For nature lovers who really love to get away from it all, the Daytona Beach area offers a wide selection of state parks — six in total — offering fun and family-friendly activities for vacationers with a broad range of outdoors-oriented interests. In addition to 23 miles of beautiful coastline, the area’s state parks include a diverse range of other offerings, including pet-friendly facilities, boating and swimming opportunities, hiking and biking trails, historic attractions, and more.
When you and your vacation crew enjoy a Daytona Beach-area getaway, keep these six state parks in mind when you’re putting your to-do list together:
- Tomoka State Park: Located in Ormond Beach along the banks of the Halifax River and intersected by the Tomoka River, this park, known for its canoeing, boating, and fishing opportunities, was 1,000 years ago home to a Timucuan village called Nocoroco, whose Native American residents lived off the area’s many fish-filled lagoons. Today, Tomoka State Park is a great destination for the campers who visit its collection of campsites, along with the bird-watchers who flock there to catch a glimpse of some of the 160-plus species of their feathered friends who have been spotted here.
- DeLeon Springs State Park: Found about a 40-minute drive inland from Daytona Beach, this park, known for its “healing waters” by the Native Americans who once inhabited the area, offers visitors a great destination for swimming, hiking, and exploring history. Everyone will enjoy its spring-fed swimming area maintains a constant 72-degree temperature — perfect for cooling off during the warmer seasons — along with other on-site activities including boating, birding, and wildlife viewing. Get here early to enjoy breakfast that includes pancakes you make at your table inside the pre-Civil War-era mill located on-site.
- Blue Spring State Park: Another park known by swimmers (as well as tubers, snorkelers, divers, and paddlers) for its cool and inviting waters, this park is found about 30 miles west of Daytona Beach in Orange City. But in the winter, the area’s most famous aquatic residents get to have their waters to themselves — when the area’s population of West Indian Manatees calls the park’s designated manatee refuge home. Other on-site attractions include a new dog park, walking trails, picnic pavilions with grills, kayak and canoe rentals, a campground, and more.
- Hontoon Island State Park: Found a short drive inland from Daytona Beach in DeLand, this park, located on an island in the St. Johns River, is a great place to soak in some nature, history, and solitude. The park can be reached only via park ferry or private boat, so visitors are virtually guaranteed a peaceful escape. And those who explore it are also treated to a walk through Native American history via the visitor center and a wealth of on-island reminders of the park’s past inhabitants. Other popular activities here include boating, canoeing, and fishing, and many visitors also enjoy the park’s picnic sites and playground.
- Bulow Creek State Park: Located about 15 miles north of Daytona Beach in Ormond Beach, this historic park is home to one of the largest living stands of southern live oaks found on Florida’s Atlantic coast. Among these stately (and leafy) residents, the famed Fairchild Oak — one of the largest and oldest live oaks in the American South — has stood guard over the park’s picturesque landscape for more than four centuries. A wealth of wildlife can be spotted on the grounds, and the park’s historic highlights include the ruins of a plantation that was destroyed in 1836 during the Second Seminole War.
- North Peninsula State Park: Located oceanfront in Ormond by the Sea, this water-surrounded park boasts two-plus miles of undeveloped beaches, where visitors can spot hard-to-find-elsewhere park inhabitants such as gopher tortoises, Florida scrub-jays, and indigo snakes. Of course, the sandy shoreline is a great place to relax on the beach or toss a line in the surf. On the park’s inland side, the Intracoastal Waterway offers a great destination for crabbing and fishing, and with the Ormond Scenic Loop passing through and Coastal Strand Trail found within the park boundaries, it’s also a great place for biking and walking.
Ready to get away from it all with a visit to Daytona Beach and some of its plentiful parks? Start planning your coastal getaway today! We’ll be looking forward to seeing you and your vacation crew soon for some Wide. Open. Fun.