Nearly 500,000 people call Volusia County home. Situated on the east coast of Central Florida, the 47 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches are a world-class playground, with beachfront cities including Daytona Beach, Ormond Beach and New Smyrna Beach.

Water sports are plentiful, but Volusia’s oceanfront communities are most famous for land sports. Early automotive pioneers such as Louis Chevrolet and Henry Ford enjoyed their leisure time in the sun and found that the hard-packed sand, gentle slope and wide expanse of Volusia’s beach was the perfect proving ground for early auto racing. Ormond Beach, in fact, is known as the “Birthplace of Speed.”

The racing tradition continues today at Daytona International Speedway, one of the world’s finest racing facilities and the home of the world-famous Daytona 500, an event larger than the Super Bowl.

The scenic St. Johns River, famed for its bass fishing, links magnificent parks with wildlife preserves along the county’s western border. True southern charm can be found in DeLand, the county seat. This unique city features an award-winning downtown filled with antique shops and quaint restaurants, surrounded by stately historic homes and buildings.

Volusia-based companies include Hawaiian Tropic sun care products and Boston Whaler boats. Their institutions of higher learning; Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Stetson University, Bethune-Cookman University, Daytona State College and the University of Central Florida — have a national reputation for excellence.

Volusia County is about an hour’s drive north of Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center. It’s also within a few hours’ drive of other major Florida communities, such as Tampa (139 miles), Miami (253 miles), or Jacksonville (89 miles). For more information, www.volusia.org.