Need a change of scenery to start the New Year off right?
The newest seasonal service out of Dallas with American Airlines brings you the ocean breezes and white sandy beaches of Daytona in under three hours. These nonstop flights between Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) International Airport and Daytona Beach International Airport (DBIA) fly daily through March. (So you still have time to plan that safe Spring Break getaway!)
Daytona Beach is the perfect vacay for all ages. Whether with family, loved ones or going solo, there’s plenty of relaxing and adventurous activities to do in this happening corner of Florida. And we’ve got the perfect vacay planned out for you!
Start your day with breakfast in the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Restaurant that combines natural springs and cook-your-own pancakes. It’s rare to hear “natural springs” and “pancakes” in the same sentence, unless you’re referring to De Leon Springs State Park.
Turns out, the Old Spanish Sugar Mill is housed inside the park in a 100-year-old replica of the original 1830s sugar mill. And, they’ve been serving in the same unusual style for 60 years. Each table is equipped with a griddle right in the middle. The homemade pancake batter is served to you in pitchers, so you’re able to make and flip your own pancakes with a gorgeous view. (Who knew flipping pancakes could be so fun!)
Head over to Blue Spring State Park for your next outdoor adventure and, on the way, drive downtown DeLand, voted America’s Best Main Street. The park itself is home to one of the largest winter gathering sites for manatees in Florida. No wonder, as the water stays at a constant 72 degrees all year round. On cold days in manatee season, (mid-November through mid-March), hundreds can be seen from the spring’s overlooks. I had the chance to see a momma manatee and her baby. It was a precious moment I’ll never forget.
After diving into nature, explore the Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS), which boasts nationally applauded collections, including an impressive American art collection, a Coca-Cola collection and a Napoleonic collection. There’s even a Giant Ground Sloth Skeleton on display. Yes, it’s as huge as you think it is!
Not in the mood for art but in the need for speed? Hit up Daytona International Speedway, often called the World Center of Racing for a Speedway Tour. Walk in the footsteps of legends past and present as you climb atop the podium in Gatorade Victory Lane for a photo. Stand next to the car of this year’s DAYTONA 500 champion (left in the same condition as the day it won) and visit the new Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. Adults: $22/Children (5-12): $17
Stay and Sup
After a long event-filled day, relax in style at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach. You can’t go wrong with the breathtaking ocean views and one-of-a-kind music amenities. The hotel boasts unique rock and roll history and memorabilia, including a Ron Wood’s (The Rolling Stones) fringed jacket and Rihanna’s outfit that she wore on stage during her epic Diamonds world tour in 2013.
For dinner, dine on exceptional cuisine in the Hard Rock’s Sessions Restaurant while listening to live music. (I suggest the Sessions burger or filet mignon medallions.) Prefer to venture out? Then Daytona has a growing host of one-of-a-kind local eateries that’s bound to satisfy your taste buds.
Vacations are about rejuvenating the mind, body and spirit. So, what better way to do this than to indulge in a day of pampering at Abundant Health Float and Day Spa?
Float Therapy is the practice of floating in a pod filled with 10 inches of water and 1,000 lbs of Epsom Salt for a zero gravity sensation. (You’ll feel like you’re floating on a cloud.) Floating reduces stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline and increases good hormones like endorphins and dopamine. The solution aims to calm body and mind, reduce chronic pain and inflammation, and allow transition into a meditative state. Individual Float Session: 60 minutes/$69; Relaxation Massage: 60 minutes/$85
After taking the time to renew and refresh, recharge with a fresh Acai Bowl from the nearby Mason Bar. Once recharged, check out the 2-hour Dolphin Discovery Tour with Marine Discovery Center. Here you’ll experience Florida’s natural beauty while learning about efforts to preserve and protect North America’s most biologically diverse estuary. During the tour you can spot Florida’s tallest lighthouse, Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, built in 1887.
A trip to Daytona isn’t complete without at least one day spent at the “World’s Most Famous Beach.” Walk the shoreline to feel the sand between your toes or rent a cabana poolside. Order brunch while listening to the waves. (I suggest the Chicken and Waffles from Sessions and a mimosa to wash it down).
After a fun-filled weekend in the sunshine state, it’s going to be hard to jump back into the normal routine. But the memories you have will last a lifetime, and certainly have you coming back for more!
NOTE: Facial coverings, social distancing and additional safety measures were taken throughout the trip. These requirements vary from area to area.
Cover photo courtesy Daytona Beach Area CVB
Leean Vargas is an Editorial Assistant at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations.