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The Loop at Ormond Beach
For those who are lucky enough to be able to spend longer than 2 or 3 weeks in Orlando, there is a whole world out there beyond Disney and the magical parks. Having more time to enjoy everything that Florida, and Orlando in particular, has to offer will mean that you will be able to explore some of the lesser known, but no less enjoyable, parts of this diverse state. When you can finally tear yourself away from the excitement and fun of the theme parks then why not take a more leisurely drive along the gently curving ‘Loop’, Ormond Beach which is just north of Daytona Beach on the eastern Atlantic coast, in north east Volusia County?
This 30 mile route is the ideal place to soak up the beauty along the way. You will see state parks, such as the Bulow State Park and the Tomoka State Park, where you can paddle in rivers, visit ruined sugar mills, and walk past mounds of oyster and snail shells left by ancient Indians. The scenery is diverse, with two rivers, marshes and creeks, dunes, beaches and there are many historic buildings as well as museums. But if you are after recreational opportunities then these can be found in abundance, with fishing, hiking, boating, fishing, beach walking, and if you have a bicycle, then you can go cycling. For the nature lover there is idyllic scenery to photograph, and plenty of wildlife to watch, including Humpback whales and Northern Right whales, which may be seen during the migration seasons. Of course you may be lucky and see dolphins or leatherback and green turtles, who use the sandy beaches along the A1A Highway to lay their eggs.
John D Rockefeller also loved this area and built a huge and grand winter home here, called The Casements, which overlooks the riverfront. This many windowed building was actually built in 1910 by the Rev Harwood Huntington, but was purchased by Rockefeller as his winter residence in 1918. He loved the area and threw lavish Christmas parties. He also loved golf, and played host to such famous people as Henry Ford and the Prince of Wales. It was here in this house that he died peacefully in his sleep, in 1937. The house was later sold by the family in 1939, when it became a girl’s preparatory school for 20 years, and nearly became a grand hotel. It was eventually purchased by the City of Ormond Beach, which restored it and opened it as a cultural and community centre
You can access the Loop anywhere along its 30 miles, and visit the lush Tomoka State Park, drive along the Old Dixie Highway, or amble along the riverside John Anderson Drive and North Beach Street. With its 35 mph speed limit this is not the place to rush.
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