Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is a busy beach town on the Atlantic Coast of Florida. Daytona is known for its crowded beaches, party vibes, festivals and motorsports. 

Note: The terms “Daytona Beach” and “Daytona” refer to the same city.

Daytona Beach is also known for being one of the few beaches in Florida where you can drive on the beach.

Many large events are held in Daytona throughout the year, including:

  • Auto racing events
  • Motorcycle rallies
  • Music festivals

Motorsports are a big part of the local culture in Daytona, partly due to its history and being close to the earliest forms of automobile racing. 

Automotive events are often held at the Daytona International Speedway which holds can hold more than 10,000 spectators during multi-day events.

Location

Daytona Beach is located on the east coast of Florida. 

Daytona is located in Volusia county and is generally considered to be part of Central Florida.

Daytona is just a short drive away from other popular beach towns on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. 

Daytona Beach is also one of the closest beaches to Orlando. 

The distance from Orlando to Daytona Beach is approximately 60 miles, depending on the chosen route. 

The drive from Orlando to Daytona Beach usually takes approximately 1-1.5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

Nearby Cities

Daytona is located near many other cities along the Atlantic coast, and throughout central Florida:

Things To Do

Daytona is a busy town and there are enough activities to suit most traveler types. 

Some of the best things to do in Daytona Beach, include:

  • Beaches
  • Surfing
  • Water Sports
  • Boardwalk & Pier
  • Kayaking
  • Ecotours
  • Events and festivals
  • Motorsports
  • Hiking
  • Biking
  • Boating 
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Museums & Art Galleries
  • Restaurants, Bars, & Nightclubs
  • Shopping

Daytona is a popular tourist destination. 

Daytona Beach has more than 200 lodging options, ranging from modest to luxurious, and from small beachside motels to large resorts. 

Private short term vacation rentals like AirBnb and Vrbo are also abundant in the area.

Beaches

The city of Daytona Beach is home to some of the most famous beaches in Florida. 

Daytona has over 23 miles of white sand beaches with sparkling blue waters. The beaches are very long and have clean, hard-packed sand.

Visitors should be aware that the water on Florida’s Atlantic coast is typically not clear near the shore due to strong wind and wave action. 

Strong waves disturb sand and sediment in the surf zone, reducing the water’s visibility.

Along Daytona’s beaches, visitors will find a variety of shops, restaurants, and water recreation activities.  

Water recreation activities on Daytona Beach:

  • Kayaking
  • Paddleboarding
  • Surfing
  • Kitesurfing
  • Snorkeling/Diving
  • Jet Skiing
  • Parasailing

Things to Know about beaches in Daytona

Visitors should be aware that beaches in Daytona can be overcrowded at times, and are sometimes littered with trash from inconsiderate crowds.

Vagrancy and panhandling have also been observed on some beaches, especially near popular tourist areas.

Driving on the Beach 

Daytona Beach is one of only a few places in Florida where driving on the beach is legal. Driving on the beach in Daytona is a favorite pastime of visitors and locals alike. 

These beaches are accessible for driving due to their hard-packed quartz sand. Driving on the beach in Daytona is only permitted within certain areas and drivers must pay a fee. At the time of this writing, the fee to drive on Daytona Beach is $20.

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Visitors who drive on beaches in Florida should be careful to obey rules, avoid disturbing the environment as much as possible, and follow precautions to getting stuck in the sand, or allowing their car to be damaged by the ocean. 

Drivers should also be aware that driving on the beach causes rust and may cause other forms of automotive damage. 

Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier

The Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier is one of the most popular places to visit in Daytona.

The pier has a stretch of restaurants, shops, games, and carnival rides. Street performers, artists, and local craft vendors are often found along the boardwalk. 

While the boardwalk can be a family favorite for some, others find it to be a “tourist trap”.

From May through September the boardwalk hosts concerts and special events. Nightly fireworks are also a common occurrence. 

Boating

Boating is very popular in Daytona Beach in both the Atlantic Ocean and the Halifax River, which is part of the ICW, or intracoastal waterway.

