Free Things to See and Do in the Daytona Beach Area

Judy Antell Avatar

Lifeguard chair at Daytona Beach Florida
Photo by Natalie Grainger on Unsplash

Spring Break, Nascar and the Richard Petty Driving Experience have put Daytona Beach on the map. But there is more to the Central Florida Beach resort area, including these family-friendly free things to do in Daytona Beach.

In the 20’s – the 1920’s that is – Daytona was world’s most famous beach. Car racing used to happen on the sand, which led NASCAR in 1948 and Daytona International Speedway, in 1959. Today, the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier now draws people seeking slower pursuits, like fishing and listening to live music, or dining at the many eateries.

If you’re planning a trip to Disney World or Universal Studios in Orlando, did you know Daytona is only an hour a way? If you want to combine your theme park vacation with a beach vacation, you can. Flying into Orlando? It’s easy enough to rent a car for that beach getaway.

With miles of white sandy beaches, Daytona Beach Florida still draws sun worshippers and ocean swimmers. When you’ve had your fill of beach fun, there is still plenty to do. Here’s a look at the free things to do in Daytona Beach.

Beaches, Parks, Museums, Culture and More: Free things to do in Daytona Beach

1. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse

There is an admission fee if you want to climb to the top but you can walk around this historic lighthouse for free.

2. Sun Splash Park 

This oceanfront park features an interactive water fountain, open March 1 through November 30. Other amenities include decorative walkways, a shaded playground, volleyball courts, picnic areas, restrooms, outdoor showers, and and ADA beach accessible ramp.  The four-acre facility also provides free parking. Sun Splash Park is open sunrise to sunset in season.

3. Tuscawilla Park

Tuscawilla Park has a nature center and trails that offer visitors a glimpse at plant and animal life. The park includes picnicking facilities and a disc golf course. The park is open daily, sunrise to sunset.

The Museum of Arts and Sciences, which charges admission, is nearby. Daytona Beach Zipline Adventure, which has several zipline courses, in Tuscawilla Park (not free) is also a short distance away.

Cute dog on Daytona Beach
Beaches in Daytona Beach are dog friendly. Credit: Daytona Beach Area CVB

4. North Peninsula State Recreation Area (Ormond Beach)

This 900-acre state park offers over two miles of sandy beaches. This area is open 365 days a year and features palmetto dunes and surf fishing. You can see marine turtles nesting from May to September. You will also find  biking, along with a bicycle maintenance station, and hiking the 2-mile Coastal Strand Trail. Bird-watchers can spot the native and migratory species.

5. Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park (Ormond Beach)

This sports-oriented park stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Halifax River and covers five ecological systems. It features tennis and racquetball courts, a soccer field, a basketball court, a canoe / kayak launch, nature trails, and picnicking facilities. A boardwalk offers more passive recreation. There is a large shaded dog park, with separate areas for large and small dogs. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.

6. Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory Tour 

Angell & Phelps is located in the historic Riverfront Marketplace and has been a Daytona Beach tradition since 1925. Take a free, guided, 20-minute tour through the chocolate-making process. Of course there are free samples at the end! Tours are offered Monday through Saturday.

SheBuysTravel tip: plan your trip here around when you are returning to your hotel or vacation rental. You don’t want to splurge on a chocolate treat and have it melt in your bag.

What are your favorite things to do in Daytona Beach?
One of the top free things to do in Daytona Beach? See turtles nesting in summer. Credit: North Peninsula State Recreation Area

6.  Dunlawton Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens – Port Orange

The 12-acre Dunlawton Sugar Mill botanical gardens includes the remains of a 19th century English sugar mill. The gardens were once home to the 1940’s amusement park, Bongoland. Life-size dinosaur statues, a relic of Bongoland, and a children’s garden appeal to kids. The gardens feature native plants, tropical collections, an herb garden and a human sundial.

No food or drink allowed. Dogs are not permitted. The gardens are open daily from dawn to dusk.

7. Art League of Daytona Beach

Works of local, state and national artists are on display here. Exhibits change about every six weeks. The gallery is in the historic district and has been promoting local artists since 1927.

