The Best Things to Do in Daytona if its Your First Visit
Explore Daytona from Land and Sea!
May 17, 2022 at 8:00 AM in Things to Do by
Halifax River and The Intracoastal Waterway
Halifax River, part of the
Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, characterizes this exciting destination as much
as Daytona’s beach. Ormond Beach, Holly Hill, Daytona Beach, South Daytona,
Daytona Beach Shores, Port Orange and Ponce Inlet are all touched by this great
navigation channel of Florida. It also means that there’s much fun to be
enjoyed within the area without being tossed about by ocean waves.
Boating is a big part of life here and indeed the shores of the Halifax River are punctuated with many yacht clubs and marinas. Halifax Harbor Marina, located in the heart of Daytona Beach, is one such place. Considered one of the finest marinas in America, you can dock your boat here for a short or long stay. Just a quick ride to the open ocean, you can bet they offer lots of amenities.
Kayak and SUP Rentals
Farther down the river at Daytona
Beach Shores, you can find everything you need to set out for a more tranquil
intracoastal experience at Progressive Sports Rentals. This reputable business
boasts two locales, both of which furnish kayak and SUP rentals and one that
can also outfit you for windsurfing. (Depending on the day–and the wind–the
latter can offer a bit of a thrill as well.) While you’re in the vicinity, stop
into the Port Orange South Daytona Chamber for more information about the
doings in the area. There’s no end to river fun here.
Rent a kayak or a canoe at Daytona Beach Kayaking down by Spruce Creek. There are many nice spots where you can paddle, including Blue Springs State Park or Central Park. You can also take a tour with A Day Away Kayak Tours. Know that the Halifax River and its tributaries serve as a lush habitat for much wildlife. Waterfowl thrive in abundance in these marshy waters as do manatees. (Much of the river and its tributaries, in fact, are designated as a Manatee Sanctuary.) Rose Bay Water Sports, located at Hidden Treasure Tiki Bar & Grill, can also hook you up with a kayak, SUP, paddle boat and other boat-y boat fun. Best to save the cocktails for afterward though and be sure to hydrate lots out under the hot Florida sun.
The Manatee offers two-hour scenic
boat tours in the protected wetlands of the Indian River where you can delight
in seeing much birdlife, dolphins, waterfront homes and, of course, manatees.
This tour cruises by the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse, however, you might also want
to do an up close visit to this renowned beacon, the tallest in Florida and
among the tallest within the United States. Built in 1887, here you’ll discover
its great historical significance and importance throughout the years. You can
do a self-guided or group tour of the museum or give yourself more of a workout
by climbing the 203 steps up this National Historic Landmark. You can bet the
views from above are worth the effort. might want to spend a whole
day here, since you can find many ways to relax and chill at nearby Lighthouse
Point Park and Recreation Area. Or, you can learn about the amazing world of
nature in this part of Florida by visiting the Marine Science Center, also in
Ponce Inlet. Through exhibits, events and programs, you can discover the marine
science and natural history of the environs. Perhaps one of the most
heart-touching parts of a visit here includes looking in on their
rehabilitation hospitals where seabirds and sea turtles are treated for
illnesses and injuries.
If fishing is your pleasure, there’s plenty of it in the Halifax River Basin and also out in the Atlantic Ocean. You can find lots of outfitters that will set you up for your excursion, including some that will lead you to the best fishing holes and spots. Big adventure seekers will want to check out Sea Spirit Deep Sea Fishing for a trip out onto the open seas that you will likely never forget.
Landlubbers enjoy strolling around
the Sugar Mill Botanical Garden in Port Orange. With such a humid, subtropical
climate here, you can bet that their plant life flourishes all year long. The
gardens and historic ruins of the mill and plantation are terrific, however,
their "Weird Florida" attractions also serve as a big draw. Once a
roadside attraction/theme park called Bongoland, fortunately quite a few of
their oversized, strangely-hewn dinosaur sculptures and one giant ground sloth
work have been preserved within the lush, and often wild landscape of this
site. Not surprisingly, they make for epic social media content.
Some of the best sightseeing and communing with nature can be done from the seat of a bike.
Flaunt in Port Orange
and Daytona Electric Bikes near the Daytona Historic District and Main Street
make those excursions even easier because both specialize in electric bike
rentals. Do they call them E-bikes? In any event, they’re great to have in this
part of the country because those headwinds can really slow you down. Plus,
it’s good to save energy for bouncing around in the surf or swimming leisurely
in a lap pool such as the one at Cypress Aquatic Center. Know that there are
some terrific bike trails in Daytona, including Spring-to-Spring Trail, Ormond
Beach Scenic Loop & Trail and River-to-Sea Loop. Sweet–there’s nothing like
feeling the breeze on your face on a glorious Florida morning.
The Ormond Scenic Loop, also known as “The Loop,” passes through some of the most diverse natural scenery in the state of Florida. This thirty-mile-long stretch of roadway is also favored by motorcyclists that come to Daytona from all over the world to ride this renowned route (as well as many of the streets of Daytona). No matter your form of transportation, make sure you meander through here as well.
For more animated meandering, go to The Daytona Boardwalk and Pier, an iconic destination where you can enjoy all kinds of food, drink and fun. The city has invested a lot in the beachside and riverfront areas of Daytona and the result is beautiful; whether you’re here with your family or on a romantic getaway, there’s something for everyone.
Jackie Robinson Ball Park, the Oceanfront Bandshell and The Peabody also have great offerings. (The Peabody, which is celebrating one hundred years this year, is considered one of Florida’s preeminent venues for the performing arts.) You can catch minor-league foul balls off the bleachers' roofline six months out of the year at Jackie Robinson Ball Park, attend a free summer concert on the beach at the Bandshell or enjoy a touring Broadway show or comedy act at The Peabody. Reserve ahead for the latter, since they often sell out. Baseball, extraordinary views and people watching and first-rate entertainment–all very much part of the scene in Daytona. What could be more chillin’ than that?