Best Things To Do in Daytona Beach
Of course, catching a race at the Daytona International Speedway is a popular activity, but that's not all the city has to offer. Those who don't enjoy the smell of gasoline and burnt rubber can retreat to the more than 20 miles of tawny shoreline Daytona Beach is so famous for. Though the city may be defined by its fascination with speedy automobiles, it does offer a few cultural diversions that are worth a visit. Climb to the top of one of the oldest lighthouses in the United States, or enjoy some peace and quiet at the Museum of Arts & Sciences.
Updated February 21, 2020
- #1View all PhotosfreeDaytona Beach#1 in Daytona Beach0.3 miles to city centerBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND0.3 miles to city centerBeaches, FreeTYPEHalf Day to Full DayTIME TO SPEND
Stretching for more than 23 miles, the "World's Most Famous Beach" is a must-see if you're in Daytona. Situated near the middle of the peninsula, the beach is famous for its large crowds, bustling pier and hard-packed sand. In fact, it's thanks to the sand's firm composition that drivers are allowed to park their cars right on the beach. Though some see this privilege as a major convenience, parents lament the fact the cars create another safety hazard for young children. However, there is a mile-long pedestrian-only zone that surrounds the pier. Beyond the pier you'll also find a variety of shops, bars and restaurants.
The beach is open 24 hours a day to pedestrians, but driving hours are limited to sunrise to sunset (permitting tidal conditions) between Nov. 1 and April 30, and between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. May 1 through Oct. 31. Access to the beach is free, but you will have to shell out $20 per day to drive on the beach from Feb. 1 through Nov. 30. The speed limit on the beach is 10 mph. Pedestrians and drivers should also be mindful of nesting sea turtles from May to October, who typically nest in marked dune areas.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Daytona Beach7 miles to city centerMuseums, Sightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND7 miles to city centerMuseums, Sightseeing, ToursTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
A National Historic Landmark since 1998, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum is Florida's tallest lighthouse It's also a traveler favorite, thanks to the well-preserved structures and rich history. If you're looking for a bird's-eye view of the area, prepare to hoof it 203 steps to the top of the 175-foot-tall edifice. Travelers recommend wearing walking shoes for the long climb, but say the spectacular views are a must-see and well worth the effort. Once you've reached the top, you'll see Daytona Beach and the north bank of the Ponce Inlet, where the Halifax and Indian rivers meet.
After surveying the Florida coast below, stop by the Ayres Davies Lens Exhibit Building, where you can stroll through exhibits that detail the history of lighthouse evolution. Recent travelers also recommended touring the restored keepers' dwellings. Originally constructed in 1887, these residences now offer a glimpse into the history of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station, the United States Lighthouse Service and the town itself. Should you get hungry (and who wouldn't work up an appetite after a climb like that?), the inlet offers plenty of spots to grab some grub.
- #3View all Photos
More than the miles of shoreline, Daytona is probably best known for the Daytona International Speedway. Since opening in 1959, the complex has been the city's claim to fame, as host to the biggest racing competitions (like February's Daytona 500) and other smaller events throughout the year. On non-event days, you can take a guided tour via tram.
During the half-hour Speedway Tour, you'll take a spin through Daytona International Speedway's infield, pose for a photo at the podium in Gatorade Victory Lane, and stand next to the car of this year's Daytona 500 champion. Tickets for adults cost $19; tickets for kids ages 5 to 12 cost $13 and children ages 4 and younger ride for free. If you're hoping to delve deeper into the speedway's historical sites, consider taking an All Access Tour. You'll have to fork over a bit more coin ($26 for adults; $20 for kids ages 5 to 12), but you'll have the opportunity to check out the media deadline room, peer into the pit stalls and enjoy spectacular views of the trioval and infield from frontstretch seating. Even if you're not much of a racing aficionado, previous travelers said it's still worth a visit.
