This material courtesy of Thomas Scopel
When considering taking a vacation at a destination that is warm, wet, and wild, consider Daytona Beach, Florida. This is a place that at one time was known as a wild party location and subsequently became known as the “Worlds Greatest Beach.” However, in more recent days, this “Wild” has changed considerably. Of course, there are the special events, which we will get to shortly, that always bring some sort of chaos into the atmosphere but, these have even seemed to mellow somewhat. Regardless, lets take a tour of this fascinating destination that truly does offer it all.
Lets begin with travel. Daytona Beach is located about 80 miles south of Jacksonville, Florida and about 250 miles North of Miami on Interstate 95, and is about 50 miles east of Orlando on Interstate 4. There are a number of well-known streets and roadways throughout the city and getting around is quite simple. International Boulevard is probably the most famous one next to A1A, more of that road in a minute, and is where one will see the world famous 2-½ mile Daytona racetrack. It is here that two official NASCAR races (the Daytona 500 and the Coke Zero) and one not so official (Budweiser Shootout) bring the world’s eyes upon it as well as thousands of visitors, which the city warmly embraces. International Boulevard is a business area and offers something for everyone and includes the 125 store Volusia Mall. Hotels and motels are located throughout this area as well as on the beach line and have various rates.
A1A is actually Atlantic Boulevard and is famous for a couple of different things. One is that it lines the Atlantic Ocean and offers spectacular views. The other is that this is where some of the earliest races occurred using both the roadway as well as the beach. The sand was packed so hard and they were able to race on it. Therefore, this place and especially Ormond Beach, a town directly north of Daytona, is called “The Birthplace of Speed.” Coincidently, there is an event held every year commemorating it. Also, driving on the beach is allowed provided the sand is packed otherwise, it is 4-wheel drive only.
A1A is the main north south direction in Daytona Beach and offers a wide variety of very diverse shops and businesses that cater to not only to all visitors, but to the natives as well. Daytona Beach seems to realize its place as a popular tourist destination as well as a home for many and nicely incorporates the two.
The restaurants include many national chains as well as local places too. Seafood is both plentiful as well as reasonably priced and can be heartily enjoyed. Any type of food can be found here and even sushi is made fresh and offered in the larger well-known supermarkets.
A few miniature golf locations are also scattered about and will allow a person to bask in the sun while taking in nine holes. However, beware, these are not your typical miniature golf courses. Be prepared for everything from mountains to crashed airplanes. They certainly are a sight, and very fun to spend a couple of hours. Real courses are also close nearby for those real golfers too.
Deep in the heart of Daytona Beach is the place called “Ocean Walk.” There are a number of things to do here. Attend a movie, walk on the boardwalk, or even be shot into the air by a giant cage held by rubber bands. Shops line the boardwalk and often, primarily during the summer months, street performers will put on shows that are actually quite good. Be sure to throw some appreciative spare change into their hats.
The Skyway will enable a person to ride out over the end of the long Daytona Beach pier and is a great way to see the complete overlay of the boardwalk area. A variety of shops, all within walking distance and various restaurants fill the area with a constant commotion. Parking in the parking garage will cost a small amount but the movie theatre and shops will validate. Directly behind the parking garage is the place called “Daytona Lagoon” and in a wonderful way to stay wet all day while riding and sliding. Alongside all of this is the “Ocean Center,” where everything from concerts to car shows are held. It is truly the center of it all.
Have we mentioned the beach yet? Soft sands, gentle breezes, and waves. This beach is a year-round attraction alone. Considering the fairly close proximity, many folks who travel to Orlando for its world famous attractions, will come here to take advantage of the beach scene too. This usually ends up being the best of both worlds for them.
As far as events as concerned, Daytona Beach caters to a variety of different tastes. Bike Week is in February and will see probably over 100,000 motorcycles descend upon the town for a week of bands, babes, and beer. Biketoberfest is in October and basically, it is a scaled down version of Bike Week. Race week happens twice a year too: once in early February, and once again during the Fourth of July weekend. In between, there is “Spring Break, Black College Reunion,” and a few other standard yearly events. Therefore, plan accordingly and just enjoy the festivities that seem to be a continuous thing.
Getting away from Daytona Beach and into the outer lying areas, there are a wide variety of things to do too. Fishing is quite popular and can be done either in one of the many tributaries or on a boat 50 miles offshore. Either will usually be an anglers dream. Snorkeling in the crystal clear waters of one of the many surrounding springs is a wonder in itself too. Do not forget to buy a disposable water camera.
This is simply a quick overview or some of the many things that Daytona Beach has to offer. Daytona Beach is a very diverse town that has big city offerings with a small town feel and is what makes Daytona Beach so friendly and inviting again, and again, and again…