Getting to visit Daytona every year in February for the Daytona 500 is always a treat. The iconic Daytona 500 is always fun, and the VIP events that we take our guests to add to the excitement, but there are also lots of other cool things to do in Daytona that we love checking out. Here are nine awesome reasons to visit Daytona besides NASCAR, that make adding a few extra days onto your trip a really good idea.
See where baseball history was made. You can take a tour of Jackie Robinson Ballpark, where the first integrated baseball game happened in the US. The ballpark is home to minor league team the Daytona Tortugas (previously the Daytona Cubs, they recently rebranded).
Search out ‘gators. Up the adrenalin level by heading out on an airboat to find alligators with Captain Joshua Mattson of Airboat and Gator Charters, or even hunt them in the dark with floodlights if that’s your thing and you happen to visit between August and November (‘gator hunting season).
Cruise Grenada Boulevard. This boulevard away from the main drag part of the city has lots of charm. Start with lunch at Grind Gastropub with its awesome and funky Kona Tiki Bar out back – big appetites will love Grind’s Signature half-pound burger stuffed with an egg, bacon, and Guinness battered onion rings. Just down the block is local favorite Hull’s Seafood Market where everything sold is fresh off local boats, and meals like their excellent Grouper Sandwich come served with addictively good hush puppies.
Discover classic Daytona. Starting on the east side of Grenada Boulevard in Ormond Beach, you’ll discover a green and tranquil oasis at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Garden. Shady paths lead you between giant ferns, palm trees, and towering bamboo that clatters eerily as you walk by, until you reach a small gallery with diverse shows that change every six to eight weeks. Just one block away is The Casements, the much loved century old home of John D Rockefeller Senior, which serves as a lovely cultural and historic center these days but offers free tours for those wanting to explore the place, and several artifact filled rooms.
Indulge your sweet tooth. Pick up delicious old-fashioned candies at Angell and Phelps Chocolate Factory on South Beach Street, which has been operating since 1925, and enjoy a fun tour showing how the chocolates are made.
Kayak with manatees. Head out with Kayak Central Florida to paddle the St Johns River beneath cypress trees bearded with Spanish moss, searching out alligators, manatees, dolphins, and shorebirds.
Go fishing. Local expert Captain Scott Cornelius of The Good Life Charters will take you down hidden channels off the Tomoka River barely as wide as the boat to search out tasty redfish who put up a real fight to get away in the shallow waters, or catfish at the very least.
Take a sailboat out. Slow right down by taking a sunset sail boat trip with one of many operators in the area, sipping on your beverage of choice as you look out over the water hoping to glimpse a manatee or passing dolphin or two, and watch the traffic wait patiently as two drawbridges along the Halifax River are raised to let your ship through.
Hit the beach, or drive on it. If you love long white sandy beaches, then Daytona is your perfect vacation destination. There are 37k of wide beaches for you to sun yourself, play, and surf on. You can even drive your car along most of the beach there, which is an experience in itself.