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27 Best Things to Do in DeLand, Florida

Our 27 best things to do in DeLand, Florida, range from skydiving to eating excellent food, touring historic mansions, and seeing manatees.

When I moved to Florida, I knew hardly anything about Central Florida. Ten years later, it is the place I most recommend my readers and friends visit and the place I can’t get enough of. When you come to DeLand, Florida, you are in for a real treat. Here, you will find world-class skydiving, family-friendly attractions, one of the best Main Street USA’s in the country, and an impressive restaurant scene. Here are 27 of the best things to do in DeLand, Florida, that may enrich your travels.

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4 Excellent Arts Options

The architecturally gorgeous Athens Theatre is a do-not-miss in downtown DeLand. This local, historic venue is home to Broadway-style shows, concerts, and Stetson University events. This season alone you can see Rock of Ages, Peace of Woodstock, and tribute concerts, including The Doors and John Denver.

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Fun Fact: Did you know that Jim Morrison of The Doors is from Melbourne, FL, about an hour from DeLand?

I was quite surprised to see how impressive the DeLand Museum of Art was. There are actually two museums, one downtown and one near Stetson University, both closed on Mondays. Plan to spend a few hours, at least, to visit both galleries. I was lucky to see John Mellencamp’s work here when it toured Florida. This was the only gallery in the state of Florida to have his artwork.

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Wear your comfy shoes and get in some steps as you explore two exciting walks through DeLand. First is the sculpture walk developed by the Museum of Art DeLand. It will take you to public places to see some very interesting visual artworks.

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Keep walking around town to see the cool murals on DeLand’s Mural Walk. It features the most beloved murals in town, the “Wings of the West” series by Erica Group. My favorite mural in DeLand is A Conversation over Chess, in 1929, done in sepia, but the newer mini-murals that have sprung up in Downtown DeLand (part of the Art in Public Places program) have really caught my eye.

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4 Great Shops

You may be surprised to know that Downtown DeLand has some really great places to shop and an award-winning Main Street USA. I often drove two hours from Vero Beach just to browse or shop from the local boutiques. GURRS and Purrs (incredible pet selection–and coats), Nest (you’ll want way more than you need, and they have a wine bar), Steve’s Downtown Music and Groovy Records, and The Muse Book Shop, are where I could spend hours.

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It is worth mentioning that DeLand isn’t just now jumping on the vinyl popularity. These two record shops never closed since the origination date decades ago. They are packed full of great rock & roll classics, and literally every kind of music you can think of. Merchandise also includes posters, memorabilia, and knick-knacks.

Devote an hour or so to explore every inch of Marketplace at Rivertown. They have some of the best antiques and vintage clothing I’ve seen in the whole state.

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You can even do a walking history and food tour of downtown DeLand with Larry of Great Tasting Tours. On his two to three-hour tour, you will sample brews and bites from local eateries (we went to Abbey and Half Wall) and craft breweries (Persimmon Hollow), as well as learn interesting facts about DeLand’s history.

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Photo by Georgia Turner.

On my tour, we visited a couple of unique boutiques along the way and saw outstanding art installments. There are three tours to choose from: Sweet & Savory, Sip & Shop, and Brews & Browse.

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3 Unique Attractions

A unique feature minutes from DeLand is the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. It is the most significant concentration of peaceful energy provided by mediums and psychics in its southern part. The camp’s name is derived from Cassadaga Lake in upstate New York.

Wander around the small town and read the literature to help understand the concept found here. You can schedule readings with the onsite psychics and mediums either at their home offices or via their cards on the bulletin board. If a tour is available, sign up. The costumed interpreters do a great job telling about the Three Sisters’ history and how Cassadaga came to be. Most of the mediums and psychics live onsite and have gone through lengthy training and certification to become community members.

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Enjoy a tasty lunch at the Cassadaga Hotel’s restaurant, Sinatra’s. The menu has so many tasty choices, such as Fried Artichoke Hearts, Bruschetta, and classic Florida Smoked Fish Dip. After that, stop by Horseshoe Park, a park filled with adorable fairies, sprites, and cool trinkets. You will also find a set of the wings murals here. This stand-alone set of wings is pastel-colored and makes a great photo-op.

