Beach vacations mean sand, surf and fresh air. Yet Daytona Beach communities also offer ways to soak up the Florida sunshine in the midst of art – both painted and naturally growing. Cultural Heritage TravelingMom discovered specific ways to choose art in Daytona Beach with museums, murals, galleries and arts districts that flow easily inside and out.
Art In Daytona Beach
Taking the family — or just yourself — to the beach for a few days should involve a little time out of the sun, don’t you think? Even a balcony with a snazzy ocean-view room can be too hot in the afternoon. Art in Daytona Beach on Florida’s coast offers some interesting options in little communities with distinct personalities.
1. Murals Easy To Locate
Gigantic murals tell stories in DeLand, 13 of them filling exterior downtown walls. Eating chocolate’s just one of the options while gazing at outdoor murals, and here’s why:
This town of 28,000 people filled every single building with locally owned businesses, the kind of places they wanted to hang out too.
Can’t you tell when a place created stores meant for tourists? DeLand built for themselves and I believe that’s why visitors can be interested too.
Indy bookstore, vintage couture, vinyl records, sangria served on a patio, bicycles for sale or rent, restaurants with executive chefs and al fresco dining and orange mango fudge at Pat & Toni’s Chocolate and Sweet Things where everything’s hand-made.
The perfect size performing arts theater—seats 300—is always sold out. The bikes you rent or bring yourself can connect to the 15 mile Spring-to-Spring Trail and that includes the St. Johns, an American Heritage River.
But what about the art, both indoor and out?
DeLand Stands On Its Own
Largest of the13 murals, DeLand at the Turn of the Century is 100 feet long, filled with ordinary folks—the people who picked oranges, worked in the lumberyard, created a city out of wilderness.
In 1995 the city sold “face space” to finance the massive mural project. Had we only known, we could have paid for our mugs to be the likeness of the laborers depicted on this wall.
Ask shopkeepers for the brochure as you stroll so you get the stories of each mural.
2. “Legendary Florida” Paintings in Courthouse
Go inside the Volusia County Courthouse to experience Jackson Walker oil paintings about 400 years of Florida history. Don’t be squeamish if you dislike snakes; one is hidden somewhere in each painting.
So are exquisite details for which the artist is known, based on his extensive research and life as a fifth generation Floridian. “Legendary Florida” in the courthouse also includes paintings in the Museum of Art-DeLand with a satellite location in this lively downtown as well as the north end of the city.
Think you might be in DeLand on a Wednesday? Make it the second any month and join the Wine, Women and Chocolate stroll from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
Before venturing back to the beach, or to the next Daytona Beach art mecca, consider key lime pie. A slice on the plate would be traditional, but I recommend ordering yours frozen, dipped in Belgian chocolate and served on a stick.
Kermit’s Key West Lime Shoppe is the place, a Key West business that transported itself to DeLand in 2004 for the manufacturing focus. Factory tours can happen, and outlet shopping saves at least 20 percent.
Pet-Friendly Even Means Snacks
Consider your cats and dogs too. Kermit’s creates pet treats that are human-friendly with an oatmeal and peanut butter base and a touch of key lime.
Kids welcomed at Kermit’s: shoppers, touring tourists and employee families. The floor-to-ceiling bookcase filled with children’s stories demonstrates a corporate attitude — something I also heard from Don Bosworth who’s the general manager at Daytona’s Plaza Resort & Spa.
The afternoon I strolled the art gallery in his Grand Colonnade coincided with a Bosworth-arranged photo shoot of kids’ games on the hotel patio. “You can’t call yourself a family-friendly resort and not care about the families of your employees too,” Bosworth told me.
3. New Smyrna Beach Means Arts District
The works of an astounding 78 local artists were available to admire the afternoon I declared The Hub on Canal my favorite active art gallery. Even more were in the works as artists filled intimate studios in this 1910 building, developing creations, and willing to talk about their visions.
I like interactive.
New Smyrna Beach embraces four blocks of shops, galleries, boutiques, restaurants and bars as an Arts District. Flagler Avenue is the main street and it heads directly to the beach for the best of both worlds.
