|Canaveral National Sea Shore|
Although I grew up just a stone’s throw from the beach once my family actually relocated to the area we very rarely went. When we did, we generally went to New Smyrna Beach, where at the time a $20 sticker got you on the beach all year long. Only on a handful of occasions can I actually remember going to as we used to refer to it: “The Paid Beach”.
I can remember as a young adult, my sister packed me and her friends into her old car and we went to go check it out. Now the admission fee is $5 per carload which still isn’t all that bad for admission to anything now adays. As a young person I sort though this was boring, but something stirred deep in my memory. There was some sort of old abandoned house that was fenced off, spooky looking, and thought we probably shouldn’t have been there. So now as an adult, my son and I had some spare time and were looking for an adventure. I figured we would go checkout Canaveral national Seashore and see what it’s really all about.
An Exciting Adventure Form My Childhood Memories!
|One Of The Canoe/Kayak Launches|
So that’s just what we did! I packed his diaper bag and off we went for a bit of afternoon fun and excitement. We decided to adventure out from the New Smyrna Beach side of the park as we did when we were kids. After what seemed like an endless trip down A1A with nothing but beach houses, we finally made it to the ranger station entry. After paying a quick $5 (and yes they now accept credit cards), I asked the Ranger about an old house that used to be there. He instantly knew what I was talking about! It turns out that we were actually encouraged to go visit it!
Now riding through the park, we passed a brand new visitor’s center. We passed it because half the fun of an adventure is not knowing where you are going right? On the way to what is actually called the Eldora House, there were multiple little parking lots made specifically for people who wanted to launch canoes or kayaks to experience the Indian River. These little nooks and crannies are actually the flip side of the paddling trail that I discovered while visiting Riverbreeze Park in Oak Hill awhile back. It was a Saturday afternoon and the place almost look deserted! Beautiful weather though, I was surprised that no one was out on the water.
The Eldora House
So as I drove and my toddler son sorta just looked around, we discovered the parking lot for the Eldora House. There were restrooms in this area, but be forewarned, there was no baby changing table in the men’s room, and no running water. While it was certainly clean, it was a step above a port-a-let. I was reduced to risking stains on my backseat to change the little guy.
|The Eldora House Restored|
After a NASCAR style pit stop in my back seat for him we set off down a small trail to the Eldora House. I expected to find a historical site that was filled with spooky stuff and was thinking it would be more like a Scooby Doo episode, but was actually quite pleased to find that The house had been fully restored in the 15 year time frame since my last visit. Inside we found a very warm and welcoming place complete with a park ranger to fill us in on the little tid-bits about the park. We also found out that there was no natural water this far out on the peninsula, so that’s why they had the funny toilets. In the Eldora House you’ll find a few artifacts, a short video about the Eldora family and what was grown and shipped up and down the Indian River. I won’t spoil the history for you but it was actually quite interesting.
When we decided to go, there was a fishing dock located just on the outskirts of the Eldora House location. We walked out and were treated to a spectacular view of the Indian River and the shallow waters, and mangrove back waters. It was calm, serene, and many of the folks fishing told me that they generally had pretty good luck from this little fishing hole. Remember you need a fishing license to cast a line here. Despite being a National Park, I did see a sign stating that they observed all state laws within the park.
|The Eldora Fishing Dock|
For the brief walk back to the car, I decided to take the boy through a nature trail. Although he is still very young, he really seemed excited to be walking through low palm bushes, and seemed to get a kick out of the fact we were in the middle of no where. I have to remember that this is a new experience for him. He had never really been out in the wild before. Thinking back, it may not have been such a great idea considering that critter and bugs could have been in the woods, but I suppose he needs to be exposed to this at some point anyway.
Which Way To The Beach?
We got back into the car and decided to check out the beach. We went all the way down to the end of the park, only to find that the beach parking was absolutely crammed with people! Not only were there no parking spots available, a few people were arguing over who got to park and where. The last thing I wanted for the day was drama, so we went off to the next beach parking area. I did hear a few of the locals chuckling that the arguments over parking were a regular occurrence, and could actually be quite entertaining at times.
We had to go to the very first parking area near the Ranger Station until we could actually get out and park the car for a quick walk to the beach, but it was worth it. I unloaded the little man and saw lots of people enjoying a warm sunny day. We didn’t go to far out on the beach, but again my little guy lit up when he saw the waves and felt the breeze. If you bring a boat load of people, just remember that you must lug all of your beach gear to the sand. Not too big of a deal really, but if you have a bunch of stuff this could be a bit of a pain. I saw quite a few of the locals with fishing style carts to drag their coolers and gear.
The Welcome Center
Well now that I thought we had seen everything, I decided to check out the welcome center. I know it’s really in reverse, but thought I should at least check it out. I’m glad I did because I found out that there was quite a bit more to the park that we had missed. Throughout the park there are many hiking trails, and even tent camping on the river and on the beach! When my boy gets old enough we are definitely coming back for some beach overnights! I was also able to find out more about the paddle trail. It turns out that all throughout the mangrove shallow waters, there are camping and recreation sites that are only accessible via canoe or kayak. Spots must be reserved, and you can book 7 days in advance. The fees were reasonable, around $15 a night I believe, but would provide a great adventure right on the water!
We also noticed an official looking pontoon boat near the visitor’s center, and it turns out that there are guided nature cruises that launch from the location twice daily. The price was around $40 a person which I though was a bit steep, but thought it might be an adventure saved for another day.
|View From Turtle Mound|
Before we left for the day we went to check out Turtle Mound where native Indians used to discard the shells of their food years ago. At first I didn’t really see the big deal, but once we got on the little board walk area, I was delighted to see that a long twisty and windy boardwalk actually brought us straight to the top of the mound. What I though made it very unique is that as we climbed up into the air, the entire thing appears to be handicapped accessible. There were no steps, just a gradual incline. Once we got to the top there were breath taking views of both the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. There was quite a bit of nature to see along the walkway, and by little guy got to see butter flies for the first time.
Winter: 6:00 am to 6:00 pm
Summer: 6:00 am to 8:00 pm
Eldora Statehouse Hours:
Friday, Saturday & Sunday, from 12:00pm to 4:00pm.
The phone number is (386) 428-3384.
Address to load into your GPS (NSB SIDE):
7611 S. Atlantic Avenue, New Smyrna Beach, Florida
The phone number is (321) 267-1110 for the park headquarters in Titusville.
Admission $5 Per Vehicle
Annual Pass Available for $80
Senior Annual Pass (62 or older) $10
Pass For People With Permanent Disabilities FREE
More Info On Annual Passes
View FrugalFloridaFun.com in a larger map
I was pleased to find such an inexpensive natural resource so close to home. While there was no playground for little kids, I discovered that there were all sorts of things to do and explore. I found it to be a great day trip for us, and thought that the $5 admission was quite reasonable. If you plan on going often, you can actually purchase an annual pass which lets you into any of the state parks. I didn’t do much research on this as we were just heading out for the day, but when my boy gets old enough, I can certainly see us heading out that way quite often, whether it be via boat or car!
The only negative things I can really say are that so far at this location, I didn’t really notice any pavilions or grilling areas with the exception of at the visitor’s center. I suppose this really isn’t that big of a deal, but I would suggest packing a deli style lunch.
It’s also important to note that this location has multiple entrances. You can get to Canaveral national Seashore from New Smyrna Beach or Titusville, and they are considered the same park, but the roads do not connect. (Meaning you cannot get from one side to the other via automobile) One day we’ll check out the seashore from the south side and let you know what’s down there!