Things to do in DeLand: Sip and Stroll the Cool Craft Beverage Trail

Sip Sunshine Greetings at Central 28 in DeBary and Along the Cool Craft Beverage Trail.

Disclosure: I was a guest of the West Volusia Tourism Authority and all opinions are my own. They have not reviewed this post.

Whoever said, “don’t drink your calories,” has yet to explore the Cool Craft Beverage Trail in West Volusia County, Fla. Birthed during the pandemic, and introduced to the world in November 2020, this is one of the newest things to do in DeLand. The trail features places and beverages that make this part of Florida special. Or, as the tourism offices states, it’s “Old Florida. New vibe.”

If you visit five spots along the trail, you’ll receive a special koozie. You’ll find out how at the end of this post.

A couple explores the Artisan Alley Farmer's Market in Downtown DeLand, Fla., Sept.17, 2021.
A couple explores the Artisan Alley Farmer’s Market in Downtown DeLand, Fla., Sept.17, 2021.

A Weekend in DeLand Sipping and Strolling

There are more than a dozen businesses participating in the Cool Craft Beverage Trail and much of it can be walked. Stroll from coffee shop to juice bar or wine bar to brewery. Plus, West Volusia County is home to a collection of hiking trails perfect for working up a thirst and walking off calories.

In September, I was the guest of West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority and sipped as much of the Cool Craft Trail as possible. Along the way, I also took in some of the whimsical public art displays and walked some of the beautiful nature trails. Georgia Turner, the agency’s executive director, was my guide so I certainly experienced some of the coolest things to sip, eat, and do.

So Many Things to do in DeLand!

My weekend itinerary follows but here’s a caveat. A weekend is not enough time to experience all the amazing things to do in West Volusia County. On separate visits, I’ve followed the Wings of the West Mural Trail, cooked blueberry pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill in DeLeon Springs State Park, and had a medium provide some answers for my life at the Cassadaga Spiritualist Camp. I’ve seen so much but I know there is much more to experience. After this recent weekend visit, I’m totally digging DeLand.

My itinerary began on a Friday evening, after an almost four-hour drive, which should have been about three from Southwest Florida. Well, Friday evenings in Florida are popular on the roadways as weekend warriors hit the road after the 5 o’clock whistle. Throw in an accident, or two or three, either on I-75 or I-4 (or both).

Day 1: My Friday Night in DeLand

I rolled in after 8:30 p.m. and the adventure began!

Although it rained that evening, the Artisan Alley Farmer’s Market was in full swing. Every Friday between 6 – 9 p.m., farmers and artists sell their goods indoors and outdoors in Artisan Alley in downtown DeLand. Vendors vary by week but expect everything from baked goods and fresh produce to handcrafted jewelry and home goods.

We stopped at Nest for a delicious sangria and walk through this ridiculously cute shop. Everywhere I looked, something caught my eye because it was either fun, funky, or quirky, like a rabbit lamp and bright stars. Sit at the bar or a loveseat to enjoy the chic vibe.

Café Da Vinci was up next and it is fun! There’s the inside bar with an eclectic collection of art on the walls and ceiling, like Superman on black velvet and a mounted elk head overlooking the bar. Outside is the “amazeballs” (their word) 5,000-square-foot outdoor courtyard with a bar, seating, stage, and dance area. Lights are strung over the courtyard and up a tree next to the stage.

Now’s a good time to mention DeLand is a college town. It’s home to Stetson University. While I was out and about, I saw college students and those old enough to be their great-grandparents. The scene at Café Da Vinci was no different and everyone had a great time with the band on stage.

Kilts and Beer at Hyder Head Brewing

At Hyder Head Brewery, owner Jeffery Paul Hyder happened to be there. It’s always a treat meeting the minds behind the brews. On the wall is a portrait of Hyder wearing a Scottish kilt. It reads,

“Me greats grandfather Andrew Jackson Macgillvery ran moonshine with J.W. Dant. He made the best whisky in the lowest valley of the highlands.

This brewery is a wee attempt to recover recipes from ah guttered and loved banjo playing Scotsman.”

Ocean the Pub Tender at Hyder Head Brewery in DeLand, Fla.
Ocean the Pub Tender at Hyder Head Brewery in DeLand, Fla.

I love it! Hyder’s brother Andrew, who’s involved with the brewery, was there, too. Wearing a kilt, pub tender Ocean helped us select our flight. These are of Weight Over the Bar – White Ale, the Seasonal Rotation lager, Irish Cider, and Maid Leise Pumpkin Pale Ale. All were delicious but the Irish cider, and pumpkin pale ale were my favorites!

