Daytona Beach Vacation – When To Travel / Where To Stay / What To Do
There are compelling reasons why this destination along Florida’s Atlantic coastline is touted as the world’s most famous beach. With a flair for everything from history and culture to motorsports and adventure, a Daytona Beach vacation brims with activities and attractions to suit every kind of traveler. So, what are you waiting for? Head to this 23-mile waterfront for an epic trip!
Where is Daytona Beach?
This vibrant vacation hotspot located in northeastern Florida sits on the Atlantic Ocean. Split into east and west sides by the Halifax River lagoon, it has the city of Jacksonville to its north, Orlando to its west, and Cocoa Beach to its south. Its location makes it accessible by car, air, rail, and even boat.
What is Daytona Beach known for?
One of the popular beaches in Florida, Daytona Beach’s claim to fame is its international speedway circuit, where the turbo-charged Daytona 500 motor race is held every year. Over the years though, it has grown into one of the top attractions, not just for racing fans, but all kinds of visitors.
Another thing Daytona Beach is known for is its expansive stretch of hard-packed, drivable sands. It is one of the few beaches that permits you to drive and even park on the beach. Pull right over to your favorite spot on the sand, set up your beach gear, and dip your toes in the ocean just a few feet away!
Is Daytona Beach a good vacation spot?
Daytona Beach is one of the best vacation destinations in Florida. With countless options to explore, Daytona Beach ticks every box on your vacation list.
The vast shoreline offers plenty of sand and surf for those wanting a quintessential beach experience. For nature lovers, walkable pleasures are right at hand with the many hiking trails at gardens and parks; nautical, equally so with eco-adventures through the intracoastal waterways.
The historic sites and museums in the Daytona Beach area offer history enthusiasts an opportunity to delve into the past. There’s also an array of culinary choices and entertainment venues.
Daytona Beach Things To Do
Family-friendly things to do in Daytona Beach
There are heaps of fun things to do on your family vacation to Daytona. Here are a few!
Hit the beach
The possibilities are endless at Daytona Beach no matter if you prefer just basking in the sun or spending your time actively. The 12-mile car-free section makes it excellent for kids frolic in the sand and surf, build sandcastles together or race each other on the beach on bikes.
This fantastic shoreline also provides a perfect canvas for aquatic pursuits such as swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, and kayaking. Parasailing is another exciting diversion.
Commune with nature at Bulow Creek State Park
It’ll be a wrench to tear yourself away from the beach, but Bulow Creek State Park, a short drive from Daytona, is worth a visit. Home to an enormous stand of southern live oak trees, the 5600-acre park offers natural beauty in spades where you can hike or bike the trails, paddle through the marshes, go birding, or enjoy a picnic together.
Don’t forget to grab a photo with the iconic Fairchild Oak, estimated to be over four centuries old!
Splash around at Daytona Lagoon
Load up the crew and hit this favorite family draw in the heart of Daytona Beach for non-stop fun. From adrenaline-fueled rides to kid-friendly options, the water park is a blast.
Daytona Lagoon offers a high-speed go-kart track, a mini-golf course, a laser tag arena, and an expansive arcade to boot. A perfect backdrop for a fun family outing! With on-site eateries to refuel and cabanas to relax, you can make a day of it.
Learn something new at the Museum of Arts and Sciences (MOAS)
MOAS doesn’t need a pitch as a must-do family attraction; the extensive art collection, the children’s museum, the railroad station exhibit, and the planetarium are testimony in and of themselves.
And that barely scratches the surface of the list of things the museum offers! With a whopping 30,000 exhibits that run the gamut from history to science and everything in between, this popular attraction within the Tuscawilla Preserve will keep the family entertained for hours.
Experience heart-pounding excitement at the Daytona International Speedway
Even if you’re not a devoted racing aficionado, you just might become a fan after a visit to this world center of racing!
You can enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour with your family in an open-air tram, dial up the wow factor with the Richard Petty Driving Experience or zip around the speedway in a race car and get a first-hand experience of the high-octane excitement! Young kids can ride shotgun with an instructor too.
