I have a confession to make. I've never been to Daytona Beach. While I grew up just 4.5 hours away...for some reason, it was a place I drove through on the way to somewhere else. Of course I've heard about the family friendly Daytona Beach all my life - I just don't know who I never made it over there to see it for myself! Last weekend, Chris and I packed the car and we headed up to Daytona Beach for the weekend with Angeline and her best friend.
Daytona Beach is one of the world's most popular beaches; they even claim it is THE world's most popular beach. One glance down the sandy beach, with the waves lapping the shoreline and you can see why. Daytona Beach is beautiful.
I had a list of things that we might do while in town, ranging from driving Chris's Chevy SS on the sand, visiting the local amusement park, checking out one of the historical landmarks or surfing or fishing. There is SO MUCH to do in Daytona Beach, we were disappointed that we were only able to visit for the weekend! There just wasn't enough time to fit everything into our schedule!
We arrived in the late afternoon on Friday and when we settled into the Daytona Beach Hilton, I just couldn't believe our view! We were right on Daytona Beach Ocean Walk, with the boardwalk outside our window. We had Joyland Amusement park to our left and the ocean in front of us. We could even see surfers in the waves and fisherman on the Daytona Beach Pier.
Not a bad view, right?
While we stayed at the Hilton, there were quite a few choices in accommodations available. Daytona Beach has accommodations for every budget and traveling style, including campgrounds, hotels, motels, bed and breakfasts, condo rentals and vacation rental homes.
I live in Miami and while we definitely have a thriving "beach scene," it's not always exactly family-friendly...Daytona Beach was exactly the opposite. All we saw were families playing in the surf, kids building sand castles, groups of teens playing a game of football and couples strolling hand in hand.
The Festival Capital of Florida
Did you know Daytona is the Festival Capital of Florida? While Daytona Beach is home to festivals year-round, there are some especially exciting festivals during the fall months! There's the Daytona Beach Blues Festival and live music played daily at Bruce Rossmeyer's, the Halifax art festival and Daytona Beach even has their own film festival! If aviation is more your speed, you'll want to check out the Wings and Waves air show, where over 40 different Air Force aircraft perform over the Atlantic. November has plenty of holiday themed festivals too, like the Festival of Trees and the Holiday Bazaar! If you love seafood - who doesn't? - the Riverfest Seafood Festival is coming up too!
Outdoor Fun in Daytona Beach
One of the most popular things to do on Daytona Beach is go surfing or boogie boarding. You can rent boogie boards from vendors right on the beach, buy then for a few bucks in the gift shops along the Daytona Beach Ocean Walk, or pick one up at a store at home and bring it with you.
When you want to venture off the beautiful beaches of Daytona Beach, you'll be pleased to know that there is a plethora of family-friendly Outdoor Fun to enjoy!
Daytona Beach is home to many parks and recreational areas, like the Blue Springs State Park, Hickory Bluff Preserve, Winegrass Prairie Preserve, Lyonia Preserve and Environmental Center and more! Blue Springs is home to the largest spring on the St. Johns River, and is a designated Manatee Refuge for West Indian Manatees. You can take advantage of canoe rentals, narrated river cruises, kayak tours and rental, walking trails. You'll never run out of things to do outdoors in Daytona Beach!
Kid Friendly Things to Do in Daytona Beach
While the beach itself may captivate your children so well that they might not want to leave - as we found with Angeline and her friend - there are plenty of Kid friendly options in Daytona Beach aside from the beach itself and the local and state parks.
There's the nearby Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge, which is perfect for animal lovers, the Marine Science Center for kids with an interest in marine life, a bowling alley, lots of mini golf courses, Daytona Lagoon and of course, the amusement park right on Daytona Beach, Joyland Amusements.
Free Things to do in Daytona Beach
Daytona Beach is truly family-friendly in a way that most beach towns are not, in that they provide many free things to do for families who need a break from the sun. I love the idea of spending the morning playing on the beach, visiting one of the local restaurants for lunch, then heading into town to take advantage of one of the many free things to do in Daytona Beach.
There's the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory Tour, which has been a Daytona Beach tradition since 1925. Your family can take a free, guided, 30-minute tour through the chocolate-making process to do something a little different on your family vacation!
The nearby Casements, formerly the winter home of multi-millionaire John D. Rockefeller, The Casements now serves as the City of Ormond Beach's cultural center and museum containing art and historical exhibits. They provide free tours of the Rockefeller period rooms and other exhibits, which are not only fun but educational as well!
If you are a music lover (who's not?), then you should check out the Friends of the Bandshell Concert Series, which happen right in the historic coquina bandshell on the beach. They are seasonal through the summer, but we actually saw a concert happening the weekend we were in town, which was late October. They feature all kinds of music, ranging from jazz, rock, swing, country, big band and Latin music!
The nearby Ormond Memorial Art Museum & Gardens is a free museum that features paintings, drawings, video, mixed media, photography and three-dimensional works of art. Adjacent to the museum are lush tropical gardens that offer a beautiful setting complete with gazebo and nature trails, fish ponds and fountains.
There are so many things to do and see in Daytona Beach, but if you're anything like me, you'll be perfectly content just relaxing on the beach. I literally could not tear the girls away from the beach! The farthest we got was when we rented bicycles for them to ride along the Daytona Beach Ocean Walk and the strip in front of our hotel.
Chris and I rented dune buggies and rode all over Daytona Beach while the girls were bike riding. It was so much fun and such a work out!
I can't wait to go back to Daytona Beach for an extended stay - a short weekend just wasn't enough time to soak it all in!
On our next trip, I'd love to take surfing lessons. The surfers looked like they were having so much fun, and the waves weren't big enough to be scary - just exciting!
Chris wants to take a deep sea fishing trip, and judging by the amount of fishermen I saw fishing right at the Daytona Beach Pier, I think we'd come back with quite the catch!
Have you ever been to Daytona Beach? If you haven't, I hope that this helps to inspire you to plan a trip in the near future! Whether you're looking forward to a family vacation or a romantic weekend away, Daytona Beach is a family-friendly vacation destination for everyone!
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