Rather than lots of different bays, Daytona Beach boasts one bumper 23-mile ribbon of sand. It’s split into different sections, from the lively boardwalk-backed strip in the centre, to lesser-trodden parts backed by nature trails and marinas. It’s not like your standard Florida beaches, either, as cars are allowed to park up on the sand in most parts.
The main sweep of sand in Daytona Beach goes by exactly the same name, and draws the biggest crowds by far. There’s a car-free section around the foot of the restaurant-topped pier, which itself is a hit with fishing fans and seafood lovers. You’ll have the boardwalk just over your shoulder, too, so there’s plenty to do between sunbathing stints.
Ponce Inlet offers a toned-down alternative to the main drag. It’s just south of Daytona Beach, with tufty dunes and handsome properties taking the place of hotels and arcades behind the sand. It’s also fringed by Lighthouse Point Park, where you can explore walking trails, visit a marine science centre and see the tallest lighthouse in the state.
If you’re after something at a snip, head to the Daytona Flea & Farmer’s Market. Hundreds of vendors set up shop here, peddling everything from fresh produce to ceramics and souvenirs. It’s been running for more than 35 years, and is held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday near Daytona International Speedway.
Volusia Mall’s the go-to place for big High Street names and a generous helping of places to eat and drink. Hollister, JCPenney, Macy’s and Abercrombie & Fitch all have stores here, and you can grab a bite at the likes of Subway, IHOP and Applebee’s.
If you’re after something with a luxury edge, make a beeline for the Riverfront Shops of Daytona Beach. Just like the name suggests, this strip of boutiques fronts up to the Halifax River. They’re mostly independent places, specialising in shoes, clothing and jewellery. There’s even an antique mall and a cigar club you can peruse.
You don’t have to venture far for chilled nights in Daytona Beach. The Ocean Deck Beach Club couples live music with sea-view cocktail sessions. It’s only a short walk along the waterfront from the pier, and comes with a couple of similar places for company.
For fast-paced nights, Seabreeze Boulevard’s home to a clutch of Daytona Beach’s liveliest nightspots. Pubs and taprooms host live music on a regular basis, and the city’s top-rated club, Razzles, draws a strong party crowd.
This place is perched on Daytona Beach’s panoramic pier, and serves one of the best fish sandwiches in the city. The menu keeps the seafood coming thick and fast, too, with sautéed mussels, shrimp tacos and crab legs up for grabs.
Tropical flavours are on the cards at Caribbean Jack’s. Breaded gator tail, coconut-crusted shrimp and mahi-mahi tacos are among the must-eats. And you can wash the lot down with rum punch or a frozen key lime daiquiri.
This place is a great little find for those with a sweet tooth. Imagine a flavour, and there’s a good chance it’ll be on the menu. Maple and bacon’s one of the top picks, but there’s also death by chocolate, Boston cream and French toast options.
Classic Italian fare’s on the cards at Don Vito’s, and the portions are anything but small. You can order huge pizzas, meatball-covered spaghetti and chicken parmesan – breaded chicken topped with marinara sauce and cheese.
For sweets, Zeno’s is a Daytona Beach staple, and the ‘world-famous’ taffy’s the star attraction. You’ll see it being pulled and stretched into multi-coloured shapes, with flavours on the menu that include buttered popcorn, key lime pie and sangria.
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