Arguably one of the best things to do in Daytona Beach with your family!
Romantic things to do in Daytona Beach
Looking for some date night ideas? Check out these activities to inspire romance!
Stroll the Daytona Beach Boardwalk hand-in-hand
Stretching along the Atlantic Ocean, the Daytona Beach Boardwalk offers the perfect setting for a stroll with your honey. Want to amp it up? Head to Screamer’s Park and try the adrenaline-fueled rides.
If you’re looking for some retail therapy, the Ocean Walk Shoppes mall is within reach. Plus, the boardwalk offers colorful culinary choices to delight your taste buds.
Take a ride along the Ormond Scenic Loop
Listen to a romantic playlist as you cruise 30-plus miles of nature on the Ormond Scenic Loop. Magnificent in its rendition of paradise, the loop meanders through a dense oak canopy and offers unobstructed vistas of waterways, wetlands, beaches, and dunes.
The landscape also lends itself to outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and fishing. An absolute must-do activity for nature loving couples!
Paddle with the manatees
Embark on an eco-adventure together. Navigate the waterways of Daytona with a guided standup paddle boarding or kayaking tour and discover playful manatees and dolphins along the way.
The wondrous beauty of the surroundings is the icing on the cake. Makes for a memorable date!
Dine and cruise on the Lady Dolphin of Daytona
Looking for a relaxed option? Lady Dolphin of Daytona has you covered. Dine on a delicious dinner and dessert with your sweetie as you cruise the calm Halifax River aboard the paddlewheel boat. Incredible views of the Florida riverside scenery are an exciting bonus!
Catch a show at Cinematique Theater
Catch an indie flick or an improv show at Cinematique for a unique film experience. Cozy up with your date on one of the couches or the comfortable bistro seating at this quaint arthouse cinema in downtown Daytona.
The best part? Meals are served tableside, and you can even enjoy a glass of wine or beer!
Things to do at night in Daytona Beach
Your day doesn’t have to end when the sun goes down! Continue to have fun with these ideas.
Snuggle with your favorite people around a beach bonfire
There’s something magical about gathering with your near and dear ones around a warm beach bonfire. Listen to the symphony of crashing waves as you enjoy an evening of toasty treats and laughter with your toes buried in the sand.
Just remember to bring a self-contained fire pit. Permit is not necessary as Daytona is one of those Florida beaches where you can have a bonfire!
Watch a jaw-dropping performance by Polynesian Fire
Kick off your evening with a greeting from hula dancers. Then tuck into a buffet meal with island favorites as you enjoy live music and dances that pay homage to different Polynesian cultures.
Nothing short of thrilling, the Polynesian Fire show will make your Daytona Beach vacation memorable for everyone.
Wet your whistle on the Ale Trail
Discover diverse craft beers, artisan spirits, and delicious food on the Daytona Beach Ale Trail. Some of the can’t-miss stops include the Ormond Brewing Company that brews flavorful beers on site, the New Smyrna Brewing Company known for its handcrafted specialty ales, and the Daytona Taproom that features 50 beers on tap!
One of the popular activities for adults, the Ale Trail offers something to satisfy every taste. Cheers!
Dance the night away at Razzle’s Nightclub
In the mood to bust a move? Located in the heart of this beachside party destination, Razzle’s Nightclub has been a favorite nighttime hotspot in Daytona Beach for over two decades.
You can enjoy your favorite cocktail at one of the 11 bar stations, then dance the night away to pulse-pumping music. The high-tech light transforms the dance floor into a dazzling display. What fun!
Catch a show at the Peabody Auditorium
The Peabody Auditorium has been the backdrop for performances by countless legends, from Elvis Presley to Ray Charles and Liza Minelli to David Copperfield. Catch a show at this one-of-a-kind historic venue.
You’re sure to find something that piques your interest, whether it’s a music concert, a comedy show, a dance performance, or if you’re lucky, even a Broadway show.
Free/ Cheap things to do in Daytona Beach
You don’t have to break the bank to enjoy these things in Daytona Beach, but the fun is guaranteed!