4. The Hub On Canal
Hub on the Canal’s vibrant volunteer president Sally Mackay might be the reason my energy expanded considering the ways art engages visitors and residents. “Ideas never stop here,” she says. “Visions spontaneously happen.”
Hub is a working studio, exhibit space and teaching center with a whopping 9,000 square feet of space.
I think I should return to New Smyrna Beach Jan. 27-29, 2017 for the Images arts festival, along with 140,000 other folks.
More intimate would be the gentle classes for people with early stage Alzheimer’s and dementia. No telling what I’d learn about the minds of middle schoolers if I went to the film festival brand new in the fall of 2016; kids will make films representing the ways they see the world. Brilliant Hub on the Canal notion.
With live music every weekend, sleeping over in the Arts District has appeal so I walked through the Hampton Inn: not cookie cutter — instead architecturally blending with this lively little city in view of the ocean. 112 rooms.
Another TravelingMom tip: Go to New Smyrna Beach for a week next summer and enroll the kids ages six to nine in Hub camp. $75 includes all the supplies. They’ll be creative all morning and you can roam.
Beyond downtown but still New Smyrna Beach is the Atlantic Center for the Arts, a high tech rustic environment where master artists gather for intensive creative retreats and the rest of us can attend performances and exhibitions.
5. Art Appears In Public Places
Pleases me when government buys art and Volusia County has chosen at least 200 works by 75 artists for courtyards, entryways and public gathering places. More coming I suspect since there is a Cultural Council whose mission for the county is celebrating culture! This is an area of options.
6. Museum of Arts and Sciences
The Smithsonian Institution agrees the Daytona Beach Museum of Arts and Sciences exhibits top quality history along with all the art and science.
First, the great outdoors since the main museum nestles within a 90-acre nature preserve. Tuscawilla is the name. You can decompress from everything in this calm, urban oasis.
TravelingMom Tip: Stroll the half mile of boardwalks into this wet forest—not a swamp, just cooling, and let the kids be boisterous. That’s good preparation for museum behavior.
Second, in the main museum, exhibits vary widely which is good for different family attention spans. The planetarium is the full-dome style with laser animation.
For me, the early American art collection and the decorative arts gallery filled a deep inner need to connect. Good chance the 13-foot skeleton of a giant ground sloth pleases others.
If your family can’t focus on a gallery when there are 11 choices, consider the glassed-in display: big variety of objects not so tied by themes.
This is a peek at the 70 percent of treasures in the Museum’s collection protected in storage. I don’t find that opportunity in most museums I visit.
Cuba Collections don’t show up much either but at the Daytona Museum of Arts & Sciences I found fine art and folk art, cigar making tools and 200 years of history told with art and objects.
Kids can be hands on with science in one big museum wing, and I saw toddlers as engaged in their afternoon experiments as were tweens. You might enroll the kids next summer in age-specific the Summer Learning Institute programs for a week and spend your day otherwise.
7. Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum
Nearby is an affiliate of the Museum of Arts and Sciences that opened in February of 2015 showcasing Florida art as far back as 1839, the years in between and very up to date.
Makes sense there would be a huge collection since so many artists wintered in Florida in the grand hotels heyday.
2,800 works in this collection may be more than you plan to see, but here’s the way to look:
Guess where the scene of the oil painting or watercolor might be (you’ve visited some Florida spots, right?) and then look at the shape-of-Florida map near the traditional gallery text.
Where that image is or was is noted on the map so this art museum is a place of geography also.
Connect the artists on display here with some you met at The Hub On Canal in New Smyrna Beach. That worked for me because 79-year-old Sandra DeArmas Lloyd was painting in her studio in Hub the day I visited, and she has at least five works in the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art.
Named for the collector/donors who made it all possible, the museum is architecturally interesting too with a grand double staircase inviting you to the second floor. The entry lobby ceiling reminded me of tobacco barns with drying beams up high.
Florida make you think of hurricanes? Beach vacation lure you sunrise and sunset? That means you’ll enjoy the Florida Weather Gallery in this museum.
Do you ever alternate art with ocean time on beach vacations?