Footloose & Car-Free
Come to "Speed City," put on the brakes and slow down to shoe-leather pace. Just because Daytona Beach has a reputation for auto racing and revved engines doesn't mean you have to speed around at a break-neck rate. Two separate and distinct areas allow you to do all your exploring and fun-having on foot.
The most famous, of course, is the beach. Visitors have come for decades to drive on the hard sands, but I prefer to walk the action-packed scene. A mile-long section around the Boardwalk Amusement Area, Main Street Pier and Ocean Walk Shoppes is designated a no-vehicle zone, but you can walk for miles and miles if you're so inclined. We will concentrate here on the strip between Seabreeze and International Speedway boulevards. On the beach, you will also find a handy lineup of vendors renting modes of transportation from recumbent bikes to electric golf carts.
Just across the bridge on the mainland along Beach Street, a strip less than a mile long of old and new buildings makes for a pleasant day's worth of shopping, dining, playing and taking in some culture. Old Daytona Historic District lies adjacent to the commercial zone, filled with delightful examples of Victorian and vernacular architecture.
Buses and trolleys provide transportation between these two walking zones and to Daytona's famous race attractions.
Rooms are plentiful along the beach. Those close to the Boardwalk Amusement Area include the major anchors - Wyndham Ocean Walk Resort, Hilton Daytona Beach and Plaza Resort & Spa. Many others lie on the fringes and across the street from the beach's pedestrian zone.
Downtown on the mainland along the oak-shaded streets of Old Daytona, you can find charming bed-and-breakfast accommodations with history of their own such as the Coquina Inn which resides in a circa-1912 home.
Walk This Way - The Beach
If you're not staying on the beach, you can park at the garage across the street from Ocean Center, just steps from the action and with a convenient walkover to take you there. It sits adjacent to Daytona Lagoon, a combination water and amusement park with slides, go-carts, Lazer Tag, wave pool, lazy river, rock wall, miniature golf, arcade and more - usually the first stop for families.
This is a beach, after all, so your wandering should be by definition random and leisurely. Whether you stroll sand or pavement, you will be bombarded with sensory input: salty sea breezes, vendors offering boogie board rentals and cotton candy, adrenaline rides, bumper cars, go-cart racing, miniature golf, surf shops and restaurants funky to fine.
Ocean Walk Shoppes is the newest beach attraction along Atlantic Avenue. Crayon-bright, it encompasses 10 movie theaters, fun shops and popular eat and drink establishments.
The excitement climaxes around the pier, where surfers catch the best waves, fishermen the biggest fish and music lovers an outdoor concert at the historic coquina rock bandshell. It's like a county fair all year 'round, with the rides, snow cones and flurry of fun.
Walk This Way - Downtown
Restored to its heyday as Daytona's epicenter, downtown's main Beach Street lines up a charming array of historic buildings brought to new life with restaurants, shops and jaunty awnings. Stop in at the Halifax Historic Museum, deposited in a circa-1910 bank, for an overview of the past. Stroll the pretty streetscape in quest of shoes, art, antiques, jewelry, fresh-made chocolate, a smoothie, a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, pizza or a pedicure. Follow parallel South Palmetto Avenue and its side streets to look at the town's bygones in its graceful vintage homes.
The scene stays lively at night, with the Florida State League Daytona Cubs playing at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, energetic clubs hosting special events and the Peabody Auditorium which hosts traveling Broadway shows and concerts year round.
Visit www.daytonabeachcvb.org for all the latest in happening Daytona Beach.
Footloose & Car-Free