Daytona Beach is known for its white sand beaches and international speedway, but did you know there are tons of other fun things to do at the “World’s Most Famous Beach”?Explore the area in and around Daytona Beach for a chance to get lost in wild Florida, dine at unique restaurants with gorgeous views, or check off some bucket list experiences. It’s all possible with a relaxing stay at the beautiful Daytona Beach.
This small rescue organization located just a short drive south of Daytona Beach is doing big things for conservation! At Marine Science Center you can experience first hand how sea turtles and seabirds are being rescued and rehabilitated to one day be returned to the wild. The center has unique learning opportunities for people of all ages such as interactive exhibits, knowledgable volunteers and even live animal programs that showcase the resident, non-releasable animals’ natural behaviors. Admission is only $4 at the door and you’ll walk away with immeasurable amounts of knowledge on how to protect the local marine environment.
The Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is one of the most well preserved lighthouses in the country. Climb the 203 steps to the top for spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the Halifax River. After your climb, be sure to check out the Ayres Davies Lens Building where you’ll find one of the largest collections of historic Fresnel lenses in the world! Tour the rest of the property and you’ll discover the original lighthouse keepers’ living quarters and even more historical artifacts.
A stone’s throw away from the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is Lighthouse Point Park. This area of the Ponce Inlet has remained undisturbed and preserved for a wild coastal experience. Enjoy relaxing on the beach, a picnic or hiking along the trails of this 52-acre park where many locals come to fish or surf. Venture out along the jetty for some of the best views down the Daytona Beach coast.
Come for the scenery and stay for the great tasting food. Off The Hook at Inlet Harbor is located along the Halifax River, home to tons of wildlife including dolphins, manatees, turtles and more. This is a great spot to catch the sunset and enjoy live music. Both indoor and outdoor seating is available, but the patio is where it’s at for the local vibe and the gorgeous views. Try some of the freshest tasting seafood that Daytona Beach is known for while also enjoying the Daytona Beach Ale Trail's local craft beers on tap.
Everyone knows the east coast is where you need to be to see the best sunrises! Maybe you didn’t know that where you need to be for the best breakfast in Daytona Beach is Crabby Joe’s Deck and Grill. This cute restaurant sits on the Sunglow Fishing Pier and the views are absolutely gorgeous. Poles and other fishing gear are available for rent if you decide you’d like to catch your own meal. Otherwise, breakfast is served at 6 a.m., but arriving earlier to see the sunrise will reward you with stunning photo opportunities. Crabby Joe’s has plenty of options for a hearty breakfast including their well known Beachside Benedicts. Enjoy even more great food and drink specials throughout the day with happy hour from 4-6 p.m. and dinner served until 9 p.m..
With two Daytona Beach are locations - at ONE DAYTONA across from Daytona International Speedway and just off of East Granada Blvd. in Ormond Beach, this locally-owned donut shop creates delicious old-fashioned cake donuts from scratch. Everything here is carefully crafted to perfection which is obvious by the look and taste of each donut. Flavors vary by day and include everything from s’mores to maple bacon. If you can’t find a flavor pairing that you’re craving, try out the The Donut Bar and create your own by choosing your cake base and frostings, toppings, and drizzles. If Donnie’s Donuts wasn’t already awesome enough, this bakery also sources their "to go" containers, cups and almost everything else to be as eco-friendly as possible. The owners really pour their passion into these donuts to make sure that Daytona Beach and surrounding areas have the best hometown donuts!
Roll down your windows and take a drive north of Daytona Beach along the Ormond Beach Scenic Loop and Trail for some spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean. Stop along the route at any of the beach access points for a more wild view of the ocean. Here, you can see unspoiled coastline and plenty of wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled as you gaze out over the Atlantic for Right Whales which are commonly seen along this stretch of the east coast. Take a turn inland and you’ll find yourself cruising through tall old oak trees draped in moss as you navigate through one of Florida’s most beautiful state parks.
With over 7 miles of trails winding through tall pines and oak trees, Bulow Creek State Park is a prime place to experience wild Florida. This area is known for a plethora of wildlife such as deer, bobcats, and tons of birds including bald eagles. Make sure to stop at the park’s iconic Fairchild Oak tree. This famous tree is one of the largest living oak trees in the south and is over 600 years old. This tree is the perfect backdrop for a picnic or photoshoot. Hop on over to the Bulow Plantation Ruins at the north end of the park and step back in time to Florida’s old sugar plantations. Scenic walking trails wind through the old ruins with interpretive signs telling the story of this historic site.
Venture over to Tomoka State Park which sits just off the Ormond Beach Scenic Loop and Trail to paddle along the tranquil Tomoka River. Launch your own vessel or rent one from Tomoka Outpost which is just inside the state park. This little camp store is run by an amazing group of people who know the area extremely well and can tell you all the fascinating facts and highlights of the paddling routes. Relax on the patio with cold drinks and an amazing view after your paddle. Tomoka State Park also has a campground with sites just off the bank of the river if you’re interested in disconnecting for a few days. Just around the corner from Tomoka State Park is a great place to grab a bite to eat after your adventure. River Grille On The Tomoka sits right along the river with beautiful views, local beers, and a delicious menu.
