Day Trip: Daytona Beach

Fun for race fans, friends and families, Daytona Beach boasts resorts, attractions and the Daytona International Speedway.

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Tampa, Miami, and Orlando might be Florida’s top destinations as far as population is concerned, but according to many race fans, bikers, and spring breakers there is nowhere better to visit than Daytona Beach. 

Daytona Beach is known around the world for its rich racing history, its fantastic Bike Week, and for being one of the most popular spring break destinations in all of Florida. 

It is also a great place to visit for residents of the Villages of Citrus Hills. If racing, bikers, or spring breakers aren’t up your alley, you can schedule your trip appropriately. Just avoid those dates on the calendar! 

Whether you choose to drive up towards Ocala and then head east or cruise down through Orlando and up towards the Atlantic Ocean, Daytona Beach is just over two hours away from the Villages of Citrus Hills. 

Here are some of the things you can see or do on your day trip to Daytona Beach. 

For Racing Fans 

 The first stop in Daytona Beach for anyone who is a racing fan will have to be the Daytona International Speedway. If you are able to time your trip right and get tickets, you might have the chance to see the Super Bowl of racing which takes place here every February. 

If you aren’t here during a race weekend, this is still a must-see attraction because there are regularly scheduled tours of the facility that take you around the track and into the garage, the drivers’ meeting room, into the stands, and even into the winner’s circle.  

One of the most popular things to do at the Daytona International Speedway is participate in the Richard Petty Driving Experience, where you actually get to climb into the passenger seat and race around the track with a professional driver. This is one thing that is on just about every NASCAR fan’s bucket list. 

As you make your way into the Speedway, be sure to stop, pay your respects, and take a photo in front of the Dale Earnhardt, Sr. statue. 

History & Culture

In addition to all of the racing attractions in Daytona Beach, there are also plenty of great things to do involving history and culture. 

One of the most popular historic landmarks near town is the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse in Lighthouse Point Park. Many who visit the lighthouse will debate which is more breathtaking, the view from the top of the lighthouse or the scenic drive down South Atlantic Avenue to get there. 

Also while in Daytona, don’t miss your chance to drive your car on the beach. Daytona and New Smyrna Beach just to the south are the only places in Florida where you can legally drive your car on the beach, so be sure to experience this favorite local pastime. 

Art lovers should check out the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art at the Museum of Arts & Sciences. Recently opened in 2015, the art collection here consists of over 2,600 paintings of Florida and is the most extensive collection of Florida art in the world, with some works dating as far back as the 1800’s!

 Shopping and Sightseeing 

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If shopping is your thing, the Daytona Flea and Farmers Market is the place to be every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday from 9 am to 5 pm. Consistently voted one of the Top 5 markets in the country, the Daytona Flea and Farmers Market has over 1,000 booths, and there is a virtually limitless amount of unique items on sale here every weekend!

Another great place to stop in Daytona Beach is the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, which hosts regularly scheduled tours of their facility where you can see how their chocolate is made by hand - the way it used to be. 

Of course, you could also spend your day simply walking up and down the beach, as well as visiting the Daytona Beach Boardwalk & Pier. This one area alone has enough to see and do to keep you busy for more than a day! 

Daytona Beach Dining 

 There are many of great attractions to keep you busy in Daytona Beach, but the fun really starts when you look into all of the great places to eat! 

About 2.5 miles north of the lighthouse you’ll find Racing’s North Turn, with a great view of the ocean. Besides being a phenomenal restaurant, Racing’s North Turn is also a historic landmark, as car races took place on the beach just outside its doors in the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s before relocating to Daytona International Speedway. 

If you prefer a view of the river as opposed to the ocean, you can’t go wrong at Our Deck Down Under at the foot of the Dunlawton Bridge. This open-air restaurant has plenty of covered seating with great views of the river. Watch dolphin play while you eat some of the best seafood in town. 

 For a more upscale dining experience, you might want to try The Cellar, which is located in the historic home of President Warren G. Harding. The restaurant is family-owned and operated, and the menu features Italian fine dining options and is accompanied by an impressive wine list. 

Whether you are looking for heart-pounding race action, relaxing fun in the sun, or just a great meal, Daytona Beach has all of those in spades. The next time you are thinking about heading out on the road in search of fun and adventure, make sure to consider heading east from the Villages of Citrus Hills to Daytona Beach!