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The Top 10 Family Destinations to Visit While in Daytona Beach
By Rochelle Caviness - January 7, 2003

1. The Beach

2. Halifax Historical Museum

3. Daytona USA

4. Marine Science Center

5. River Cruises & Eco-adventures

6. Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory

7. The Museum of Arts and Science

8. Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Museum

9. Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens

10. Adventure Landing

The Beach and the New Ocean Walk Village

The Daytona Beach area, which include the cities of Ormond Beach, Ormond By-the-Sea, South Daytona, Daytona Beach Shores, Holly Hill, Ponce Inlet and Port Orange, boasts of 23 miles of hard-packed, white sand beaches. Visitors can drive, and park, on about 16 miles of this stretch of beach. In Daytona Beach, itself, there is a one mile, pedestrian-only, stretch of beach that is ideal for family recreational activities. A free open air Beach Tram operates along this pedestrian-only beach, that will take you to and from the Ocean Center parking garage.

The beach along this pedestrian-only strip features hard-packed white sand with very few seashells, and it is ideal for building sand castles, as well as playing in the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. This strip of beach is adorned by two marvelous resorts, the
Ocean Walk Resort and the newly expanded Adam's Mark Daytona Beach Resort. The Ocean Walk features condo styled suites, with full kitchens - including dishes and pots and pans, so that you can fix your own snacks or meals. The Ocean Walk Resort also has a variety of unique amenities such as a computerized golf simulator, a "lazy river" that you can float around in on an inner tube, and a variety of special activities such as ice cream socials and craft classes. The Adams' Mark is a traditional full service resort that offers a variety of room choices, including 'traditional' hotel styled rooms, suites, and cabanas. All their accommodations are luxuriously decorated and guest services range from messages to a children's playground. Interwoven between the two resorts is the new Ocean Walk Village, a complex of shops, restaurants, and a movie theater complex. In this area, visitors will also find a fully restored, 1930's bandshell, built of coquina rock, in which a variety of free concerts are offered throughout the year.

Information on the beaches in Volusia County, which includes Daytona Beach, can be found at:

Halifax Historical Museum

The Halifax Historical Museum is housed in the majestic former Merchant's Bank Building, which was constructed in 1911. This museum features exhibits that explore the history and culture of the Halifax Area, ranging from exhibits on the Timucuan Indians who first settled this area, through to modern times. At the museum you can watch a variety of short films that document the history of the area, as well as explore the museum's many exhibits which include a variety of antique toys in 'Grandma's Attic" as well as a scale model of the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Bandshell. In addition, scattered throughout the museum are several computer terminals that provide detailed overviews on various aspects of Halifax's history such as a virtual tour of World War II in Florida and Halifax. Large print copies of the computer exhibits, including illustrations are available at each terminal.

The staff at the museum is very helpful, and passionate about their work. As well, the president of the museum, Harold Cardwell, is blind, and the museum is working diligently to make the museum more accessible to the visually impaired. With advance warning, guided tours can be arranged for groups. Additionally, the museum offers a number of special activities, such as Victorian Tea Parties where young visitors can dress up in period clothing and 'have' tea while learning about 19th century etiquette. Preregistration is required.

More information on the Halifax Historical Museum can be found online at:

Daytona USA

The 'official' attraction of NASCAR (National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing), Daytona USA offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of racing and race cars. You can also participate in a number of interactive exhibits that include playing a 'racing' video game, taking a trivia quiz , and participating in a racing simulator that lets you get out on the track and gun your engines up to speeds of 200 mph. While at Daytona USA, you can also take a guided tour of the Daytona International Speedway. Even if you are not a race fan, you will find this attraction to be invigorating!

To find out about all the 'action' at Daytona USA, check out thier website at:

Marine Science Center

Located in Ponce Inlet, the Marine Science Center offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about marine science and marine ecology. The center also has a sea turtle rehabilitation program that is enhanced by the associated endangered and threatened sea turtle exhibit. Other highlights at the center include a 5,000 gallon artificial reef aquarium, a boardwalk / nature trail system, and habitant and ecosystem dioramas. Around the exhibit hall are a series of 'sound' cones, that hang from the ceiling. When you stand under a cone, you will hear a description of the exhibit you are standing before, along with background noises that would be associated, in nature, with that particular exhibit.

In addition to the permanent exhibits, the center also sponsors a variety of seasonal educational programs, such as Marine Mammal Stranding and Junior Marine Scientists in the Making. Guided tours of the facility are available, but you'll need to call ahead to arrange for a tour.

