Daytona Beach sits on the northeast coast of Florida, overlooking the warm Atlantic Ocean and offering hundreds of activities for families, adults, and couples. Besides having pretty, white sand, this spot is a prime location for motorsports, hosting the annual Daytona 500 race.
When I’m looking for a unique summer vacation getaway, I look no further than Daytona Beach. It’s got designer shopping, five-star dining, lovely accommodations, natural beauty, and much more. Here’s the activities and places I recommend to make the most of a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida.
1. Stop by the Speedway
Daytona Beach is known for its International Speedway, which has earned a spot in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America. As the home of the “Great American Race,” the Daytona Speedway hosts the Daytona 500 every year.
Besides hosting some of the world’s top race car drivers, the Speedway also holds tours for the public. I couldn’t believe the experience of exploring the track and those 31-degree bank turns for myself! It’s awesome to stand atop the victory podium and check out the displays and memorabilia in the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
2. Hit the Beach
Daytona Beach has 23 miles of white sands to explore. I love to grab a spot and enjoy beach volleyball and frisbee or just a nice, relaxing walk along the waves. Sometimes, I’ll rent a bicycle so I can enjoy the bike path along the sands, too!
The beach grants me the opportunity to make it as relaxing or as exciting as I want. If I’m looking for an adrenaline rush, there are activities such as paddle boarding, kayaking, parasailing, and surfing.
3. Stroll the Pier and Boardwalk
What’s a trip to the beach without taking in the fun, food, and sights of the boardwalk? Daytona Beach’s boardwalk and pier has something for every member of the family. Shops, restaurants, and arcades are just the start.
A great thing about coming during the summer season is that I can catch free fireworks and different concert series featuring bands, musicians, and street performers. I can enjoy all of this while overlooking the pretty surf of the Atlantic Ocean.
Sometimes, I’ll walk a bit north of the boardwalk and visit Daytona Lagoon, a family waterpark with 12 rides, a wave pool, and plenty of attractions for the kiddos. There’s also a family entertainment center featuring go-karts, arcade games, a zip line, laser tag, and more.
When I’m with family members who are a bit more adventurous, I join them at Screamer’s Park. It features two bone-chilling rides that even the bravest thrill fanatics will find terrifying. The Sling Shot launches riders 365 feet in the air at 100 miles per hour while the Vomatron spins and flips riders around at up to 4G force.
4. Spend Some Time in Nature
A great way to discover the natural beauty of Daytona Beach is atop a majestic horse. Equestrian Adventures of Florida offers horseback riding tours and lessons. It’s lovely to just trot along the sands and nature trails, creating memories that will last a lifetime.
For a more serene experience, I go to Reed Canal Park, a beautiful natural area where I can walk, jog, hike, or ride a bike. There is also a field for disc golf, a pavilion and picnic area, and recreational play area. It’s a great place to spend an afternoon alone or with my family.
Another awesome recreational spot I check out is Central Park, which is actually made up of four parks that together cover 149 acres of land. There is plenty of space for picnicking, as well as a lake for fishing, canoeing, and kayaking. There are also hiking and biking trails, tennis courts, and playgrounds.
5. Shop ‘Til You Drop
A vacation can be a great excuse to shop for new clothes and rare items. The Tanger Outlets are where I can find 75 brand-name stores including Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kate Spade, Michael Kors, and the Nike Factory Store.
In addition, the Riverfront Marketplace has shopping, dining, and a superb Farmer’s Market. I love grabbing fresh local produce and browsing through the antiques, art, books, home goods, and more. This is my favorite place to find specialty food and wine!
Daytona Beach is also home to Nicole’s Beach Street Antique Mall, where I find beautiful and eccentric pieces for my place back home. I’m always excited to show off the rare finds and vintage items that I found here.
6. Take in Some History
While visiting, I learned that Daytona Beach was originally settled by the Timucuan Indians. Later on, the French and Spanish founded settlements, and now historical sites throughout the city allow visitors to experience that heritage today.
Some top spots I suggest visiting include Rockefeller’s Ormond Beach Home, Sugarmill Botanical Gardens and Ruins, and the Mary McLeod Bethune Foundation. I was awestruck by the gorgeous Lilian Place, built in 1884 and said to be haunted by a female ghost. The neighboring Hotchkiss House from 1905 is another awesome spot where I can sip some tea and tour the location.
7. Dine as If You Were a King or Queen
I’ve seen all types of cuisine in Daytona Beach, such as Bahamian, Latin, Italian, seafood, and barbecue. This is the place to enjoy fresh, local fish or grab a pint at one of the downtown pubs. Every palate will be satisfied, no matter the age, preferences, or dietary restrictions.
One of the top restaurants in Daytona Beach is Chucherias Hondurenas. Here, I have noshed on Cuban sandwiches, octopus and conch, and pastelitos. The menu is a unique twist on Latin and Spanish cuisine mixed with Caribbean flavors.
Another highly rated eatery in Daytona Beach is Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q. The brisket and baby back ribs are scrumptious, and even kids walk away satisfied from this restaurant. I’m always sure to try some Southern delights such as corn fritters, pulled pork, and fried catfish.
8. Become a Sports Fan
Even though I’m not the biggest sports fanatic, I can appreciate Daytona Beach’s spot in athletic history. One of my favorite visits was to the Jackie Robinson Ballpark, which opened in 1914 and was renamed in 1989 to commemorate African-American baseball player Jackie Robinson.
I’ve noticed that golf is another popular sport here, and the Daytona Beach Golf Club features two distinct courses. I recommend checking out the New Smyrna Golf Club, which has special recognition on the Florida Historic Golf Trail. Golf packages and tours are available for those who want to learn more about Daytona Beach’s golf culture.
9. Have a Romantic Getaway
Don’t forget that Daytona Beach is a wonderful place for a romantic vacation. The Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach is a popular couples spot, as is my personal choice, the Plaza Resort and Spa. Florida beaches are naturally romantic and I’ve had a blast enjoying couples massages, luxury dining, and sunsets on the beach with my significant other.
10. Spend Time with the Family
That being said, Daytona Beach is an awesome location for my family vacation. I have fun strolling the boardwalk, eating delicious food, and playing both classic and modern arcade games with my loved ones. I even bring the kids to learn first hand at the Museum of Arts and Sciences and Marine Science Center. With water parks, go-karts, Speedway tours, and more, my brood is always satisfied!
Things to Do in Daytona Beach: Final Thoughts
I always enjoy my time at Daytona Beach whether I go solo, bring my significant other, or explore with my whole family. There are countless activities and sights to see at this mecca for recreation and relaxation. It doesn’t matter if the trip is filled with more chills or thrills, I simply have a great time. I hope that on your next vacation to Florida, that you have an opportunity to check out some of these fun attractions in Daytona Beach.
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