Daytona Beach, located on Florida's Atlantic coast, is a year round resort, popular with spring breakers, families, and NASCAR racing fans. The beach at Daytona is well-known for being wide and for visitors being able to drive a regular car along its expanse. Daytona is also home to the popular Daytona 500 auto fan, which draws over 200,000 fans each year.
Daytona Beach was largely undeveloped until the end of the Civil War, when visitors from the North began to vacation in Florida. That trend was accelerated by Henry Flagler in 1889, when he included a stop at Daytona Beach on his "Florida East Coast Railroad."
Daytona Beach's wide, flat beach attracted auto enthusiasts as early as 1902, when early auto racers would test their speed and skill directly on the beach. The current Daytona International Speedway was built in 1959 and replaced the beach as a racetrack. The area still, however, draws thousands of race fans to the Daytona 500 race each year.
Chief among Daytona Beach's attractions is the world famous beach. But the city offers more than just beach activities. The most popular attractions are:
- The World's Most Famous Beach - The 23 miles of firm, white sand that run through Daytona Beach is one of the best beaches in the United States, if not the world. Famous for being able to drive a regular car along it, the beach is also popular for building sand castles, jogging, fishing, cycling, or just soaking up the sun. At 500 feet wide, the beach has room for everyone.
- Daytona USA - Located within the Daytona International Speedway Complex, Daytona USA is an interactive motorsports museum. Opened in 1996, the facility gives visitors the opportunity to "race" using the speed simulator, become a broadcaster for a simulated race; and watch racing films in the adjacent IMAX Theater.
- Museum of Arts and Sciences - This small, but interesting museum is known for its multi-cultural permanent exhibits, including the largest collection of Cuban art outside of Cuba and its extensive collection of Ashante (African) gold pieces.
- Ponce de Leon Inlet Light - Built in 1883, this brick lighthouse, just south of Daytona Beach, stills guides ships to the shore. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the lighthouse and the keeper's house have been restored and are now a museum, open to the public.
Visiting Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is easily accessible from all over the United States, with non-stop flights from Atlanta, Miami, and Chicago as well as connecting flights from scores of US and Canadian cities. Daytona is also a little over an hour's drive from Orlando.Accommodations in Daytona Beach range from luxury beachfront resorts to small motels. The area also boasts a large number of condominium rentals, which range from basic efficiency apartments to oceanview, multi-bedroom units.
Renting a car is advisable when visiting Daytona Beach so that you can explore the Atlantic coast, family excusions, and even make a side-trip inland to Disney World.