There are a lot of famous beaches out there, but only Daytona Beach had the courage to name itself “The World’s Most Famous Beach.” Although that title is debatable, there’s no question Daytona Beach is one of Florida’s hottest tourist destinations. With its distinctive hard-packed sand, legendary NASCAR heritage, and a plethora of events, it’s no wonder this northeastern city draws millions of tourists every year.
Although NASCAR is understandably first on most people’s minds, there are plenty of non-racing things to do in Daytona Beach. From climbing to the top of Florida’s tallest lighthouse to walking through old trains, there’s a lot you might not expect on a trip to Daytona. Here are our picks for the top 11 things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida:
- Daytona Beach & Main Street Pier
- Daytona International Speedway
- Daytona Boardwalk Amusements
- Museum of Arts & Sciences
- Daytona Lagoon
- Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
- Daytona Flea & Farmer’s Market
- The Casements
- Tomoka State Park
- Halifax Historical Museum
- Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory
So, buckle up and rev up your engines, because we’re about to go on a whirlwind tour through the birthplace of NASCAR.
Why You Should Visit Daytona Beach, Florida
In the popular imagination, Daytona Beach is most often associated with speedsters and spring breakers. While Daytona Beach is proud of its speedway, you don’t need to love life in the fast lane to enjoy your time here.
Indeed, Daytona Beach has recently become a hot day-tripping destination with Orlando-based families. Besides its NASCAR-related attractions, there are loads of family-friendly parks, historic sites, and museums sure to captivate tourists.
Daytona Beach is also one of Florida’s premier festival cities—and we’re not just talking about NASCAR races! Whether you’re into live music, arts & crafts, and (of course) sports, there’s always something going on in Daytona Beach. Don’t believe us? Check out this website for specific details on all of Daytona Beach’s annual festivities.
When planning your trip, keep in mind winter is the most popular (and expensive) time to visit. Not only is the weather comfortably dry during this time of year, key NASCAR events are also in full swing.
Most tourist experts recommend visiting Daytona Beach just before spring break to take advantage of discounted rooms, low crowds, and comfortable temps. Although the summer and fall seasons are budget-friendly, they are both within Florida’s hurricane season.
11 Awesome Things To Do In Daytona Beach, Florida
Yeah, racing is a big deal here, but that’s not all Daytona Beach has to offer. Take a peek at our 11 best things to do in Daytona Beach before visiting.
1. Daytona Beach & Main Street Pier
When you begin your walk along Daytona Beach, you might be surprised just how hard the sand feels. No, this isn’t the stereotypical soft white sand experience; Daytona’s 23-mile coastline is composed of hard-packed sand perfect for (surprise, surprise) car racing.
Besides sunbathing, popular activities on Daytona Beach include bicycling, horseback riding, volleyball, and water sports. Along your tour, be sure to walk along the centrally located Main Street Pier and check out the shops, restaurants, and monuments in nearby Ocean Walk Shoppes.
In case you were wondering, you can park your car on Daytona Beach for $20 per vehicle per day. For more information on touring the beach area, please visit this official Daytona Beach information webpage.
2. Daytona International Speedway
There’s no better place to satisfy your “need for speed” than at the legendary Daytona International Speedway. Completed in the late 1950s, this 101,500-seat arena serves as NASCAR’s headquarters and hosts the exhilarating Daytona 500 race every February.
Besides the Daytona 500, here are a few of the International Speedway’s other noteworthy events:
If there’s no live event during your visit, consider booking a guided tour of the speedway or riding a few laps with a professional driver. Ticket prices range depending on what experience you book, so be sure to check the “Tours” tab on the Daytona International Speedway’s website for further details.
3. Museum of Arts & Sciences (MOAS)
Trust us, Daytona Beach’s Museum of Arts & Sciences is not your typical museum. Just a few miles from the International Speedway, this marvelous complex is home to many jaw-dropping treasures including a massive collection of Coca-Cola memorabilia, diverse art collections, two full railway cars, and a state-of-the-art planetarium.
