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Daytona Beach Earth-Friendly Family Vacaitons Include Kayaking, Secret Gardens, and an Ocean Safari.Daytona Beach Earth-Friendly Canoe Excursions The Daytona Beach area offers a remarkable number of earth friendly experiences for families to share. From dolphin watching, fishing for snook, and living history to hiking forest trails, meandering tree-shaded boardwalks, and kayaking among the marshes, it's all about having fun while being green. As folows is a short list of ideas meant to inspire. 

Go fishing for snook or tarpon.  Nestled along the tranquil, easy-flowing Tomoka River, Tomoka State Park in Ormond Beach sets the standard for green and peaceful. The 1,540-acre park remains a secret natural beauty ideal for a family getaway. Fish from the shore, rent a boat and explore, canoe water pathways, hike nature trails, enjoy a picnic under a canopy. The waters surrounding the park are popular for fishing. More than 90 different fish species have been identified in the Tomoka River and its tributaries. The finned population includes red drum, black drum, sheepshead, spotted sea trout, common snook, and tarpon. Need to know: A salt water-fishing license is required for non-residents and for those fishing from a boat. Youth younger than the age of 16 and seniors older than 65 do not need a fishing license, but they must abide by all other fishing regulations including gear type, bag, and size limits.

Find Daytona's green heart. Geckoes dart along the railings, birds vocalize to one another, and turtles sleep in a patch of sun. Fern, mistletoe, and Spanish moss adorn trees. At the heart of Daytona Beach, Tuscawilla Preserve Discovery Center anchors a network of boardwalk trails originating from the Museum of Arts and Sciences. The well-marked trails weave throughout the densely forested preserve. In each direction there are interactive spots for viewing and listening or smelling and touching. From time to time staff at the Discovery Center conduct programs on varying topics, but really, the nicest aspect of this location is the chance to become immersed in nature. Bonus Points: Pay attention to the fragrance garden at the beginning of the boardwalk, and don't miss the new children's museum on the flip side of MOAS. Spruce Creek Park Dinosaur in Daytona beach
 
Find the perfect picnic spot. Several spots come to mind when I think of packing a cooler and getting away for a picnic. Spruce Creek Park to the south of Daytona Beach off U.S. Highway 1 has sunny space, picnic and playground areas, hiking trails, a beautiful creek and several Indian mounds originating from Timucuan Indian residents. A second secret picnic spot is guarded by dinosaurs. Set amid an established neighborhood, Sugar Mill Gardens in Port Orange surrounds the ruins of a 19th century English period sugar mill. The 12-acre garden complex is also home to 40-year old concrete dinosaur statues now covered with moss and lichen and hidden among the ferns and pothos tendrils - too cool. Bonus Points: Within the garden complex you’ll find a unique sundial which determines the time of day by the participants shadow. Visitors may purchase indigenous plants at bargain prices from the make shift garden nursery. The proceeds go to sustain the garden.
 
Go camping and search for Nocorocco. I love places with a story – not just a fish story, any story. So Tomoka State park fits the bill. In addition to being a lovely spot to camp, launch a boat, or rent a canoe, Tomoka State Park protects the site of the ancient Timucuan Indian village of Nocorocco. Severe budget cuts have closed the discovery center but the remains of an earlier time still may be discovered on your own. Most remarkable is a 40-foot high concrete and coquina sculpture of chief Tomokie and his warriors reflecting a moment in history. It looks like something leftover from Raiders of the Lost Ark and makes an ideal backdrop for campfire stories. Though we saw no evidence of plantation life we also learned that the same land was once part of Mount Oswald Plantation – an indigo plantation in 1766. Today there are about 100 camping spots with the woods or along the shore and there is a playground available in the camping area. 320FLDaytonaTomakieStatueBonus Points: Tomoka also offers guests the Bedtime Story Camper Lending Library for campers aged four to nine. The second Saturday of each month from October through March Florida history comes to life at the park. Each month the topic changes and knowledgeable interpreters explain and demonstrate events and activities from the area’s rich past.
 
Cruise the Halifax River. Share the best of Daytona Beach area's rich history by taking a mini cruise along the Halifax River in a 1890s vintage watercraft with a fantail launch with a red and white surrey top. In addition to historic sites and beautiful parks, passengers also get the chance to see plenty of native wildlife including pelicans, herons, egrets, and other waterfowl. Depending on the time of year it is also possible to catch a glimpse of playful dolphins or a herd of endangered manatees. A Tiny Cruise Line offers four narrated tours along the Halifax River. The themed excursions include a blend of river lore, landmarks, nature's beauty and old Daytona stories. I think the best is timed at sunset because the colors in the sky reflect in the water creating a made-for-the-movies kind of experience. The awesome scene combines with relaxing music, a pleasant sea breeze, and friendly conversation. 