Hoping to get behind the wheel? You can do that here, too. Sign up for the Richard Petty Driving Experience and tear around the 2½-mile-long superspeedway. If you'd rather ride shotgun, you can ask an instructor to take you for a few laps around the track – just be prepared to ride at speeds up to 165 mph. To learn more about available dates and times, check the Richard Petty Driving Experience website, and for more information on the Daytona International Speedway, visit its website.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Daytona Beach1.5 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1.5 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Just a short drive east of the airport and Daytona International Speedway, the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS) is one of the biggest and most popular museums in the city. Nestled within the Tuscawilla Preserve, a 90-acre hydric hammock, the museum's lush environment is a quiet respite from the hubbub around the speedway. Here you'll find plenty of Americana, like vintage automobiles, railroad cars and Florida's largest collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia. The museum also boasts artifacts from around the world, including Cuban, Chinese and African art. And while the museum is chock full of art exhibits, it doesn't skimp on the science. Head to the planetarium for multimedia shows and special presentations about our solar system. And don't forget to visit the Charles and Linda Williams Children's Museum (located within the same complex) where kids can play with interactive exhibits and learn about science, music and physics, among other subjects.
The newest addition to MOAS is the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, which opened in February 2015. The venue highlights Florida's history through more than 2,600 oil and watercolor paintings, some of which date as far back as 1839.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Daytona BeachMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseums, FreeTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Set on an island in the Halifax River and possessing the charm of days gone by, Jackie Robinson Ballpark is to be visited as much for its rich history as for the enduring appeal of watching America’s favorite pastime. Originally named City Island Ballpark, it is the site where Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1946 by playing in the first integrated, professional baseball game. Now, it's professional baseball's fourth-oldest ballpark in the nation and home to the Daytona Tortugas minor league team. The ballpark also hosts a museum that offers a tribute to Robinson's athletic prowess and lasting legacy, and spotlights other people of color who broke barriers of their own.
If you're catching a ballgame, grab a seat where you can take in the action and behold the beautiful river views. Recent visitors appreciated the reasonable prices all around, including food and drink specials on certain nights. Parents praised the fun, kid-friendly entertainment between innings. What's more, those concerned about safety will appreciate netting around the seating area. For those who stay the full nine innings on Saturdays, the fireworks display is said to be impressive.
Games are held between April and early September. For adults, general admission is $9 and reserved seating is $11, while children, seniors and military enjoy a $2 discount. VIP admission costs $15. If you're not in town for a game, consider visiting the museum, which is free and open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit the ballpark's website.
- #6 in Daytona Beach0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND0.6 miles to city centerMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Racing fans rejoice: At the Halifax Historical Museum, old racing photographs and artifacts sidle antique model cars. But this neoclassical-style building is also a monument to Daytona's history in general: The museum is housed in the former Merchants Bank Building – a fixture in downtown Daytona Beach since 1910. A bank teller's window is still visible in a remote corner, and you'll also find topical displays on the Civil War and American Indians.
Recent visitors said this small museum is jam-packed with history. Others said a stop here provided a nice way to learn about the history of the area.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Daytona BeachParks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDParks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Some are drawn to Tomoka State Park to behold the 40-foot statue of the mythical Chief Tomokie and walk the lands where Native Americans once lived. Others seek a break from the sun and sand of the nearby beaches in a place where live oaks and palm trees provide a shady sanctuary, and the Florida wildlife – from birds of all kinds to the endangered West Indian manatee – are on full display in their natural habitat.
While the park may not appeal to those desiring a long hike (the Tomoka Trail is just a half-mile), recent visitors found it to be an ideal spot for a picnic lunch. A centerpiece of the park is also the Tomoka River, where you can reel in your next big catch or rent a canoe to explore the peaceful waterways. If you're considering staying the night, recent campers noted that the campsites are fairly close together, but appreciated the shady environment, well-kept grounds and the convenience of the Tomoka Outpost.
You'll find Tomoka State Park about 10 miles north of downtown Daytona; admission fees range from $2 to $5, depending on your mode of transportation. Campers will pay $24 a night, plus taxes and a reservation fee. The park is open from 8 a.m. to sundown every day of the year. For more information on the area and to reserve a campsite, visit the Florida State Parks website.
- #8View all Photos#8 in Daytona Beach1.3 miles to city centerAmusement Parks, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND1.3 miles to city centerAmusement Parks, Swimming/PoolsTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
If you need a break from the beach, head to the Daytona Lagoon. With a miniature golf course, go-kart racing, laser tag, a rock wall and a handful of amusement park-type rides, the Daytona Lagoon makes for a fun afternoon. There's also a water park where visitors can enjoy a lazy river, wave pool and some sizeable water slides.
While a daytrip here is a welcome respite from the beach crowds, recent travelers say the park can be expensive. Others commented that the park could use a power wash and a fresh coat of paint.
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