Blend some outdoor recreation with historical discovery at New Smyrna Beach. Regarded as the second oldest city in North America, this Florida town offers an glimpse of the area’s colorful past. Visit the Old Fort Park and wander around ancient Spanish ruins and remnants of an enormous shell mound. Explore beyond the beach and immerse yourself in the quiet historical attractions which abound in the New Smyrna area.
The Turtle Mound is the tallest known shell mound in the United States. Lace up a pair of comfortable tennis shoes and traverse the nearly two acres of ground which serve as a base for the 600 foot long mound of Coquina shells. Archeologists believe the mound once stood over 75 feet tall. Step back in time and imagine Spanish ship captains using the glistening mound to navigate through the sea during the 1600’s. Florida’s first residents, the Seminole Indian Tribe once pushed their canoes into the water from the mound’s base. Through the continued washing of shells onto the shore, the mound took the shape of a turtle – hence the name.
Embark on a journey along the wooden boardwalk leading to the crest of the Turtle Mound. Don’t forget to pack your camera and snap panoramic images o the Mosquito Lagoon, Merritt Island, the Indian River and the breaking waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Centuries old estuaries dot the landscape near the mound, attracting dozens of varieties of native Florida birds.
A walking trail lined with tropical plants leads you to the adjacent Trumbull Ruins. Climb up a set of stairs created in part by sea shells and relax amid tall oak trees which offer shade from the hot Florida sunshine. The sea wall built primarily from shells was erected by immigrants from Greece for protection surges of the Indian River. While standing along the top of the shell wall vintage architecture of local homes, churches and historic city buildings. Each February the ruins come to life during the Art Fiesta which showcases works from local artisans. The popularity of the festival made New Smyrna’s ever expanding artist colony a feather in the cap of Florida’s cultural scene.
During the early years of the nineteenth century, the Seminoles and the United States army entered into a bloody season of skirmishes near the town’s sugar mill. During a particularly intense battle, the buildings which encompassed the 17 acre complex were riddled with bullets and burned. A once prosperous endeavor for the the town was reduced to rubble. Today, visitors to the Sugar Mill Ruins can walk around the somewhat eery site and witness the crumbling archways, moss covered sugar press and mill vats and past the still intact sugar mill bell. Historians believe one of the mill buildings was utilized as a Spanish mission during the 1600’s. The Sugar Mill Ruins are listed on the United States National Register of Historic Places.
Step off the beaten path while vacationing in New Smyrna and allow the whispers of the past to envelop your senses. Feel like a child again as you find your way through “secret” gardens and walk in the footsteps of pirates.