You could visit this museum between 10AM – 5PM on Mondays through Saturdays or 11AM – 5PM on Sundays and tickets cost $13 per adult or $7 per child. Definitely check the Museum of Arts & Sciences’ website beforehand to see if any special events are going on.
4. Daytona Boardwalk Amusements
For fantastic family fun in Daytona Beach, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the Daytona Boardwalk. Located by the Main Street Pier, this area is composed of mostly family-run businesses with plenty of fun rides and arcade games such as a Ferris wheel, rollercoaster, and even go-kart racing.
The Daytona Boardwalk really comes alive in the summer season when all of the rides open and dozens of street performers charm nighttime visitors. If you’re visiting on a Saturday in the summer, be sure to stick around for the free fireworks display.
The Boardwalk Amusements area is usually open between 9AM – 11PM, but times could vary depending on weather conditions. Click on this link to the Daytona Beach Boardwalk for more detailed info.
5. Daytona Lagoon
One perk of visiting Daytona Beach in the summertime is that you can bring the kids to the city’s premier water park: the Daytona Lagoon. Opened in 2005, Daytona Lagoon now boasts 12 exciting water rides ranging from a relaxing lazy river to thrilling high-speed slides.
But wait, there’s more! The Daytona Lagoon complex has other indoor and outdoor attractions, some of which are open year-round. From mini-golf and go-karts to arcade games and indoor rock climbing, there’s a good chance your kids will have fun here.
Daytona Lagoon’s water park is open most days between March and August, but the Entertainment Center is open yearly on select days. Please look on Daytona Lagoon’s website for more specifics on operating hours and ticket prices.
6. Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse
Just a 25-minute ride south of the Main Street Pier you’ll one of Florida’s most iconic landmarks: the 175-foot tall Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse. Those who brave this lighthouse’s intimidating 203-step spiral staircase will be handsomely rewarded with picture-perfect panoramic views.
After descending the lighthouse, take your time exploring the many historic buildings on property to learn more about the property’s fascinating past and cute resident cat.
The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse is usually open between 10AM – 9PM from late May to early September and between 10AM – 6PM from mid-September to mid-May. Tickets cost $7 per adult and $2 per child. Anyone interested in visiting this area should first check out the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse’s website.
7. Daytona Flea & Farmer’s Market
Open since the 1980s, the Daytona Flea & Farmer’s Market is a fantastic place to find a deal on pretty much anything. It’s now estimated there are close to 1,000 booths selling items ranging from Daytona souvenirs and NASCAR memorabilia to fresh produce and coffee. As an added bonus, there are no parking or admission fees, so window-shoppers are welcome.
Usually this flea market is open Fridays through Sundays between 9AM – 5PM. Be sure to click on the Daytona Flea & Farmer’s Market’s official website for info on special events and vendors.
8. The Casements
You don’t need to go to Newport, Rhode Island to experience the opulence of the Gilded Age. Believe it or not, John D. Rockefeller once entertained distinguished guests not far from Daytona Beach’s Main Street Boardwalk.
Named in honor of its cool casement windows, The Casements served as the oil tycoon’s winter retreat later in life. Guests who take the free tour of this house will learn intriguing stories of Rockefeller’s time here.
Keep in mind this attraction is only open to guests on select days, so you must check The Casements’ website before planning your trip.
9. Tomoka State Park
A 20-minute drive north of the Main Street Pier, Tomoka State Park is particularly well known in the bird-watching community for its diverse array of feathered friends. But you don’t have to be into bird-watching to enjoy the great outdoors here. Other popular activities at Tomoka include camping, hiking, canoeing, and manatee sighting.
Tomoka State Park is open between 8AM and sundown every day of the year and it currently costs $5 to park one vehicle here. Campers can find more info about reserving a location on the Tomoka State Park website.
