In Central East Florida, where there's much to see and plenty of great beaches to stroll. Many holiday makers like this region because its beaches are the closest to Orlando's theme parks.
at the region's northern tip, was once a playground for America's early millionaires including John D. Rockefeller. Known as the "Birthplace of Speed," the city played host to Florida's first auto races, which took place on its hard-packed sand. Today, Ormond Beach offers quiet beachside vacations and tours of The Casements, Rockefeller's former winter home.
Alternating between secluded and bustling stretches of sand (where you can still drive automobiles), the Daytona Beach
area offers plenty of family-style recreation and attractions. The beach itself has an ocean park atmosphere, with vendors offering everything from hot dogs to motorbike rentals. A skyride carries visitors over the beach's Main Street Pier (the longest on the east coast of the United States), offering a bird's-eye view of the boardwalk amusement area's arcades and miniature golf.
Besides the beach, families will enjoy Adventure Landing Water Park, the interactive Daytona USA racing attraction, Klassix Auto Attraction, boat tours and several museums. Events draw visitors to the area as well with the most intense activity during Speedweeks in February, Bike Week in March, the Pepsi 400 in July, Biketoberfest in October and the Turkey Run in November.
Many visitors to Central East Florida like to escape to the relaxing sands of New Smyrna Beach
, called the "World's Safest Beach" because of rock ledges offshore that protect against undercurrents. Its 13 miles of pristine beaches are a popular stopping place for families with small children. The town's quiet charm, historic architecture and water views have earned it praise as the "Old Florida." When the sun sets, New
Smyrna Beach offers unique restaurants and the Atlantic Center for the Arts hosts a variety of theatrical and musical performances.
On the Space Coast (which includes Cocoa Beach
, Cape Canaveral
, Melbourne/Palm Bay
), visitors can spend sunny days on the beach, learn about space exploration at Kennedy Space Center
Visitor Complex and commune with nature at Canaveral National Seashore and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Amazingly, 6.2-million-pound space shuttles coexist peacefully here with hundreds of species of shore birds, nesting loggerhead sea turtles and a variety of other protected native wildlife. In fact, the 220-square-mile Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to more federally endangered species than any other refuge in the United States.
Many busy couples and families find what they're in search of laid-back beachside vacations in Indian River
and St. Lucie Counties
, midway down the peninsula on Florida's east coast. Quiet and quaint from Sebastian
south to Port St. Lucie
, this area offers unspoiled beaches, excellent fishing and plenty of small-town charm. Vero Beach also offers Dodger baseball in the winter and year-round watersports. Some of Florida's biggest waves draw surfers to Sebastian Inlet.
features a thriving downtown that was honored with a national Main Street award. Visitors can stroll along a charming row of quaint shops, boutiques and cafes. Nearby, three state parks and a national wildlife refuge offer nature encounters. DeLand is also home to the most active drop zone in the world for skydivers.