Free concerts are some of the free things to do in Daytona Beach
Crowds enjoying live music at the historic bandshell on the beach. Credit: Daytona Beach Area CVB

8. Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens

This museum showcases paintings, drawings, video, mixed media, photography and three-dimensional works of art. The museum commemorates the service of World War II veterans. Open Monday – Friday 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Saturday – Sunday noon- 4 p.m. The adjacent lush tropical gardens feature nature trails, fish ponds and fountains. Walk the labyrinth inside a gazebo. Gardens are open daily, dawn to dusk. Admission is free, with a suggested $2 donation. Parking is free.

9. Southeast Museum of Photography

The Southeast Museum of Photography is Florida’s official museum of photography. It is one of only 13 museums in the United States dedicated exclusively to photography. In addition to its collection of renowned photographers, there are traveling exhibits and a gallery dedicated to local young artists. This museum is located on the Daytona State College campus so it is closed during school breaks. Call or check before you visit to make sure they’re open.

10. Jackie Robinson Ballpark

Most visitors don’t think of Central Florida as a historic place, but Daytona Beach boasts many landmarks. Daytona’s current minor league baseball team even plays at this ballpark, which is the fourth oldest ballpark in the United States. As one would expect, this ballpark honors the former Brooklyn Dodger, who played his first professional game here.

Note: although you can check out the exterior of the ballpark for free, games are not free.

11. The Casements

Formerly the winter home of multi-millionaire John D. Rockefeller, The Casements is on the National Register of Historic Places. The museum is named for the hand-cut casement windows of Rockefeller’s mansion. Exhibits include Boy Scout memorabilia, a Rockefeller Period Room and art collected by Rockefeller. Free tours are offered 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9:30 to 1:30 a.m. on Saturdays. The gardens include a promenade along the Halifax River. Watch free movies outdoors on the first Friday of every month.

12. Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation Home & Gravesite

Mary McLeod Bethune, the daughter of slaves, was an African-American educator and civil rights leader. Her home is a National Historic Landmark and is located on the campus of a university she co-founded, Bethune-Cookman University. Free, guided tours are offered Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Saturdays by appointment.

13. First Saturday Art Walk – One of the best seasonal things to do in Daytona Beach

The Ormond Beach ArtWalk. Over 30 galleries are open showcasing local artists. Some of the galleries offer free wine and snacks. Galleries are open 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. on the first Saturday of every month.

14. Friends of the Bandshell Concert Series

This seasonal concert series takes place May-September every Friday night at 7:00 p.m. The free concerts are held at the oceanfront, historic bandshell. Local groups and nationally known bands perform. The evening is topped off with a free fireworks show at 9:45 p.m. You can rent a beach chair or bring a blanket and sit in the sand.

sea turtle on Daytona Beach
Turtles nesting at North Peninsula State Recreation Area. Credit: Florida State Parks

15. New Year’s Eve

If you plan to celebrate the New Year’s Eve in Daytona, there is a free concert at the bandshell as well as a free block party, New Year’s Eve on Main Street. There is a fireworks display at 8:00 p.m., which is great for families with young kids or anyone else who can’t stay up until midnight. There’s also a second display at midnight.

16. Car Show

See classic cars the first Saturday of every month at the Classic Car Cruise-In at Daytona Flea & Farmers Market. Also, the farmers market, held every Saturday and Sunday, is a fun place to stroll.

17. Sea Turtle Season

May 1 through October 31, head to the beaches at night to see sea turtles lay their eggs. You can also see hatchlings emerge from the nests and crawl to the ocean.

Note: to protect the turtles, beachfront lighting at night is limited.

18. Water Park for Less

As you can see, there are tons of free things to do in Daytona Beach. This last item on our list is not free but we couldn’t resist mentioning. After you’ve explored the fun things to do that are free, splurge on the reasonably priced Daytona Lagoon  water park. Daytona Lagoon offers free admission for kids under 32 inches tall.  Fun at the Daytona Lagoon includes water roller coasters, body slides,  go-karts, mini-golf, an arcade and laser tag.

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