Daytona Beach lies along the Atlantic Ocean, about a third of the way down Florida’s coast. It is riddled with nostalgia and memories of days gone by, yet also current and hip. I had the pleasure of visiting this famous Florida vacation destination for a few days last spring. I was overwhelmed by all of the fun activities that Daytona Beach has to offer (only 2 hours north of my home in Vero Beach!). Daytona Beach certainly has something for everyone and I found it especially pleasing for families, girlfriend getaways, and those looking for budget travel prices with stellar offerings.
Exploring the Arts in Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is becoming a major player in the art and culture world. The Museum of Arts & Sciences is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institute. MOAS houses a planetarium, children’s museum, train and railroad station exhibit, and a giant ground sloth that is 13 feet tall. An extensive amount of Coca-Cola memorabilia from the Root Family’s collection is on display (the inventors of the Coke bottle). Other noteworthy items are the Cuban collection, Chinese art, and popular Americana displays. Visitors can enjoy free WIFI.
Right around the corner is the Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum. This one of a kind gallery offers a beautifully displayed collection of Florida themed paintings, all from the Hyatt’s private collection. A permanent exhibit can be found in the Main Entrance Hall while six changing galleries lie inside the museum and upstairs. One changing gallery focuses on Florida weather. HoneyBaked Ham is the onsite restaurant so you can dine during your visit as well.
Downtown Daytona Beach
Exploring downtown Daytona Beach is a must. There, you will find streets filled with boutique style shops, cafes, and the Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Daytona is home to the Daytona Tortugas baseball team, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The Tortugas play at the Jackie Robinson Ballpark April-September. Stop in the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory for a tour with yummy samples at the end. I am certain that your friends would love the chocolate flip-flops or fresh saltwater taffy as a Florida souvenir.
Daytona Beach is THE Place for Racing Adventures
A trip to Daytona Beach would not be complete without a VIP tour of the Daytona International Speedway. Though I am not a NASCAR fan, I loved my tour! Driving on the speedway, while watching patrons drive the circuit, was pretty cool. There is also a photo-op, film, brief history, and top-notch gift shop. NASCAR’s history is very fascinating; it is hard to believe that one of the most watched sports originated right here in Daytona. The Speedway hosts several races throughout the year, some bringing in 200,000 visitors. Events with stock cars, motorcycles, rallycross, and karting can also be found here. Dayton 500 and Rolex 24 are the most prestigious races.
Golf enthusiasts will appreciate Daytona Beach’s numerous golf course with affordable green fees. Daytona is one of the top 15 places to play golf in the United States. LPGA‘s (Ladies Professional Golf Association) headquarters and Symetra Tours add to the allure. If golf is not for you, perhaps fishing from the Daytona Beach or Sunglow Piers will add to your vacation fun. Cast your line and hope for a pompano, tarpon, or trout to bite.
Daytona Beach is Still a Favorite Beach Destination
Daytona Beach is known as the original American beach. It is still home to the famous 23 mile stretch of packed sand, surf, and sun, accessible by vehicle. The beach is spacious and wide; allowing for guests not to be elbow to elbow with others. Vendors offer outdoor activities along Daytona’s beaches.
Oceanwalk Village is sure to be a children’s favorite. It has the mega thrilling Daytona Lagoon, featuring a water park, arcade, laser tag, rock wall, and single/double go carts right in the middle of the boardwalk area. Parents can relax and float around the lazy river while their children burn off excess energy climbing up all of the fun water slides. Parking is available at the adjacent 6 story parking garage.
Another family favorite is the World Famous Beach Boardwalk full of arcades and gift shops. Although this is the cheesy part of town, it is riddled with nostalgia for the adult crowd. Other noteworthy attractions include Daytona’s Drive-in Christian Church, Cinamatique Theatre, the band shell, Flea Market, and the Daytona Beach Ale Trail.
Accommodations that are Family Friendly
Your best bet for a lovely hotel with an affordable price tag is the historic and beachfront Plaza Resort & Spa. The Plaza offers spacious rooms, an onsite restaurant, typical hotel amenities, and direct beach access. A fabulous pool sits on the oceanfront and offers plenty of lounge chairs for sunbathing or relaxing. Lifesize games are on the outskirts and offer a nice option for family fun.
I recommend having a service done at the onsite spa. I only toured it but the product line was highly impressive and the treatment list made me want to indulge in massage and body treatments. The Plaza Resort & Spa sits in a perfect location in town that is in close proximity for walking to many local businesses and tourist attractions. Their enormous property also affords an opportunity for business meetings, weddings, and other large group functions.
Delectable Dining Options
For breakfast, I suggest Crabby Joe’s at the Sunglow Pier, which is only a short walk from the hotel. Crabby Joe’s has outdoor seating on the pier. They serve other meals as well but breakfast is extra special for the perfect sunrise. Don’t miss a chance to have the Crabcake Benedict since Crabby Joe’s has fresh seafood, but their French Toast dishes are fabulous as well. The menu also has plenty of breakfast favorites such as a variety of Omelets, Hot Cakes, and Corn Beef Hash and Eggs.
If you fancy oysters or fresh Atlantic seafood, I recommend the Oyster Pub Sports Bar & Grill (within walking distance of the Plaza Resort & Spa). Their char-grilled oysters are noteworthy and the service gets a thumbs up, too. Although the restaurant looks and feels like a sports bar, the food quality and preparation is stellar. Their appetizer selection is so great that you may not even need to look at the dinner menu options, but if you still need something more hearty, how about the Mahi Fish Tacos?
If you are a craft beer lover, check out Daytona Beach’s Ale Trail. This collection of 15 brewpubs and microbreweries offer beer enthusiasts their own sort of mini-vacation. Pair it with appetizers for a complete package.
Up And Coming in Daytona Beach
Tanger Outlets have plans to build an outlet mall in Daytona Beach, opening November 18th, 2016, just in time for the holiday season. The mall is located near I-95 and LPGA Boulevard. You can see all of the wonderful stores from the interstate. Older malls are being renovated, too; the Volusia Mall recently underwent a $5 million dollar upgrade.
Perhaps the biggest endeavor in Daytona is the One Daytona development, the first of its type in the world. Its location will be across from the Daytona International Speedway. This premier retail, entertainment, and dining complex will open in phases and encompass over 300,000 square feet of fun where visitors, race fans, and residents can live, shop, play, and indulge. The exclusive Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel, The Daytona, will find its home here as well.
Daytona Beach: A Great Family Beach Destination
As you can see, Daytona Beach has a plethora of activities for all ages, budgets, lifestyles, and interests. Daytona Beach is growing by leaps and bounds, but it will always be known as the Original American Beach. Best of all, this is a great vacation spot that will not break the bank. From nostalgic or modern adventures, everyone will find something to do in Daytona Beach.
Daytona Beach Photo Gallery:
Daytona Beach also has other interesting surrounding areas such as Deland, Daytona Shores, Ormond Beach, and New Smyrna Beach. Read about my adventures in those towns as well so you can add day trips and more Florida fun to your vacation. Florida really is so much more than just beaches and theme parks. Hopefully you will discover the vacation treasures you desire in Volusia County.
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