Beachside activities are much like you would find on any other popular and well visited beach like parasailing and banana boat rides. You can also rent jet skis and kayaks. Because Daytona Beach is separated from the mainland by the Halifax River there are scenic riverboat tours you can take. The calm Intracoastal river cruises allow you the opportunity to view wildlife and riverfront estates. Riverboat cruises are exceptional during sunset too.
Above: Picture of the Daytona Beach at low tide. Driving is allowed on the beach even though there are no cars in this picture. Like I was suggesting earlier, your preconceived ideas of Daytona probably don't matchy matchy with the desolation you see in the picture above. And the streets of A1A are no different from what you see here. Only a few annual events draw large crowds to Daytona.
Above: Picture taken at Collins Park on the Halifax River in Daytona Beach.
The Daytona International Speedway is home to the Daytona 500, the most prestigious stock car race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series along with a number of other well known motor sport events. The facility along International Speedway Boulevard covers 480 acres. Even if you aren't a die hard race fan the tours that are given are well worth your time and money. There is a tram ride that takes around the oval track, you can see the garages and driver's meeting room, go up in the Sprint tower, and takes pictures in the winner's circle and of the Daytona 500 winner's car of the current year.
Above: Picture taken in the Volusia Mall of Mr. Dunderbak. This is a German restaurant that is actually a franchise. Very unique and I wish there were more of them. I was in shock when I saw this place because when I was growing up in Orlando my mom and I would eat at a Mr. Dunderbak's in the Altamonte Mall and then go to Tiffany's Bakery for a Napoleon or sometimes Farrell's Ice Cream.
Another one of Daytona's popular attractions are their golf courses.
The LPGA International facility has two distinctly different professional
golf courses and is the host of the final state of the LPGA Tour Qualifying
School. The grounds feature natural wetlands, lakes, pine tree corridors
while trying to avoid sand bunkers and strategically placed water hazards.
Above: Picture taken on third floor of the Ocean Walk restaurants and shoppes in Daytona Beach. There are condos and hotels that connect to Ocean Walk directly. The facilities in and around here have been planned carefully to draw a more sophisticated crowd and to be more family friendly than in years past. There are some great franchise restaurants here, stadium seat movie theater, open band stand to look at the beach without getting your feet sandy, a water park and convenient garage parking.
Above: Picture of Ponce Lighthouse at Daytona Beach Inlet.
The Ponce de Leon Light Station was completed in 1887, however Ponce
Inlet was originally called Mosquito Inlet. That doesn't sound inviting
at all. Not tooting our horn or anything but the lighthouse is one of
the best preserved and most complete authentic light stations in our nation.
It is also the tallest lighthouse in Florida and one of the tallest masonry
lighthouses in the country. The tower is 175 feet and we climbed the dizzying
spiral of all 203 steps to the top. I know the wind is always blowing
off the ocean but on the day we visited the winds were powerful, felt
like winds associated with a hurricane or tornado but with no rain and
all sun. We were warned at the gift shop to pocket our sunglasses and
anything we valued. They told us of a story of lost sunglasses and a wallet
that was recovered on shore months later, weird but true. And with the
strong persistent wind we never felt the tower sway; it is rock solid.
The 360 degree views encompass the Atlantic Ocean, New Smyrna Beach, Ponce
Inlet, Intracoastal Waterway, islands and estuaries. One the ground there
are about 8 buildings housing historical artifacts on the area, about
families that lived at the lighthouse, and what part Florida played during
WWII, and the lens exhibit building. Maybe the most fascinating event
the lighthouse staff hosts is the Climb to the Moon. Only offered once
a lunar month when the moon is at its fullest, it begins at sunset with
only minutes till moonrise.
Above: Picture of a protected gopher tortoise at Daytona Beach Ponce Inlet. They are listed as a Species of Special Concern in Florida. Wild gopher tortoises live from 40-60 years and can be found throughout the southeastern states. One of their most important roles in the ecosystem is spreading the seeds from the plants and fruit they eat. The home range for tortoises is up to 4.7 acres. Their burrows are essential to many other wildlife species including other turtles, frogs, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, small mammals, scrub jays and burrowing owls. There were so many people just walking by this fella but Jason saw him and we stopped took pictures and a video of him eating a cactus fruit. We called a few people over to see him but they weren't as thrilled as we were. More Florida wildlife can be seen in Ormond Beach at Bulow Creek and Tomoka State Parks.
Above: This picture was taken on Beach Street in Downtown Daytona Beach. The annual Halifax Art Festival was taking place and unfortunately the wind was blowing about 15 mph and getting progressively worse. Many vendors were literally holding their tents down with their hands during wind gusts and some pieces were falling over.
Beach Street in Historic Downtown Daytona Beach hosts art shows and craft shows throughout the year. The streets are closed one day a week for a farmers market. Here you will find one of a kind local restaurants, a chocolate factory and café, unique retail stores and the Halifax Historic Museum. Drive or walk to the nearby City Island where you can go to the public library, play tennis, have a picnic and check out the Jackie Robinson Ballpark. A different atmosphere than the west coast of Florida like Fort Myers or Sanibel Island, but hands down nothing beats the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach.