Travel | USA

Welcome to Daytona Beach

Upon mention of Daytona Beach Florida, some would immediately think of the Daytona International Speedway and the iconic Daytona 500 NASCAR race. Some would assimilate the location to beautiful iconic sand beaches, or the recognizable Bandshell concert stage.

Daytona Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast is all those common assimilations, and now for us, it’s the place that my daughters and I discovered together. A stay just before we headed to down to Cocoa Beach.

family travel review with video of daytona beach

 

Welcome to Daytona Beach

We arrived at the Orlando airport, got our rental car, and travelled the just over an hours drive to Daytona Beach, our first stop in our weeks stay in Florida. Our route had us pass the Daytona International Speedway and the Welcome to Daytona Beach sign. While the sun had already set, these various greetings we passed along the way to our hotel, were the ideal welcome to the area.

daytona beach family travel

Indeed it was the start of something great, the location proved to be a quintessential highlight of our vacation. Preconceived expectations met, with an overfill.

Whether you’re staying in the area for an expended period of time or taking a weekend getaway, here is your guide to Daytona Beach with where to stay, things to do, and food you just can’t miss.

 

Daytona Beach Hotels

During our time here we stayed at the Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach. It was a stay that was worthy of a side mention, so make sure to catch up on our thoughts in the hotel’s dedicated article with full video review linked above.

When it comes to location, the Hard Rock is in a sweet spot for sure. It is in close proximity to activities, best restaurants, the famed boardwalk and plenty of shopping. Plus, this hotel offers guests front row seats to one of the best rated beaches in the US.

sunrise

While there are plenty of Daytona Beach accommodations located on or off the beach, and of course I haven’t experienced them all, I do recommend this one because our own stay could not have been better.

 

Daytona Beach Attractions

The area is bursting with things to do, especially those family-friendly attractions. Since we had a rental car, we had the ability to extend our sights beyond the immediate area. That is what I suggest to those visiting, 100%. Having a vehicle means that your experience isn’t limited, it gives you the chance to really get a feel for the entire area and be apart of community.

daytona beach florida

One thing that stands out about Daytona Beach is that driving is permitted in designated areas, on the beach. There are sectioned-off areas that vehicles are permitted to enter, yet I found that more people do this when staying on the beach for a day, and bringing all their gear.

I wanted to experience this myself, yet it does come with a daily fee, which I didn’t find worth it for a few minutes drive just for an experience. Maybe next time!

driving on daytona beach

The beach there is much like flour, it’s soft and crunches in the hand. My oldest resembled it to kenetic sand. Either way, it’s a great {and large} beach that is ideal for playing in to relaxing on.

Here are some of the attractions we took in while staying at Daytona Beach:

 

Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier

This is one of those well-known hotspots in the area. It features excellent views, plenty of beachside room to play and relax, gift shops, restaurants, rides, an arcade and more.

We spent some time walking the area, taking photos and dining. We saw street performers, artists, enjoyed wonderful food and took photos under the pier and along the coast.

daytona beach boardwalk pier

This is the same location that you will find Ocean Walk Shoppes for some retail therapy, and the famed Daytona Beach Bandshell. We recognized the BandShell immediately as a popular cheer competition is hosted there each year, which we’ve been crossing our fingers to attend {still waiting}.Yet it’s most known for hosting concerts throughout the year. Really, how perfect would this location be for that?

daytona beach bandshell

My suggestion is to check out the Daytona Beach website for a full listing of concerts and events when planning your stay.

Wandering the boardwalk & pier, and the shops is a great way to spend a bit of the day for anyone, including travelling families.

daytona beach shopping

Tip: Reserve some time for a stop at Curly Cream Rolled Ice Cream. It’s a lovely little ice cream shop that offers a unique version of a favourite. Cream is poured onto a sub-zero plate until frozen, then scraped off into rolls.

rolled ice cream

With so many choices for flavours, mixtures and toppings – I could have had this ice cream on the daily. Dessert theatre with a grand finale, it’s a must visit when in Daytona Beach. Check out how it’s made in action in our Daytona Beach Video, and you’ll see the delicious dessert result.