Several companies offer boat rentals and tours. Every type of vessel imaginable is available from kayaks and pontoons to speedboats and sailboats. 

Yacht and offshore fishing charters are also available. 

Boaters with their own watercraft can launch from one of several marinas or public boat ramps, typically in the ICW.

Events and Festivals

Many festivals and events are held in Daytona, earning it the (self-proclaimed) status of being the “Festival Capital of Florida”.

The shores of Daytona Beach are often host to music festivals, art and culture events, and motorcycle rallies. 

Further inland, the Daytona International Speedway holds a number of racing events throughout the year. 

List of Popular Daytona Beach Events:

  • Daytona 500
  • Daytona Speedweek
  • Daytona Beach Bike Week
  • Rockville
  • Jeep Beach Week
  • Riverfest Seafood Festival
  • Halifax Art Festival
  • Biketoberfest
  • The Daytona Beach Classic
  • Daytona Beach Beerfest
  • Daytona Truck Meet

Daytona International Speedway

The Daytona International Speedway has been a major attraction in Daytona Beach since it opened in 1959. 

Before the speedway was built, Daytona was known for beach racing, but it was soon apparent that the beaches could not support the growing races and large crowds. 

The speedway has now grown into a high-capacity, 500-acre motorsports complex. 

The Daytona International Speedway is one of the top racing venues in the United States. Big-name events like the Daytona 500, Speedweek, and Supercross are all held at the speedway. 

Visitors come from around the world to attend events at the Daytona International Speedway. The speedway also offers tours, racing experiences, and even camping on the in-field. 

Ecotourism

Daytona Beach has an abundant wildlife population and offers many options for nature and eco-tours.

Dolphins and Manatees

The Halifax River is a popular spot for kayaking and paddleboarding, and is a great place to see manatees..

Birding

There are several nearby hiking trails with opportunities for bird-watching. Along the waterways, pelicans and sandpipers can be spotted. The Lyonia Preserve is home to a protected scrub jay population. 

Sea Turtles

Sea turtles nest along the beaches of Daytona from May to October. This area is home to 5 species of sea turtles:

  • Loggerhead
  • Leatherback
  • Kemp’s ridley
  • Green
  • Hawksbill 

The Marine Science Center offers an in-depth look at some of these animals, other forms of marine life, and their ecosystems. Visitors can tour a number of interesting exhibit areas and a sea turtle rehabilitation facility. 

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Sea turtles in Florida are protected. Visitors are warned not to disturb the sea turtles or their nests in any way!

Spring Break 

Daytona Beach is one of the most popular spring break destinations in florida.

Daytona Beach was historically known for wild Spring Break parties in the 80s and 90s. 

Daytona was even declared “The World Capital of Spring Break” by MTV which used to broadcast from area beaches. 

By the mid-90s MTV no longer hosted parties in Daytona, and the city tried to reclaim its image by promoting family-friendly events. 

Daytona Beach is still a top destination for Spring Breakers but the large, drunken crowds once synonymous with the city have been toned down. 

The first weeks in March are still some of the busiest times to visit Daytona. 

Spring Break also tends to overlap with Daytona Bike Week so crowds are massive, even with fewer spring break visitors.

Restaurants

Daytona Beach has more than 160 restaurants to choose from, ranging from casual cafes to fine dining. 

Many of the most popular restaurants in Daytona are beachfront or waterfront, with views of the water and beachfront.

Some of the most popular restaurants on Daytona Beach:

  • Ocean Deck
  • Bubba Gump Shrimp Co
  • Dancing Avocado
  • The Oyster Pub
  • Caribbean Jack’s
  • Fat Boi Gourmet Potatoes
  • The Roof
  • Hyde Park Prime Steakhouse
  • Beach Hut Cantina
  • Peanut & George’s 

Nightlife

Daytona Beach has more than 50 bars, nightclubs, taverns, pubs, saloons, and breweries.

Many of these venues participate in the larger events in Daytona. For example, the Full Moon Saloon has become the epicenter for Biketoberfest.

