For over a century, since the first railroad tracks were laid along the east coast of Florida, people have been flocking to Daytona Beach to escape the northern winters, enjoy the beautiful year-round weather, and stroll the hard-packed white sandy beaches. Before long, automobile manufacturers started testing new vehicles along those beaches, which led to a new form of competition: auto racing. Today, most people know Daytona Beach as a place for family beach vacations, spring break trips, and NASCAR events, the area's main draws. Plus, because it's only a couple hours' drive from Orlando, it's an easy daytrip to head over to Walt Disney World Resort or Universal Orlando for a day of rollercoaster theme park fun. That said, there's much more to the Daytona Beach area than what's on the surface. Look a little deeper, and you'll find some unique and interesting experiences you can enjoy. Jackie Robinson Ballpark In 1946 while playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers, Jackie Robinson took the field at this ballpark, making it the first integrated spring training game in Major League Baseball history. A year later, after spending a season in the minor leagues, he would make his regular season debut with the big-league club, officially breaking baseball's color barrier. Today, Jackie Robinson Ballpark honors his legacy with a life-size statue at the stadium entrance, and it serves as the home of the Daytona Tortugas, a minor league affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. During baseball season, taking in a ball game here is a fun and affordable treat for your family. Stadium tours are also available throughout the year. Dolphin and Manatee Paddleboard Tours Stand-up paddle boarding is a great way to enjoy the calm inland waters around Daytona Beach without needing a lot of experience. In fact, beginners of all ages have been known to handle a paddle board in minutes with just a little instruction. Stand-up paddle boarding is also a healthy low-impact activity that provides fitness benefits and improves balance. Plus, there are tour operators in the Daytona Beach area that specialize in guiding their guests to waters where they can see manatees and dolphins. Driving The Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail Just a few miles north of Daytona Beach sits The Ormond Scenic Loop and Trail, a 34-mile double loop that takes you along the Atlantic coast on A1A, through several miles of old-Florida forest, and along both sides of the Halifax River. The “Loop” is a favorite trek for bicyclists, as well as sightseers in motorcycles and cars. The journey takes you through miles of untouched natural beauty, where the trees lining the road form a wooded canopy. As you drive along A1A with the windows down, you can hear the crashing of the waves and feel the salty ocean breeze on your face. And passing through Tomoka State Park, don't be surprised if you see people fishing and crabbing in the river. Haunted St. Augustine About an hour's drive north of Daytona Beach, St. Augustine, Florida was established in 1565, making it the oldest still-standing city in the U.S. So it stands to reason that it's also considered one of the most haunted. From apparitions at the Castillo de San Marcos, a 17th-century coquina limestone fort, to a phantom innkeeper who carries a lantern back and forth along the balcony of an old hotel at night, strange sightings have been reported from St. Augustine for generations. Today, more than a dozen ghost tours operate in this paranormal capital. And while most are guided walking tours, there is one where guests ride in a vintage hearse! Washington Oaks Gardens State Park Located about 45 minutes north of Daytona Beach, Washington Oaks Gardens offers a lush natural environment that bridges a barrier island from the Matanzas River on the west to the Atlantic Ocean on the east. Visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through a formal garden that includes roses, camellias, and azaleas, all sheltered by a hammock of stately oak trees. You can also explore the park's unique shoreline with its coquina limestone outcroppings, a rarity in Florida. And because the park is recognized by the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail, it is known as a birdwatcher's paradise. José Gaspar Treasure Company A trip to Daytona Beach isn't complete without taking home a few kitschy souvenirs, and while A1A is practically lined with gift shops, the José Gaspar Treasure Company takes kitsch to new heights! It was named after the legendary Florida pirate, José Gaspar – a.k.a Gasparilla – who is rumored to have attacked more than 400 ships in a 38-year career. Today, this unique shop, which is located in Flagler Beach about a half hour's drive north of Daytona Beach, carries a variety of pirate-themed gifts and souvenirs, as well as seashells, shark teeth, wind chimes, and much more! At Grand Seas by Exploria Resorts, you'll find the perfect vacation home from which to enjoy all the unique experiences the Daytona Beach area offers. So feel free to add some adventure to your beach vacation and explore these off-the-beaten-path points of interest.