Looking for real fun in real Florida? Go here, do this!
The new vibe in West Volusia County, Florida is bringing exciting attractions and activities to this diverse region, which encompasses 14 communities between Orlando and Daytona. While its eclectic collection of things to do keeps expanding, it is still home to the “real Florida” authenticity travelers seek. Our top 10 list includes area favorites as well as new opportunities for fun and adventure.
1. Get Your Wings On
The new Wings of the West trail features six whimsical murals by artist Erica Group and will take you to some of West Volusia’s top attractions. From the new vibe of the streets of Downtown DeLand to the living history of the Barberville Pioneer Settlement (1776 Lightfoot Lane, Barberville, FL 32105), this tour will not only give you plenty of selfie spots with amazing art, it will give you a mini tour of West Volusia, too. So, if you do nothing else, go out and find your wings!
2. Hit the Streets
In Downtown DeLand, new additions are bringing new energy to a classic Florida business district. Artisans, retailers, brewers and restaurateurs make for a lively, creative mix, that’s growing all the time. It’s also home to art galleries, live theatre and amazing museums. New lodging options are adding to the hospitality.
3. Take the Reins
At Deep Creek Stables (2270 S Co Road 3, Pierson, FL 32180), 18,000 acres of the Lake George State Forest is the setting for trail rides among the native plants and animals. Private or group rides offer up to three hours of adventure. Skeet shooting, carriage rides and riding lessons are also available.
4. Plunge into the Springs
Many come to admire the resident gentle-giant manatees or enjoy the 72-degree waters found at two of the most popular natural springs in Florida. DeLeon Springs (601 Ponce de Leon Boulevard, DeLeon Springs, FL 32130) is a favorite for swimming and snorkeling–as well as pancake-making at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill (601 Ponce Deleon Blvd, De Leon Springs, FL 32130) on-site. The beautiful Blue Spring State Park (2100 W French Avenue, Orange City FL 32763) is a designated manatee refuge and winter home of the West Indian manatee.
5. Jump Out of a Plane
Skydive DeLand (1600 Flight Line Boulevard, DeLand, FL 32724) is one of the busiest drop zones in the world! Nearly 100,000 people a year take the plunge here on tandem jumps for beginners, Accelerated Free Fall (AFF) training and advanced jumps.
6. Let the Spirit Guide You
Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp (1112 Stevens Street, Cassadaga, FL 32744) will soon be 125-years-old, but the spirit of this community is as vibrant as ever. Visitors come for readings from resident mediums, for church services, classes or just to take in the peaceful energy of the community.
7. Enjoy the Wildlife
If you’re feeling a little wild, there’s the 360-acre Lyonia Preserve (2150 Eustace Avenue, Deltona, FL 32725) scrub habitat and Environmental Center to explore. The preserve is home to Florida’s protected scrub jays and many other native species that can be seen along its trails. On a larger scale, the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge (2045 Mud Lake Road, De Leon Springs, FL 32130) encompasses 22,000 acres. Established as a migratory bird refuge, its natural habitats include marshes, swamps, creeks, hammocks and uplands.
8. Explore the Trails
Cyclists may find a Top 10 just for them! The Spring-to-Spring Trail and the East Central Rail Trail, while not complete, are two of the highlights of the impressive trail system in this region. They are both part of the larger St. Johns River to Sea Loop, which offers an amazing adventure. Cyclists, whether casual enthusiasts or die-hard trail riders, will love the access and the fabulous scenery along the way.
9. Tip Your Hat to Stetson Mansion
As the top-rated landmark attraction in all of Florida, according to Trip Advisor, this showplace is a must-see. Known as Florida’s first luxury estate, it was built in 1886 for famed hat maker John B. Stetson. The beautifully renovated private estate is open for tours (reservations required) and festive celebrations.
10. Cruise the River
The St. Johns River, Florida’s only America Heritage River, is a natural treasure, so why not get out and explore it? For a live-aboard adventure, rent a houseboat and explore on your own. Or take a guided tour, if you prefer. And if paddling is your preference, you’ve got plenty of rental options. The blue ways of West Volusia offer a welcoming immersion into the heart of this beautiful region.