Spring Into Sunshine on Daytona Beach
Break out your bikini and take your swim trunks out of storage, because it’s time to hit the beach - Daytona Beach, that is! The warm weather has set in and Daytona Beach’s famous soft white sand is just waiting for you to lay out a blanket and settle in for a day in the sun. Of course, there’s more beyond the beach: from theme parks and state parks to lighthouses and historic houses, there’s lots to explore beneath the sunny skies.
The Salt Life
Your first order of business, no doubt, is to head straight to the beach. Daytona offers 23 miles of gorgeous beaches, with an expansive shoreline that keeps you from ever feeling crowded! While you may find the water a bit chilly this early in the year, the sugary sand is soft, warm, and perfect for laying out. Set up your towel and beach chair and settle down with a good book, or work on your sandcastle skills with the kids.
For an extra dose of fun, visit the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier. This complete beachfront recreation and entertainment area is just south of of Ocean Walk Shoppes and the Daytona Beach Bandshell, and features attractions like thrill rides, amusements, gift shops, snack bars, restaurants, and even a classic arcade. Just south of the Boardwalk on A1A, you won't be able to miss the sky-high thrill rides at Screamer’s Park. The rides are open seven days a week, 365 days a year; don’t miss a ride on the SlingShot Daytona, where you can feel the weightless wonder of skyrocketing over 360 feet into the air at 100 miles per hour! daytonabeachboardwalk.com; slingshotdaytona.com
If you’re feeling a tad hungry, there’s plenty of snacks, sweets, and savory dishes to be had nearby. Zeno’s Boardwalk Sweetshop was named one of the seven wonders of Daytona Beach by the Daytona Beach News-Journal, and has been family-owned since 1948. Zeno's is famous for its taffy pulling machine in the front window of the store, and you can choose from chocolates, fudge and saltwater taffy gift baskets. For dinner, eat at Joe’s Crab Shack on the pier, and dig into hearty seafood dishes like steaming crab buckets and coconut shrimp while being surrounded by water views.
Fountain Beach Resort is one of the most perfectly-located accommodations in terms of enjoying the beach - you’re just minutes from shopping, eateries, the Ocean Center, Boardwalk Amusements, Ocean Walk Village, Main Street Pier and more. Rooms are spacious and amenities include small refrigerators, microwaves, and coffeemakers to make your stay more comfortable. Enjoy relaxing on your private balcony, or take a dip in the seasonally-heated pool. Sit beachside at the onsite Oasis Tiki Bar & Grill, where American cuisine and cold drinks meet sweeping ocean views, complete with live entertainment.
The Great Outdoors
While the beach may be your main source of sunshine, don’t miss the chance to explore the natural beauty of the Daytona Beach area’s other outdoor attractions. You’ll find an expansive collection of state and local parks and hiking and biking trails for inland experiences guaranteed to excite. The mild spring weather means this is the perfect time to pull on your hiking boots or work on your paddling muscles!
In nearby Orange City is Blue Springs State Park, which features the largest spring on the St. Johns River. The crystal-clear water is 73 degrees year-round, and floating on the water’s surface in an inner tube or kayak, you can still see all the way down to the bottom! The spring is also a designated Manatee Refuge and the winter home to a growing population of West Indian Manatees; you can see them most often November through March.
One of the most popular ways to see wildlife on your own is while kayaking, and there are plenty of kayak outfitters throughout Central Florida. For a more in-depth look at Florida’s nature, we recommend a kayak tour with A Day Away Kayak Tours, which serve the Daytona Beach area as well as the whole of Central Florida. Their trained guides are not only full of wildlife knowledge, but are also great at helping beginner kayakers learn how to become paddling experts! Their unique tours include a bioluminescence tour taken in a clear-bottomed kayak, sunset birding tours, and even manatee encounters.