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The Stetson Mansion

One of my favorite attractions in DeLand, and one of the best in the entire state, is the Stetson Mansion. This 150+-year-old restored mansion was originally the winter home of hatmaker John B. Stetson. The mansion has been named one of the Top 10 Things to Do in Florida by Trip Advisor for many years. Florida’s first luxury estate features gorgeous stained glass windows, 16 types of custom parquet floor patterns, and Edison electricity. The mansion is even on the National Historic Register.

I recommend visiting at Christmastime to see the mansion in its holiday attire, but you can tour the property year-round. Schedule ahead through the Stetson Mansion website as the tours fill up quickly.

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Kermit’s of Key West

When I visit Key West, I love to stop in Kermit’s for a Belgian chocolate-dipped frozen key lime cheesecake on a stick. That’s a mouthful. But it is one of the best desserts you’ll put in your mouth, and guess what? They are made right here in DeLand. Visit Kermit’s Key Lime Shoppe’s outlet store at 1842 Patterson Avenue to enjoy these fantastic treats at a discounted price.

Not only can you buy key lime pie items, but also gourmet cookies, jellies, salsas, seasonings, and gift baskets. The list of products goes on and on. Kermit’s in DeLand is closed Sundays and holidays. 

FYI: The two things I can’t leave without are the Key Lime Tartar Sauce and the strawberry key lime pie.

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3 Family-Friendly Sweet Stops

Kids and adults both will love the delicious all-you-can-eat pancakes at Old Spanish Sugar Mill. They are a mix of five fresh stoneground flours. You can add toppings as you desire, including blueberries, chocolate chips, sliced bananas, or pecans. Pair the pancakes with your favorite breakfast meats (they cook) or eggs (you cook).

You can find Old Spanish Sugar Mill at the De Leon Springs State Park. It is one of Florida’s coolest and most visited attractions.

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A second family-friendly place you must visit is Pat and Toni’s Sweet Things in Downtown DeLand. Choose between hundreds of candies and sweets, ice cream, handmade chocolates, fudge, nuts, novelty candies, and gift boxes. If you haven’t tried an extreme shake (the ones with all the candies and gook around the glass rim), you can find the Instagram-worthy treats here. The Magical Unicorn gets my vote!

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A third thing kids tend to enjoy is the Reptile Discovery Center, female adults, maybe not so much. This indoor and outdoor space creates beautiful habitats for lizards, turtles, gators, and much more in natural enclosures. You can see snakes from around the world and even watch a live venom extraction on certain days of the week.

3 Tasty Places to Eat

DeLand has a vibrant dining scene, both indoors and out. Choose from international cuisine, sushi, gourmet sandwiches, farm-to-table chef-inspired dishes, and comfort food dishes. My three favorites places to eat in DeLand are BakeChop, De la Vega, and Emmy’s. Try the daily specials at BakeChop (they have a gifted way with vegetables), and Latin empanadas and plates at De la Vega (don’t skip the sangria). German sausages and Schnitzel from Emmy’s Time Out Tavern are wonderful, and you are treated like family upon entering the door.

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You can read more about where to eat in DeLand in this mouthwatering post.

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3 Places to Drink Delicious Adult Libations

There are a couple of drink options that won me over in DeLand. The adult libation game is strong here. Beer lovers should head to Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. for a craft beer flight. The taproom is family-friendly and has oodles of events and activities, as well as games and trivia. My suggestion for what beer to order would be 3 Wise Guys Coffee Porter or Daytona Dirty Blonde Ale, their most popular.

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Half Wall Beer House is another great choice with an extensive selection of craft beers–76 to be exact. You can also enjoy an upscale bar menu and watch your favorite sporting events. The oysters are primo!  

At Odd Elixir Meads, try the local meads, fermented honey wines, or boutique wines. Pair your drinks with one of the best quesadillas you’ll ever have. The award-winning craft beer bar, Abbey Bar, also shares space in the Odd Elixir Meads bar. This establishment is a trifecta for great drinks. 

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2 Water Attractions

The St. Johns River is 310 miles long and the longest in Florida. It is a beautiful place for diving into ecotourism, fishing, boating, and birdwatching. It is also one of the only rivers that flows north, while winding its way through 12 counties. Known as the “Bass Fishing Capital of the World”, the St. Johns River is also an exceptional place to fish for crappie, catfish, and bluegill.

