On our way home from a trip up north, we were looking to find somewhere to explore and a wonderful restaurant at which to dine. We saw the sign for the DeLand Historic District. Subsequently, Mrs. Funmeister found the Santorini Restaurant home of Greek cuisine.
This was the start of a great adventure
Between TripAdvisor’s rave reviews of Santorini’s and the prospect of finding a new travel destination, this was a no-brainer. We wheeled the car off the interstate. Guided by our somewhat reliable GPS, we found our way into town and to a public parking lot.
Great Greek in a Great Little Town
Upon reaching Santorini’s we found a very quaint restaurant with excellent service. I ordered the Spanakopita – a spinach pie that hands down was one of the best in Florida. It was served piping hot and I could tell it had been hand made.
Among other things, my wife got the oven roasted lemon potatoes. These were not overcooked and had a wonderful, light lemon taste. Suffice to say, we enjoyed everything we had (including the soups) and felt energized to go out and explore the town.
DeLand’s Downtown Historic District is jam packed with things to see, do, and experience for every member of the family. The town’s namesake – Henry Addison DeLand – apparently had envisioned the city becoming a major player in tourism and citrus.
It certainly is a tourist friendly city. This historic district is in the heart of a bustling college town and teems with small businesses, eateries, art galleries, and music venues. DeLand has retained much of its beautiful architecture that gives visitors and residents a sense of the city’s history.
Walking down North Woodland Boulevard, we found a mix of storefronts. Next to Santorini’s we ran up on the “Somewhere in Time” consignment shop. It’s a great mix of historic, vintage, period and nostalgia pieces. And it’s just one of a number of such shops that dot the Historic District.
In fact there are plenty of shops that offer antique, repurposed and reproduction vintage pieces. These include; The Art & Antique Gallery, Florida Victorian Salvage & Antiques, Deja Vu, Orchid Rain and Pretty Little Things. Just to name a few
If you are a music lover as I am, there’s also Groovy Records, the home of vintage vinyl and a selection of guitars. And just up the street is Downtown Music.
Places to Dine
Of course, we have told you of Santorini’s Restaurant. But DeLand has a wide variety of restaurants, cafes and other kinds of eateries. The Urban Brick is a great Italian kitchen, or there’s Wrap it Up – for bowls, salads and their signature and specialty wraps.
There’s BakeChop Artisan Kitchen that serve creative plates from locally sourced ingredients, plus house-baked treats and coffee drinks. It’s a walk-in only (sort of like when you drop in to your best friend’s house to eat).
In addition, there’s a great selection of other options – such as the Pho’ Co Noodle House – home of Vietnamese cuisine, Oudom – a thai sushi restaurant and Hunter’s Restaurant – a family-owned and operated diner featuring old-fashioned food. If all you want is a sandwich, try Dick & Jane’s or Mr. Bill’s Donuts and Sandwiches.
In addition to regular restaurants – there are plenty of places that combine food and adult beverages. It appears the city of DeLand has worked hard to encourage all their eateries to accentuate outdoor dining as well.
For two fisted diners there’s Neighbors – they offer food that “can be held in one hand while holding a drink in the other.” Or perhaps Byte – the casual and fresh “modern bistro.” The Half Wall Beer House, a sports bar, grill and craft beer house might be your thing.
In any event, there’s something of interest for just about everyone. And yes, there are some actual normal stores there as well. Need shoes? Try Becker’s Best Shoes. You can pick up books at The Muse. There’s Dorothy’s Florist if you need flowers and Grrs & Purrs for all of your pet needs.
Some Interesting Notes
We were impressed by a number of things. One was a highly decorated upright piano set outside The Table Restaurant. Although its tuning and keyboard action left a lot to be desired, citizens could sit down and try their hand – or hands – at tickling the ivories for a while.
It appears that officials are looking for suggestions from the general public. They have posted a blackboard soliciting ideas from people as to their vision for the city. It remains unclear who monitors this, takes notes or clears the blackboard. But at least the interest is there.
And we discovered this all in a fairly short amount of time. Suffice to say, whether you like to try new food, are an amateur picker of antiques and oddities, or are looking to be entertained, this is a very interesting little burg. We plan to return – possibly for one of their many events.
Planned events include; a Growers & Maker’s Market, Classic Car Cruise-ins, a craft show, an indie market for independent artisans, a jazz fest, a wildflower & garden festival and holiday parades – among other things.
Information on all these and more can be found on at Main Street DeLand – and stay tuned for our return trip. Special event or not – we recommend a trip to the DeLand Historic District!