Hop in the car and hit the highway headed northeast from Orlando to New Smyrna Beach where a gem of a bed and breakfast awaits only 60 minutes away. The Black Dolphin Inn, a boutique-style inn overlooking the Indian River in New Smyrna Beach’s Historical District, began as a quaint, single-family home perched on the south side of upscale Riverside Drive.

But thanks to the design and décor genius of owners Scott and Brett Smith (identical twin brothers), the circa 1947 Spanish-style abode is now a 14-room inn laced with a chic, beach aesthetic that is both sophisticated and cozy at the same time.

black dolphin inn terrace viewWith an idyllic waterfront locale and private dock lined with Adirondack chairs, the Black Dolphin Inn boasts sweeping picturesque views from most of the guest rooms, all of which are uniquely designed and furnished. Most rooms have a balcony or terrace perfect for enjoying the coastal air and vistas.

Breakfast, snacks and wine/beer are served in a beautifully decorated common space that’s splashed with color and drenched in natural light. Just beyond, a back courtyard and front porch lounge provide more space to chill out.

On weekends, the chef whips up a full, “Southern style” breakfast with a slightly more modest offering on weekday mornings. Breakfast is included in the nightly rate, which starts at $129/night in the off season and $179/night during high season.

During a recent stay, we were in a bay front room, which opened to a lovely shared terrace with spectacular water views. Rooms at this award-winning, 4-star property are all decked out with the latest in digital gear, Aveda bath and body products and even a pair of binoculars so guests can scan the water for the dolphins that frequent these waters.

spanish river grillWhere to Eat
Marc and I dined at Spanish River Grill, the sister restaurant to Txokos in Orlando. Both are spearheaded by chef Henry Salgado (James Beard nominated), but unlike Txokos, which opened this year, Spanish River Grill has 15 years under its belt. For other dining options, I can tell you that both The Garlic and Norwood’s were highly praised by some of the guests we chatted with over breakfast.

As the name suggests, Spanish fare takes center stage and it's bolstered by local seafood and a kaleidoscope of fresh herbs and secret spices. Our selections—ceviche, a grilled wedge, yuca crusted mahi and the grilled local ribeye—were all excellent. But dessert—a chocolate bread pudding served warm and dripping with vanilla ice cream, bourbon caramel and kahlua chocolate—took the meal to a whole other level. Oh, and it needs to be mentioned that the service was absolutely fantastic. I wish this stellar spot was closer to Orlando so we could go more often.

spa at riverview
The Spa at Riverview

Things to Do
Of course, the beach is just a few miles away from the Inn, but so are Canal Street and Flagler Avenue, both of which are lined with fun shops and cafes perfect for exploring on days too cool for an ocean dip.

I’d also recommend heading to The Spa at the Riverview for side-by-side massages in a romantic couple’s suite, followed by a swim in the two waterfall doused pools in the petite outdoor terrace.

Do This Getaway!
For couples looking for an easy getaway, somewhere close but special and not too, too expensive, the Black Dolphin Inn is a superb option. Especially for those times when you only have one night to escape, New Smyrna serves up an away-from-it-all getaway just an hour away.

black dolphin inn common space
The common area at the Black Dolphin Inn is where guests gather for breakfast, which is cooked in the open kitchen.

black dolphin inn dock2
Guests get full use of the inn's private dock, a wonderful spot to sip some wine and watch the pelicans drift by.

black dolphin inn dock
Manatee, dolphin and sea turtle sightings are commonplace at the inn.

black dolphin inn our room
Our lovely bay front room had a huge, free-standing bath tub in its center.

black dolphin inn exterior
The Spanish-style architecture gives the inn a romantic vibe.

black dolphin inn exterior from dock
The view of the inn from the private dock gives guests a great vantage point from which to admire the charming architecture.

yellow dog eats
Yellow Dog Eats, the much-loved Gotha restaurant, debuted a second location on Canal Street in New Smyrna earlier this year.

canal street antques
Lots of fun antique shops and one-off boutiques line Canal Street, which is very walkable.