Daytona Beach is an endless stretch of sand running down the Atlantic coast of Florida, south of Jacksonville and St Augustine, and just north of New Smyrna Beach. It is about 90 minutes drive from Orlando along the I-4 and makes a great day out for those wanting to visit the beach from Orlando or Kissimmee.
The city of Daytona Beach is a sizeable community with a marina, the Volusia Mall and Daytona International Speedway. There are plenty of places to eat and all the usual small businesses you will find in any Florida community, from tire shops to real estate agencies, banks, liquor stores, fast food restaurants, Starbucks, Seven-Eleven stores, Wal-Mart, Sams Club and Walgreens. If you need anything, you will find it in Daytona Beach!
One of the most modern entertainment areas is at the end of Main Street and is known as the Ocean Walk Village. The complex has several upmarket hotels, a cinema, shops, amusements, oceanfront dining, bars and restaurants. A particular favorite of mine is the Hyde Park Steakhouse Restaurant in the Hilton hotel where you can get great deals on cocktails from 5pm with small plates of lite bites and great steaks with excellent side dishes. It is an upmarket restaurant but the deals and early bird specials make it a great value place to dine with topnotch waiter service.
Right across the street from Ocean Walk Village is the Convention Center and the Daytona Lagoon Waterpark and Arcade. Nearby is a children's playground, fun center, boardwalk and the pier.
Daytona Beach itself has firmly packed sand and rolling surf making it ideal for surfing, kite-surfing or long walks in the constant breeze. Even on the hottest day the beach is bearable if you have some shade from an umbrella or gazebo and an onshore wind. There are sunbeds and umbrellas for hire near the hotels. High-rise apartment buildings are often shuttered against hurricanes as their owners visit for just a few weeks each year. The more popular buildings tend to be timeshare-owned with lovely swimming pools, beach bars etc.
There are some amusement parks and rides along the beach in places but as you travel further south the beach becomes quieter and is overlooked by private beach houses of all sizes and ages.
The best thing about the beach is that for around $6 you can drive your car onto the beach and park for the day. Vans patrol up and down selling drinks and snacks and there are lifeguards at the most popular locations.
Things to Do in Daytona
There are plenty of things to do around Daytona Beach apart from the beach and shops. Take a trip on the Halifax River to see the dolphins, birds and wildlife. In the winter, the St John's River is where many manatees gather to feed. Alternatively, take the Daytona Trolley bus tour around the sights or enjoy a tour in one of the amphibious vehicles that start on the highway and then plunge into the river.
The Daytona International Speedway has guided tours when races are not in progress. The Museum of Photography and the Ormond Memorial Art Museum are also worth paying a visit.
Further north is the historic city of St Augustine, the oldest continuous settlement in the U.S. with its restored street and ancient citadel guarding the coastline.
This informative book offers details of 20 best beaches and coastal cities in Florida
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20 Best Florida Beaches and Coastal Cities