Sunny Daze and Starry Nites River Cruises

Daytona Beach is an ideal location for families interested in participating in some amazing eco-adventures. One such adventure can be had by taking a Sunny Daze and Starry Nites river cruise. Sailing on the "Native Son" you can take a relaxing ride down the Halifax River as your Captain offers an ongoing commentary about the history, ecology, flora, and fauna of the area. Along the way you can expect to see a wide assortment of birds, such as Pelicans, Blue Herons, Egrets, Osprey, and Vultures. You may also get to see bottle nosed dolphins or manatees.

Sunny Daze and Starry Nites offers an assortment of cruise options, and you can be sure that you will see, and hear, a lot of birds during your cruise. As well, if any dolphins are in the area, they will most likely come along side the boat to 'watch' you watching them! It is a memorable, and educational experience for the entire family.

Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory

At Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory visitors are treated to a free, guided factory tour where you get to see how a variety of chocolate confectionaries are made. And, best of all, you are treated to a free sample. Their chocolates are exquisite, and you'll particularly want to take a peak at some of their molded chocolates that are formed into such shapes as animals and sea shells. They even make a molded conc-shell that is so realistic that you can even hear the ocean in it, if you hold it to your ear.

In addition to the tour, you can also visit Angell & Phelps' retail store, plus dine at the Angell & Phelps Restaurant and Wine Bar located next-door. The factory is located in the historic downtown area of Daytona Beach. This area features a number of antique shops and other shopping venues.

The Museum of Arts and Science

Located in Daytona Beach, The Museum of Arts and Science offers visitors a cultural treat. The museum will introduce you to the art, culture, and history of Florida - including the Pirates of Florida's East Coast. Furthermore, it also presents an eclectic collection of artwork from around the world, including China, Africa, and Cuba. There is also a major exhibit area devoted to the collections of the Root Family, which includes over 800 Teddy Bears, a train stations complete with train cars, and Coca-Cola memorabilia.

The museum also features a Planetarium, and a Children's Wing. Throughout the year special events are also hosted at the museum, ranging form musical performances, films, and lectures. This museum has a little something for everyone - including the skeletal remains of a 13-foot-tall giant sloth! For dinosaur fans, a temporary exhibit on loan from the Paleontological Institute of the Russian Academy of Science, called Great Asian Dinosaurs is scheduled to open on February 22, 2003. This display, which will run through June 22, 2003, will feature 27 complete skeletons of a variety of animals, including a Tyrannosaurus bataar and a Saurolophus angustirostris. It promises to be an unforgettable experience for those fortunate enough to view the exhibit.

Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse Museum

Located in Ponce Inlet, the center point of this museum is the fully restored Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse, that you can climb to the very top of for an unprecedented view of the surrounding area. It is the tallest lighthouse in Florida, and you must climb 203 steps to reach the observation deck! In addition to the lighthouse, visitors can tour a number of other building and exhibits, such as the houses of the lighthouse keepers and an exhibit on the lens used in lighthouse. Most of the buildings on the museum grounds are filled with historic memorabilia relating to the lighthouse and Florida's maritime history. You can also take a short nature walk and watch a video on the history of the Light Station.

Touring this facility, you will not only learn a great deal about lighthouses, and the history of Ponce De Leon Inlet, but you will also get a feel for the hardships faced by those manning the lighthouse in 'the good old days' when Ponce De Leon Inlet was known as Mosquito Inlet!

Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens

The Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens offers visitors a unique glimpse at a variety of botanical wonders, both native and imported, that thrive in central Florida. The gardens are anchored by the ruins of an 1830's sugar mill. And you will also find that the gardens feature a variety of unique accent pieces, such as four concrete dinosaurs. A research library is also located on the grounds of the garden.

The gardens are open all year, dawn to dusk. Admission is free, and on Saturdays guided botanical and historical tours are also available. Maps are available upon entering the gardens, for those wishing to take a self-guided tour. You can also simply stroll around the ground taking in the beauty and serenity of the gardens.

Adventure Landing

Daytona Beach is home to an assortment of 'fun' attractions ranging from a plethora of miniature golf locations to bowling. One attraction that stand above the rest is Adventure Landing, which offers visitors a mishmash of 'fun' activities for the entire family. Activities at Adventure Landing include water slides, wave pools, go-karts, miniature golf, and arcades. It is also the only water park in Daytona Beach.

In Conclusion

The above list of the ten top family destination to visit while in Daytona Beach is just a sampling of what Daytona Beach has to offer visitors. To learn more, check out the following websites:


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