Daytona Beach boasts two major titles: World’s Most Famous Beach and the World Center of Racing. Located on Florida’s east coast, Daytona became a tourist destination in 1874 with its first hotel, built by wealthy Northerner Matthias Day. In 1918, John D. Rockefeller made nearby Ormond Beach his winter home for its proximity to golf and the ocean. In 1947, NASCAR was founded in Daytona Beach with the first Daytona 500 debuting in 1961. Meanwhile, the destination was becoming popular among spring breakers, and the first MTV Spring Break aired from Daytona Beach in 1986. Today, Daytona Beach remains popular for both race fans and beach-goers.
Daytona Beach is very much a Florida beach town, with a laid-back vibe that gets revved up when NASCAR events come to town. Visitors and residents have two loves: cars and beaches. And here, broad stretches of firm Atlantic sand make it possible to actually drive on the beach. While motorcycle enthusiasts and race fans buzz around the city, a more high-brow, retired crowd attends shows at the Peabody Auditorium and openings at the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. While the beaches still attract spring breakers, more families are found today enjoying the natural beauty and family-friendly attractions.
The first stop on any trip to Daytona Beach should be the Daytona International Speedway, which is open daily for tours. Even if a visitor can’t make it to an actual race, they can re-live some of NASCAR’s greatest moments and even walk the famous track. Downtown Daytona is fun for shopping and dining along Beach Street and attending a baseball game at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. The beach offers many family-friendly attractions, activities and events, from the fishing pier, boardwalk with carnival rides and the bandshell for free concerts to the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse and Marine Science Center. Surfing, swimming, kayaking and other water sports are also a draw.
Daytona Beach is 75 minutes from historic St. Augustine, Walt Disney World, the Kennedy Space Center and the Port Canaveral Cruise Terminal. Just to the north of Daytona Beach is the quaint community of Ormond Beach. Visitors can tour The Casements, the home of John D. Rockefeller, and enjoy local restaurants, coffee shops, wine bars and shops along Granada Boulevard. At Tomoka State Park, visitors can rent kayaks in search of manatees and dolphins. On the south side of Daytona Beach is the quiet town of Ponce Inlet. Visitors can enjoy casual waterfront eateries and spacious beaches near the lighthouse