Outdoor experiences in Greater Daytona extend far beyond the beach.
Greater Daytona is known for speeding race cars and crashing waves, but the region offers plenty of other outdoor experiences, from numerous natural attractions to traditional sports like golf and tennis. Here are a dozen options to get you started:
1. See the Lighthouse
Only pedestrians and wildlife are allowed at Lighthouse Point Park, a 52-acre beach preserve in Ponce Inlet just south of Daytona Beach. In addition to the dolphins that often can be seen swimming just offshore, the park is filled with tortoises, armadillos and a wide variety of shorebirds.
2. The Birthplace of Speed
Before Daytona or Indianapolis, there was Ormond Beach. Auto races were first held on the smooth, hard sands of the beach in 1903, and the area quickly became a proving ground for automobile inventors and drivers. This history is commemorated at the oceanfront Birthplace of Speed Park at the site of the original Ormond Garage.
3. Fun with Fido
Let your furry friends run free at the Halifax Humane Society Dog Park in Daytona Beach. Located just off Interstate 95, the 3-acre park has separate areas for small and large dogs, with agility courses, walking trails, shaded areas and water stations.
4. Hit the Links
Golf is such an important part of the sporting scene in Florida that both the PGA and LPGA are headquartered in the state, so it is no surprise that there are more than 20 courses in Greater Daytona. Highlights include LPGA International (a four-star-rated course by Golf Digest) and the century-old Daytona Beach Golf Club (part of the Florida Historic Golf Trail, along with New Smyrna Golf Club).
5. Hit the Trails
Since 2000, Volusia County has constructed 60 miles (and counting) of pathways for biking, hiking and jogging. The first was the Spring-to-Spring Trail in DeLand, which stretches for 15 miles with plans to extend it to 26 miles. Others include the trails at Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve (with a 4.6-mile equestrian path) and the Lyonia Preserve, which is made up of 360 acres of restored Florida scrub habitat.
6. Setting the Scenery
It’s easy to immerse yourself in the natural surroundings of Greater Daytona, whether by land, sand or water. You can explore the lakes and sloughs along the St. Johns River, wander through the 58,000 acres of barrier islands (and 24 miles of beach) at Canaveral National Seashore and soak in the scenic history with a drive on the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor.
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7. Yogis Unite
For a new take on an ancient exercise, try Daytona Anahata Yoga in Port Orange. You still get to do downward dog and other familiar yoga poses, but they are completed while on a stand-up paddleboard. Paddleboard instruction and equipment are included in the 90-minute session, which is followed by a short meditation.
8. Get Your Float On
There are nearly a dozen official state-designated paddling trails in Volusia County. The latest is the 10-mile Hontoon Dead River Paddling Trail that travels along the St. Johns River and around Hontoon Island. Another popular paddling place is the 13-mile Tomoka River Paddling Trail that launches from Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach.
9. Cast a Line
Port Orange Causeway Park is a favorite spot for anglers (and birdwatchers). The 30-acre park, located along the Halifax River at the Port Orange Bridge, has three fishing piers and seven boat ramps, along with covered pavilions, picnic tables, grills and restrooms.
10. It’s a Racket
Channel your inner Nadal or Serena at the New Smyrna Beach Tennis Center. For $15, guests can play all day on one of the six clay courts and one hard court. The center also offers individual training, group training, skill work and competition training.
11. Magnificent Manatees
More than 500 West Indian manatees gather each winter in the warm waters of Blue Spring State Park near Orange City. That makes it easy for visitors to see these loveable “sea cows,” who seek out this large spring along the St. Johns River for the comfort of its constant 72-degree water.
12. Pedal Power
For those who like to bike, pedal on over to Green Springs Park near DeLand. The park is a trailhead for both the 5.7-mile East Central Regional Rail Trail (ideal for a family outing) and the Spring-to-Spring Trail. The 31-acre park also has nature trails and scenic overlooks.
If you’d like to learn more about the Greater Daytona region, check out the latest edition of Greater Daytona Region/Volusia County.