Back on I-4 going north toward I-95 you will find the Central Florida Zoo near Lake Monroe. With over 500 animals to see, this would make a great stop for a family outing.
If you take Florida State Route 417 and 415, you will drive along the bridge that crosses Lake Jesup. The lake is home to a large number of wildlife species and is thought to contain a dense alligator population. As you drive, look for bald eagles and osprey perching on the various light posts. They are waiting to fish.
Further along Hwy 415, your next stop should be the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse between Port Orange and New Smyrna Beach. Connect to I-95 from Hwy 417 and take a guided tour of this historic lighthouse. Experience the dazzling views from the top of the lighthouse after climbing the 203 steps required to get there. Imagine a tall ship of days gone by sailing toward the shore. Learn about the lenses and the history of this fabulous lighthouse.
Just past the intersection of I-4 and I-95, situated between I-95 and the Scenic & Historic Coastal Byway is Daytona International Speedway. If the timing is right, you can take in a race or just tour the enormous speedway. To experience the thrill of speed go on a ride along with a professional driver or get behind the wheel and take a car for a spin yourself. Excitement thrives at the Speedway.
If you are driving I-4, another stop along the way should be the Lower Wekiva River State Preserve Park. Some of central Florida’s most pristine nature is on display at the park. A network of blackwater streams and wetlands are home for alligators, storks, black bears and otters. Nature trails and hikes abound.
Another diversion off of I-4 is the Ocala National Forest. From the I-4, take the exit for Hwy 17 and follow it through Deland, FL. Carry on the 17 until the junction with Hwy 40. This will take you straight into the heart of the National Forest. The Ocala National Forest is the second largest nationally protected forest covering 607 square miles. The National Forest provides ample opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast including camping, canoeing, kayaking and hiking. With more than 600 lakes, springs and rivers, the Forest doesn’t disappoint. Visitors to the park can dive, snorkel and swim in the clear, crystalline waters every month of the year.
Daytona Beach is a beautiful city situated on the St. John’s River. Daytona Beach is only 16 miles from the coast and the coast offers 22 miles of white sand beaches. The city’s website details everything wonderful about the city: places to stay; cuisine to try; adventures to take; explorations to make and beaches to enjoy. Photo: monticellllo/Fotolia
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