The small town of DeLand is one of the prettiest towns in Central Florida, and it is home to the faith-based Stetson University and a tidy and picturesque downtown. A few minutes from central DeLand is the natural beauty of DeLeon Springs State Park , and if you’re in the mood to get your palm read, you can take a quick drive to the spiritualist community of Cassadaga .
The quaint and eminently walkable downtown area of DeLand isn’t exactly bursting with activity, but it offers a number of interesting and historical sights.
The Henry A. DeLand House (137 W. Michigan Ave.) was built in 1886 on land purchased from the town’s founding father; currently the building houses a small museum that traces the history of the town. Although Henry DeLand never lived there (his attorney did), later residents included John Stetson, the hatmaker whose name graces Stetson University (421 N. Woodland Blvd.).
The private Baptist-affiliated college was originally founded by Henry DeLand as DeLand Academy in 1883, but the name was changed in 1889 to honor the generous donations of Stetson, who had to step in with money after Henry DeLand went broke guaranteeing his farmers’ citrus crops in a year of a hard freeze. The small tree-lined campus is both picturesque and friendly.
The Museum of Florida Art (600 N. Woodland Blvd., 386/734-4371, 10 a.m.–4 p.m. Tues.–Sat., 1–4 p.m. Sun., free) is located right at the edge of the Stetson campus; the small museum’s name may be a little misleading considering the limited collections on display, but there are often interesting exhibits of contemporary artists to be found here.