It’s a real travel adventure to experience more from a locale than its iconic trademarks. Daytona. Florida is know for its expansive beaches and the historic Daytona 500 speedway, and for good reason; they are impressive. (www.daytona500experience.com) But away from the beaten track, Daytona has more to offer with a variety of leisure vehicles and fine dining experiences.
You can take in a leisurely horseback walk/ride with Shenandoah stables, parasail or jet ski at Ponce Inlet (http://www.daytonaparasailing.com/ and http://www.shortmoney.net/), kayak, hike or canoe at Tomoka state park (www.floridastateparks.org/tomoka), have an aqua safari aboard the Cnidoblast (http://www.ponceinlet.org/), or an eco water tour along the St. Johns River at the Fountain of Youth Eco/History tour at DeLeon Springs State Park. (http://www.foytours.net/). Manatees are easily seen here near the natural warm springs, which accompany the founding of the Old Spanish Sugar Mill. The Sugar mill has a delicious and unique attraction with its Griddle House, where customers pour and turn their own pancakes made piping hot at a griddle in the middle of their table. This attraction can have a waiting line of hours, so plan accordingly. (www.planetdeland.com/sugarmill.com)
A great destination must have great dining, and Daytona has its share. The Cellar (http://www.thecellarrestaurant.com/) located in the 1907 historic home of President Warren G. Harding, boasts a wide selection of wine (no bar available) to accent their Italian oriented cuisine. My fresh pasta was a savory example, and my fellow diners could not praise their own entrees enough.
Dolphins seen on an eco boat tour.
The opulently restored Rose Villa (http://www.rosevillaormond.com/) in Ormond Beach, is the epitome of upscale elegant dining. Not only is the ornate wall papered dining rooms impressive, but the formally dressed attendants with exquisite service and gourmet courses all combine to make an extraordinary dining experience. My four course meal including a Filet Mignon, along with an historic absinthe martini, was the highlight of my Daytona area dining experience.
With a name like Martini’s Chophouse, (www.martinischophouse.com.) one would expect it would be easy to decide on your evening beverage. This was not so. It was most difficult to choose from their plethora of Martini choices to accompany dinner. I did have to sample their Blue Bull Martini, the Guava Martini and the Jagerbull Martini; all were different and delightful. Along with this variety of beverages I dined on a large tarragon lemon drizzle Salmon Steak, while my companions had a variety of fish and steaks, and even a cathedral like presentation of a full standing rack of lamb.
Manatees are easily seen at DeLeon Springs State park.
Other establishments to satisfy your hunger are: the steaks at Stonewood Grille (www.stonewoodgrill.com), breakfast with apple fritters at Peach Valley Café (www.peachvalleyrestaurants.com/locate-breakfast-and-lunch-cafe/ormond-beach/ormond-beach), fish and sweet potatoes chips at Lulu’s in Ormond Beach, the eclectic atmosphere and family operated Dancing Avocado Kitchen (http://findlocal.orlandosentinel.com/listings/the-dancing-avocado-kitchen-daytona-beach), adult beverages and meals at the seaside grille at Lighthouse Landing (www.lighthouselandingrestaurant.com), downtown’s Ivy Lane Bistro (www.ivylanebistro.com) and the sports oriented Vince Carters (www.vincecarters.com).
For a life affirming and pleasurable adventure, sailing with Captain Eric aboard the Eagle will be an experience long remembered. Your fellow crew mates of no more than six, will take the helm and man the sheets and lines for an instructive sailing along the inter coastal waterway. First order of business is the unanimous, all-hands-in-oath, by Captain Eric, emphasizing respect for each person, and then the new crew is off and sailing. Even those with a fear of failure, will have more self confidence once this instructive soft nautical adventure is completed. (http://marinesource.com/eagleyacht/)
But you must experience the beach, and by staying at Ormond Beach’s Coral Sands Inn and Seaside Cottages, you can. (www.coralsandsinn.com) An end room or cottage will offer you a panoramic view from your modern accommodations, giving you that old time Florida feel. Away from the crowds in Daytona proper, the Ormond Beach, palm trees, sunrise views and accompanying pool makes Coral Sands a delightful respite from your off the beaten track, soft adventures in Dayton, Florida. (www.visitdaytona.com)