Updated: May 21, 2015

Daytona Beach Vacation

Daytona Beach got its start when Florida started to be a tourist enclave after the Civil War. A number of cities, like St. Augustine Florida and Daytona Beach sprang up as tourist resort cities, where people traveled via train to see the famed Florida beaches. Daytona Beach was incorporated in 1876, named after town father Matthias Day. In the early days, the city was famed for its wide, smooth, sandy white beaches, which stretched for 20 miles along the Florida coast. Early on, Daytona Beach was known for speed racing, since at the turn of the century when automobiles were invented, there were not many good roads, and the flat, safe, straightaways of the beach sand made the perfect spot for testing out how fast these new contraptions could go. Stock car racing was started here in the mid 1930s, and with the famed Daytona International Speedway opening in 1959, Daytona and racing will forever be thought of together. Today, automobiles are still allowed on many of the beaches in Daytona.



But most tourist come to Daytona to enjoy the Florida sun, beach, and ocean. Nearly 8 million people vacation in Daytona Beach each year, meaning there are plenty of resorts, hotels, and motels lining the white beaches, so its never hard to find a place to stay. Daytona Beach itself is set out on a barrier island type of peninsula, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Halifax River waterway on the west side.

Daytona 500

The Daytona International Speedway is home of the famous Daytona 500, which is the season-opening NASCAR NEXTEL Cup event and is raced each year in February, drawing hundreds of thousands of NASCAR race fans. The track itself is a 2.5 mile trioval. You can buy Daytona 500 tickets right from their website, DaytonaInternationalSpeedway.com. How do I get to the Daytona Speedway? The raceway is just off Interstate 95 (exit 261), at the intersection of Hwy 92, also known as the International Speedway Blvd. Daytona Beach International Airport is also located right here, just a few miles west of the ocean and scenic Daytona beaches. You can see a map of the Daytona Speedway area here. Parking is provided at several satellite locations with free shuttle service to the raceway - you'll want to check their site to see where to park for your particular type of tickets (SuperStretch, FrontStretch, etc.). Keep in mind it is VERY crowded with lots of traffic during big race events, so plan ahead, be patient, and have fun. The 2007 Daytona 500 is being held Feb. 18th. They also offer travel packages on their site, with special discounted lodging packages.

Daytona Beach Hotels

The main drag in Daytona is S. Atlantic Avenue, also known as 1A (and called Ocean Shore Blvd on the north part of Daytona Beach), which runs right along the beachfront. Most of the resorts and hotels and lined up along this main thoroughfare. Peninsula Dr, also known as Hwy 441, runs parallel to Atlantic, a few big blocks to the west, along most the length of the peninsula. Chances are, you'll want to stay somewhere near this beach front locale. Here are some of the top hotels in Daytona Beach:
  • Bahama House - 2001 South Atlantic Ave (daytonabahamahouse.com) - great oceanfront resort with affordable rooms (starting around $130).
  • Perry's Ocean Edge Resort - 2209 South Atlantic Ave (perrysoceanedge.com) - another oceanfront hotel, with 2 pools, and rooms for under $150, and lots of kid friendly activities.
  • Fairfield Daytona Ocean Walk Resort - 300 North Atlantic Avenue (oceanwalk.com) - great art deco design, located on the pedestrian only zone, you can get 1, 2, and 3 bedroom condos here. Rates begin at under $200.
  • Holiday Inn Daytona Beach - 930 North Atlantic Ave - only complaint here is some limited parking, though larger lot is right across street. Great location overall and many rooms for under $200.
  • Hilton Daytona Beach - (at Ocean Walk Village) 100 N Atlantic Ave - a great Hilton location, nice rooms, good service, though pool is a little small. Overall, perfect location and nice hotel, rooms start around $200.

Best Daytona Beaches and Parks

Stretching for 23 miles, there are plenty of different places to check out in and around Daytona. Ormond-by-the-Sea is at the northern end, and offers a quieter beach experience. Tom Renick Park is the main public beach here, with full facilities. Bicentennial Park straddles the road, with beach access on one side and park on the other, complete with ball fields, basketball courts, etc. Oceanfront Park in Daytona Beach is always a happening spot. Around the pier, there is a long pedestrian only stretch that keeps cars away from the beach. Sun Splash Park is another popular spot just south of DB with some shade and water fountains for kids to play in. Way south is Ponce Inlet and the Lighthouse Point Park -- again this is a much calmer area than Daytona Beach central. New Smyrna Beach has more than 10 miles of open beach and is one of the safest beaches with no riptides. Finally, consider Mary McLeod Bethune Beach Park -- we've picnicked and sunbathed here, and enjoy the boardwalk along the ocean. Be sure to spend some time around Ocean Walk Village as well -- the famous Bubba Gump Shrimp Co restaurant is here, good for lunch or dinner.