The Daytona Beach area offers a diverse range of family-friendly attractions, from thrills at the speedway to serene sunrises, but my favorite has to be the secluded area of Ponce Inlet. Immerse yourself in rich Florida history, indulge in gourmet ice cream, or go out on the water for an eco-adventure. These are the best things to do at Ponce Inlet (which almost feels like a hidden gem) that’ll elevate your Daytona Beach vacation.
The town of Ponce Inlet is located about 10 miles south of Daytona Beach and it’s a quiet community. If you know, you know – because Ponce Inlet might be Florida’s best kept secret. There’s a plethora of activities that are all within walking distance of each other.
I recommend blocking a half vacation day to full to really explore everything that Ponce Inlet has to offer. It’s a beautiful drive from the Daytona Beach pier area with plenty of views along the way.
Best Things To Do At Ponce Inlet, Florida
Pone de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
The tallest lighthouse in Florida is the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. Standing at At 175-feet tall and 203 steps, the lighthouse can be conquered by guests who crave a 360º views. If you’re less adventurous, explore the lighthouse museum grounds for a glimpse into the lives of former lighthouse keepers.
Looking for a fun way to share the museum’s history with younger kids? The souvenir shop sells scavenger hunts. They can also keep a look out for Nelly, the lighthouse cat!
One of the most fascinating exhibits for all ages is the Fresnel lense collection. See the original Fresnel lens that was made in Paris in 1867 for the lighthouse, amongst others. The whole collection catches light perfectly.
Marine Science Center at Ponce Inlet
Explore marine life of the Florida coast at the Marine Science Center. The center offers aquariums and exhibits for guests to get an up-close look at animals. Kids love the touch pools that house sea cucumbers, stingrays and horseshoe crabs. Additionally, the center has two hospitals that treat and rehabilitate injured birds and sea turtles.
Don’t miss their monthly Turtle Tots program, which is designed for kids ages 2-6, and teaches them about conservation through crafts and stories. The program is additional cost above admission.
Admission is $8.00 for adults (ages 13 and over), $5.00 for children (ages 3-12), and $7.00 for seniors. Infants and toddlers (ages 2 and under) are admitted free of charge with paid adult.
Lighthouse Point Park
Lighthouse Point Park is a coastal sanctuary and recreational area. The park includes 52-acres of unspoiled shoreline for guests to enjoy. Animals that call the park home include gopher turtles, cats, armadillos and raccoons.
Fish from the 1,000 foot jetty, walk the boardwalk paths, splash in the tide or enjoy a family picnic. Lighthouse Point Park is also one of the few pet-friendly beaches in the county. Dogs are welcome; must be leashed and picked up after at all times.
Lighthouse Point Park is open daily to public from sunrise to sunset. Daily entrance fees are $10 per vehicle. I love that the beach area are less crowded than the ones in Daytona Beach.
Fishing In Ponce Inlet
The history of fishing in Ponce Inlet is generations old. From the Timucuan Indians who treasured the abundance of fish to wealthy snowbirds of the 1800’s, visitors have been taking advantage of the area’s fishing for years. Book a charter to go off the coast, cast a line from the fishing jetty or fish from the riverbanks.
If you’re looking for a “sea to table” experience, where your catch is cooked for you, book the Sea To Table Fishing Experience with Captain Sean who serves the Ponce Inlet area. It doesn’t get any more fresh than that!
Ponce lnlet Watersports
Hop onboard a shaded 32-passenger flat bottom boat for Dolphin & Manatee tour with Ponce Inlet Watersports. No two cruises are alike and guests have the opportunity to see manatees, dolphins, native birds, sting rays and sea turtles. The cruise tours the intracoastal area between Daytona Beach and New Smyrna Beach. It also anchors at one of the islands to collect sea shells. The 90-minute cruise is perfect for families.
I love exploring an area with knowledge from locals, and the Watersport’s Captain has a wealth of information about the area. From wildlife facts to ghost stories, you’ll love the tidbits you hear from the Captain.
Down The Hatch Seafood Company
Legend says it all started with a fried fish sandwich. Today, Down The Hatch Seafood Company is the place to dine on fresh seafood while enjoying spectacular views. The over-the-water dining room is the perfects spot to refuel after a day of playing. Flounder, salmon, snapper and trigger fish are a few menu favorites. Dine inside or enjoy the open-air bar with amazing sunset views.
Lighthouse Ice Cream & Snacks
A sweet ending at Ponce Inlet should include the best ice cream at Lighthouse Ice Cream & Snacks. It’s located next door to Ponce Inlet Watersports and it’s a must-do. They offer indulgent ice cream flavors, crazy-fun milkshakes, sundaes and shaved ice. It’s a great way to beat the Florida heat!