David Abolafia

Daytona Beach: Much More Than a Pit Stop

David Abolafia

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach, Florida, is known the world over for the annual Daytona 500, the auto race that kicks off the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, and is widely regarded as the most important and prestigious race on the NASCAR calendar. But beyond that, Daytona, a principal city in the state’s “Fun Coast” region, offers at least 500 other reasons to visit – for a vacation adventure that might inspire you to do your own victory lap.

For family fun, check out the Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier. The premiere entertainment center in the area features outdoor and indoor rides and amusements, including a classic arcade. Also located on the boardwalk is a giant ferris wheel, the Sandblaster roller coaster, go-karts and the Slingslot. For additional excitement, there’s Daytona Lagoon Waterpark, with a dozen water rides, a giant wave pool and lazy river, as well as Kraken’s Conquest, an exciting, fast-paced four-lane racer slide. The whole clan can also expand their knowledge of the area’s diverse wildlife at the Marine Science Center. Explore conservation themes and witness current rehabilitation efforts for live sea turtles and seabirds, explore fascinating mangrove and whale exhibits and meet the residents of a huge, artificial reef aquarium.

If you’re in the mood for a more adventuresome time, there’s X-Plex Paintball in nearby Smyrna Beach, an exciting and colorful time for first-timers and seasoned veterans alike. Or take to the treetops at Zoom Air Daytona Beach, with aerial adventure courses woven into the forest. Go arboreal, as you swing, climb, balance, and zip from tree to tree. Get a bird’s-eye view of the land below as you travel in the trees over dancing logs and tight wires, across rope bridges, nets, and suspended disks. The courses are designed to integrate with the natural environment, inspired by the trees and the flow of the terrain and flora.

Venture up the coast a touch to Ormond Beach and you’ll find the exquisite, untouched wilderness of Tomoka State Park. The park protects a variety of wildlife habitats and endangered species, such as the West Indian manatee. The park is also a birdwatcher’s paradise, with more than 160 species sighted, especially during the spring and fall migrations. And if you enjoy cycling, you can ride around “the loop” and take in approximately 22 miles of breathtaking scenery.

And while you’re in Ormond Beach, you can really get your motor running at Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona – a motorcycle enthusiast’s dream come true. Check out 109,000 square feet of new and used Harley-Davidson Motorcycles. The huge showroom also features motorclothes® and accessories for the entire family. This huge complex is also home to the biggest names in motorcycles and accessories including Triumph, Ducati, Buell and J&P Cycles.

Just south of Daytona is a pleasure for pharologists (lighthouse enthusiasts): the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum. This beautiful facility – the tallest lighthouse in Florida, and the second tallest masonry lighthouse in the country – represents one of the best-preserved and most authentic light stations in the nation today. Visitors marvel at the treasure trove of sights, sounds and experiences, and can climb 203 steps to the top of the tower and enjoy magnificent views of Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet and surrounding inland waterways.

If you bring your sweet tooth, there are a number of places to indulge. Zeno’s Boardwalk Sweetshop – named one of the seven wonders of Daytona Beach – is a family owned confectioner, famous for its taffy-pulling machine and its large selection of chocolates and fudge. Or you can channel your inner Willy Wonka at the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, one of Trip Advisor’s Top 10 Sweetest Attractions in the United States. This fascinating factory is known for its high-quality, handmade chocolates, made fresh every day. Take a guided tour through the chocolate-making process and learn what makes these delectable creations so good.

But let’s not forget that certain sport for which Daytona is known. On a trip to Daytona International Speedway, you can walk among legends. The Corporation Archives is one of the world’s largest collections of race trophies, race cars, driver memorabilia and one-of-a-kind racing artifacts. You can cross the ground where Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison waged their infamous ’79 fight, stand in the spot where Dale Earnhardt celebrated the victory that defined a generation, explore the garage stalls where motorsports’ most legendary crew chiefs tended to racing’s most iconic cars, and so much more.

With so much to do, including fishing, sailing, miniature golf, helicopter tours, and Segway tours along the beach – find even more ideas in the video below – planning a trip to Daytona will definitely garner the checkered flag from the family. To learn more, or to book your vacation to Daytona or any of our other dynamic destinations, please call (888) 269-0182.

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