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Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Race to Daytona Beach!

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Editor’s Escape

And by “race,” I mean driving the speed limit or traveling by air.

Daytona Beach is perhaps best known as the birthplace of NASCAR racing and home of the Daytona 500. However, you don’t have to be a race fan to enjoy all this popular Florida destination has to offer. With 23 miles of white sand beaches and ideal year-round temps, Daytona Beach provides an ideal backdrop for the almost endless list of attractions and activities on offer here.

 

Boy surfing at Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach surf

 

Fun in the Sun

Daytona Beach’s wide beach and hard-packed sands made it an idea spot for high-speed automobile testing and racing in the early 1900s. Today, there are public beach access portions where you can drive right onto the beach and park, which makes unloading all your beach gear a little easier. There’s a mile-long, pedestrian-only portion that surrounds the Daytona Beach Pier. Soaking up the sun, biking along the water or building sand castles with the kiddos — there’s plenty of ways to stay entertained.

Another way to stay cool is at Daytona Lagoon water park. Blackbeard’s Revenge, Poseidon’s Pass and Shake Halfpipe are just a few thrilling water rides to choose from. Take a break from the sun in the MEGA arcade, with a game of laser tag or challenge your skill on the rock wall.

 

Daytona Beach Boardwalk
Daytona Beach Boardwalk

 

Relive those childhood beach vacations along Daytona Beach’s Boardwalk area. Create new family memories enjoying the amusement park rides and arcade games. Varied restaurants offer a chance to refuel. Make sure to stop by family-owned Zeno’s for saltwater taffy. They’ve been making it since 1948! 

 

Front entrance of Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway

 

Other Diversions

 Satisfy your need for speed at Daytona International Speedway. The speedway was opened in 1959 with the inaugural Daytona 500 by NASCAR founder Bill France. Additional races take place at the speedway throughout the year including the Rolex 24, Coke Zero 400 and the Ferrari World Finals. Visitors can tour the 500-acre complex when a race isn’t taking place. Check out the infield, the start/finish line, Gatorade Victory Lane and Pit Road during a 30-minute Speedway Tour. Other tours on offer are the 90-minute All-Access Tour and the 3-hour VIP Tour.

Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse

Florida’s tallest lighthouse, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse was built in 1887, it was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1998. Iconic writer Stephen Crane penned one of his most famous short stories, “The Open Boat” from a terrifying personal experience there in 1896. He was aboard a sinking steam tug that was guided safely to shore thanks to the beacon from Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.

The Marine Science Center is a great place to learn more about the area’s diverse coastal ecology and wildlife conservation efforts. This engaging natural history museum and marine science center showcase immersive exhibits on marine habitats that include freshwater and sea turtle exhibits, a seabird aviary and a mangrove estuary (among others). Kids will love the 13-foot-long, 1,4000-gallon touch pool where they can interact with Atlantic and Cownose stingrays, sea anemones, horseshoe crabs and other creatures.

Beach Eats

A popular spot for locals and visitors alike, Crabby’s Oceanside serves fresh seafood and signature cocktails. Grab an outdoor table and soak in the views during your meal. Highly recommended – the mahi tacos with coconut rice and the she crab soup.

Step back in time at StarlIte Diner and get your comfort food fill. This ‘60s-style dinner boasts diner staples like breakfast combos, sandwiches, meatloaf and homemade desserts.

MEMBERS SAVE: AAA Members receive a 10 percent discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages!

In nearby Port Orange, Monterrey Grill is a favorite for families. Serving up American fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner, the restaurant offers popular dishes like eggs Benedict, meat loaf, fresh seafood and signature sandwiches.

MEMBERS SAVE: AAA Members receive a 10 percent discount on food and non-alcoholic beverages!

Beach Sleep

You can’t go wrong with a stay at AAA Four Diamond-rated Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach. Spend your days lounging by the signature guitar-shaped pool or pampering yourself at the hotels Rock Spa and Salon. Choose from 200 luxuriously appointed rooms — Deluxe Rooms, Rock Royalty Suites and Courtyard Suites. Memorabilia you’ll find throughout the hotel includes Taylor Swift’s bikini, an outfit worn by Rihanna during her 2013 world tour and a guitar autographed by the Allman Brothers Band.

MEMBERS SAVE: AAA Members receive a discount on their stay. Call your local AAA Travel Agent (800-374-2865) or visit AAA.com/Travel for more details!

(Go Magazine March/April 2020)

 

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