Indulge your sweet tooth at the Angell and Phelps Chocolate Factory
Say hello to this iconic sweet shop for an unforgettable vacation treat. Manufacturing flavorful chocolates since 1925, Angell and Phelps, located in the Riverfront shopping district, is a must-visit.
Take a free guided tour of the factory to see how gourmet chocolates are crafted. Then enjoy free samples galore in the on-site shop! Whatever treats you grab, you’re in for some drool-worthy chocolate bliss!
Have splashtastic fun at the Sun Splash Park
Planted in the heart of Daytona’s beachside bustle along the popular Atlantic Ave, this seasonal 4-acre oceanfront park is a hit with kids and adults alike. It’s easy to see why! With 42 water jets shooting water in the air, the splash pad provides hours and hours of fun.
There’s even a shaded playground for kids to play while you picnic in one of the shaded picnic areas. The park has plentiful free parking and a host of amenities.
Explore the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens
Land lovers seeking to immerse themselves in nature and history, head to this oasis in Port Orange, just minutes from Daytona Beach. While the flower gardens, water gardens, and lush fauna flanking the walking trails provide your nature fix, the preserved sugar mill ruins of a 19th-century plantation allow a glimpse into the past.
Oversized dinosaur sculptures left over from a quirky 1940s theme park lend a touch of whimsy. Surprise!
Climb the historic Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Take your Daytona Beach vacation to new heights by visiting Florida’s tallest lighthouse in Ponce Inlet. Constructed in 1887, magnificent views unravel in every direction if you hoof it 213 steps to the top of this 175-foot-tall sentinel.
There’s more! The museum exhibits and the keepers’ dwellings on site offer a closer look at Florida’s rich narrative. And all this for the lowest admission rate of any lighthouse in Florida, just $6.95 for adults and $1.95 for children.
Spend an afternoon at the Michael Crotty Bicentennial Park
Explore this beautiful 37-acre oceanfront park at the far end of the Daytona Beach strip in Ormond Beach without spending a dime! If you’re a sports enthusiast, the park is right up your alley with its slew of sports-related amenities, such as a baseball field, a basketball court, a soccer field, and tennis courts.
Nature lovers can enjoy a jaunt along the peaceful hiking trails. Bicentennial also has a dedicated dog park for your canine friend.
Unique/Weird things to do in Daytona Beach
Want some unusual and offbeat things to do on your vacation in Daytona Beach? Explore these options!
Drive on the beach
Save the stress of hauling your beach gear across the sand on Daytona Beach. Pay a small fee, and you can drive right up to your sunning spot on the beach!
Soak up the rays for a few hours, then circle back to the car for a cool drink and snacks. Just be sure to park in clearly marked, designated areas.
Visit the Holly Hill Gnomes
Gnomes are a familiar sight in gardens everywhere, but have you ever seen a group of gnomes living in a tree? You will find it in Holly Hill, along the banks of the Halifax River!
What was started by a local woman with three gnomes has now mushroomed into a formidable community of gnomes. One of the quirky hidden gems in Daytona Beach area, the Holly Hill Gnomes is a must-visit with kids!
Attend a service at the Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church
Yes, there’s a drive-in church in Daytona Beach! This church in Daytona Beach Shores brings the concept of worship to a whole new level. You can get your daily dose of religion right from the comfort of your car.
All you need to do is pull into the former drive-in movie theater and tune in to the radio station that broadcasts the sermon. There’s even free coffee and doughnuts between services.
Make your own pancakes at the Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill and Griddle House
YOU are the star line cook here! Just forty minutes west of Daytona Beach, nestled within De Leon Springs Park, this quaint establishment has a unique feature: you cook your own breakfast. Each table comes equipped with a griddle to cook pancakes.
After DIY pancakes, head out to the springs near the restaurant and enjoy an afternoon of swimming. What a fun addition to your Daytona Beach vacation itinerary!