 

Museum of Arts and Sciences

Affiliated with the The Smithsonian Institution, the Museum of Arts and Sciences {or MOAS}, is a museum in Daytona Beach, Florida. It is home to over 30,000 objects, and is a fun and educational way to break from the sun – and lessen the guilt a little if you’re fulling your kids out of school for vacation.

moas museum florida

With a planetarium {shows complimentary with admission}, this museum also has a huge kids area which gave the kids a chance to run, explore and learn. This museum actually has a lot of different areas for viewing, including Cuban and African art, various weaponry, and even a prehistoric section.

moas museum florida kids

The domesticated me loved browsing the early American furniture. The most beautiful furniture! As the kids and they especially liked the rail cars, the Coca-Cola memorabilia and the vintage teddy bears!

 

Ponce Inlet

NEARBY SIGHTS: 10 miles south of Daytona Beach is Ponce Inlet, and area that has a few attractions which we very much enjoyed. Plus, the drive there along the coast is gorgeous.

 
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

For a small admission price you can check out the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum. There you will get fascinating historic information on this part of Florida, yet also get to climb the tallest lighthouse in the state, and one of the tallest in the United States.

ponce inlet lighthouse

Visitors can climb the 203 steps to the top of the 175 foot tower and enjoy magnificent views of the beach, Ponce Inlet, and surrounding inland waterways from the lighthouse gallery deck. It’s a climb for sure, yet I braved my fear of heights and it was well worth the efforts.

ponce inlet lighthouse climb

Tip: The lighthouse is located in a little community of services and shops, with a central park as a hub. Bring picnic items and relax in the area, it’s so peaceful and quaint.

 
Ponce inlet Watersports

Literally right across the street from the Lighthouse is Ponce inlet Watersports, a business that offers water adventures such as parasailing, fishing, dolphin and manatee eco tours and other water sports.

We took the Eco Tour, where we cruised on a flat bottom boat and cruised the intracoastal waterways in search of dolphin, manatees, turtles and more! Our guide was most excellent – full of humour, knowledge and experience.

It was on this tour that we got to see the area by water, enjoy the views, learn a lot, and see dolphins!

florida dolphins

The girls were very excited to jump in the captains chair and drive the boat as well. We found the tour to keep both the adults and kids entertained.

eco boat tour ponce inlet florida kids

Seeing dolphins at play in their own habitat was a thrill to say the least, yet the eco tour also stops on New Smyrna Beach to collect seashells, and that was also a nice highlight of the tour. We got to stretch our legs and wander a quiet refuge where the girls had a blast collecting various shells for their own collection.

eco boat tour ponce inlet florida

All that touring and playing in Ponce Inlet will make you hungry indeed. We ate at Off the Hook and Our Deck Down Under while in this area, and both were excellent. Fish and seafood is the specialty of the area, yet there are other options for tastes.

Tip: Get out of your comfort zone and try something new and different when travelling. While it’s great to read about the area, it’s better to experience it. Even if it’s checking out the lay of the land via water, it’ll give you a while new sense of the location you are visiting.

 

While we had a most excellent time in Daytona Beach, and everything offered throughout the city. When you go, don’t hesitate to roam a little further from the main area, as there’s tons to offer travellers. For instance, we loved Ponce Inlet, as it offered a great day escape.

Have you ever been to Daytona Beach?

 
 

Our stay was provided in exchange for this article,
yet as always, all opinions are my own.

 

 

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One Comment

  1. I’ve always wanted to go to Daytona Beach. We aren’t much for NASCAR, but love vacationing in Florida. I have found that a local bus line, Red Coach, can help us get to any of the major cities if we fly into the airport with the cheapest prices. The kids like riding the bus too. Great post that has me ready to plan our visit.

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