For a long time I couldn't keep my "D" cities straight. Deltona, Debary, Deland. They were one and the same and none stood out from the other. All of the cities North of the bustle of Orlando didn't get much time in my exploring until I was repeatedly told about one of them, downtown Deland. My first trip was a few years ago and I agreed it was a charming area, but it still had a long way to go. But like with many cities that are outliers to our urban core, Deland is getting it's footing and giving us Orlandoans a few good reasons to visit.
Deland is filled with historic buildings, antiques, food, and local charm that can be found both on the main drag and in the hidden alleys. If you've been waiting for a good reason to make the trip there is no better time to explore than this Sunday for the Deland Indie Market. The market showcases artists, boutiques, all things vintage and handmade with over 75 vendors from all over Florida. Local eats and live music will add to the festivities to make this an all day event.
You may even see some familiar Orlando faces there as businesses and makers have been known to showcase their goods here.
Aside from the market here are a few spots that I've been able to enjoy on past trips.
The chocolate penny tile floors grab your attention as soon as you walk in, but once you've stopped taking pictures of the tops of your shoes on the mesmerizing pattern, you look up and realize you've entered a dreamy wonderful space full of decor goals you didn't even know you had. Every time I visit I regret not having been prepared for a serious haul back to Orlando so I can take advantage of the very reasonably priced furniture. Great pieces big and small can be found here, along with vintage clothing; some re-purposed and made by local designers.
To add even more pleasure to your shopping experience there is a long inviting bar with wine and beer so you can soak your thoughts and perhaps talk yourself in or out of a purchase; but the alcohol could certainly tip the odds in your favor.
Artist and Interior Designer, Erica Group, drew these wings awhile back for a one time photo shoot, but the public demanded they stay. She painted them permanently in the alley behind South of N.Y. and people are flocking to get their own snap shot.
I made my gorgeous friend model the wings for me and as we explored the alleys many people were seeking them out for their own picture.
My sweet tooth normally leads the way, and after my third failed attempt to try Mr. Bill's Doughnuts, I decided to drown my sorrows in the next best thing, a full candy shop. With 90% of their confections made in house, Pat & Toni's didn't disappoint. My favorite item was the Dark Oreo Balls. One stuffed with peanut butter and covered in white chocolate and the other stuffed with cream cheese and covered in dark chocolate. They deserve a visit and a bag of candy to-go.
There are a lot of restaurants in Downtown Deland, and I certainly haven't gotten the chance to try them all in the few trips I've taken, but I decided to ask Erica back at South of New York Market for a few recommendations (always ask the locals) and her description of Bake Chop made it sound like our best bet for that day.
The meat seems to be the main event here, as they boast it is all humanely raised, free range, hormone and antibiotic free. The menu has a mix of salads, sandwiches, and other dishes for meat lovers. I opted for the popular "Left Hander", a beef & chorizo burger with avocado spread, plantain salsa and manchego. My Latin trained palette was ready for a burst of flavor, and while this was a truly solid burger, it didn't floor my taste buds with what I was expecting based on the description. You can't say chorizo without getting my hopes up for a figurative smack in the mouth, however the meat was cooked to perfection and the bun along with the french fries were great. The Swamp salad was a great addition to the full meal as well.
The Grammas Joe coffee, which consists of butter, espresso and steamed milk was also an unexpected treat. Deland has never wowed with me their coffee offerings so I would definitely go here for a cinnamon roll and a caffeine fix during any visit.
Right across the street there is a small taco joint, Neighbors Artisan Taqueria, and down the alley just a bit is a local brewery Persimmon Hollow. I will let you be the judge of the tacos, and we didn't stop at the brewery but I can't wait to go back and check out the spot cleverly named after the wild persimmon trees that grow around the natural springs.
Keep exploring alleyways and you might just might find some random grafitti like a tiny little Totoro I found. Or you can see how many beautiful original floors you can spot while you wander from shop to shop. Keep your eyes peeled for the staircase that takes you down to a beautiful aquatic waterfall .
It's definitely a vintage/antique mecca with multiple shops to browse. I found myself picking up a few items from Dressed Boutique. Moderately priced with a small second hand section in the back.
Not every store will make the eyes of your dude glaze over. There are multiple record stores, collectible shops, and even a book store packed with comics and graphic novels.
If you've' exhausted your exploring in your own neighborhood give the cities outside of Orlando a chance to lure you with their charm and ever-changing Main Streets. Every time I visit Deland it seems a few new spots have opened up no doubt by locals passionate about their hometown, which we know is always what makes a city thrive.