Located between the beach and the speedway along the Halifax River are the Riverfront Shops of Daytona Beach. A few blocks of over 60 local businesses come together to offer visitors a great place to do some shopping with a waterfront setting. This area also hosts tons of events throughout the year including the popular Downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturdays. Antiques, book stores, and even a chocolate store line the historic downtown street. Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory is definitely a must see for anyone with a sweet tooth. Back in 1925, two ladies from Michigan started a successful chocolate business which they later moved to Daytona Beach. Visit the store to learn all about the history of this famous brand of chocolate. Self-guided tours of the chocolate making process can taken anytime during operating hours Monday through Saturday. Enjoy a free chocolate sample while you browse the rest of the shop.
Probably the most famous activity in Daytona Beach is driving your car on the beach. With the hard-packed white sand beaches, visitors are able to cruise along the beautiful shoreline (within the driving zones) or park for the day at their favorite beach spot. For only $20 per day, you can have all your beach gear at your fingertips with just a short walk to dip your toes in the ocean. Access ramps to the areas where driving is permitted are located along A1A making it easy for you to roll down and drive on the “World’s Most Famous Beach”.
Daytona Beach’s most popular attraction, Daytona International Speedway, draws huge crowds for its big events like the DAYTONA 500. Racing enthusiasts from all over the world flock to the Speedway not only for NASCAR races, but to immerse themselves in the history of racing. The Motorsports Hall of Fame of America at the Speedway covers the events starting from the days of racing on the beach up until present day. Even the winning car of the last DAYTONA 500 is displayed in its original form, confetti and all! During lulls in racing, the Speedway transforms for various events like its major holiday celebration, Magic Of Lights.
Stop by the Ormond Beach area for a small town vibe just minutes north of Daytona Beach. A variety of local businesses line Granada Boulevard like coffee shops, pubs, art galleries and restaurants. The Gold Leaf Coffee Company is a huge hit among the locals with their locally-sourced ingredients and commitment to high quality products. Stop by Arts On Granada to browse local artists in their co-operative gallery with a rotating main entrance exhibit. Grab lunch or dinner at the very unique themed Grind Gastro Pub and Kona Tiki Bar. Inside Grind is a chill and relaxing pub style atmosphere, whereas outside is a fun tiki-themed bar, voted best in Volusia County!
All along the coastline of Daytona Beach you’ll find tons of options for places to stay. Each hotel offers amazing views of the Atlantic Ocean with the beach only steps away and plenty of other amenities depending on the resort. Everything from budget-friendly to luxury accommodations line the strip giving each visitor a plethora of choices. Check out the Residence Inn by Marriott Daytona Beach Oceanfront for an incredible location and large comfortable suites. The Residence Inn offers a full complementary breakfast that has all the fixings and a gorgeous pool overlooking the ocean. With all of the comforts of home at your finger tips, it’s no wonder that tons of visitors choose to stay at this modern resort in Daytona Beach Shores.
Both professionals and amateurs flock to Skydive DeLand for an incredible bucket list experience. Located just a short drive from Daytona Beach, Skydive DeLand is one of the most popular drop zones in the world for seasoned skydivers. This establishment also hosts tons of beginners who are looking for an adventure of a lifetime. The staff at Skydive DeLand are extremely knowledgeable and consider safety a top priority. Know that you are in good hands regardless if it’s your first jump or hundredth jump. Wait for your jump in the cozy restaurant located on site called “The Perfect Spot”. This full service hangout also has a full bar to celebrate your huge accomplishment!
Downtown DeLand has tons of shops and restaurants for visitors and locals to enjoy. Each establishment has a unique vibe and hometown feel, it’s no wonder this small Florida town has won awards for its historic main street. Downtown DeLand also hosts tons of festivals, markets, and other events like the Craft Beer Festival and the weekly Artisan Alley Friday Growers and Makers Market. Stop by Persimmon Hollow Brewing Company for some great craft beers and afterwards take a stroll down Pill Alley to see the local artwork like the famous DeLand Wings mural created by talented Erica Group. Grab lunch at The Table for some delicious from scratch meals that’ll rival your grandmothers cooking. Swing by Cafe DaVinci to round out the evening with a night of dancing under the stars in their open courtyard.
One of the closest natural springs to Daytona Beach, Blue Spring State Park is the perfect day trip to explore the more wild side of Florida. Explore the lush forest surrounding the spring with a walk along one of the hiking trails. Swim or go tubing down the crystal clear spring run for a chance to cool off during the summer months. From mid November to the end of March, the spring run is closed to paddling and swimming to make way for the manatees that seek refuge in the warmer waters of the natural spring. Take a stroll along the boardwalk that follows the spring to observe hundreds of manatees when the temperatures drop during the winter months.
Just a short drive from Daytona Beach in the small town of De Leon Springs is one of Florida’s best kept secrets. The Old Spanish Sugar Mill at De Leon Springs State Park offers all-you-can-eat pancakes that you cook on the griddle right at your own table. Add the perfect mix-ins like blueberries, chocolate chips, or bananas to create your favorite breakfast pancakes. Arrive early or stay after your meal to take a tour on the Fountain Of Youth boat tour. This almost hour long guided excursion takes you out to the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge where you’ll most likely see tons of gators, turtles, and native birds including bald eagles. Finally, take a dip to cool off on a hot day in the headspring where the water is always crystal clear and 73 degrees year round.
Guest blog post by Impulse4Adventure's Bridget Beury, the 2019 winner of the Daytona Beach Area CVB's Florida Outdoor Travel Blogger contest.