Daytona Beach has a reputation as a car and motorcycle aficionado’s heaven, but there’s so much more to see and do in this tourist mecca. Daytona Beach is great food, fun shops, multiple beaches, tasty beer, picturesque piers, one of a kind sports attractions and museums. These are a few of the great things, MUST SEES, and family attractions, I discovered in Daytona Beach. This is Part 2 of my Daytona Beach series.
11 Fun Things You Must Do in Daytona Beach
1. Stroll America’s original beach.
I don’t know about you but this Canadian girl needs beach time and the lull of the waves to heal the demands of work, plus the crazy extremes of weather in the fall and winter in southern Ontario. So obviously you start any day in Daytona Beach with a stroll along the beach.
The oceanfront beach strip is accessible on foot or by car in many areas. And accessible also by wheelchair in most spots. In fact, this is one thing that jumped out at me almost everywhere we went in Daytona Beach. The accessible signage was clear in many places. That matters to me. It matters to seniors too and sandwich generation parents caring for their Moms and Dads who need help travelling sometimes. If you start the day relaxing on the beach and the weather is gorgeous you might never want to leave. But there’s a lot to see so try to pace yourself.
Popular gossip here is that famous drivers all stay nearby when they are in town for the Speedway. For a time Crabby Joe’s which has been around for a lot of years dropped the breakfast menu and just stuck to the rest of their offerings (which are pretty tasty by the way) but some of the racing families and wives complained that their favourite breakfast spot was no longer serving eggs and grits and all the southern breakfast treats they’d come to enjoy. Crabby Joe’s took heart and has breakfast on the menu for good now.
Stroll along one of the only wooden piers left in Florida. In fact Daytona Beach has two of the only remaining wooden piers in Florida. Enjoy the view, snap some pictures. Maybe you even want to take some time to fish off the end of the pier. That’s all possible here. email: email@example.com for more information.
3. SKYDIVE Deland: Take a short drive to Deland. There’s more than enough to keep you busy here. First stop. Skydive Deland. The place where tandem skydiving was born. It seems like a sleepy little spot but if you thought that you’d be wrong. This is a space where military trains skydivers and where parachutes are tested. It is also one of the best spots to skydive. (No, I didn’t try it, but many others in the group I travelled with had done tandem skydiving) Tandem skydiving means that you are attached to an experienced skydiver. Maybe you want to try it once for your birthday – something a lot of people do. Or maybe you want to give it a shot when you are in the area. There’s breakfast here too.
4. Downtown Deland:
West Volusia County seems unassuming but downtown Deland has a wild range of shops and art and history on display that it is really a photographer’s delight. The murals, statues and beautiful buildings are infused with history here. We didn’t have long enough to stop to sample food but there are dozens of restaurants and Mom and Pop shoppes that are quaint and really unique. The art is amazing and I am told that certain sculptures are switched and replaced on occasion. Which adds to the vibrant community feel.
5. New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company:
New Smyrna Beach Brewing Co is a crazy adorable microbrewery with some truly clever blends. On the day we visited everyone got a flight of their current beers on tap. The Pumpkin flavour was one that resonated with most of our group. I personally loved the Coronado Beach Cream Ale. BUT don’t forget the root beer. It might be the best root beer you ever taste.
This was a really great way to start my week! Note the serving paddle is a shark and some others were surfboards. The space is also decorated in a beach theme and there are numerous surfboards hanging up covered in chalkboard paint so that the bartenders can scrawl the specials of the day on a surfboard. Fun!
6. Stroll and Shop Canal Street New Smyrna Beach:
Actually this lively little beach demands more than a day or an afternoon. There are many spots to relax and enjoy a vacation here right at New Smyrna Beach in West Volusia County. We each met a couple of families who had chosen to return repeatedly year after year to New Smyrna Beach citing it as a quieter beach than some of the others in the area. There’s quite a bit of ocean life and activity to be seen here.
The jellyfish were washing up on the beach like mad all afternoon one day. I had never seen them up close before. There is a cute range of shops lining the main strip or Canal Street, that winds right down to the beach area. You could easily take a break and pop in to shop for a bit.
7. The Hub on Canal:
The Hub is a community of artists and a gallery built out of a former theatre space. Everything is creative about this lovely spot. There are artists working inside the gallery at various times throughout the week. There are workshops there also during the year, ranging from yoga to martial arts. The Hub on Canal is a non profit company. I highly advise bringing cash so you can buy some of the one of a kind crafts, art or jewelry to take home with you. I could have spent an afternoon here just absorbing all of the creativity. There were beautiful jewelry pieces and slippers and wallets and dishes and oh so much more!!
8. Doris Leeper Preserve
I am told you can often see lots of wildlife here. The day we visited we didn’t see much more than fishing going on but there are many days when you can see manatees and dolphins. Plus the photos are worth the trip alone in my opinion. We did see plenty of birds and catfish that day.
9. The Museums of Daytona Beach.
I bet you didn’t know they had great museums in Daytona Beach, did you? Well there’s the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art and then there’s also the Museum of Arts and Sciences. The Museum of Arts and Sciences also has a great children’s museum section. There was a whole lot of hands on fun for kids there when we visited.
The Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum has the biggest private collection of Florida art. It is a beautiful building and a stunning collection that helps visitors to understand Florida history. Near to both of the museums also is the Tuscawilla Preserve. You can actually make this one trip and see both museums and the preserve in the same day. Nearby Museum of Arts and Sciences has a very interesting Root Family exhibit. The Root Family is the family that created the Coca Cola bottle and the exhibit is all Coca Cola memorabilia.
Kermit’s West Key Lime Shoppe will kick your tastebuds into overdrive. Picture key lime fudge. Key lime cookies, key lime pie and frozen key lime pie on a stick dipped in chocolate. Kermit’s is an institution based both in Key West and in Deland, near Daytona Beach. Twenty years ago Kermit Carpenter began selling smoothies from a stand in front of Papa’s Restaurant in Key West. Kermit was also their bookkeeper for a time. One day the head chef drove off into the sunset. Kermit and family members decided they would start their own business.
In 2003, the facility in Key West was bursting at the seams and they needed to build a bigger manufacturing facility but space in Key West is very limited so they opted to open a manufacturing shop in Deland. Kermit’s Key Lime treats are legendary and in Key West Kermit himself has been known to stand outside the shoppe throwing pies at nearby passengers on a street car. Take some souvenirs home.
11. The Speedway of Course!!
The reason for much of this area’s tourism, The Daytona Speedway is something everyone should see when in the area. I am not a massive racing fan, but I took part in a tour of the racetrack and was really interested. In fact I would return just to take my husband to see a race and potentially do one of the Richard Petty driving experiences. Just for a special gift as a birthday present.
The winning car sits on display for one year. Soon the $400 million reimagining of the speedway – a vision called Daytona Rising – will be complete. The finished product is expected to be ready January 2016. This will include three new concourse areas for fans that will span the frontstretch, five new expanded fan entrances, 17 elevators and 40 escalators, with 60 new trackside suites. I can’t wait to see the final product!
Daytona Beach has a bit of something for every single member of your family to enjoy and the food scene is really great. While you are there consider staying at The Shores. I was a guest of Daytona Beach on a media fam tour through the area this month. My flights, accommodations, transportation and meals were provided while in the area. My opinion is all my own and it is also 100 % truthful.