Outdoor Discovery

You don’t have to be taking a boat or kayak tour, participating in a naturalist class or public lecture, or attending an education program to enjoy a visit to the Marine Discovery Center. We have those…and so much more!

Admission to our facility & grounds is FREE!
Tours, education programs, and other special events have associated fees.

Our Welcome Center hours are:
Mon – Fri  |  9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Sat & Sun  |  9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
(check our calendar for boat & kayak tour times)


Explore our beautiful gardens and learn more about native plants and pollinators. First, take a stroll through the Native Wildflower Garden, made possible through a grant from the  Florida Wildflower Foundation. Next, visit the beautiful Butterfly Garden, built by the New Smyrna Beach Men’s Garden Club. This landscape features native plants to attract butterflies as well as a relaxing shaded seating area for you butterfly viewing. It also features a cedar pergola built by a local eagle scout! Head back towards our kayak launch to encounter our Plants for Birds Garden, created in cooperation with Southeast Volusia Audubon Society. Have a look up to see purple martin nesting gourds! Pamphlets about our gardens’ native plants are available for your use.

Nature Playscape

Our nature playscape, Cuda Cove, offers kids and adults the perfect play area to explore nature. It is conveniently located near our outdoor seating areas so parents can watch their kids discover amazing while relaxing in the shade. 

Fitness Stations

Accomplish your workout goals in the beautiful outdoors with our fun and functional fitness stations! Located next to our Nature Playscape so parents can get their exercise while the kiddos get theirs.

Salt Marsh and Kayak Launch

A 5-acre restored salt marsh on the Marine Discovery Center property features a nursery full of animals including birds, fish, invertebrates, mangroves, and marsh grasses as well as the launch point for our guided kayak tours. Explore the marsh and living shoreline demo area through walking trails and educational signs. This site is open to the public 24/7.

Hunter Amphitheater

Opened in 2019, Hunter Amphitheater sits adjacent to our salt marsh – making for beautiful views – and plays host to special events like informative presentations and movie and music programs. Exploring the campus when no events are going on? You can venture onstage to play, reflect, and explore as you wind through the path of the Labyrinth to the center and back out. You can even become a permanent part of our amphitheater and help support our programs by Buying A Brick

Mount Morgan

Continue along the walking path from the salt marsh and amphitheater up Mount Morgan for a wonderful view of New Smyrna Beach and beyond. Listen and look for all sorts of life coming from the surrounding marsh and mangrove forests. You can even spot the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse from the top!


Back at the MDC building you can take a break under the shade of our covered pavilion. We share this pavilion with our neighbors, Artists’ Workshop NSB, and it is utilized by both organizations for a number of special events.

Community Compost

Located in the staff parking area north of our Welcome Center building, our community compost bins are a great way to reduce your footprint and improve your gardens . . . for FREE! Drop your fruit & veggie scraps, coffee grounds, paper coffee filters, paper tea bags, and other compostable items into Bin #1, and bring a container to fill with finished compost from Bin #3! A big thanks to Lindley’s Garden Center and to these local businesses for their continued contributions to our compost: Mason Bar | Botanical House NSB | Lilly Rose Cafe | Island Roasters Coffee Company. Click here for a map of our bin location . . .

Public Recreation

Recreational activities are permitted on the Marine Discovery property, such as fishing, kayaking, paddle boarding, cast netting, dog-walking etc. Our kayak launch is open for public use, and we have a planned second launch coming to our West parking area shoreline as part of a habitat restoration project. Please follow all signs and posts while using the MDC property for recreational activities. All dogs must remain leashed while on our property; please pick up after your dog.

Our Mission:

"To protect and restore Florida's coastal and Indian River Lagoon ecosystems
through education, research and community stewardship."