smyrna lends itself to the artist workshops, which focus on painting seascapes, flowers, and wildlife. In addition to its expansive beach, New Smyrna is just north of the island-bound Canaveral National Seashore, which is great for bird-watching and is a popular place for sea turtles to lay their eggs.

Meanwhile, the community’s Marine Discovery Center offers insight into the Indian River Lagoon Preserve State Park, the most biologically diverse estuary in North America. It is home to more than 4,000 species, including manatees and dolphins. The sloping sandy hills and long beaches of Smyrna Dunes Park round out the area’s natural offerings and provide frequent sightings of the gopher tortoise, which is only found in the southeast.

New Smyrna also has a handful of historical and cultural sites, including the Turnbull Ruins, the Sugar Mill Ruins, and the 175-foot Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, which is the tallest lighthouse in Florida. And food lovers will find their fix among the waterfront restaurants serving fresh seafood — you can even bring in the day’s catch for them to cook.

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