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My preferred way to enjoy the St. Johns RIver is by pontoon boat. You can sign up for a tour offered by St. Johns River Eco-Tours and spend two hours learning about the river’s nature and ecotourism. Tours depart daily at 10 AM and 1 PM. Boats are small enough to navigate to the shallow backwater areas, where you will see the best wildlife offerings. I recommend to go early, and bring sunscreen and plenty of water. Reservations are required.

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Tubing and swimming at Blue Spring State Park is another popular water attraction in DeLand. You can rent tubes inside the state park, or bring your own, 6-feet or under. There are even changing rooms and a large gift shop where you can buy drinks and snacks.

Besides tubing and getting out or in the water at Blue Spring, you can also enjoy kayaking through a beautiful area that is literally bursting with manatees in the winter months. I’ve seen as many as 353 at one time and it is incredible. A sign at the entrance of the park will tell you how many manatees have been counted on that particular day.

Caution, as a Floridian, I think the 72-degree year-round water temperature at the springs is freezing! Dress accordingly.

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2 Amazing Florida State Parks

West Volusia’s De Leon Springs State Park is named after famous Spanish explorer Ponce de Leon, who sought the Fountain of Youth in the 1500s. The most popular attraction at the park is the 1961 Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant, where you cook your pancakes at your table, and also mentioned above.

Aside from breakfast at the De Leon Springs State Park, the 625-acre state park offers camping, hiking, swimming in the 72-degree year-round spring, and a children’s playground area. The springs produce 19 million gallons of water a day, and there is a small museum devoted to the park’s historic ruins and educational information. Admission to the park is $6 per car.

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Again, mentioned above is the incredible Blue Spring State Park, a designated manatee refuge, explore 2,600 acres in a setting that is home to more than 350 manatees. You can walk on a handicapped-accessible boardwalk to observe the gentle giants and ooh and aah over them. Public facilities and a snack shack are in that same area. 

Keep your eyes open for birds, gators, and fish of all types. The natural setting makes for stunning photo-ops. You can also ride your bike through the park and picnic.

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2 Perfect Places to Stay

The historic Artisan Downtown Hotel is DeLand’s boutique suite accommodations without the hefty price tag. I loved the exposed brick walls lined with comfy couches, functional furniture, and aesthetically pleasing decor. Contemporary and elegant describe the homey feeling property that offers free Wifi and parking, plus is within walking distance to everything in downtown DeLand.

The onsite Lounge Tapas & Martini Bar adds a convenient place to enjoy a drink and unwind without leaving the property.

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The DeLand Hotel is also a great place to stay. This historic property, circa 1925, is a nice mix of antiques and modern amenities, plus offers outstanding service. My room had a huge bathroom with a claw-foot tub and a cozy bedroom with a four-poster bed. A beer and wine reception are offered daily in the parlor, including bottled water and coffee. A few shops and an onsite restaurant with lovely patio dining share an address with the hotel.

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1 Daredevil Adventure

Skydive DeLand is terrific for first-timer skydivers, which is why you will always see newbies putting their trust in the experts staffed here. They also have a world-famous training and safety program. To participate in the tandem jump, sign up, complete some paperwork, watch a safety video, have a lesson with a pro, and prepare for the time of your life.

At Skydive DeLand, jumping from the planes is the big draw, but watching is another. An onsite restaurant (offering delicious breakfast and lunch) by the airfield is where you can sit and watch jumpers get their hours in or feed their adrenaline junkie spirit through accelerated free-falling or tandem jumps. Don’t be surprised to see people from many other countries on any given day at Skydive DeLand. It is that popular.

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On my visit, my daughter Peyton had her first jump and totally rocked it! For $90, Skydive DeLand will compile a video of your skydiving experience from start to finish, showcasing all the steps along the way. I felt very confident with her jumping somewhere with such a stellar reputation, welcomes beginners to world champion jumpers, and has state-of-the-art equipment.

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DeLand: A Town That Exceeds in Pleasing the Guests

Since my first time visiting DeLand, Florida, about ten years ago, the small-town charm and big personality of this Florida town have been winning me over time and time again. From the picturesque street art to the friendly local businesses, delicious eateries to fun outdoor offerings, DeLand is a wonderful place to add your travel radar.

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Read more fun things to do in Florida here: 

What to Do in Key West

A Road Trip to Dunedin

Top Things to Do in Sebastian

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