Is it Food? Or is it Art?

Never drink on an empty stomach and BakeChop hit the spot. We shared the Who’s Wanda small plate and an order of sweet potato fries. My. Goodness. Who’s Wanda is an artistic, vibrant presentation of shrimp, grilled avocado, black bean pineapple salsa, adobe mayo and cilantro. The textures and flavorful combination is perfection. And the sweet potato fries were the best I’ve had. They were perfectly crisp and seasoned on the outside and hot and tender inside.

The next beer flight was sipped at Persimmon Hollow Brewing. We enjoyed the Daytona Dirty Blonde, Beach Hippe, Blood Orange Wheat and 3 Wise Guys. Beach Hippie and Blood Orange Wheat are my picks.

My First Time Sipping Mead

Mead is honey wine and dates to ancient Africa, Asia, and Europe. I’ve never had it and I haven’t heard nice things about its taste. However, after sampling a flight at Abbey Bar, I discovered I’ve been so wrong about avoiding mead. This craft beer bar partners with Odd Elixer MeadWorks, which makes mead and most of what I sampled was delicious. Our flight consisted of Abbey Normal, Limerick, Green Goddess, Peaches, Mermaid, and Roses. All except Roses have my approval.

While at Abbey Bar, I met Ann-Marie Willacker, owner of Odd Elixer MeadWorks and a true Renaissance woman. Georgia Turner credits a creative session with Willacker as the inspiration for the Cool Craft Beverage Trail. In addition to being an accomplished brewer in a male-dominated industry, she’s a successful Highlands Games competitor and leader in the DeLand community.

Georgia Turner and Ann-Marie-Willacker at Abbey Bar in DeLand, Fla., Sept. 2021.
Georgia Turner, Executive Director of the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority, and Ann-Marie-Willacker of Odd Elixir MeadWorks at Abbey Bar in DeLand, Fla., Sept. 2021.

Feeling Like I Was in College Again

Another flight of beer was enjoyed at Half Wall Craft Beer Bar. As to what we sipped, well, I don’t recall. I haven’t been out on a pub crawl this late since college! Really!

I do know the bar offers themed-beer flights, like the Half Wall Brewery where you select four of their brews. Included are Half Wall Employees Irish Red All and Half Wall Jeffcus Bourbon Coffee Vanilla Oatmeal Stout. Or, another flight is the Florida Vacation, representing beers from Florida breweries. IPA Lover (IPAs), Dark & Stormy (darkest beers), and Drink Your Wheaties (wheat beers) round out the themed flights.

I checked into my accommodations at the fabulous The DeLand Hotel after midnight. Built in 1925, I asked the bartender – who checked me in – if the hotel was haunted. He assured me it wasn’t. Either I slept through any paranormal activity or the building is not haunted. Furnishings match the time period of the building but are extremely comfortable. My room also had a flat-screen television.

Day 2: Cramming in As Many Things to do in West Volusia County

The DeLand Hotel is a few blocks from downtown DeLand so I walked to Trilogy Coffee Café for breakfast. Walking is an ideal way for taking in the public art sprinkled throughout downtown. Some art is obvious, like larger-than-life colorful murals on the buildings or sculptures on street corners. Others aren’t so obvious.

DeLand has a miniature art adventure trail and a guide that maps them out. It’s published by Museum of Art DeLand and available at the West Volusia County Visitors. Without the guide, I probably would have missed most of these mini masterpieces.

Avocado toast and iced coffee at Trilogy Cafe in DeLand, Fla., Sept. 2021.
Avocado toast and iced coffee at Trilogy Cafe in DeLand, Fla., Sept. 2021.

Trilogy serves up their roasted coffee along with locally sourced ingredients like milk from Wainwright Dairy. Their menu includes fresh and healthy items like quinoa pudding and vegan fig bars. My choice was the most delicious version of avocado toast I’ve tasted. It was a sandwich with fried egg packaged in deliciousness.

Afterwards, I wandered through downtown DeLand, taking advantage of the daylight to set my bearings. I admired all sorts of art ranging from knittings around trees to thought-provoking street signs and murals to sculptures. I’m all about dogs lately and found the Firehouse Dog at the fire department and mini mural of a dog along one of downtown’s main sidewalks.

Pizza and Beer is a Perfect Combo for Lunch

Lunch and a flight of more beer were enjoyed at RiverWalk Pizza, Blue Springs Brewery in Orange City,
about a 15-minute drive south of The DeLand Hotel. Not far from the eatery is Blue Spring State Park which has two creatures I’m fascinated with. Manatees and fireflies. Blue Spring Brewery is all about manatees, too, and the flight is served in a manatee-shaped wood beer flight paddle!

