For most people, visions of Daytona Beach, Florida, include iconic east coast beaches and a history of world-famous racing. Those are absolutely two of the best reasons to visit and to come back again and again. But many guests have found there is a surprising list of other activities and a diverse collection of attractions that make this a destination that delights visitors with a wide variety of interests.
Located just an hour east of Orlando, Daytona Beach is midway between St. Augustine and the Kennedy Space Center and is an easy destination to reach by car or air. Interstate 95 and Interstate 4 intersect here and the Daytona Beach International Airport (700 Catalina Drive, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 386-248-8030) has non-stop flights from select cities.
At Daytona Beach’s museums and galleries visitors are treated to world-class art displays as well as collections that celebrate local history and culture. This is home to the Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts & Sciences (352 South Nova Road, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 386-255-0285), considered Central Florida’s premier museum. Here, visitors can experience the beauty of art, the wonder of science and stories of history as well as view an amazing display of Coca-Cola memorabilia. The world’s largest collection of Florida themed art is on display at the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art (352 South Nova Road, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 386-255-0285). Displays include a showcase collection and several rotating exhibits. And Florida's only museum dedicated to photography, the Southeast Museum of Photography (Daytona State College, 1200 West International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 386-506-3894), features changing exhibits and interpretive displays.
Daytona Beach has a vibrant, walkable downtown and the Beach Street retail area located between Bay Street and Orange Avenue, is a great place to start. Or a walk along the mile-long Riverfront Esplanade (Magnolia Avenue & Beach Street, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114) offers views of the Intracoastal Waterway and the perfect spot for waterfront shopping and dining.
Both sport history and civil rights are celebrated here, too. Jackie Robinson Ballpark (105 East Orange Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 386-257-3172), the place where Robinson broke the color barrier, is one of the oldest still used in professional baseball and is home to the Daytona Tortugas minor league team. A newly christened 13-foot-tall Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune statue (Corner of Beach Street & Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114) celebrates the founder of a small school in the early 1900s that evolved into Bethune-Cookman University. She is heralded as a civil rights and women's rights pioneer, and the champion of Black Daytona Beach residents who fought for their most basic needs and rights.
A variety of beachfront and state parks offer trails and picnic areas to enjoy the natural landscapes and explore the flora and fauna of beautiful Central Florida. A favorite is Tomoka State Park (2099 North Beach Street, Ormond Beach, Florida 32174; 386-676-4050). The park protects a variety of natural habitats and endangered species, such as the West Indian manatee, and is a bird watcher's paradise. Visitors can stroll a one-half mile nature trail through a hardwood hammock that was once an 18th century indigo field. The Daytona Beach area also has an impressive collection of hiking and biking trails in settings ranging from naturally beautiful rural areas to urban walkways with waterfront views. The county has a Parks and Trails App, for details on all the options.
Back to those iconic reasons people visit, Daytona Beach’s 23 miles of white sand beaches. Classic must-dos, include:
Taking in a concert at the popular beachfront Daytona Beach Bandshell (70 Boardwalk Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida 32118; 386-671-8250)
Spending time on Daytona Beach’s iconic boardwalk (12 South Ocean Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida, 32118; 386-253-0254) and pier (200 Main Street, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114) are a favorite way to make memories for many.
Visiting Daytona International Speedway (1801 West International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 800-748-7467) where speedway tours are a fantastic way get an up-close look at the world-famous track, with its 31° banking, the infield Fan Zone and the renovated modern motorsports facility.
Take in the NASCAR Racing Experience (1801 West International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32118; 800-237-3889) where fans can drive a NASCAR race car at the "World Center of Racing!" Visitors can choose to drive a race car by themselves or take a ride along as a passenger.
Where to eat
The Daytona Beach area’s culinary scene is also full of surprises. These are just a few of the dining options that represent the diverse culinary experience offered here:
Enjoying dinner and cocktails is a special experience amid the 1930s art deco décor at 31 Supper Club (31 West Granada Boulevard, Ormond Beach, Florida 32174; 386-275-1625). The “Havana Vibe” is the setting for an international menu.
The options at Mama Foo Foo (125 Basin Street, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 386-287-0180) include a great cocktail list and creative eclectic menu, and all can be enjoyed while taking in the marina view.
The Cellar (220 Magnolia Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 386-258-0011) is in Daytona Beach’s historic district and known for its exquisite Italian cuisine, excellent wine list and romantic atmosphere.
At Rose Villa Southern Table & Bar (43 West Granada Boulevard, Ormond Beach, Florida 32176; 386-615-7673) visitors can dine inside this former bed and breakfast or alfresco, on the porch. The menu features an eclectic mix of Southern inspired cuisine, craft cocktails and extensive wine list.
For a luxurious atmosphere and a 360-degree sunset view, Top of Daytona (2625 South Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach Shores, Florida 32118; 386-310-7849) delivers. Perched on the 29th floor of the tallest building along the Atlantic Ocean, this is a setting made for memorable meals.
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