Old Florida. Real Florida. Vibrant Florida.
Sitting right there between Orlando and Daytona, West Volusia encompasses fourteen communities with an eclectic collection of accommodations and attractions. The authenticity travelers are looking for is here. From top-rated downtown DeLand to the scenic St. Johns River, this is real Florida. And what variety it offers! It’s amazing really. The region is known for everything from skydivers above to manatees below and from pancake griddles to paranormal occurrences.
West Volusia is a dream for those who want to explore the waters and natural habitats. The heart of region, and one of only 14 American Heritage Rivers in the country, the St Johns River and the series of lakes it connects, make up the St. Johns River Blueway and the River of Lakes Heritage Corridor. Whether by canoe or kayak, river boat or house boat, exploring the river gives visitors access to view turtles, gators, manatees, more than 200 species of birds and a lush, natural Florida landscape. And of course, there’s fishing! The region is widely known as an excellent area to catch bass and crappie.
Downtown DeLand is home to shops and boutiques, galleries, nine, yes nine, museums and a series of murals – including number one selfie spot #DeLandWings. New to the scene, microbreweries, brew pubs and wine bars dot the map and complement an array of fabulous restaurants. The combination of this “new vibe” and the character of authentic, small town Florida offers a unique experience.
West Volusia is a destination with stories to tell, history to share and fun to have. Start your journey at www.visitwestvolusia.com.
Crappie Masters Tournament, January, www.CrappieMasters.net
Orange City Blue Spring Manatee Festival, January, www.TheManateeFestival.com
Volusia Beer Week, Various Locations, February, www.DrinkVolusia.org
DeLand Craft Beer Festival, February, www.DrinkVolusia.org
Florida DIRTcar Nationals, February, www.DirtCarNationals.com
Mardi Gras on MainStreet Dog Masquerade Parade, February, www.DogParadeDeLand.com
Youth Celebration of the Arts, March, www.GatewayCenterfortheArts.org
DeLand Bike Rally, March, www.DeLandRally.com
Bike Week Swap Meet, March, www.FastLaneDaytona.com
Barberville Strawberry Festival, March, www.BarbervilleFest.com
Florida Wildflower & Garden Festival, March, www.FloridaWildflowerFestival.com
DeLand Outdoor Art Festival, March, www.DeLandOutdoorArtFest.com
Florida Rail Fair, April, www.GSERR.com
DeLandAPalooza, April, www.SSA.cc/DeLandAPalooza.html
Spring Frolic Music & Dance Festival, April, www.PioneerSettlement.org
Cracker Day Rodeo, April, www.RestlessRooster.com/vccattlemen/index.php/cracker-day
Wild Game Feast, May, www.WildGameFeast.org
A Celebration of Olde Florida, June, www.PioneerSettlement.org
Tropical Nights, July, www.MainstreetDeLand.org
DeLand Craft Show, September, www.DeLandCraftShow.com
Old Enterprise Festival, October, www.OldEnterprise.org
Thin Man Watts Jazz Fest, October, www.WattsJazzFest.com
Volusia County Fair, November, www.VolusiaCountyFair.com
Fall Country Jamboree, November, www.PioneerSettlement.org
DeLand Original Music Festival, November, www.SSA.cc/DeLand.htm
Stetson Mansion Christmas Spectacular, November, www.StetsonMansion.com
Fall Festival of the Arts, November, www.DeLandFallFestival.com
Fast Facts & Trivia
- The origin of the name of “Volusia” is of some debate. Despite serious effort by amateur and professional historians, no one has ever discovered a historic document which has provided the definitive answer. There are several theories:
- The name derives from a word meaning “Land of the Euchee.” When the Timucuan Indian cultures died out in the early 1700s, the land in the area was uninhabited until some of the Indian tribes to the north began to migrate into the area (much like the people that have become known as Seminoles). The Euchee Indians were a tribe originally from an area in South Carolina.
- The name was taken from the name of a British plantation that was located on the St. Johns River in the late 1700s. However, no one has explained where the plantation owner came up with the name.
- The name is derived from the last name of one of the employees at the trading post. He is described as being well-liked and of Belgian or French descent. The story goes that his name was something like “Veluche,” which was pronounced “Va-loo-shay.” The post became known as “Veluche’s Place,” hence the eventual creation of “Volusia.”
- Henry DeLand was a baking soda manufacturer from Fairport, NY who founded DeLand, Florida, and the DeLand Academy which became Stetson University. He suffered a severe financial loss due to guaranteeing orange crops for farmers who rented his land.
- Before its founder arrived, DeLand had been formerly called Persimmon Hollow for the Persimmon trees that were abundant in the area. Today, the citys award-winning brewery is named Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company.
- The nearby scenic village of Lake Helen was the brain-child of Henry DeLand, and he named his new village, Lake Helen after his daughter.
- The Stetson Mansion in DeLand is part of Florida’s First Luxury Estate and the grandest home ever built in Florida before the 20th century. The estate was hidden and lost for 100 years. It has recently been rescued, restored and updated in a timeless fashion. Built in 1886 for famed hat maker and philanthropist John B. Stetson, this winter retreat was the only richly detailed “Gilded Age” mansion built in Florida. Recently named one of the “Top 10 Places To Visit In Florida” by Tripadvisor.com
- German born Frederick deBary was hired by the Mumm family to sell its champagnes and wines in the United States. Young deBary was a success, selling Mumm brands to the rising class of wealthy Americans. He became a millionaire, and in 1870 came to Florida on vacation and fell in love with the St. Johns River. He purchased land on Lake Monroe and built a mansion (known today as DeBary Hall), which included one of the first elevators installed in a home. He entertained the famous, including presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland. He developed a steamship company that helped open up Florida’s interior to commerce.
- Deltona, an area that began as a small retirement community, has a larger population (85,000) than popular nearby beach town Daytona Beach (60,000)!
- Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp, a 123-year-old community of spiritually-minded people, is known as the Psychic Capital of the World.
- St. Johns River is the only Florida American Heritage River designated by the United States Environmental Protection Agency to receive special attention (coordinating efforts of multiple governmental entities) to further three objectives: natural resource and environmental protection, economic revitalization, and historic and cultural preservation.
- DeLand was the first community to receive the MainStreet designation in Florida. Moreover, the community was the recipient of the “Great American MainStreet Award” and has been voted as the best MainStreet in Florida five times.
- Pierson bills itself as the Fern Capital of the World. The town is heavily reliant on agriculture which mainly consists of fern growing. Its ferns are exported worldwide for use in floral arrangements and other decorations.
- Skydive DeLand is one of the busiest dropzones in the world, having more skydiving activity than 98 percent of the other drop zones in the country.
- Blue Spring State Park covers more than 2,600 acres, including the largest spring on the St. Johns River. Blue Spring is a designated manatee refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees. During manatee season, which approximately runs from mid-November through March, several hundred manatee can be viewed atop the springs overlooks on cold days.
- Inside DeLeon Springs State Park, the popular Old Spanish Sugar Mill & Griddle House Restaurant is located in a 100 year-old replica of the original 1830s sugar mill. Features cook-your-own pancakes at the table!
- Spring Garden Ranch Training Center in DeLeon Springs is the largest Standardbred horse training facility in North America and winter home of many champion harness racing teams.