Located just 15 minutes south of famous Daytona Beach, Port Orange is known for its small town feel, but also for its close proximity to the big city amenities that residents can enjoy up in Daytona Beach, as well as in nearby Orlando.
Longtime readers know that I used to live in Port Orange, and even though I live on the beachside now, we spend the majority of our time and eat most of our meals in Port Orange.
We love it because Port Orange is laid back and quiet, while still providing all the amenities one could possibly want.
Let’s take a closer look.
Port Orange History
The history of Port Orange dates back to 1804 when Spain granted 995 acres to Patrick Dean. Prior to that time, the area was home to Timucuan and Seminole Indians. Dean built a large plantation along the Halifax River, but his entire community was destroyed by the Seminole Indians.
Following the Civil War, a second attempt was made to settle the area by an abolitionist named John Milton Hawks, who was looking to create a home for 500 freed slaves. The area came to be known as Freedmanville, but was officially named Orange Port by Hawks. In 1867, the name was changed to Port Orange, and the city as incorporated in 1926.
Port Orange Demographics
From a population of only 380 in 1920, the community of Port Orange had grown to boast a population of 56,048 during the 2010 census. Today, that number is estimated to have further grown to more than 60,000.
Port Orange Lifestyle
Like many of the small towns along the Atlantic Coast, the lifestyle you will find in Port Orange places a heavy emphasis on enjoying the outdoors, and particularly the beach.
Local parks like Spruce Creek Park offer great ways to enjoy the fabulous year-round climate.
And if golf isn’t your thing, there are also plenty of great options for fishing both from the shore and from local boat charters.
Port Orange Culture
The local culture in Port Orange is strongly fixed on the area’s rich history. One of the most popular cultural attractions are the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, which is the last remaining portion of Patrick Dean’s original plantation. History buffs will also enjoy a visit to Gamble Place Historic District.
Local concerts in Port Orange are typically held at the Kenneth Parker Amphitheater, but the community is also located just minutes from nearby Daytona Beach and only about an hour from Orlando, so there are plenty of additional cultural attractions nearby.
Port Orange Shopping
The primary shopping destination in Port Orange is The Pavilion at Port Orange. This open-air shopping mall opened in 2010, and is anchored by a Belk department store and a 14-screen Hollywood Theaters, which are supported by dozens of other stores and restaurants.
There are also a number of smaller shopping plazas located throughout Port Orange, and local residents have access to more high-end options that are located in the nearby Daytona Beach and Orlando areas.
Port Orange Dining
When you are looking for a classic waterfront restaurant in Port Orange, it is hard to do any better than DJ’s Deck. They serve up a great selection of seafood with fantastic raw bar options, and you will have the pleasure of enjoying their spectacular view of the marina during dinner.
Aunt Catfish’s on the River is another popular option, and they are best known for their Sunday Brunch, during which the line can usually be seen snaked around the front and side of the restaurant.
Port Orange Communities
As far as communities here on the central east coast of Florida go, the one you’ll hear most about in the coming years is Latitude Margaritaville, a partnership between Minto Communities and Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville brand.
The community began sales in late 2017 and so far more than 500 homes have been sold in this community planned for more than 6,000 homes.
As you might have suspected, Latitude Margaritaville is being designed to reflect the Margaritaville lifestyle, including the look and feel of its homes, which will feature an Old Florida/Key West architectural style. Some of the amenities residents will enjoy at Latitude Margaritaville include a fitness center with an aerobics studio, an indoor lap pool and spa, indoor and outdoor dining with signature Margaritaville food and beverage concepts, arts and learning programs for residents and guests, a resort pool area with beach entry, and a band shell for live entertainment.
If you are in search of a great small town community that is located right on the water, is close (but not too close) to big city amenities, and also offers some amazingly talented local chefs, Port Orange is one of the places you should be looking.
You won’t be disappointed here, and maybe I’ll see you around town!