There are too many beers to choose from so we ordered two flights. One had Horchata, Tropical, Vanilla, and Margarita beers and the other had Honey, Pilsner, Mocha, and Pine Island beers. All were appealing but Horchata and Margarita are my favorites. My pizza was delicious, too, and made the perfect midnight snack.

The afternoon was filled with whirlwind visits to beautiful parks. Blue Spring State Park was unusually quiet which meant a peaceful walk along the boardwalk to see the spring and river. Gemini and Green Springs are equally beautiful parks under the care of West Volusia County. All have hiking trails and intrigue for me to plan another visit.

Blue Spring State Park is a popular place to view manatees during season. It’s also one of the few places I know of in Florida where you can view fireflies, which is typically in March.

Rawr! Spot a Dinosaur in West Volusia County

The afternoon included a stop at a quirky attraction, the DeBary Dinosaur! He’s a tall T-Rex at Clayton & Sons Salvage (721 South Highway 17-92, DeBary) and fixture in the community. I’m told he dresses for the occasion and I’m guessing he was dressed for Labor Day during my visit. With the sale of the salvage business, his future is uncertain but since he’s beloved, I’m sure he’ll find a new spot to make people smile.

More Beer! And Bubbly

While in DeBary, we pulled up to the bar at Central 28 Beer Company’s tasting room and I enjoyed Sunshine Greetings. This craft beer is a hibiscus wheat ale and brewed with orange peel and hibiscus. It’s the perfect Florida brew!

Prior to dinner in DeLand, we enjoyed flutes of bubbly at The Elusive Grape, which has become DeLand’s living room since opening in 2003. It was buzzing with energy and live entertainment.

DeLand’s Cress Restaurant is a Deliciously Memorable Experience

As for dinner, it’s been about a month and I’m still thinking about it. It is one of the most delicious experiences I have enjoyed. Cress Restaurant describes the cuisine as farm-to-table globally inspired and locally source as many ingredients as possible.

It was a difficult choice to choose one entrée and I selected the herb rubbed U.S.D.A. prime ribeye, prepared medium on the chef’s recommendation. It’s accompanied with savory bread pudding, truffled Yukon potato puree, roasted broccoli, and red wine and rosemary beef jus reduction. Georgia ordered the Creole local shrimp and grits, which I was eyeing.

While we waited for our entrees, seeing what everyone else ordered, I knew I made the right choice. It seemed every table had ordered the same, the ribeye and shrimp and grits.

Oh. My. Goodness.

The ribeye placed in front of me was ravishing! It was a large, perfectly seasoned cut of tender meat that melted in my mouth. The entire dish was flavorful with the bread pudding, potato puree, broccoli, and reduction complementing it all. Dessert was a spice cake with an earthy, fresh flavor from thyme harvested from the restaurant’s herb garden.

I met Tom and Suran Brandt, the restaurant owners and managers, and they are a lovely and hardworking couple. Hari Pulapaka and his wife Jenneffer opened the restaurant in 2008 and Tom became majority owner in 2020.

Cress earned Best Overall Restaurant in 2020 during the 22nd Annual Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards. Based on the food and attentive and welcoming staff, I’m sure this downtown DeLand eatery has earned other awards. Patio and indoor dining is available.

Painting in Circles at Hemingway’s 442 Lounge & Bar at The DeLand Hotel in DeLand, Fla.

Hemingway’s 442 is a Bar Fit for a Writer

The night ended with a cocktail at Hemingway’s 442 Lounge & Bar at The DeLand Hotel. It has a retro vibe and reminiscent of a 1920s bar with dark, rich wood, dim lighting, and cozy feel. It’s a place I imagine Papa Hemingway would cozy up to the bar to sip and share tall tales. I sipped a pretty pink cocktail called Painting in Circles which is vodka, Creme de Noyaux, passion fruit, lemon, sugar, saline, and Angostura.

Day 3: Sunday and I’m Asking, “Where Did the Weekend Go?”

Following a good night’s rest at The DeLand Hotel, I checked out and met Georgia for brunch at the family owned and operated Chica’s Cuban Café where I gobbled up a plump veggie omelet and grabbed a Coconut Mojito Mint iced coffee (non-alcoholic) for the road. Chica’s offers indoor and outdoor dining and I enjoyed admiring the dining area’s colorful art.

Before heading home, I took one last walk through the sweet downtown to admire and appreciate the whimsical public art. I learned DeLand is named a Monarch City USA and is the first city in Florida to become one. They earned the designation in 2019 and the goal is to support the monarch butterfly.

