While much of Florida seems frantic to cover itself in neon and high-rises, stoic DeLand shrugs that off as nonsense. The quaint, walkable Woodland Blvd, bisecting the east side of town from the west, is home to independent shops and restaurants – modern yet thoroughly small town. Ancient oaks lean in to hug each other over city streets, Spanish moss dribbles from their branches, and picture-perfect Stetson University forms the town's heart. The whole scene screams Old Florida, although ironically, DeLand was the first town in the state to enjoy electricity.
Despite this tradition of, well, tradition, risk-taking flows through DeLand's blood. In the 1870s New York baking-soda magnate Henry DeLand traveled down the St Johns River with a vision of founding the 'Athens of Florida.' That moniker has stuck, but these days DeLand is most famous for skydiving – the tandem jump was invented here.