Just up the street is one of Florida’s busiest, best-known party towns, Daytona Beach. And even Ormond Beach itself, right next door, has a bit of a bustle to it, but if you’re looking for a completely restful beach stay, park it in Ormond-by-the Sea.
Are you old enough to remember the term ‘rest cure’? “A period spent in inactivity or leisure with the intention of improving one’s physical or mental health.” Ormond-by-the-Sea is the perfect place for your rest cure.
Our Triple-B team sometimes has a hard time just sitting still. Doing nothing. You can probably relate. Life is so full, there is always something needing attention. We’re afraid to just BE.
Living near the beach is supposed to be calming. Looking ahead, when we were still living our landlocked lives, we said “We’ll be SO HEALTHY when we live near the beach!” and “We’ll walk on the beach EVERY DAY. People will say ‘Wow, look how healthy they are.’ ” But in reality we still have jobs, the laundry still piles up, and if we don’t spend several hours each weekend wrestling our invasively planted garden (think scary, prickly) it will take over the entire neighborhood. Like a Sci-Fi movie.
We don’t walk on the beach every day. We don’t eat fresh, whole foods at every meal. And now and then we decide it’s a good day to have a glass of wine at noon.
So the remedy is to leave that laundry and monster garden and spend a day or two in a little town where pretty much all you can do is, well, pretty much nothing.
Though Ormond-by-the-Sea wasn’t officially developed until the 1950’s – and then as a retirement community (perfect place, then, for our “rest cure”!) – as in all Florida towns its start was a little more colorful. The earliest known inhabitants were the Timucuan Indians in the 16th century, who lived at the site of the current Tomoka State Park. Their diet consisted of oysters from which the empties empty shells were used to build foundations for their homes. Legend has it these Indians stood 7 feet tall and were cannibals (don’t you just love ancient gossip) but there is no actual evidence to support this.
Fast forward to 1876 when Chauncey A. Bacon bought acreage, naming it Number 9 Plantation (not sure why) planting an abundance of various fruits and creating a thriving business selling his Number 9 Guava Jelly. The jelly business grew even after the plantation was sold, with sales via mail-order until 1968, and in 1984 the jelly house was demolished for a subdivision. (Making way for progress? Hm.)
A creek front cottage – which later became a speakeasy during Prohibition – was built by Leonard B. Knox who arrived with his belongings wrapped in a sack and tied to a stick! The original hobo! But no hobo, this guy – he was scouting for land for what became a prosperous orange growing business. He also dug a canal to more easily ship his oranges, put in the first telephone line, and organized the building of the first bridge across the waterway.
In the 1930’s the cottage became Uncle Guy’s Fish House and sold bait, cold drinks, jams and jellies (still with the jelly) and later was bought by Dick Cobb. Cobb’s Corner operated until 1976 when the then-owner, Patricia Lindmeier, was unable to keep it running after the death of her husband. According to The Daytona Beach News Journal, the building remained a nostalgic topic of conversation until it was demolished in 2007. (For a subdivision? They didn’t say.)
With our love of old structures, bungalows and cottages, we’d much rather be able to go visit that jelly house and that creek front cottage than drive through a bland row of ranch houses… but we were pleased to at least be able to visit the restored watch tower built in 1942, one of the last remaining examples from World War II on the Florida coast.
World War II Watch Tower, photo courtesy of vintagedaytona.wordpress.com
There are several public beach access points with parking and showers if you’re planning a day trip, including:
1631 Ocean Shore Blvd.
- PARK/WALK: Parking is beach front (for other parks nearby, including the larger Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park, the parking is across the street) and a miniscule walk to get onto the beach, with a ramp for disabled beachgoers. There is more public parking across the street.
- GO/RINSE: Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, bike rack, benches and grills are on site.
- CROWD FACTOR: Possibly more people than in our photos during holidays and during snowbird season, but we’ve found no crowds in Ormond-by-the-Sea during our visits.
- GUARDS: This park is directly beside the life guard station.
- IMBIBE: No.
- BEST FRIEND: No.
- WE LOVE: I’ll say it again – no crowds!
Lagerheads Bar and Grill
2986 Ocean Shore Blvd.
- VIBE: Smallish, mostly-locals retro surfer bar.
- ARRIVE: By car, parking out front and around back.
- SIT: Outside right out front, outside under cover or inside in the front dining room (good views of the beach) or at the bar.
- SIP: Happy Hour is Monday through Friday, 2 – 6 p.m.
- NOSH: Traditional beach bar appetizers, soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, baskets, and also hearty entrees. Some unexpected and delicious items to try: Sweet Potato Fries with raspberry dipping sauce, Crab Cake Croissant with Remoulade sauce, and a non-beachy but delicious homemade meat loaf.
- LISTEN: Live music nightly.
- WE LOVE: The intimate feel, the friendly wait staff, and watching the surfers across the street.
1732 Ocean Shore Blvd.
- VIBE: Quiet, very vintage old-Florida, simple, no frills. Friendly mom-and-pop owners who are knowledgable about the area.
- WALK: The beach is directly across the street, the number one restaurant on TripAdvisor – Crabby Chris Beachside BBQ and Sweets – is two doors down. The Bar is a short drive away.
- DECOR: A little bit granny-like. Plain and somewhat dated, but very clean and neat. Our room was small but we spent most of our time outside.
- SLEEP: Ultra comfortable, new pillow top mattress.
- EXTRAS: Full kitchens. Pet friendly!
- RATES: Extremely affordable at $60/night, weekends, in season.
- WE LOVE: The observation deck looking out over the beach, and the affordability.
There are a few top-rated restaurants within walking or biking distance:
Crabby Chris is two doors down from Ocean Mist
Betty’s A1A Cafe for authentic New England seafood, steaks and burgers
After doing absolutely nothing for awhile, our natural need to be in motion kicked in, and so we ventured across the bridge to the historic downtown of Ormond Beach, which overlooks the Halifax River.
The Ormond Yacht Club, built in 1910, click the name for more info
Historic downtown Ormond Beach is also filled with interesting shops and restaurants:
La’s Bistro, serving breakfast and lunch, is located in an historic 1924 Sears and Roebuck home
Grind Gastropub‘s entrance is on the street
My theme for this visit is “doing absolutely nothing” but make note if you’re in the mood for adventure and activity, there is plenty to keep you happy in Ormond-by-the-Sea. Several parks offer opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, canoeing, camping and fishing, more info at the Florida State Parks site here. Jet ski rentals are available here, kayaking here.
For us this sign says it all!
Ormond-by-the-Sea is on Florida’s east coast, 11 miles north of Daytona Beach and 37 miles south of St. Augustine.