Did you know Florida has 825 miles of accessible beaches and is known for its fishing and boating all around the world? That means Florida has something for everyone to enjoy.
When you think of Florida vacation ideas do you think pricey and unaffordable? This is a common thought but there are actually a lot of free and inexpensive activities to do on the east coast of Florida. If you spend more time before your vacation planning and researching, your trip can be more affordable and enjoyable.
Planning a vacation can be challenging and expensive. But there are a few tips and tricks that we are going to share with you so you don’t have to stress about money on your trip. Keep reading to learn about affordable Florida vacation ideas.
Tips for an Affordable Trip to Florida
When planning your trip to New Smyrna there are a few things to keep in mind when setting your budget. Airfare, ground transportation, food, activities, shopping, and housing rentals.
One of the easiest expenses to cut out is shopping. Local shops are fun to browse around, especially if happens to rain in the afternoon but buying lots of souvenirs and clothes is costly. In tourist towns, prices are usually higher for basic items like t-shirts and flip-flops.
One of the most expensive parts of vacation is the airfare. There are a few things you can do to save on flights. Book in advance, last-minute tickets are usually pretty pricey.
There are apps that will also track flight prices for you. After you download the app you can set up notifications. You will get an alert when flight prices change and it will advise you when it’s the best time to buy.
Flying on weekdays tends to be more affordable than on the weekends as well. The time of the flight can also determine the price.
While flying in late at night or early in the morning might not be ideal it can be less expensive. The redeye is a great option if you’re looking for cheap flights.
Bonus Tip: Purchasing airline points to pay for the flight is sometimes cheaper than buying it outright. For example: If your flight cost $500 or 1000 points, the 1000 points might be for sale on the airline’s website for $450. Then you just saved $50.
Baggage fees add up quickly too. Look for airlines that offer free carry-ons and pack as light as you can.
Baby Gear and Rentals
If you have a young child, traveling and packing light might be challenging. Instead of paying to bring your car seat and stroller, rent one when you get your vacation rental. Maybe you forgot to pack something or need a crib for the week.
While there isn’t a rental shop in New Smyrna, you can reserve what you need in advance, and it will be delivered to you with no extra fee. They have everything from baby gates, to high chairs, to playpens. Sandy Andy’s Baby & Beach Rentals want you to have a restful and fun vacation, so they will also pick it up so you don’t have to worry about loading it into your car or taxi.
New Smyrna Beach Rentals
There are so many beach rental options, that it can be overwhelming. Knowing exactly what you need and want will help you narrow it down. Start with the room number, do you need 1 or 2 rooms? Maybe you are having extended family or friends come with you and you need 5 or 6 rooms.
Traveling on a budget may mean you have to sacrifice an oceanfront view, but don’t worry, there are properties with ocean views too. If you need a pet-friendly rental we’ve got you covered.
The best way to find good deals on a rental is to call and ask! Great Ocean Condos and Homes is frequently running vacation promotions.
1. Sight Seeing New Smyrna Landmarks and Activities
New Smyrna is a quiet beach town but don’t be mistaken, there are plenty of fun things to do. The Flagler Avenue sign is a popular place for photos. It is located at public beach access so after your photo op you can stroll down to the sand to watch the sunset.
Another notable spot is the Lifeguard Tower. It’s on Buenos Aires Street and the perfect place to set your tent up for a relaxing day in the sun.
You’ll want to take a bike ride around the charming town and stop at the local stores and restaurants. If you are a morning person you might even want to get up early one morning and take a ride on down the beach.
Finding a bike rental store doesn’t have to be hard. In fact, you can rent a bike for your week-long vacation for $75 and have it delivered to the front door of your Florida rental.
Have you ever heard of a wine walk? Every Saturday on Flagler Avenue you can sign up for the local wine walk. There are 100 different wines to choose from and you’ll receive a refillable souvenir cup that you’ll use along the way.
It has a $30 entry fee, which includes 20 different tastings and multiple venues. To state the obvious, this activity isn’t for kids but it’s perfect for a day date with your partner.
Kennedy Space Center
The Kennedy Space Center is iconic and it’s only an hour away from New Smyrna Beach. We recommend you get there early so you can have a full day exploring. Many days there are astronauts on-site for meet and greets and taking pictures with people.
