One stroll through DeLand’s charismatic downtown and you’ll understand why it won the 2017 “America’s Main Streets” contest presented by Independent We Stand™ — a national movement of small business owners who advocate for the “shop local” ethos in communities throughout America. Downtown DeLand stood out as the top finalist among 10 other Main Street nominees after a nationwide vote.
And that’s not the first time DeLand has been recognized for its revitalized downtown. In 1997 it boasted the coveted national title of “Great American Main Street” awarded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation (Psst … Audubon Park in Orlando won this award in 2016), and since 1985 it has been voted Florida’s best Main Street five times.
The National Trust for Historic Preservation founded the Main Street program in 1980. As a privately funded non-profit, it works by partnering with community leaders to invest in reviving rundown historic downtowns all over America. Main Street accreditation is awarded to communities who meet performance standards and demonstrate commitment to preservation and growth year after year. Their work continues today with more vigor than ever.
Decades ago downtown DeLand was likely not a place you would want to spend a leisurely Saturday exploring. Thanks to the people who call DeLand home, these days when you visit you’ll find yourself immersed in a richly layered place of artisan culture woven together with classic Florida charm and a diverse, inclusive community.
Does DeLand sound like a place you would want to call home?
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DeLand Points of Interest
These are a few highlights from my own DeLand itinerary. Visit this vibrant area and see what speaks to you.
Florida’s first and most renowned Gilded Age estate home, the Stetson Mansion, is the former winter home of John B. Stetson, the famous hatter. Currently the mansion is being prepped for holiday tours that begin Nov. 15 and continue through January. You can tour the home at other times during the year, too.
I recently enjoyed a spectacular production of “Little Shop of Horrors” at this historic theater in the heart of DeLand. “A Christmas Story the Musical” debuts on November 30 and is sure to get you into the holiday groove. The theater is located within walking distance of shops and restaurants and many offer a discount with your theater ticket stub.
Located on the Stetson University campus, this science museum houses a historic mineral collection and unique Florida treasures. The hours are somewhat limited so be sure confirm that the museum will be open when you plan to visit.
For 25 years DeLand has been home to this renowned arts festival. It’s happening on Nov. 18-19 this year, don’t miss it!
Since 1951 the museum has served has the cultural hub of DeLand. I’m looking forward to viewing the Legendary Florida exhibition, which showcases the paintings of Jackson Walker that bring Florida’s eventful past to life.
Click here to read about other thriving Main Streets™ throughout Central and Southwest Florida.