In 1876, New York baking soda mogul, Henry DeLand vacationed with his daughter Helen at a homesite selected for him by a relative. It was fifteen miles north of the steamboat landing at Enterprise and the poor impression of the land he had to trek through almost discouraged him. His destination proved to be impressive and he changed the area forever. He offered settlers bonus dollars for rapid creation of schools and churches and they named the town after him. Two steam powered sawmills provided a ready source of building materials and a steamboat landing on the St. Johns River kept a stream of settlers headed his way. In 1880, the Orange Ridge, DeLand and Atlantic Railroad Company linked to the Jacksonville, Tampa, and Key West Line.
Incorporated in 1882, DeLand became the county seat in 1888. Under sponsorship of the Florida Baptists, DeLand College opened in 1885 featuring "classical, scientific and English instruction." In 1886, Henry DeLand talked John B. Stetson (of hat fame) out of a million dollars for the new school and Stetson University was born. (And the city of DeLand was only 10 years old!)
The natural beauty and outdoor recreational opportunities in the DeLand-West Volusia area are unsurpassed. Outdoor enthusiasts around the nation and the world come here for hunting and great fishing in freshwater lakes and the famed St. Johns River. Non-anglers enjoy boating, water skiing, golf, tennis, scuba diving, skydiving, bird-watching and other popular outdoor activities. Take a leisurely stroll around small town shopping districts, modern shopping centers or the DeLand Farmers' Market, held each Wednesday morning at the Volusia County Fairgrounds located in eastern DeLand on S.R. 44.
Several beautiful state parks, Stetson University, dozens of festivals, and cultural & sports activities provide delightful family entertainment while Central Florida's world-renowned tourist attractions are within an easy drive.
Hontoon Island State Park on the St. Johns River, west of DeLand, takes in more than 1,000 acres of cypress swamp, open savannah and hammocks of oak, pine and palms. A floating marina with boat slips lies just 100 yards across the river from Hontoon Landing Resort & Marina. Visit Hontoon Island by private boat, or ride a free ferry during daylight hours. The island was once the home of the Timucuan Indians and visitors may walk beautiful nature trails to an Indian mound.
Explore the majestic St. Johns River on your own in a rented fishing, pontoon or luxury houseboat, and plan to spend a couple of hours cruising the river on a narrated guided tour out of Hontoon Landing Resort & Marina. A day or two on the St. Johns is an unforgettable experience - a true 'escape' from the hectic everyday world.
Blue Spring State Park, just west of Orange City, is centered on the Blue Spring 'boil' which produces 105 million gallons of sparkling clear water each day. The boil is accessible by way of rustic boardwalks winding through lush wilderness. Fishing, swimming, diving and boating facilities are available as well as camping and picnic areas. Blue Spring is the winter home of the Florida Manatee, or sea cow, a unique species of water mammal which migrates here each year to escape the chilly St. Johns River in the constant 72-degree waters of the Blue Spring run.
The coming of the Manatee to Blue Spring State Park each winter is reason for celebration at the Manatee Festival, held in late January at Orange City's Valentine Park, near the entrance to Blue Spring Park.
At DeLeon Springs State Park, just north of DeLand at the community of DeLeon Springs, retrace the route taken by Spanish explorer Ponce DeLeon when he discovered what he believed to be the legendary Fountain of Youth. Here, too, you will find ancient cypress and oak trees, native birds, Indian burial grounds, and an old Spanish sugar mill which has been converted into a most unusual restaurant where you may cook delicious pancakes on a griddle built right into your table. A natural spring swimming area, picnic grounds, fishing, rental canoes and paddle boats are also available.
West Volusia Tourism Authority
(386) 775-2006 or (800) 749-4350
DeLand Area Chamber of Commerce
336 N. Woodland Boulevard
DeLand, Florida 32720
Voice: (386) 734-4331
Fax: (386) 734-4333
421 North Woodland Boulevard
DeLand, FL 32723