Check the schedule on the center’s website to see the launch schedule too. They offer military and senior discounts. You can see historical launch sites and learn about the shuttles and what’s coming in the future.
They also offer summer camps for children who are interested. You’ll get the opportunity to buy souvenirs and space gear at the center too.
2. Kayak Tour for the Whole Family
Kayaking tours are a popular activity in New Smyrna. There is so much wildlife and aquatic plants that you’ll miss seeing if you opted out.
Taking a guided tour costs a little more but you’ll get to see secret local spots and learn some amazing things about the land you’re visiting. There is an $18 discount if you bring a kayak, otherwise, it is $38 for adults and $20 for children ages 6-12.
The Marine Center is a great stop to make. There are tons of activities for all ages including a workshop class, a butterfly farm, and a play place for smaller children. There is also a free museum that will give you a chance to see some aquatic species.
3. Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is only a 30-minute drive from New Smyrna and it makes for the perfect day trip. If you or anyone in your group love to fish this might be the spot for you. Many tourists love to fish off the side of the pier and you will likely see dolphins.
In the summer months, the boardwalk is a great place to take your young children as there are lots of rides and arcade games set up. If you are looking for a unique experience check out the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory.
You can take a self-guided tour for free and receive a free sample. It has free parking and is wheelchair accessible. If you don’t have young children consider going to a NASCAR race or horseback riding on the beach.
4. Smyrna Sand Dunes
Located on the north end of New Smyrna Beach are the famous sand dunes. This is a fantastic place to go on Florida summer vacations.
It’s budget-friendly, only $10 to park your car for the day. There is a military and veteran discount.
It is a 2.4-mile loop and the best part is it’s wheelchair accessible. There are only a few parts that aren’t and it’s by the beach and some rocky inlets.
Is it pet friendly? Yes, there is a dog beach and they are allowed on the boardwalk until 10:00 am. Even if you don’t plan to bring your furry friend it’s a good idea to arrive early as the parking lot fills up quickly.
Surfing and Paddle Boarding
Learning to surf seems intimidating but after a lesson or two, you’ll feel like a pro. Surfin’ NSB offers individual and group lessons which include a rental board. If you already know how to surf you can rent a board, there are so many great locations in New Smyrna so you won’t have difficulty finding a spot.
If you aren’t interested in surfing there is another option that doesn’t require anything other than a quick 15-minute tutorial. If you’ve never paddle boarded before you should consider adding it to your itinerary. There are a few companies in New Smyrna that you can choose from and they will all get you set up with the right equipment.
This is a great family activity, it doesn’t require you to have any previous experience. You’ll get to a safety demonstration and then you’ll be able to explore the coast. New Smyrna Stand Up has rental options for one or two hours or you can rent one all day and their prices start at $35.
5. Orlando Parks
What is a Florida vacation without visiting the happiest place on earth? Orlando will be about an hour and a half drive from your New Smyrna Beach rental. The most affordable park and the most kid-friendly is Sea World, there are tons of marine life to learn about and some rides that are enjoyable for all ages.
Disney’s four famous parks have something for everyone, from Cinderella’s castle to great food and drinks and even live performances. There is an option to get a pass for all four parks so you can enjoy a little bit of each one.
Universal Studios is another theme park in Orlando. It’s for adrenaline seekers as it has much more thrilling roller coasters.
Disney Springs is another great choice if you want to be around the magic but don’t want to spend money on the passes. There are more than 100 shops to go to and over 60 restaurants. There are experiences like bowling, balloon rides, live music and shows, and so much more.
Car Rentals and Ground Transportation
Daytona Beach airport (DAB) and Orlando Airport (ORL) are the two biggest airports near New Smyrna and they are both less than 50 miles away. Based on your vacation plans you may want to get a rental car. This will allow you to take day trips more conveniently.
Taxis to and from the airport could be prices but if you only plan to stay in New Smyrna for the week you may not need a car. Once you are in town you’ll be able to rent bikes and ride to the store and restaurants.
If you know in advance you want to rent a car do your research before you land. Similar to flights early booking could mean more savings. As always ask if they are running any specials or discounts.