I drove over to Stetson University and briefly walked the gorgeous campus and sat a bit next to Mr. John B. Stetson and enjoyed the moment. It wasn’t the real Mr. Stetson, he passed away in 1906 in DeLand, but a bronze sculpture seated on a bench.

Stetson’s story deserves his own blog post but the short of it is, he wintered in DeLand, then called Persimmon Hollow, beginning in the 1880s. Credited with creating the modern cowboy hat, Stetson built Florida’s first home with Edison electricity, steam heat, and indoor plumbing in 1886. Today, the mansion is privately owned but the owners open it up throughout the year for tours.

Travel is good for the soul and West Volusia County has everything you need to nourish your soul. The beverages are cold. The food is artful. The scene is hip. And the people are warm and welcoming.

Find More Photos on Flickr (Click the Photo Below)


Nuts & Bolts About Visiting DeLand and West Volusia County, Florida

The Cool Craft Beverage Trail has already been recognized by leaders in the tourism industry. In September of this year, the West Volusia Tourism Advertising Authority received a Flagler Award in the Best of Show category for marketing budget under $500,000 for the campaign.

Follow the Cool Craft Beverage Trail and win! Share five photos from the trail on Instagram using #CoolCraftTrail and follow @VisitWestVolusia to win a free pint glass koozie. Complete the form on the Cool Craft Trail website.

DeLand and West Volusia County are located about a 45-minute drive north of Orlando, just over a 30-minute drive southwest of Daytona Beach, and about a two-hour drive northeast of Tampa.

Where to Stay in DeLand

The DeLand Hotel
442 East New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32724
Tel: (386) 624-6710
The property is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Where to Eat

110 S. Artisan Alley
DeLand, Fla. 32724
?Tel: (386) 873-6524

Chica’s Cuban Cafe
215 S. Woodland Blvd
DeLand, Florida 32720
Tel: (386) 469-9969

Cress Restaurant
103 W. Indiana Ave.
DeLand, Fla. 32720
Tel: (386)734-3740

RiverWalk Pizza, Blue Spring Brewery
1070 S. Volusia Ave.
Orange City, Fla. 32763
Tel: (386) 218-3042

Trilogy Coffee Cafe
136 W Georgia Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720

Where to Sip Some of the Cool Craft Beverage Trail

Cafe DaVinci
112 W. Georgia Ave.
Deland, Fla. 32720
Tel: (386) 736-0008

Central 28 Beer Company
290 Springview Commerce Drive #1,
DeBary, Fla. 32713

Elusive Grape
129 N. Woodland Blvd.
DeLand, Fla. 32720
Tel: (386) 785-2467

Hemingway’s 442 Lounge & Bar
442 East New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32724

Hyder Head Brewery
142 W Georgia Ave.
Deland, FL 32720
Tel: (386) 738-7410

104 Artisan Alley
DeLand, Fla. 32720
Tel: (386) 624-7833

Persimmon Hollow
111 W. Georgia Ave
DeLand, Fla. 32720
Tel: (386) 873-7350

Odd Elixir MeadWorks and Abbey Bar DeLand
117 N Woodland Blvd.
DeLand, Fla. 32720
Tel: (386) 734-4545

The Half Wall – DeLand
105 W. Indiana Ave.
DeLand Fla. 32720
Tel: (386) 740-7720

The Lounge at Artisan Downtown Hotel
215 S Woodland Blvd.
DeLand, FL 32720
Tel: (386) 873-4675

Trilogy Coffee Cafe
136 W Georgia Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720

RiverWalk Pizza, Blue Spring Brewery
1070 S. Volusia Ave.
Orange City, Fla. 32763
Tel: (386) 218-3042

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#CoolCraftTrail: Things to do in DeLand, Florida
#CoolCraftTrail: Things to do in DeLand, Florida


Solo Travel Girl

Jennifer A. Huber is the voice behind Solo Travel Girl. She's an award-winning travel and outdoor blogger and writer in Southwest Florida. Originally from Buffalo, N.Y., a hiking trail led her to a career path in the tourism industry for more than 30 years. She spent a decade with a park management company in Yellowstone, Death Valley, and Everglades National Parks. She founded the travel blog, with the goal of inspiring others to travel alone, not lonely. Jennifer holds a Travel Marketing Professional certification from the Southeast Tourism Society, is a certified food judge, member of the NASA Social community, and alum of the FBI Citizens Academy. When not traveling, she is either in the kitchen, practicing her photography skills, or road tripping with her dog, Radcliff.

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