Past Places

New Smyrna Beach: Art & Artist Enclave (Fall 2016)

Charleston's Most Unique Low Country Dishes (Fall 2016)

Grab a Life Vest, Helmet, and a Paddle (Fall 2016)

Upcoming Exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art (Fall 2016)

The Ultimate Staycay? A Homegrown Mediterranean Get-Away (Fall 2015)

Eight Uniquely Charlotte Experiences (Fall 2015)

Hitting the High Notes of Macon's Music Scene (Fall 2015)

Florida's North Peninsula (Fall 2015)

12 Reasons to Visit Huntsville, Alabama (Fall 2015)

Alabama's Captivating Capital (Fall 2014)

Exploring South Carolina Old 96 District (Spring 2014)

Weekend Getaway to Lake Charles, La. (Spring 2014)

Exploring Northwest Florida's Natural Side (Spring 2014)

Discovering the Lake Oconee Area (Fall 2013)

Cumberland Island National Seashore (Fall 2013)

The Best of Today's Waterpark Rides (Summer 2013)

COOKING CLASSES IN THE SOUTH (Spring 2013)

Have a Southern Houseboat House Party (Spring 2013)

Take Flight: Yes, You CAN Get a Pilot’s License (Spring 2013)

Discovering Hollywood's Backlot (Fall 2012)

Color-Fall Tennessee (Fall 2012)

NASCAR 2012: Upcoming Events Around the South (Summer 2012)

RVacations (Summer 2012)

People Go Wild for Glamping (Summer 2012)

Best Beaches for Beach Bums (Summer 2012)

Heirloom Gardens (Spring 2012)

Unforgettable Experiences Await You at Select Registry Inns in the South (Winter 2011)

Golf with a Southern Drawl (Fall 2011)

Bring Rover on Over - Hotels That Want to Pamper Your Pooch (Fall 2011)

Cabana Mania! (Summer 2011)

Time to Plan for Summer Sleepaway Camps (Spring 2011)

He Said Golf, She Said Spa (Spring 2011)

Edu-Vacation Destination: Charleston, S.C. (Spring 2011)

Getting Your Adventure on in the Mountains (Spring 2011)

Freeze Action (Winter 2010)

No Ordinary Love (Winter 2010)

Spa Spectacular: The Natural Choice (Winter 2010)

Freestyle Mountain Adventures (Winter 2010)

Florida's North Peninsula

In northeast Florida there is a long, narrow stretch of barrier island known as the North Peninsula which harbors the towns of Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach, Ormond-By-the-Sea and Flagler Beach.  Known for its small beach-town lifestyle, rich and celebrated history, lively nightlife and limitless outdoor activities, this area is a beloved vacation spot for many while somehow remaining off the radar enough to keep its relaxed atmosphere, quiet charm and primitive beauty intact.  

Just north of famous Daytona is lesser-known Ormond Beach, which also has its downtown roots on the mainland but reaches across the Halifax River (part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway) to the ocean.  Originally inhabited by the Timucuan Indians in the 1500’s then settled by English pioneers in the early 1800’s, Ormond survived war and natural disaster alike to flourish as the Birthplace of Speed, home of the hard, flat, wide beaches which brought the first automobile manufacturers and racing enthusiasts to the area from around the globe in the early 1900’s to give birth to motorsport.  

Amenities such as fresh seafood, an expansive tiki bar, a farmers market and shops are part of downtown Ormond Beach’s modern life within the historic ambience provided by places such as John D. Rockefeller’s The Casements, the Nathan Cobb house (built from the wreck of the ship of the same name, the hull of which is still visible at low tide), Billy’s Tap Room and Grill (est. 1922) and Second Seminole Indian War-era battle sites like the Bulow Sugar Mill Plantation Ruins.

Ormond-By-the-Sea features quaint vacation rentals in quiet neighborhoods populated by kind locals, long-time visitors and restaurants specializing in great pizza, beachside barbecue and northern favorites on miles of clean, cinnamon-colored beach. The local hotspot is dog-friendly beach bar Lagerheads, from which you can view killer sunsets and blazing rocket launches from Cape Canaveral while enjoying great live music daily and indulging in innovative twists on American fare washed down with a cold margarita or craft beer.

Continuing north, you’ll pass through adjoining North Peninsula and Gamble Rogers State Parks, popular for viewing endangered right whales and oceanside RV camping.  Next is Flagler Beach is where you'll find a first-class farmers market, quirky shops and fun eateries serving fresh oysters and Florida wines, as well as a local history museum, art festivals, live music in the park, dog-friendly beaches and fishing from the Flagler Beach Pier where you can have your catch cooked at the Funky Pelican.

Only about 1-1/2 hours (yet worlds away) from Disney, there’s also camping, biking and hiking in Tomoka State Park, kayaking and fishing the river and backcountry salt marsh, surfing, fan gliding, paddle boarding, exploring coquina rock ruins like Bulow and Three Chimneys (the oldest rum distillery in the country).

The staggering amount of affordable activities and entertainment, laid-back beach life, friendly people and uncrowded natural beauty make the North Peninsula a must-try for anybody seeking old Florida charm near modern amenities and world-famous events like Daytona Speedweeks, Bike Week, and spring break.  Once you spend some time here, you'll always come backā€”if you don’t just move here, like I did.

Photos: Brian Best

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