Seven Things To Do in Daytona Beach
Thousands of race fans will converge upon Daytona Beach, Florida this week for Speedweek and the 58th running of the Daytona 500. The race will be contested Sunday at the newly renovated Daytona International Speedway, but there is much more to see in the Daytona area than just the race. We visited the region back in November, and spent two fabulous nights at the Oceanside Inn.
For folks visiting Daytona Beach this week, or any other time of year, we have put together this list of seven fun things to do with the help of the Daytona Beach Visitors Bureau. We’ve arranged the activities in chronological order, as you could definitely knock them all out in one day, although admittedly we visited during the off-season, so your mileage may vary.
1) Watch the Sun Rise
At west coast beaches, you can leisurely enjoy a gorgeous sunset while you dine oceanside al fresco. On the east coast however, you’re going to have to wake up pretty early in the morning to catch the sun rise over the water. It’s something we highly recommend you do at least once when you visit an east coast beach, it’s the most serene time of the day.
Most people think the early bird catches the fish, but we learned from watching the seagulls that the largest bird is a bully and steals the fish from the early bird. Despite an overcast sky, we did still catch a glimpse of the sun to make the effort worth it. Staying in an ocean front hotel certainly has its advantages.
2) Breakfast at Crabby Joe’s
After catching the sun rise, we suggest you head to Crabby Joe’s on Sunglow Pier in Port Orange for a bite to eat. There is something about a fishing pier restaurant that never fails to make us happy when we visit the beach., and this is your typical dock restaurant, that happens to serve an excellent breakfast. While we found the setting amazing, the service could have been more attentive, and the birds were fairly annoying. They do provide a bit of entertainment though as they scavenge for food while you wait to be served.
3) Climb the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light
The Ponce de Leon Inlet Light is the 2nd tallest lighthouse on the east coast and certainly worthy of a visit when you’re in the area. The kicker here is that you are permitted the enter the lighthouse, and climb all the way to the top. Challenge accepted! It is 203 steps to the top, and they don’t permit you to bring a water bottle, so it was definitely a challenge.
The view is incredible, and we’re proud to have made it to the top… eventually. Even if you just want to check out the impressive tower from below, there is plenty to see on the Museum campus, with a variety of out buildings.
4) Visit the Marine Science Center
Adjacent to the Inlet Light is a hidden gem, the Marine Science Center. It’s a relatively small facility, but makes for a great stop on your tour of Daytona. There are hands on exhibits for kids and adults alike, and the staff is very informative and helpful. We were particularly fond of the birds exhibit, and never miss a chance to photograph a Bald Eagle.
The Marine Science Center is also home to a Sea Turtle and Seabird Rehabilitation Center. The magnificent sea turtles are very important to local culture, and there is no better place in the area to learn all about them.
5) Lunch at Racing’s North Turn
After a busy morning in Ponce Inlet, you’re going to want to grab a late lunch, and Racing’s North Turn is one of the most famous places in town to do just that. The restaurant is located in the exact location where racing history began on the sands of Daytona Beach, and you can even see the building in historic photographs.
The prices here were about what you would expect from a cultural icon, and we’re sure you could find places with better food, but we still highly recommend you make a visit. We’re guessing its a popular place during race week though, so you may have to wait awhile for a table. The atmosphere and history alone are definitely worth a trip, just order carefully.
6) Daytona International Speedway Tour
No trip to Daytona would be complete without seeing the famous Daytona International Speedway. As we mentioned, it’s newly renovated, and they are quite proud of their $400 million investment in the American icon. When we visited back in November they were working diligently to put the finishing touches on the facility, and most race fans will get their first look at the finished product this weekend.
The track offers a variety of tours, and your choice will probably be directly related to your budget, time, and relative level of NASCAR fandom. Our tour was fairly quick, but we still got a chance to see much of the facility, including Victory Lane. Normally the tours are able to drive on the track, but that is not permitted when there are events taking place as there was the day we visited.
7) Drive on the Beach
Driving on the “World’s Most Famous Beach” is one of the most iconic and low-cost activities you can undertake in Daytona Beach. It costs just $10 per vehicle, and for that price you may be inclined to do it just for the experience alone, and barely even get out of your car. For beach goers though, it’s just how they do it in Daytona. Once you experience the convenience of having your vehicle parked feet from your beach chair, you’ll wonder why they don’t do this everywhere.
The one main reason you don’t see this everywhere is because Daytona Beach has hard-packed sand that is conducive to such activities, and enabled the practice of racing on the beach many years ago. Cars are permitted in designated areas from sunrise to sunset, tidal conditions permitting. If there is one thing you MUST do when visiting Daytona Beach, this is it.
For more great things to do in Daytona Beach Florida, visit DaytonaBeach.com!