White-sand beaches, brilliant blue skies and surfers skillfully carving ocean waves call my name anytime of the year, but the best time to experience all three in Daytona Beach? Autumn.
Now, I’m not one to knock crayon-coloured trees, cozy infinity scarves and pumpkin spice lattes, but I’m always in favour of stretching summer vibes a little longer. After the summer crowds thin, once families abandon the stunning boardwalk and summer vacationers pack up their umbrellas, head to Daytona Beach to soak up a little more sunshine. Here are 30 ways to fill your relaxed Florida days...
Get caught in festival fever
Daytona Beach is well-known for its array of entertainment. In fact, it’s even nick-named the Festival Capital of Florida. Search the events calendar before you arrive to make sure you don’t miss an awesome show.
Explore Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens
These botanical gardens are located on the historic site of English sugar mills ruins, dating back to the early 1800s. Features include native trees, cacti, a butterfly garden and a children’s garden with life-sized stone dinosaurs. There’s no admission fee to admire the plentiful plants or wander the grounds. Instead, the organization runs on volunteer power and donations.
Get your yoga on
If you want to get blissed out on the beach, don’t miss the opportunity to strike a tree-pose or sink into a deep meditation on the sand. Yoga classes on the beach happen Tuesday and Thursday evenings and Friday, Saturday and Sunday mornings. For more info: click here.
Take a brewery tour along the Daytona Beach Ale Trail
The Daytona Beach Ale Trail links fantastic beer with unique liquor and delicious food. A growing list of craft breweries and artisan spirits paired with food trucks, tapas and neighbouring restaurants makes this the ideal way to get a taste of the diverse flavours in Daytona Beach.
Attend a food truck rally
If you’ve got a hunger that can rarely be satisfied, Daytona Beach’s food trucks are here to challenge your appetite. Tomoka Brewing hosts a food truck rally at Ormond Beach every Wednesday night, and another every second Tuesday at the brewery in Port Orange.
Take a Wine Walk
Between strolling the boutiques that line the Halifax River, take a moment to toast your laid-back holiday at Wine Me on Beach Street. Daily wine specials, craft beer offerings, tapas and gourmet cheese flights are served up in this inspired space nestled into Daytona Beach's historic downtown.
Ogle vintage cars
The Daytona Beach Turkey Run is a blast from the past. Thousands of one-of-a-kind vehicles make it the largest classic car show in the U.S. Be a part of the action over American Thanksgiving weekend at the Daytona International Speedway.
Pamper yourself at the spa
Despite being known for speeding race cars, Daytona Beach is also a prime place to relax and unwind. Listen to the waves at an ocean-front spa while indulging in a day of lavish treatments. Ocean Waters Spa, AAA Four Diamond The Shores Resort & Spa and The Spa at the Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort will pamper you into utter bliss.
Cast a line
The Daytona Beach Pier, also known as the Main Street Pier, is an iconic spot to cast a line. If you don’t get any bites, head south to the Sunglow Pier for whiting, flounder and trout. Note: fishing at the Main Street Pier is free, but there are fees to fish at Sunglow.
Peer beneath the ocean
Turn your trip into an underwater adventure by snorkeling along the shore or diving some of Florida’s man-made reefs.
Immerse yourself in the arts
It’s not surprising that such a gorgeous place inspires incredible artists. At Arts on Granada, working artists showcase their creations. The Hub on the Canal features emerging artistic talent with a community focus.
Attend a poetry slam
Join the Creative Happiness Institute as they host poetry events in Daytona Beach! Whether you want to test out your own material or just sit back and listen, this is a great opportunity to meet locals and celebrate their literary accomplishments together.
Hit the trails
After the hot (or stormy) days of summer, autumn comes as a welcome relief to hikers. The ideal outdoor adventure season in Daytona Beach is October to April. Find your next trail here.
Cycle an abandoned railway
There are three prominent multi-use, bike-friendly trails close to Daytona Beach: Bike the Beach Trail, which passes through Daytona Beach, Spring-to-Spring Trail, the first developed trail in western Volusia County, and the East Central Florida Regional Rail Trail, which follows the longest abandoned railroad ever purchased in Florida.
Climb Florida’s tallest lighthouse
Climb the 203 steps to the top of Ponce Inlet Lighthouse for panoramic views across the ocean. Built in 1887, this lighthouse is a towering 175 feet tall. The onsite museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pet a stingray
Marine Science Center is an environmental hub that houses the area’s unique wildlife. Explore conservation-themed exhibits and get your hands wet meeting residents of the artificial reef aquarium.
Admire locally-inspired paintings
The world’s largest private collection of Florida paintings can be found at the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. Here, 2,600 oil and watercolour paintings feature Florida’s vibrant landscape.
Explore the Museum of Arts and Sciences
See the largest collection of Cuban arts and cultural artifacts outside of Cuba at the Museum of Arts & Sciences. Wander the unique Coca-Cola exhibit and then admire the American art collection.
Take your dog shopping
The downtown district of Daytona Beach is well-known for its impressive array of shops. Bring along your furry friend along as you wander the 60-some stores along the riverfront. Search pet-friendly accommodations here.
Go manatee spotting
The Blue State Spring Park is a designated Manatee Refuge. Home to a growing population of Indian manatees, visitors can get up close to these majestic animals on a narrated river cruise.
Learn to make old fashioned pancakes
Spend a sunny afternoon exploring DeLeon Springs State Park. Swimming spots, outdoor grills, a playground, hiking trails and historical ruins and displays comprise this green space. Afterwards, head to the Old Spanish Sugar Mill to flip your own breakfast pancakes.
Watch the sunrise
Daytona Beach is ideal for early risers. The beach faces east, making it a prime spot to soak in the early morning light. If you prefer to sleep in, west-facing riverfront dining options offer sunset views.
Crabby Joe’s Deck & Grill serves up breakfast, lunch and dinner on Sunglow Pier. Taste the salty ocean air as you dine on specialty seafood, with the waves practically nipping at your feet.
Toast Daytona Beach’s Racing History
Racing’s North Turn Beach Bar and Grill sits on the exact spot where Daytona’s famous racing history started. Plus, it’s been top-rated beach bar seven years in a row.
Dine in an elegant, speakeasy-vibe
Leave your casual clothes at home as you step back to the prohibition era at 31 Supper Club. Stay after 7 p.m. for evening entertainment and dancing.
Treat your sweet tooth
Take a free tour through Zeno’s World’s Most Famous Taffy Factory. Flavours range from cotton candy to 'sex on the beach'. Fudge, caramels and brittles are also available.
Visit a farmers' market
Daytona Beach is home to a feast of farmers' markets. Shop stalls overflowing with colourful fruits and vegetables. Once you've collected your produce, shop artisan handicrafts or find a fab deal at a flea market.
The Intracoastal Waterway is a great place to spot dolphins and manatees as you test your balance on a paddleboard. Boards and lesson can be booked with Three Brothers Paddleboards.
Have an eco-friendly adventure
Visit Cracker Creek for canoe and kayak adventures, eco-history and pontoon boat tours. All rentals are available on site. The venue can also be rented for weddings, corporate events or field trips.
Relive one of baseball’s biggest moments
In 1946, Jackie Robinson played in the first integrated Major League Baseball spring training game. Today, the same baseball park features a statue of Robinson, historical markers and an on-site museum sure to intrigue sports fans. To catch a Daytona Tortugas game, search the team schedule here.
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