10. Halifax Historical Museum
Housed in what used to be a bank, the Halifax Historical Museum is the best place to learn about Daytona Beach’s rich cultural and ecological past. After watching a short educational film that gives you a sense of the area, guests can see hundreds of rare artifacts ranging from Native American artistry to NASCAR machinery.
Typical museum hours are between 10:30AM – 4:30PM from Tuesday through Friday and between 10AM – 4PM on Saturdays. Tickets are $7 per adult and $1 per child. Click on this link to the Halifax Historical Museum’s website for more info on exhibits.
11. Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory
Got a sweet tooth? On a budget? Well, have we got the Daytona destination for you: Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory.
Guests who pay a visit to this legendary local establishment can go on a fun and free tour…which includes free chocolate samples! What more could a chocoholic ask for?
Free tours are on the hour between 10AM – 4PM every day except Sunday. Check out Angell Phelps Chocolate Factory’s website for all the delicious details.
Visiting Daytona Beach, FL FAQs
How Far Is Daytona Beach From Orlando?
If you travel on I-4 E from central Orlando, you should reach Daytona Beach within about one hour.
In case you didn’t know, I-4 refers to Interstate 4, a roughly 130-mile road that runs from Daytona Beach to Tampa. Traffic jams are very common on this highway, especially between 7AM – 9AM and 5PM – 7PM. For a smooth ride, download a few traffic apps onto your phone beforehand.
Is Daytona Beach Expensive?
A recent study examined the average hotel prices in 30 Florida beaches that experience peak tourism in the winter. According to this research, Daytona Beach is one of the cheapest locations with average hotel prices in the $140-range.
On average, summer season is the cheapest time to visit Daytona Beach, but it’s also the most prone to thunderstorms and humidity.
Is Daytona Beach Safe For Tourists?
Yes, Daytona Beach is a very safe area for visitors, especially if you stay in the main touristy areas. As long as you practice common sense (e.g. avoid dark areas, lock your car, put valuables in your hotel’s safe) then you shouldn’t have an issue here.
Honestly, the main things you have to worry about when in Daytona Beach are weather-related. Be sure to download a Florida weather app on your phone, especially if you’re visiting during hurricane season (June through November). Also, bear in mind rip currents are relatively common on Daytona Beach.
If you are traveling with children, you might want to avoid visiting the beach during Spring Break and “Biketoberfest” in October. As you could imagine, things aren’t exactly Disney-friendly during these rather raucous occasions.
What Are The Best Free Things To Do In Daytona Beach?
True, most of Daytona Beach’s attractions cost money, but there are plenty of ways to have fun here without spending a dime. Here are a few of the best free things to do in Daytona Beach:
- Visit the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory for a free tour and sampling
- Book a guided tour of Rockefeller’s home “The Casements”
- Learn about African American history at the Mary Bethune Home
- Check Daytona Beach’s website for free musical events at the Bandshell
- Last, but certainly not least, take a nice long stroll along the “World’s Most Famous Beach”
Where To Stay In Daytona Beach, Florida
As you might’ve already guessed, most of the hotels in Daytona Beach are concentrated either around the International Speedway or on the actual beach. Below, we’ll share a few highly reviewed hotels in both areas.
The Daytona, Autograph Collection
The Daytona, Autograph Collection, is a high-end hotel that’s a short walk from the International Speedway. Drawing inspiration from Daytona’s racing history, this hotel has a dynamic architectural style and specially curated boutique rooms. Other perks of staying at The Daytona include free airport transportation, free parking, and an outdoor pool and hot tub.
Days Inn by Wyndham Daytona Oceanfront
Looking for a budget-friendly hotel on Daytona Beach’s coastline? Look no further than the 3-star Days Inn by Wyndham Daytona Oceanfront. Located about a 15-minute drive from the Main Pier, this Days Inn offers guests free pool access, free parking, and private balconies in select rooms.