For those seeking a different adventure around every corner, the state of Florida doesn’t disappoint. Sun lovers will be dazzled by hundreds of miles of white-sand beaches where they can soak in the rays and explore aquatic life. Naturalists can revel in the peninsula’s ecological wonders as they kayak through mangroves and learn about native wildlife or hike some of the most beautiful trails in the country. And cultural enthusiasts can take in the nightlife, delight in unparalleled culinary experiences, and visit historical sites. No matter your passion, look no farther than the Sunshine State to satiate your scientific and cultural curiosities.
Daytona Beach: A Kaleidoscope of Adventures
Do you want the perfect combination of excitement, educational endeavors, and relaxing breaks? Located on Florida’s East Coast, Daytona Beach is brimming with things to do, places to see, and experiences of a lifetime. It is the ideal mashup of physical and natural world exploits that promises to leave visitors vowing to return again and again.
Nature at Its Finest
First things first: When it comes to Florida, people often think of the beaches—and Daytona Beach has some of the best. Daytona Beach is blessed with 23 miles of gorgeous white-sand beaches. This expansive stretch is one of the few places in the country that you can actually take a drive on the beach— an iconic activity that all who visit Daytona Beach should entertain. Take in the sights and breathe in the fresh air as you leisurely drive down the beach. Or park your car and grab a towel to bask in the sun and perhaps enjoy a scuba adventure exploring Daytona Beach’s offshore reef system. Or try another fun water activity. Jet-skiing or parasailing, anyone?
To experience more of the natural world, visit Blue Spring State Park. It is where hundreds of manatees seek warm-water refuge from late fall through early spring. Want more close encounters with the aquatic kind? Eco-tours are some of the best ways to see some of Florida’s most impressive species. Families will love the Marine Science Center, which boasts a stingray touch pool and bird observation tower.
History Lives On
For even more ways to explore Daytona Beach, consider touring some of the city’s most interesting landmarks. The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse may be off the beaten path, but it is well worth the little extra effort it takes to visit this National Historic Landmark. A towering 175-feet, it is the tallest lighthouse in Florida. It was completed in 1887 and now allows visitors a breathtaking 360-degree view of the inlet—all you have to do is climb the 203 steps to the top!
Another stop of cultural significance is The Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. It houses the largest compilation of Florida art in the world, with a rotating collection of 2,600 oil and water color paintings. It is a masterful mix of smaller galleries (six in all) and a main central gallery and mezzanine. In the former, Floridian art exhibits change in and out while the latter is the permanent home to the museum’s signature pieces. There is no better place to experience the culture–past and present–of Florida.
More Adventures Await
When the weather is as temperate as Daytona Beach’s is (it is usually above 50༠F even in winter), golf is always a good option. The area has 20 courses, which means there is a fairway for everyone—whether a beginner, an avid golfer, or anywhere in between. In fact, it is considered by some as one of the top 15 places to play in the nation.
After a day on the course, take a break and sip a signature cocktail at one of the city’s many waterfront dining establishments. There is nothing better than a warm breeze, good food, and a cold drink after a round of golf. At Mama Foo Foo the vibe is one of an escape—a place designed to help people escape from everyday life and reconnect with family and friends, bonding through an evening of exquisite food and drink.
The Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse in the Hilton Hotel is a classic “steakhouse,” with mouthwatering cuts of beef, fresh “surf,” and traditional sides: lobster mac n cheese, sauteed spinach, Brussels sprouts, and so much more. Just as good as the food is the people watching. Sit out on the casual dining terrace to behold the sights and even listen to the live concerts at the famed Boardwalk Bandshell.
After a long day of sight-seeing, adventure, and delighting in the culinary options of Daytona Beach, it is time to kick back and relax. Enjoy your stay at one of the city’s fine resorts and hotels—with options for every budget. Rest up because the next day is guaranteed to be just as good as the last.
> Learn more at DaytonaBeach.com
The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden
Where Nature all Comes Together
A canopy of Tropical Palms and hardwoods shade you as you amble through a lush garden filled with native species. The soothing sound of a waterfall awakens your senses as you look down to see turtles happily swimming in their aquatic home. And as you make your way around, you discover a hidden pond–and as you gaze towards the sky, you catch a rare sighting of a bald eagle. Where is this naturalist’s paradise? It’s at the Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden.
This garden opened in 1936, and to this day remains the only “frost-free” tropical environment that has trees that can retain their leaves even in the dry season—not an easy feat as it is located in one of the five areas in Florida of environmental critical concern. But its landscape is thriving with native butterflies, birds, plants, and seasonal flowers. The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden is unique in that it advocates for the education and protection of native plants and species indigenous to the Florida Keys, Cuba, and the Caribbean.
This 15-acre natural conservation habitat is conveniently located at mile marker 4.5 off US Highway 1, and is the trailhead for many scenic trails in Key West, such as the Keys Paddle Trail and Heritage Trail. Come experience the biodiversity of the area. The forest has two of the last remaining freshwater ponds in the Keys, which attracts migratory neo-tropical birds from places as far as Canada and South America.
Rediscover your sense of exploration and adventure with a tour of The Key West Tropical Forest & Botanical Garden.
> Learn more at keywest.garden