If you are visiting the Daytona Beach area you are already well aware of the amazing beach the city has to offer. Whether you have visited it previously, or it will be your first time, you have at least heard just how beautiful it really is. After all, there's a reason it's referred to as "The world's most famous beach."
While you will no doubt want to spend a lot of time at the beach (and who doesn't?) there are some other great things you may want to fit in on your Daytona Beach vacation, too. The Daytona Beach area has some great places to visit, especially if you are into seeing the outdoors. Sure, these places may not be the tourist hot-spots you have heard of, but there's a great chance you won't be disappointed with them. They include some of the locals' favorites.
Here are 8 great places to visit in the Daytona Beach area you that you don't want to miss:
1. DeLeon Springs. Take a break from the beach if you are visiting during the summer time and head over one of the cool natural springs. The spring was once thought to be the "fountain of youth," and offers a chilly swim in the pristine waters. While you are there, plan to stop in the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, where you can make your own pancakes right at your table, and take a short hike back to an old tree. DeLeon Springs is around a half an hour from Daytona Beach, but worth the drive.
2. Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. It's a lot of steps to climb to reach the top of the lighthouse, but once you get there the view is amazing! Climb to the top and just enjoy the amazing view. The lighthouse is around a 15-20 minute drive from Daytona Beach.
3. Blue Spring State Park. Located in Orange City, around 30 minutes from Daytona Beach. During the summer months the park is used for swimming in the cool natural spring, where you can rent a tube to use. During the winter months it is a refuge for the manatee. You can stop by and see manatee seek warmth in the spring, sometimes 200 or more at a time. You have to arrive early in the day on a cool morning to catch a view of them all. The park also offers kayaking rentals, eco boat tours, hiking trails, diving, and more.
4. Bulow Creek State Park. This park is located in Ormond Beach, around 15 minutes north of Daytona Beach. There are beautiful hiking trails, as well as a beautiful tree called The Fairchild Oak, which is estimated to be between 300-500 years old. Even if you don't plan to take a hike it is still well worth visiting just to see the ancient tree. If you are headed here, be sure to take the whole scenic loop drive, which is beautiful and a tourist attraction on its own.
5. Marine Discovery Center. This is a great place to check out to learn more about the beach and all that inhabits it. They have touch tanks with various animals, classes, events, eco boat tours, and kayaking tours. If you can, fit in taking a kayaking tour. You won't regret it the fun experience that will be. This is located in New Smyrna Beach, around a 20 minute drive from Daytona Beach.
6. Marine Science Center. This is located in Ponce Inlet, not far from the Lighthouse. You can do both activities in one afternoon. The Marine Science Center is a great place to check out to learn about various marine animals. They do sea turtle and bird rehabilitation there, so you may be able to see some animals who are being cared for. They do periodic releases once the animals are ready to go back to their natural habitat.
7. Smyrna Dunes Park. Take a great walk on the boardwalk at the Smyrna Dunes Park. Along the walk you will see a variety of views, including the beach, scrub, and more. There are also usually numerous gopher tortoises along the way (they do not go in the water, read this). You can stop off and take a walk down to the beach, or you can sit at the picnic table halfway through the walk and just take in the beautiful view, including all the surfers. This park is located around 20 minutes from Daytona Beach.
8. Canaveral National Seashore. Not only is this place great to visit because of the history, but also because you can see what an untouched beach looks like. The beach here has no development along it, so you see the beach in its natural protected state. Plus, there are some wonderful short hikes, such as the one on Turtle Mound, where you walk a boardwalk to the top of a Native American shell mound. This entrance is located around 40 minutes from Daytona Beach. Well worth taking the drive and spending a few hours exploring, or doing that and chilling at the pristine beach there for the day.