Best things to do in Daytona Beach
What is it: Home to the Daytona 500, Nascar’s most prestigious race, this racetrack has been a Mecca for car fans since 1959.
Why go: Even if it’s not a racing week, fans will be spellbound by a guided VIP tour of the Speedway, including the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, an exhibit chock full of rare and vintage racing memorabilia.
What is it: Twenty-three miles of white-sand beaches provide endless opportunities for fun in the sun.
Why go: Splash in the waves, search for shells and dig in the sand. There are a number of parks (including dog parks) lining the beach, as well as plenty of places to enjoy a relaxing meal. Of course, no day on the beach would be complete without a slushie from the closest ice-cream truck.
What is it: This family-owned eatery has been a local favorite for more than 50 years and features nightly live music and dancing.
Why go: Located right on the beach, Ocean Deck boasts a relaxed beach party vibe and also serves some of the Sunshine State’s best seafood: think oysters, shrimp, crab legs and ahi tuna burgers.
What is it: A visit to Daytona wouldn’t be complete without a walk down this timeless attraction, filled with tummy-turning amusement park rides and arcade games.
Why go: Try your hand at skee-ball, rise to the sky on the ferris wheel and scream your lungs out as the Slingshot ride propels you into the air. Also visit Zeno’s, the world-famous taffy maker, at the end of the boardwalk. Take in the nightly fireworks (during the summer months) while you sip a margarita from the rooftop deck of Joe’s Crab Shack.
What is it: Daytona’s wide beach of hard-packed white sand first welcomed car racing in 1902. Since then, driving on the beach has become a quintessential local activity.
Why go: Watch the sunset at one of the only beaches in the U.S. you can drive on. No car? No problem: you can rent golf carts or bicycles in town. Racing fans will want to drive on the section of beach at Ponce Inlet in front of Racing’s North Turn restaurant: not only is it the place where beach racing started, but the entire eatery is crammed with racing and Nascar memorabilia.
What is it: Since 1955, this museum has housed educational exhibits displaying both creative arts and sciences.
Why go: The museum features a children’s section that’s hands on and focused on science (think of them building their own vehicles), one of the largest exhibits of Coca-Cola memorabilia in the world (including two private rail cars), a ground sloth skeleton and a large exhibit of Cuban art.
What is it: Built in 1887, Florida’s tallest lighthouse stands as a sentry on the coast at 175 feet tall.
Why go: Climb the 203 steps to get a bird’s eye view of the beach and keep an eye out for Nelly, the lighthouse cat. Learn about the lives of lighthouse keepers on the museum grounds or attend the ever-popular full moon event, Climb to the Moon, where bubbles and appetizers are served. The Marine Science Center is also located on the museum grounds and it has a sea turtle rehabilitation facility, rescued birds and a hands-on teaching lab.
What is it: Daytona’s premier sports bar features 70 TVs and is the city’s biggest oyster bar.
Why go: Oysters and sporting events at a bar on the beach are obvious wins, but a lot of diners actually come here for the burgers. The OP has been serving amazing oysters (try the char-grilled ones) for more than 40 years. Bonus: the arcade room gives kids something to do while you shuck and slurp.
What is it: Daytona is full of independently owned craft breweries and distilleries, each boasting a unique vibe.
Why go: Meet the passionate makers behind Daytona’s diverse brews and spirits, and check out spots like Daytona Taproom (its burgers are famous), Daytona Beach Brewing Company (with a lineup of music and food trucks) and Copper Bottom Craft Distillery (offering a free tour).
What is it: Just outside of Daytona, in Ormond Beach, the "Loop" is a more than 30-mile-long roadway that crosses through some of the state’s most diverse natural beauty.
Why go: Rent a bicycle and explore Tomoka State Park or Bulow Creek State Park, where the trails give you access to birdwatching, boating, fishing, swimming and biking on the beach.
What is it: Located right on the Suntex Marina, Caribbean Jack’s serves happy hour margaritas and offers live entertainment.
Why go: Admit it: you really want one of those drinks served in a souvenir coconut. Named after a well-known local rum runner of the Prohibition era, Jack’s a fun waterside hangout. Order some peel-and-eat shrimp, followed by gator bites (seriously, they taste like chicken) and watch the afternoon turn into night as you lounge by the firepit.