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Discover DeLand’s Culture

by Judy Thompson

Judy Thompson


Judy is the President of the Museum of Art, DeLand, Florida as well as the chair of the culture committee for the DeLand area chamber of commerce and Secretary of the Fall Festival of the Arts. She is a long time art lover and collector, and delights in the many visual and performing art options available to the DeLand community.

Portrait of Judy by Jill Cannady

Have you ever fallen in love with a place? If not, I suggest you “Discover DeLand” and you will. It happened to me. I came to Central Florida in pursuit of my dream to ride dressage. Luckily that dream landed me in the award winning MainStreet community of DeLand, Florida, home of Stetson University, an incredible diversity of cultural offerings and the nicest [and most talented] people you will ever meet.

If you gravitate toward the visual arts, then the Museum of Art, DeLand, offers exceptional fine art exhibitions in nine galleries in two locations. The Hand Gallery of Art and the Gillespie Mineral Museum on Stetson’s campus stand out with their nationally noted collections. The African American Museum of the Arts highlights outstanding black visual and performing artists with rotating exhibitions and concerts in the adjacent amphitheater.

How about theater? The Athens Theatre is a restored historic gem offering a wide variety of professional and community plays, musicals and concerts. The Shoestring Theater in nearby Lake Helen does the same. And a little farther south, the Gateway Center for the Arts hosts visual arts exhibitions and musical and theater performances alike.

Are you a music lover? Stetson’s music department is nationally known for its voice and instrumental instruction and hosts dozens of musical performances open to the public. Café da Vinci, the Abbey, the Grotto, the Gin Mill, the Elusive Grape all offer a wonderful array of live music on a weekly basis. Of course, you will want to sample the breadth of excellent food offerings including Cress, rated Zagat’s 2014 Best Restaurant in Orlando [even though it is located in DeLand, some 45 miles to the north.] Whatever cuisine you enjoy, you will find the best of it in DeLand. A short listing also has to include Byte, a tapas bar and restaurant; De La Vega, Mexican; Santorinis, Greek; Odum Thai; Square 1 at the Artisan Hotel, Indian; and of course a plethora of pizza/burger/sandwich/barbeque offerings.

If you like fine wine, you will find an exciting assortment at the Elusive Grape, otherwise known as “DeLand’s living room. Interested in beer? Then the Abbey is your destination with over 100 fine beers from around the world. Lastly, I cannot forget to mention the almost 50 annual special events organized by the MainStreet DeLand Association. From the Craft Beer Festival to the Mardi Gras Dog Parade, Downtown DeLand offers something for every taste. Did I say “DeLand has it all?” If not, I should have. Come visit and prove it to yourself.

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