If you are traveling in the offseason, which we will talk more about later, last-minute booking might be something to consider. It comes with risks but if the rental company is trying to get as many vehicles out on the road as possible they might have a good deal. However, you could end up paying more, or you might not have a wide selection of cars to choose from.
6. St. Augustine and De Leon Springs
St. Augustine is a beautiful historical city. There is a lot to learn from the old forts and the city even has the oldest wooden school building. They have great restaurants for all the foodies out there.
This city is located about 1.5 hours north of New Smyrna. A city bike tour is a great way to see the city in a short amount of time. The beaches also draw a lot of people there every year.
If you are a water lover then consider making an hour drive south of Florida vacation rental to De Leon Springs. It has crystal clear water and it’s the perfect place to cool off. There are boat tours and walking trails all around so if aren’t a fan of swimming there are options.
The Disappearing Islands
The disappearing islands are a unique part of Florida’s nature that not many people, even Florida natives, haven’t gotten to experience. And they aren’t far from your New Smyrna Beach rental.
This is a trip you don’t want to miss but be advised this is not a place for relaxation and peace. These “islands” can get pretty busy on the weekend.
At low tide, the islands or large sandbars are visible and allow visitors to come to enjoy its beauty. At high tide, the islands disappear.
Reaching these islands does require a bit of research. You’ll need to look up the tide charts and that will tell you when you can start your journey out. It will also tell you when the islands will go back underwater.
The waves are not rough so it is child friendly. However, being around water does require extra attention when it comes to children.
The disappearing islands can only be reached by boat. It is not advised that you kayak as there is a lot of boat traffic and it’s not a good idea to attempt to swim there. Renting a boat is the best option and there are a few ramps you can drop your boat in the water.
North Causeway boat ramp in New Smyrna Beach is a great place to start and you’ll get to see lots of nature and wildlife on your way to the islands. Remember to pack lots of water and snacks, once you get there you won’t have access to restaurants until you return.
7. Full Moon Light House Climb
One of our favorite Florida vacation ideas is the moonlit lighthouse climb. Once a month there is a tour to the top of the Ponce Inlet lighthouse, where the lighthouse keepers teach you about its history. The tour is kid-friendly and has a limit of 15 people per trip.
It’s $35 per person and they list the schedule for the full months on their website so you plan your trip in advance. If those dates don’t work with your schedule, don’t worry there are many more activities to do.
The lighthouse museum admission is about $7.00 a person. You will receive a pamphlet for a self-guided tour that will give you a rundown of the grounds and tell you all about the history. There are also group tours.
In addition, the museum offers other workshops for children and adults alike. Many of these events and activities do not have extra fees.
There are many, many parks around the Ponce Inlet. Some are even dog-friendly. You can read about the different historical parks on their website and find the one that piques your interest the most.
Local Shopping, Meals, and Restaurants
After lodging and airfare, food will probably be your biggest expense especially if you are feeding a big crowd. To help the food budget stay under control stock up at the grocery store at the beginning of your trip. Cooking even just one meal or two meals a day at your rental will save a considerable amount of money.
Our New Smyrna Beach vacation rentals come with a fully stocked kitchen so you’ll have all the applications you need. On Saturday mornings on Canal Street, there is a farmer’s market with fresh produce, baked goods, and flowers.
This will be a great way to get some fresh groceries and support the locals. Look around your rental they might have reusable bags for you to use too. If you have room in your budget, eating at non-chain restaurants and trying local coffee shops is an easy way to support the local community.
Off-Season and Last Minute Deals
Traveling in the off-season can help keep you within your budget. Flights and rentals tend to be cheaper during the slow season. However, some activities may not be available.
If you’ve decided to do a spur-of-the-moment trip check out our last-minute deals. Many vacation rentals are listed on third-party sites, but you save money when you book directly through Great Ocean Condos and Homes.
Florida Vacation Ideas
Do you ever feel you need a vacation from planning your vacation? Making an itinerary, booking tickets and events, and budgeting is a big feat. If you are planning for a large group then you also have to make sure there is something for everyone to enjoy.
The good news is New Smyrna Beach has something for everyone. As you can see, we have a lot of Florida vacation ideas.
If you’re looking for a week full of fun and new experiences or if you’re looking to relax by the ocean, Florida’s got it. Ready to book your Florida beach vacation? Make vacation plans with Great Ocean Condos and Homes.