Heading to the Daytona Beach area for a family road trip? There’s so much to do in Daytona Beach and the rest of Volusia County as you drive down — or up — the coast. These are the top 9 fun activities for families visiting Daytona Beach, whether you’re traveling with toddlers or teens.
1. Play on the Beach
It’s the world’s most famous beach (and there’s a very Instagrammable entrance arch that says this), so you naturally need to save time for sand and surf when you’re visiting Daytona Beach. In the summer, plan to get there early and take a break midday when the sun is strongest. There are plenty of great restaurants nearby, so you have lots of options. Don’t forget your sunscreen and beach toys! Parking near the beach is also free, a bonus for road-trippers.
Looking for extra touristy fun? Stroll down the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. You can visit the pier, play arcade games, ride the nearby Daytona Beach Slingshot and Vomatron (if you’re at least 44 inches tall) and more.
2. Stay on the Beach
When you’re in Daytona Beach, you want to stay near the water. Your hotel is an important part of your vacation, after all! We wanted something close to all the sights but still relaxing and peaceful and found it at the Hampton Inn Daytona Shores-Oceanfront. This family-friendly hotel is right off the scenic A1A, so the location couldn’t be better. parking is free — hurray! And they also have all the Hampton perks we appreciate like free wifi, free breakfast plus a pool and gym.
Our room was comfortable and clean, but what we loved most was gazing at the water from our balcony. Check out our amazing view in the photo above. We were lucky because the beach wasn’t crowded at all!
3. Tour the Museum of Arts & Sciences
Need a break from the sun? You could spend hours at the Museum of Arts & Sciences, which includes a planetarium, a 90-acre nature preserve, a sculpture garden and several galleries. If your kids are little, head to the Children’s Museum, filled with interactive, science-focused exhibits. The Root Family Museum is another must-see, boasting one of the world’s largest collections of Coca-Cola memorabilia.
Other standout exhibits include the 13-foot skeleton of a prehistoric sloth, an armory, an elaborate stained glass door, and over 800 teddy bears of all shapes and sizes.
4. Make a Splash at the Water Parks
Daytona Lagoon is the big one here, but there’s also Sun Splash Park, the city-run splash pad. Daytona Lagoon boasts a lazy river, water slides, a wave pool and a multi-level splash center. Tickets are by height rather than age and range from about $25-$35. Sun Splash Park is more for an hour or so of splashing in the water jets. It also has a playground, picnic tables and the beach nearby. Admission is free.
Both are open seasonally, so check their websites before you go. However, the entertainment center at Daytona Lagoon, including go karts, an arcade, mini golf and laser tag, welcomes guests year-round.
5. Travel the Culinary World at the Red Bud Cafe
Don’t think of it as lunch. Think of it as an adventure. Argentinian or Thai crêpes? What about the burek, a flaky stuffed pita from the Balkans? That’s just a taste of the menu at Red Bud Cafe.
If the kids are picky eaters, opt for the quesadillas or a chicken panini. They even have a “babyccino” topped with marshmallows.
Above all, save room for desserts. Whether you want healthier (like their tasty fig and walnut balls) or indulgent (like tiramisu or baklava or something called the Lamington, which is an Australian cake rolled in coconut), it’s all made-from-scratch delicious.
6. Explore Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is 45 minutes southwest of Daytona Beach, but it’s a must if you’ve never been.
The park is unusual in that it offers a completely different experience depending on when you go. Visiting in summer? You can swim the crystal-clear spring, a refreshing 72 degrees year-round. But in winter there’s no swimming (and you wouldn’t want to — Florida does get chilly in winter). There’s something even better.
You can walk around the spring to view manatees, who visit by the hundreds for the warmer water. In general, the colder it is, the more manatees there are. We even saw a baby manatee!
7. Visit Ponce Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest lighthouse in Florida. While there are 203 steps to the top, it’s pretty manageable for kids, and you’ll likely find it’s the adults in the group who often get winded on their way up. The views, however, are worth it. Your ticket also includes access to other buildings and exhibits around the light station, including a theater with a 20-minute video about the lighthouse’s history.
8. Eat at Dancing Avocado Kitchen
We chose this restaurant because of the rave reviews and weren’t disappointed. Sandwiches, salads, and breakfast entrees are big at Dancing Avocado Kitchen, but they also have lots of vegan and vegetarian options. Want chicken tenders? Done. Vegan “chicken” tenders? You got it. Basically, everyone in the family will find something they like here. I particularly enjoyed their avocado toast, which I ate al fresco in a park because the weather was gorgeous.
They do have cute outdoor dining. The decor inside is also pretty cool. Think of it as a treasure hunt (can you find the iguana crossing sign?) and the whole family will be entertained as you wait to chow down.
9. Explore Downtown Daytona Beach
Downtown Daytona Beach has so much to offer families. There’s a farmer’s market, playground, history museum, movie theater, marina, antique mall, and so many stores and restaurants, including the Riverfront Shops of Daytona Beach.
Want to get something sweet? Try Sweet Marlays’ Coffee and their incredible fresh pastries. There was a line when we visited, but that just proves the locals know what’s good! Or hit up the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory. They usually do free factory tours, temporarily suspended during COVID-19.
There’s also the cutest local bookshop, called Abraxas Books, filled with stories and nooks for finding your next adventure. And of course, don’t miss a visit to the downtown magic shop.
Check out more of our family road trip ideas for Florida for inspiration on where to go next.
Cheryl Rodewig is storyteller, marketer, and award-winning feature writer specializing in travel. Her Venn diagram includes minimalism, waterfalls, French, and the em dash. Find her at cherylrodewig.com or on Twitter at @cherylrodewig.