SunRail (Facebook | Website) is adding an additional later southbound train for Spring Break this year from March 14-18, giving Central Floridians more options to enjoy the region without having to hop in their car.
There are loads of things happening this week in the evening near SunRail stations as well, including shows at the Amway Center, Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts, Orlando Shakes, and the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. Additionally, there will be two Orlando Magic home games and as part of the SunRail and Orlando Magic partnership, all Magic ticket holders may ride SunRail for free to and from games by simply showing their ticket to SunRail Conductors.
SunRail provides rail service Monday through Friday along a 49-mile route from DeBary in Volusia County to Poinciana in Osceola County. SunRail currently has 16 stations and will extend service north to DeLand in early 2024. SunRail trains are ADA compliant, bicycle-friendly, and include restrooms, power outlets, and free wi-fi.
There are several local attractions located along the corridor that should entice riders to get on board, including lots of fun outdoor activities, charming and quaint eateries, historical and significant cultural attractions, and more, all available on SunRail’s “Station Destinations” page. So I hopped on my bike and pedaled to the nearest station at AdventHealth to see what was happening in DeBary, at the end of the SunRail tracks.
DeBary is located about 40 minutes north of downtown Orlando in Volusia County, bookended between the beautiful St. John’s River to the west and Lake Monroe to the east, which it shares with its neighbor, Sanford. Historically home to the Timucua and later Seminole tribes, DeBary now has a population of over 20,000 people.
The name DeBary comes from wealthy wine merchant Frederick de Bary, who built a hunting lodge in the area in 1871 called DeBary Hall – but by “lodge” I mean an 8,000 SF Italian-inspired mansion that featured one of the state’s first swimming pools, stables, and an icehouse, drawing visitors like Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Grover Cleveland. The estate is now a historic site and is seen as the oldest intact building in southwest Volusia County.
THINGS TO DO:
DeBary is blessed with an array of parks and trails to visit so it’s an excellent option for any wilderness nerds, fisherpeople, or cyclists who want to get out of town and get a little dirty. The DeBary Station is sandwiched between two nature parks that are connected by the paved Spring-to-Spring Trail that are equipped with picnic tables, restrooms, and playgrounds.
The 212-acre Gemini Springs (Website) is free to visit and boasts trails, boardwalks, campsites, and lots of beautiful open green spaces to relax and picnic on. The swimming areas are currently closed until further notice, but keep your eyes peeled for when they do reopen because they’d be the only rail-accessible springs in Central Florida once that happens.
LAKE MONROE PARK
Lake Monroe Park (Website) is one of the more popular parks in DeBary and features newer restrooms, picnic pavilions, and serves as the trailhead for the Lake Monroe-Gemini Springs- DeBary Hall trail. It also serves as a boat launch to Lake Monroe and St. John’s River and is home to a charming cement alligator for cute photo ops (see video above). The park also features boardwalks, a volleyball court, and fishing docks.
CENTRAL 28 BEER COMPANY
Located just north of the SunRail station, you’ll find the family-owned Central 28 Beer Company (Instagram| Website) tasting room, located at 290 Springview Commerce Drive [GMap]. Central 28 is open 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 3-10 p.m. Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, and noon-6 p.m. Sunday.
SWAMP HOUSE RIVERFRONT GRILL
Perched on the eastern shores of the St. John’s River, you’ll find the Central Florida institution that is Swamp House Riverfront Grill (Website), which is accessible by boat or by land. The two-story venue is the perfect spot to have one too many tasty beers to wash down some citrus-marinated gator bites and fish tacos while listening to live music. The dockside tiki bar is a popular watering hole for locals and visitors alike and there are eight TV sets inside if you need to get out of the sun for a little bit. It’s a bit of a hike from the SunRail station, but the tasty food, great service, and Floridian atmosphere make it worth it.
If you’re interested in checking out SunRail’s other day trip recommendations along the corridor, be sure to click their Spring Break-themed destination ideas HERE.