Visit the wacky Last Resort Bar
If you’re fueled by morbid fascination, take a trip to the Last Resort Bar in Port Orange, where the executed serial killer, Aileen Wuornos, downed her last drink.
Pictures of Wuornos plaster the walls of the biker bar, and there’s also a framed photo of her at the bar that customers like to pose with. Last Resort appears in the Oscar-winning film Monster, a biopic that immortalized Wuornos.
Is Daytona Beach safe?
Daytona Beach is, for the most part, safe. However, be aware of some potential dangers before you visit.
Rip currents are frequent and dangerous as they can sweep you out to sea. Educate yourself on ways to navigate rip currents before panic sets in.
Always swim near a lifeguard and pay attention to the posted signage on the beach. Also, don’t swim alone; use the buddy system.
Driving on the beach is restricted to specific areas. However, be careful where you spread out your beach blanket; other vehicles, such as beach patrols are present.
Lightning is dangerous. When lightning is present, avoid the water and the beach. Seek shelter indoors.
The Atlantic shore experiences hurricanes. Heed forecasts and plan accordingly, especially in the hurricane season which runs from June 1 through November 30.
What is the best time to visit Daytona Beach?
Now that you’re all set for a beach vacation, you’re probably wondering: When should I go to Daytona Beach?
Daytona Beach weather offers sunshine all year round. However, the best months to go are from March to May when daytime temperatures are in the pleasant 70s, and there’s no hurricane threat. You’ll also miss the swarming crowds from Speedweeks, a series of events that lead up to the Daytona 500.
Where are some of the best places to stay in Daytona Beach?
Deciding on the best areas to stay in Daytona Beach is a challenge because there are countless choices! From luxury resorts to hotels with all-inclusive packages to vacation rentals and everything in between, Daytona has it all. Here are some of our recommendations:
Max Beach Resort
One of the four-star Daytona Beach resorts for families, these condo-style accommodations offer multiple options to match the occasion, whether it’s a family vacation, a workcation, or a romantic getaway.
With amenities such as an outdoor saltwater pool, private cabanas, an oceanfront hot tub, and a rooftop terrace lounge, Max Beach luxury resort in Daytona Beach Shores is perfect for those seeking some cosseting.
Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach
Of the numerous Daytona Beach hotels, Hard Rock Daytona hits all the right notes for the ultimate beach retreat. Lavish rooms, private balconies with oceanfront views, and modern luxury await along with specialty music amenities. Best of all, this family-friendly hotel welcomes pets too!
The Shores Resort & Spa
Positioned between the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean, this beach resort near the Boardwalk boasts quality accommodations.
Whether you dive into the heated saltwater pool, lounge in a private cabana on the pool deck, unwind with a spa treatment at the on-site spa, or enjoy beachfront dining, you’ll find yourself in the lap of laidback luxury at Shores. What’s more, the Shores Resort is pet-friendly too!
Daytona Beach Vacation Home
With a style all its own, this beach house at Daytona Beach is a 5-minute walk from the ocean. This Daytona vacation home has 5 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms, a fully equipped kitchen, and parking for four cars.
A pool table and an outdoor hangout area with a fire pit elevate your stay. Perfect for a group of friends on vacation!
Beachfront Ocean View Condo
Interested in Daytona Beach vacation rentals? Stay at this beachfront vacation rental with a private pool and free private parking.
This beautifully appointed, air-conditioned studio offers a well-equipped kitchenette, a flat-screen TV, and a balcony with breathtaking ocean views. This property is ideal for couples on a romantic getaway, or with its two beds, even a small family.
Find answers to some frequently asked questions about Daytona Beach to plan the ultimate beach retreat.
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When it comes to a beach vacation, Vic is the person who certainly has tips on where to go and what to do no matter it is a luxury tropical holiday, a romantic seaside getaway or a fun family trip to the ocean. As a world traveler with years of experience in exploring tropical countries and a water sports fan, she creates this inspiring site where she writes travel guides, reviews and recommends beach gear and gives travel tips to make planning your trip quicker and easier! Are you curious where She wanders now? Follow her adventures on IG too!