Oh, the sights you'll see during your Daytona Beach vacation! Whether it's checking out the world-famous winning car from this year's DAYTONA 500 or climbing to the top of Florida’s tallest lighthouse, we've got the stuff that great vacations — and exceptional photo ops — are made of.
Of course, some of the most magical family memories and best photo opportunities exist slightly off the beaten path. Quirky hidden gems and less-frequented local hangouts sometimes offer the best experiences and truest sense of a place, and Daytona Beach has plenty of each for you to explore. Make sure you hit one or all of these fun spots the next time you’re in town.
1) Learn the legend of Brownie.
Daytona Beach’s most famous four-legged friend is no longer with us, but Brownie the dog still has a story to share with all who visit. This stray dog was "owned by no one, loved by all" — as in, he was collectively adopted by the residents of the city from 1939 until his death in 1954. Brownie was a loyal town dog who loved all of his neighbors with tail-waggin’ enthusiasm. Visit his grave in Riverfront Esplanade near the water on the corner of Beach Street and Orange Avenue, and leave a painted rock in memory of your own beloved pet. If you’re interested, learn more about Brownie’s famous story.
2) See some Dinosaurs (kinda).
A trip to Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens is unlike a visit to any other abandoned sugar mill — that much is for sure. Amongst the old mills, historic ruins and flowering trees, giant prehistoric dinosaurs loom quietly. See, after the mill was closed, the space became Bongoland, a pre-Disney theme park that was open from 1949 to 1952. Only a few remnants of that world remain, but it's always fun to surprise an unsuspecting visitor with the dinos! Plus, if you’re looking for a souvenir true to Daytona Beach roots, native plants can be purchased at the gardens.
3) Go see the Holly Hill Gnomes.
One of the Daytona Beach area’s more eccentric attractions is the Gnome Tree, located on Riverside Drive across from the entrance of San Robar Drive in Holly Hill. For more than a decade, a local person has cared for the tiny gnomes that have “taken up residence” in an old tree. The Gnome Tree has since garnished international attention, and people come from all over the globe to leave notes with the gnomes. Whether wishing for healing or leaving a note to inspire a stranger, these letters have become a special tradition. The Gnome Tree continues to spread joy and hope to all who visit — you can read more about the caretaker here.
4) View Ormond Indian Burial Mound.
For a unique cultural experience, Ormond Indian Burial Mound is a spot right in the middle of a riverside neighborhood. Located at the corner of South Beach Street and Mound Avenue in Ormond Beach, this intact burial ground is estimated to contain over 100 individual burials and is thought to be over 1,200 years old. In the early 1500s, the Timucua Indians were nearly 200,000 people strong in the region, and this mound offers respect and pays homage to their lives. The mound itself won’t take long for you to enjoy, so it’s a nice addition to an Ormond Beach afternoon. Park your car across the street at Ames Park, savor the breeze as you walk along the Halifax River, and be sure to take a moment to appreciate this interesting stopping point.
5) Go on an all-American road trip.
For a slightly less conventional road-trip path, consider rolling along the historic Florida’s Presidential Campaign Trail. One of the sunshine state’s signature quirks is undoubtedly its political leanings. National campaigners must try to swing Florida, and in their wake, they leave interesting nuggets for travelers to peruse.
Daytona Beach has a stop on this historic trail— former President Warren G. Harding even had a winter home here. You can visit it, actually — it’s been transformed into a fine spot for Italian dining called The Cellar. Whether or not you try to hit every single one of the many cities on the official campaign trail, Daytona Beach is full of history to discover. In fact, Daytona Beach was named by TheTravel.com as one of the top places to go on a road trip in the U.S.
There are endless unique activities and one-of-a-kind attractions in Daytona Beach — come and see them for yourself!
Climb to the Moon during full-moon excursions at Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Find inspiration at our unique Daytona Beach Drive-in Christian Church. Tickle a stingray at the Marine Science Center. Or opt for a rock ’n roll musical treat at the Museum of Arts and Sciences laser light planetarium show.
Want more ideas? We've got lots! Try the Top 10 Things to Do to get you started.