Daytona Beach—famous for its Nascar auto races and as a one-time spring breaker hotspot—offers more than meets the eye. Racing nerds will love the Speedway and cruising down Daytona Beach, foodies will love the fresh seafood, while outdoorsy types will enjoy sunny days on the beach and may be surprised by the number of biking and hiking trails in the area. Orlando is just an hour away, but there are plenty of attractions right in the Daytona area to keep you entertained. Here are the best things to do in Daytona Beach—make sure to tackle them all!
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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.