Daytona has a vibrant craft beer scene with 21 microbreweries. Beer enthusiasts can create their own pub crawl by following the Daytona Beach Ale Trail.

Weather and Climate

Daytona Beach has a subtropical climate, similar to the rest of Florida’s central Atlantic coast. 

The weather is mostly warm year-round with average annual temperatures in the 70s and 80s. 

Like most places in Florida, the summers can be brutally hot, with high temperatures and extreme humidity. It’s common for temperatures to reach into the 90s from June to August.

Winters are usually mild with high temperatures in the 50s-70s and mostly clear, dry weather.

The rainy season in Daytona is typically in the summer months, beginning in late spring and lasting until early fall. The highest amount of rainfall usually occurs in August. 

November through January are usually the driest months with the lowest amount of rainfall.

The best weather in Daytona is in the early spring when temperatures are mild and there is no hurricane threat. 

Living In Daytona Beach

Daytona is a mid-sized city with a population of approximately 70,000 residents. 

Residents say that other locals are generally friendly, but keep to themselves, especially in areas with high numbers of transient residents and tourist crowds. 

Some suburban neighborhoods, further from the tourist areas, have more close-knit communities. 

There are also many retirement communities around Daytona because it’s one of the most popular places to retire in Florida.

Many residents are drawn to Daytona for the mild weather, beaches, amenities, things to do, and proximity to nearby destinations. 

Within 1 to 2 hours residents can drive to a number of nearby cities, including Orlando, St. Augustine, Jacksonville, Cape Canaveral, and other major Florida attractions. 

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The cost of living in Daytona is slightly lower than the national average, although the cost of living has risen along with all of Florida. The cost of housing is especially high in Daytona, and all of Florida, due to a number of factors.

As with most beachside communities, waterfront properties and neighborhoods near the ocean have dramatically higher home prices. 

One of the biggest challenges of living in Daytona is a rather limited economic base, and a general lack of high-paying jobs. 

The local economy is largely dependent on the tourism industry which typically offers low wages and limited opportunities for career growth.

Large events in Daytona can bring large crowds, traffic, and increased crime.

Daytona is generally considered to be a safe city. 

The total crime rate in Daytona is higher than the national average, but the violent crime rate is lower than the national average. 

Most crimes reported were theft or drug and alcohol-related incidents. These are unfortunately common in tourist towns. 

The poverty rate in Daytona is higher than the national average which experts say impacts crime rates. 

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • Daytona Beach has nice beaches and often has warm sunny weather
  • There are many options for outdoor activities in Daytona
  • There are many restaurants, shops, and entertainment options
  • Daytona is a nice central location and is convenient to many other Florida destinations

Cons

  • Crowds, traffic, and noise, especially in tourist-heavy areas
  • There’s a large transient population and crime can be an issue
  • Many visitors and residents observe that beaches and streets are commonly littered with trash 
  • Can feel too “touristy” at times

History

The city of Daytona Beach was founded in 1870 by Mathias Day, a businessman from Ohio. 

The first hotel was added in 1874 and soon the area became a winter reprieve for northern visitors. 

Seasonal residents were dubbed “snowbirds”. The trend of northerners coming to Daytona became a tradition which has continued for more than a century. 

In 1926, Daytona Beach was combined with two other nearby towns, Daytona and Seabreeze. This entire area merged to be one large town under the name of Daytona Beach. 

Beach car racing became popular in Daytona (and nearby Ormond Beach) in the 1920s, when automobiles were a relatively new technology. 

The long beaches of Daytona created a natural racetrack thanks to their endless stretches of hard-packed quartz sand.

Through the 1930s and 1940s, an area known as “North Turn” became Daytona’s unofficial speedway. The first Grand National Race was held at the North Turn in 1948. 

In 1959, the Daytona International Speedway was built and became one of the most visited motorsports venues in history.

Over the years Daytona Beach has grown into a populated city, a top vacation destination, and a motorsports mecca. 

The Daytona name is now synonymous with beaches, Nascar, and Spring Break.

Final Thoughts

We hope you enjoyed this guide to Daytona Beach. Please let us know if we should add anything!