Gone are the days of raunchy MTV spring breaks. Daytona Beach is a Florida Beach City that has been completely overhauled in recent years, and (if you've ever visited) you'll love the new additions alongside the classic attractions. Trading bikini contests for family-friendly might be a risk, but it's paying off for the “World's Most Famous Beach,” and there's never been a better time to plan a trip to Daytona Beach, Florida.
The Best Things To Do in Daytona Beach
Dayonta has over 23 miles of shoreline, but there's so much fun to do beyond the beach. The area of Daytona has expanded over the years and includes the nearby areas of Ormond Beach and Ponce Inlet. The different areas complement each other—offering a variety of attractions to keep vacation itineraries full.
My best advice? You're missing out if you stay in one area of Daytona Beach and neglect the nearby neighborhoods. Divide your vacation itinerary with at least a half day to explore a particular area. Tourists will get the best of the beaches, museums, Speedway and more! See it all when you're at Daytona Beach.
1. Riverfront Esplanade
There's so much to do at the Riverfront Esplanade; it's half gathering space and half outdoor botanical garden. The Esplanade is between Beach Street and the Intracoastal Waterway, so there's always a view whether you're walking or biking.
Relax at comfortable benches and swings overlooking the Halifax River, let the kids play in the splash pad, or find tranquility amongst the waterfalls and artwork. The Riverfront Esplanade is a $30 million+ project completely transforming downtown Daytona Beach's riverfront area—it's a must-do!
2. Beach Segway Tours
Save your legs (and energy) by exploring Daytona Beach on a segway. Book a Fun Coast Tours segway tour and see the beach from a local perspective. Vehicles are allowed on Daytona Beach, and with a quick tutorial, anyone can be a segway pro. I recommend booking a late afternoon tour during the “golden hour.”
3. Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory
Inhale the rich aroma of cocoa, see the flowing chocolate, and be mesmerized by the art when you visit Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory. They're famous for handmade chocolates, and every guest receives a sample. The open-style factory allows guests to view every step of the chocolate-making process. Even kids love to watch, and it's incredible to see the vintage machinery still in use today. You'll be in awe of the work of producing one piece of chocolate.
4. Daytona International Speedway
Go for a NASCAR race or visit the Daytona International Speedway anytime for a track tour. Trams take guests on a fascinating tour to the infamous 31-degree high banks, victory lanes, garages, and grandstands. Discover how NASCAR's top drivers prep for the largest motorsports event of the year and hear the insider stories.
The tour concludes with access to the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America, where guests can see the car of the latest Daytona 500 winner. There are also hands-on exhibits in the museum for kids to enjoy. I can't imagine planning a day of things to do in Daytona Beach without a visit to the Speedway!
5. One Daytona
Once you've toured the Speedway, head across the street for an epic shopping and dining experience at ONE DAYTONA. Stop into Four Rivers Smokehouse, a family-owned regional chain focusing on delicious BBQ alongside community outreach. Shop till you drop and check out the handpainted murals, which are a part of the Daytona Beach Mural Trail. ONE DAYTONA is the ultimate lifestyle destination where you'll want to play all day.
6. Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Take your Daytona adventure to new heights when visiting the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Two hundred three steps total, visitors can climb to the top for incredible 360-degree views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway. Completed in 1887, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is a National Historic Landmark and a fascinating piece of Florida history.
Every visitor receives a self-guided tour map with their paid admission. Alongside the lighthouse, guests can tour the surrounding structures and learn about their purpose. If you're craving an even more exciting way to experience the lighthouse, check out the monthly Climb To The Moon event that offers a different perspective at night.
7. Ponce Inlet Watersports
Make a full day at Ponce Inlet by adding a water tour to your lighthouse visit—step aboard a shaded boat to cruise around the Ponce Inlet waterways. The only thing guaranteed is that all tours are unique! The Ponce Inlet Watersports Captain has guests smiling as you explore local wildlife (mostly dolphins and birds) and beautiful estates. His local knowledge and witty humor provide an entertaining, can't-miss trip.
8. Lighthouse Point Park
Lighthouse Point Park is a 52-acre inlet park along the northern shoreline of Ponce de Leon Inlet. It's one of the more secluded Florida beaches. The park offers elevated wooden boardwalks, picnic pavilions, beach access, and scenic views. A nature trail in the forested area in the center of the park leads to a picturesque observation tower overlooking the Halifax River.
Special park features include an 800’ jetty deck and a dog-friendly swimming beach along the park inlet shoreline. Park amenities are handicapped-accessible and dog-friendly.
9. Museum of Arts & Sciences
Celebrating over 50 years of remarkable exhibits, the Museum of Arts & Sciences is a Daytona gem. The American Alliance of Museums nationally accredits them and is a Smithsonian Institution Affiliate. As Central Florida's primary art, science, and history museum, this facility houses several nationally applauded collections, including an impressive American art collection, a Coca-Cola and Americana collection, and a Napoleonic collection. Home to the Cuban Foundation Museum collection, one of the most important collections of Cuban fine and folk art outside of Cuba, MOAS is known for its popular Charles and Linda Williams Children's Museum and state-of-the-art planetarium.
10. Drive on Daytona Beach
Daytona's hard-packed white-sand beaches have been a hot spot for drivers since 1902, but racing days have been replaced with leisurely cruises. Tide permitting, Daytona Beach offers designated areas where drivers have beach access—at 10 MPH. Park your car just a few feet from where you set up for your beach day. Beach access points are in the city's heart along Florida's Atlantic Highway or A1A.
11. Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier
Walk along the boardwalk, check out the nostalgic arcades, and dine at one of the boardwalk restaurants. This family-friendly area of Daytona Beach offers a slice of your childhood with street performers, thrill rides, and more kitschy beach fun. Fishing is allowed on the pier's east end at no cost, and fishing licenses are not required. The pier is usually open seven days a week from dawn to dusk, weather conditions allow.
12. Dunn's Attic
The most eclectic Daytona Beach adventure is at Dunn's Attic. It's an upscale auction house and store that is open to the public. Get lost amongst the vintage furniture, find your grandmother's china set, and dine at the connecting Rosie's Cafe. Treasures are around every corner when at Dunn's, and time seems to stop as you lose yourself while shopping.
13. Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art
Home to the world's most extensive collection of Florida art, the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art features a rotating collection of 2,600 Florida-themed oil and watercolor paintings. It's one of the best things to do in Daytona Beach, especially on a rainy day. You'll leave with a broader perspective of Florida through the appreciation of art.