Located in Florida’s Volusia County about an hour northwest of Orlando, Orange City is perfectly positioned for visitors interested in exploring the state’s varied attractions.
Orange City had a population of just more than 10,000 residents at the time of the last census and was incorporated in 1882.
It’s located just off Interstate 4 and is also relatively close to Interstate 95, which is Florida’s largest north-south running highway.
Day-trips to Daytona Beach and some of the country’s largest theme parks are great ways to spend a day. For those who’d rather stay closer to home, there are a variety of natural and historical attractions within city limits.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Orange City.
1. Blue Spring State Park
Blue Spring State Park is a regionally famous attraction that draws year-round visitors for its natural environments and variety of recreation options.
The park is located along the St. Johns River in Orange City and is particularly well-known for the natural spring feeding a large pool that maintains a pleasant 72 degrees regardless of season or weather.
Fishing, camping, mountain biking, and kayaking are all popular park pastimes, and admission is charged on a per-vehicle basis, making it an inexpensive way to spend a day with a family or group.
The park is open from 8 AM until sunset and is located on West French Avenue.
2. Deltona Hills Golf and Country Club
Playing about 7,000 yards from the blue tees, the Deltona Hills Golf and Country Club Course is one of the longest in the area, and its claim to fame is that it doesn’t have any water.
That’s quite a distinction in a lake, pond, and river-filled state like Florida, but according to golfers in the know, it cuts down on lost balls and significantly reduces interactions with alligators.
In the last few years, the course has undergone massive upgrades and was recently ranked the state’s #1 renovated course.
It’s a semi-public facility, so members get preference over casual players during peak times.
3. Lelo’s BBQ Puerto Rican Cuisine
Lelo’s BBQ Puerto Rican Cuisine is located on Saxon Boulevard in Orange City, and according to previous visitors of Puerto Rican descent, their food is about as authentic as you’re likely to find anywhere on the mainland.
Their menu is full of traditional Puerto Rican favorites like roast pork, beef stew, and a variety of seafood dishes.
Lelo’s BBQ features a comfortable, no-frills atmosphere that’s packed with Puerto Rican culture. A big portion of their visitors are tourists driving to and from the theme-park attractions in nearby Orlando.
Expect reasonable prices, vibrant flavors, hefty portions, and prompt, friendly service.
4. Thursby House
Thursby House is located inside the Blue Spring State Park and is a unique historic attraction giving visitors in-depth insight into the lives of the farmers and settlers who called the area home in the 18th and 19th centuries.
The man who the house is named after was one of the area’s first settlers; when he arrived with his family in 1857, he promptly established a citrus farm and small port for river steamships.
The house has been preserved to near-original condition and still includes period furniture and housewares.
It’s relatively small, and most guests spend less than an hour checking it out.
5. St. Johns River Cruises
The St. Johns River has played significant roles in the history, economy, and development of the area around Orange City; it’s one of those natural wonders that really should be explored and enjoyed while in the area.
St. Johns River Cruises is located in Orange City and is open every day from 8:30 in the morning until 5 in the evening.
Their river tours are their most popular offerings and include historical narration, fantastic sights, and the chance to view a variety of wildlife, like birds, turtles, gators, and even manatees.
For more active visitors, they offer Segway and kayak rentals and tours as well.
6. Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company
Florida’s blistering sun and high humidity can often make being outside a less than pleasant experience, and for those in dire need of air-conditioning and refreshment, there’s no better place to spend a few afternoon or evening hours than Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company.
Persimmon Hollow is located nearby in historic downtown Deland; though they’ve only come onto the craft brew scene in the last few years, they’ve attracted a loyal following.
They’re particularly well-known for their authentic Belgian beers, but they offer a little bit of everything – from IPAs to stouts. They’re located in a trendy neighborhood with lots of dining and live entertainment options.
7. Stetson Mansion
The name Stetson was once synonymous with high-quality, American-made hats, and the Stetson Mansion on Camphor Lane in Deland was once the home of John Stetson and his wife Elizabeth.
The home was constructed in the 1880s and was an estate of unparalleled luxury that was frequently known to host business magnates, movie stars, presidents, and even European royalty.
The three-story home features Victorian architecture, and all its rooms are open to viewing during both 60 and 90-minute tours.
Not surprisingly, it’s full of priceless art, Tiffany stained glass, and one-of-a-kind antiques; during the holiday season, it’s decorated to the hilt.