Eco tours are an incredible way to not only see nature and learn about wildlife, but also to relax and enjoy the sights. This is especially true with Blue Heron River Tours, a relaxing eco tour aboard the custom-built vessel “Great Blue.” The vessel was designed to sail smoothly and quietly down the backwater areas, where wildlife viewing is at its best, and is narrated for you by Coast Guard licensed captains who will give you insight into the precious beauty of the St. Johns River and Hontoon Dead River. Don’t forget to bring your camera! Of course, not all eco tours go at a slow pace - when you want to get your adrenaline pumping, hop aboard an airboat! Central Florida Airboat Rides will take you and up to six other passengers on a rip-roarin’ adventure on the backwaters of Central Florida, just a short drive inland from Daytona Beach. Prepare to see large alligators in their natural habitat, beautiful bald eagles, moss covered cypress, serene surroundings, and more.
With all the exploring you’ll be doing, you’ll want the perfect home base to come back to and relax in! For this, we recommend a vacation rental, which gives you all the amenities of home and all the perks of being on vacation. Audrey’s Beach House is a two bedroom, two bathroom vacation house in Daytona Beach Shores. This one-of-a-kind, colorful vacation rental on the beachfront that features spectacular ocean views and plenty of amenities like a fully-equipped kitchen, WiFi, access to the oceanfront heated pool, kiddie pool, and shuffleboard court at their sister property.
The Finer Things
While Daytona Beach is most famous for its speedway and its shoreline, you mustn’t forget that this area features a rich tapestry of history, arts, and culture all woven together. To get the most out of your Daytona Beach arts and culture experience, be sure to visit their website at DaytonaBeach.com to download their arts and culture map, which will lead you to historic sites, museums, and National Landmarks.
One of the focal points of the Daytona Beach area is the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, one of two National Landmarks featured on their arts and culture map. Located at Ponce Inlet, the lighthouse was completed in 1887 and is the tallest lighthouse in Florida! While the trek up its 203 steps seems rather tiresome, we assure you that it’s well worth the climb when you reach the top and see the incredible, 360-views of the Atlantic Ocean, the Intracoastal Waterway, and surrounding scenery. Visit the onsite museum to see a rare Fresnel Lens exhibit, artifacts on lighthouse life, shipwrecks, a gift shop and more. Explore the grounds during a stroll, or let the kids monkey around on the playground.
When it comes to art museums, the Daytona Beach area has a wide variety for a fuller perspective on the arts community here. At the African American Museum of the Arts in DeLand, you can enjoy African art from Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Madagascar and Kenya in a permanent gallery featuring six rotating visual arts exhibits and amphitheater events throughout the year. Founded in 1994, the African American Museum of the Arts is a unique and vital resource in this part of Florida. It is the only museum in the area devoted primarily to African American cultures and art. The museum houses a revolving gallery of both established and emerging artists and is also home to a permanent collection of more than 150 artifacts, including sculptures and masks from countries of Africa. The Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art displays the largest collection of Florida-themed oil and watercolor paintings in the world, dating back to 1839. The Brown Museum is more than just a traditional art museum; it is a history museum, with the history of Florida told through works of art. It is part of Daytona Beach’s Museum of Arts and Sciences collection, which encompasses several museum campuses. africanmuseumdeland.org; moas.org
If you’re looking to jazz up your evening with a live performance, then dress up and head out to one of the area’s fine performance centers. The Athens Theatre in DeLand is one of the few existing examples of a classic American theater in Central Florida, built in 1921 and featuring magnificent Italian Renaissance architecture. Fully restored in 2009, the theater now offers features films, live performances and concerts, and is home to the Sands Theater Company and Sands Youth Theater Company. The Ocean Center, on Daytona Beach’s Atlantic Avenue, is a very modern and magnificent multi-purpose convention center and entertainment complex that hosts numerous concerts and performances throughout the year, and incorporates sun, sand, surf and speed into its fourteen Art in Public Places works.
Enjoy one of the finest and most fabulous accommodations in Daytona Beach: the newly-renovated Daytona Beach Resort & Conference Center. Towering above the sapphire Atlantic waves and soft crystalline sands, this resort offers spacious suites with amenities like full-sized kitchens, separate living areas, and spectacular views of the ocean or the Intercoastal Waterway from your private balcony. If you love to swim, then you’ll be glad to know there are four pools to choose from, in addition to the ocean. You can also indulge in an oceanfront dining experience at the onsite Reflections Restaurant & Lounge. Or, sip on a cocktail or enjoy a snack at the Reef poolside Tiki bar.
More to Explore in the Daytona Beach Area