Take an ocean safari. Who would expect a London double-decker bus on the streets of Daytona Beach? And one that picks up passengers for an adventure – so much the better. Daytona Beach Aqua Safari has the big red bus which they use to transport clients to the ocean safari launch spot not far from the lighthouse. The ocean safari begins on fishing eco-tour boat the Cnidoblast. Depending on the tide the discoveries made on each trip will be different. During the water safari the boat is anchored next to a sand bar where passengers disembark and watch while guides cast nets, and pull in sea creatures for closer inspection. You’ll get a first-person look at a crab trap and may even spot sand dollars. Passengers are invited to view, touch, and inspect each catch from the sea before it is returned to the sea. The day adventure also includes pizza, refreshments, admission to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, and Marine Science Center. Bonus Points: Want to take your kids fishing but would rather not do it alone?  The Aqua Safari folks conduct fishing excursions in Ponce Inlet. The charter group size is between four and 10 and the trip lasts about four hours. The fish population changes by season. Popular catches include snook, blue fish, grouper, snapper, and stargazers. Everything needed for fishing is included (except a hat and waterproof sunscreen) and no prior fishing experience is necessary.
 
Waves, kayaks, fishing, and fun. Daytona Beach is the place to launch from the beach to enjoy ocean kayaking; navigate the shoreline of Halifax River or discover countless quiet water escapes including Hidden River and Blue Springs. Several outfitters provide not only rentals but also tours and lessons. Everyone at Ormond Beach Kayak Center loves to talk kayaks, and kayaking  and they have plenty of suggestions on where and how to have more fun kayaking on your vaction. The same friendly, energetic folks can also schedule kayak fishing - a new twist for me. I have only recently become comfortable with a paddle but the idea seems fun .and the catching of fish is not essential. Your kayak will be transported for you including all related paddling gear to the water’s edge. All you have to do is paddle out, have fun, and pull in a fish.
320FLDaytonaTomakaMarsh 
Follow a river trail by kayak. If you want to share a water adventure with your kids then hook up with Quin's Kayaks in Daytona Beach . They conduct guided kayaking trips on the St. Johns and Tomoka Rivers - day trips ideal for families. The unique excursions provide an easy way to share nature with your kids and learn about the wildlife and ecosystems in the area. Paddlers often encounter manatees and alligators, and see osprey as well as bald eagles nesting along the shoreline. If you’d rather do your own thing they offer free pickup and delivery to all beachside accommodations. Bonus Points: During school holidays Quin’s Kayaks often conducts a kayaking day camp for ages nine and older.
 
Make it happen. More about Daytona Beach area attractions, events, sleeping places, and deals Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau toll-free at 1-800-854-1234 or www.daytonabeach.com
 
Location on the planet. Daytona Beach on the north tip of Florida’s Central East Coast, is located 54 miles from Orlando making it just an hour’s drive from many popular theme parks and more awesome shopping. Daytona Beach International Airport is served by several major airlines, including Delta and U.S. Airways with service to more than 150 destinations worldwide.

Family Vacation Planning Details
Tuscawilla Preserve Discovery Center at The Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences. 352 S. Nova Road, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114. (386)255-0285 or www.moas.org
Tomoka State Park. 2099 North Beach Street, Ormond Beach, (Park hours are 8 a.m. dusk daily.) (386)676-4050 or www.floridastateparks.org 
Sugar Mill Botanical Gardens. 950 Old Sugar Mill Rd. (386) 767-1735.
A tiny Cruise Line. 425 S. Beach St., Daytona Beach Daytona Beach, FL 32114-5003. (386) 226-2343.
Daytona Beach Aqua Safari. 601 Earl Street, Daytona Beach (386) 405-3445  daytonabeachaquasafari.com
Ormond Beach Kayak Center. 1750 Ocean Shore Blvd. (SR A1A), Ormond by the Sea toll-free 1-888-9-KAYAKS (952-925) or www.ormondbeachkayaks.com
Quin's Kayaks Daytona Beach. 300 N. Atlantic blvd. Daytona Beach, FL 32118. (786) 487-8114 or www.kayakdaytona.com
 


Content and images posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Copyright updated 2015.


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