8. Museum of Art Deland
The Museum of Art Deland is run by a non-profit organization that’s focused on providing the community with art and cultural activities that it may not have access to otherwise.
The museum is located on North Woodland Boulevard in Deland and consists of two distinct galleries containing pieces done in a variety of mediums with a number of regional, national, and international influences.
Most of what’s on display are contemporary works, and many of them were done by Florida artists. Throughout the year, the museum’s staff offers a variety of instructional and educational courses, programs, and workshops aimed at enriching the lives of both locals and visitors alike.
9. Reptile Discovery Center
With its abundant sun and subtropical climate, Florida is the perfect environment for a variety of native and exotic reptiles. For those who’d like the opportunity to get up close and personal with many of them, there’s no better place to do just that than the Reptile Discovery Center.
The center’s serpentarium is its biggest attraction and is home to dozens of deadly snakes from around the world, including pythons, mambas, and the King Cobra, which is the largest venomous snake in the world and can exceed 12 feet in length.
The discovery center also features outdoor nature trails, where visitors can watch gators in their natural habitat.
10. Henry A. Deland House Museum
Most visitors who decide to explore the Henry A. Deland House Museum spend about an hour on-site.
The house and museum are conveniently located on Michigan Avenue near other area attractions, and the home is one of the area’s best-preserved examples of Victorian Architecture.
The site is managed by a local historical society and staffed by enthusiastic local volunteers who love having the opportunity to show visitors around and impart their knowledge.
The home and museum include period furniture, art, and everyday home items that were typical in the late 19th century, and most guest’s experiences far outweigh their expectations.
11. Universal Orlando
Universal Orlando ranks among the top of the Sunshine State’s theme-park attractions, and for many vacationing families with kids, it’s where they spend the majority of their time.
Featuring tons of amusement-park rides like rollercoasters and Ferris wheels, the park is a big hit with young and old adrenaline junkies alike. It also offers several movie-related activities and live entertainment.
Universal Orlando is relatively unique in that it has an abundance of on-site lodging and dining options, so it’s really a self-contained vacation wonderland.
During peak times, the park can become a noisy and chaotic madhouse, so if that’s something you’d like to avoid, consider a morning or weekday visit.
12. The Athens Theatre
The Athens Theatre in Deland was designed and built in the early part of the 20th century by a famous architect named Murray King.
The theatre features stunning Italian Renaissance architecture and is so-named because the town’s founder originally envisioned it as the Athens of America.
Over the years, the theatre has hosted a little bit of everything – from raucous vaudeville productions and Broadway-style shows to high school dances and local theatre productions.
In the mid-‘90s, it got a few much-needed upgrades, and today it offers performance-minded visitors a wide variety of productions, most of which are produced by talented local performers and volunteers.
13. Highland Park Fish Camp
The Highland Park Fish Camp is set on more than 20,000 pristine acres adjacent to the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge and is as much a historical attraction as it is a fishing one.
It’s a traditional site that offers guests some overnight accommodation options, including tent camping, RV sites, and small, rentable bungalows.
Expert local fishing guide service is available for those who feel they need some professional help, but for seasoned anglers who’d rather hit the water on their own, private boat rentals are available too.
The water around the camp is well-known for its lunker-size largemouth bass, bream, and catfish.
14. Harry P. Leu Gardens
Previous visitors to the Harry P. Leu Gardens in Orlando have described them as a scenic gem hidden among the hustle and bustle of one of the state’s largest metropolitan areas.
The grounds are comprised of almost 50 acres and include some distinct cultivated areas, each with its own theme.
The land on which the gardens now reside was donated to the city by a local couple in the ‘60s, and it’s open daily to visitors.
The gardens are particularly stunning in spring when most flowers are in bloom. They offer a number of special events throughout the year, like a Mother’s Day party and even live entertainment occasionally.
15. Deland Naval Air Station Museum
During the World War II years, the Deland Naval Air Station was buzzing with activity. The base’s museum is a must-visit attraction for history and military-minded travelers who find themselves in the area with an hour or two to kill.
After the war, the air station reverted to its civilian role, and since 1995, the museum has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Exhibits detail the station’s role during the war and include a unique collection of mothballed war-birds, including a MASH chopper and a multi-engine F-14 Tomcat fighter like the one Tom Cruise flew in Top Gun.