By Lauren Tjaden
Rallies! Shows! Rides! Swap meets!
Florida welcomes bikers with sunny weather, stunning scenery and blockbuster events like Daytona Bike Week, heralded as one of the biggest premier rallies in the United States; Roscoe’s Chili Challenge, an epic party in Lakeland; and the bi-annual Thunder Beach Rallies in Panama City Beach, complete with electrifying concerts, demos, parades and poker runs.
Whether you’re looking to explore twisting roads with your buddies, find a new ride, or party like a rockstar, Florida promises to deliver. Check out this calendar to see when you should head to the Sunshine State.
January | February | March | April | May | June | October
GIBTOWN BIKE FEST – Hosted by the International Independent Showmen’s Association and nicknamed “Florida’s Most Entertaining Bike Week,” this extravaganza has been heating up Gibsonville (located by Tampa) for nearly 20 years with three days of live music, thrill shows, vendors and food. The entry fee is a mere $5 and parking is free. Proceeds benefit local charities.
DANIA BEACH VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE SHOW - Bring your whole posse and get ready to swoon over more than 250 antique bikes judged under the generous shade trees at striking Frost Park in Dania Beach. Besides the vintage rides, you’ll find live music, vendors, a bike parts swap meet, food, dealer exhibits, motorcycle field games, Roller Derby Girls, a vintage bicycle display and a kiddy play area. The event is free to the public with a fee to enter bikes. And the fun in the sun is for a good cause: event profits benefit the Dania Beach Lions Club.
SOUTH FLORIDA’S 2-STROKE ONLY VINTAGE MOTORCYCLE SHOW- Feast your eyes on a gorgeous showcase of antique bikes, including epic, vintage paint bikes and restorations, displayed and judged in Port Charlotte. This family-friendly event is free to the public with a small fee to enter bikes. Live music, vendors, food, dealer exhibits and a bike parts swap meet round out the fun.
THUNDER BY THE BAY-- Nonstop live music, more than 90 vendors, luscious food, a 17-class bike show, and on-site camping deliver family-friendly fun at this iconic three-day Festival. It’s the largest fundraiser each year for Suncoast Charities for Children, which provides funding support to several local non-profits serving over 8,000 children, teens, and adults with special needs.
DAYTONA BIKE WEEK- Notorious. Epic. Legendary. Daytona Beach Bike Week, centered around the Daytona 200 motorcycle race and a smorgasbord of motorcycle racing events and shows at the Daytona International Speedway, is regaled as one of the three “national rallies” along with Sturgis Rally and Laconia Motorcycle Week. It lives up to the hype with a full week of racing excitement at the Speedway including the BMW "Legends of Racing," dirt track races, the Daytona Supercross by Honda, the Harley-Davidson TwinSports and the 600cc SuperSport International Challenge. Other events include the Harley-Davidson Museum indoor show and Dresser Light Show, as well as shows showcasing vintage and custom bikes, European and Japanese motorcycles, sidecars and trikes. You’ll find concerts, fashion shows, technical seminars and demo rides. You’re invited to join a Poker Run, investigate a motorcycle swap meet, learn how to "Stud Your Duds," or indulge at one of the several free bar-b-ques. But one of the most fascinating pastimes is just watching the people and their machines, especially on Main Street in Daytona Beach. Sprawled across three main venues --downtown Daytona, Daytona Speedway, and Bruce Rossmeyer’s Destination Daytona in Ormond Beach—entry to the event is free, but different venues may have fees.
ANNUAL JAM ON PRODUCTIONS NATIONAL SWAP MEET AND BIKE SHOW—With bragging rights as the world’s largest motorcycle swap meet, this event runs throughout Daytona Bike Week. Besides acres of new and used parts at a fraction of the normal cost, the meets features stunt shows advertised with lines like “They ride their motorcycles risking their lives for your amusement”; a bikini bike wash; helicopter rides; camping; paint artists; live music and shows.
DELAND BIKE RALLY-- Always held the first Saturday of Daytona Bike Week, this rally brings thousands of motorcycles to historic Downtown DeLand, an award-winning Main Street. It serves up live music, vendors, shopping, restaurants, bars and even a group biker wedding.
LEATHER AND LACE MC ANNUAL BIKE BLESSING—Kick off Daytona Bike Week on positive note when you join the ladies of Leather and Lace Motorcycle Club for their annual Bike Blessing and free Pancake Breakfast.
LEATHER AND LACE MC ANNUAL MOTORCYCLE RODEO— Held in Edgewater during Daytona Bike Week, this happening offers a Chicago-style bike show, music, food, drinks and raffles. The undisputed star of the show is the rodeo, where you can gasp, shudder and cheer for uber-talented riders maneuvering their bikes in popular biker games that include a shovel race, slow race and plank ride. Or enter and show off your own moves.
MISSION KING OF THE BAGGERS—This adrenalin-fueled event happens during Daytona Bike Week, with modified Harley Davidson and Indian Motorcycles fighting for glory on the famed, steep banks of Daytona International Speedway. Other racing action includes the Roland Sands Super Hooligans races, the Daytona 200 race and MotoAmerica Twins Cup race. Go to MotoAmerica.com for tickets and the calendar of events.
HERNANDO COUNTY BIKE FEST—Brooksville, a small, historic Florida enclave situated on Florida’s Nature Coast north of Tampa, wakes up when this three-day Bike Fest rolls into town. Free admission, live music, vendors, food and drink as well as the notorious Rat's Hole Bike Show combine to deliver a potent recipe for a party.
LEESBURG BIKEFEST—First held in 1997 in Leesburg and billed as the “World’s Largest Three-Day Motorcycle and Music Event,” this central Florida festival has expanded to regularly hosting over 200,000 attendees. Mind-blowing entertainment, a smorgasbord of venues across the city, and vendors like Leon Leather, 911 Biker, and Icicles Eyewear explain its popularity.
THUNDER BEACH MOTORCYCLE RALLY SPRING—Set against the glittering, snow white sands of Panama City Beach and boasting features like no gate charges and free parking, Thunder Beach lives up to its nickname of “The Most Biker Friendly Rally in the U.S.” You can snag a demo ride; join one of the poker runs; treat yourself to a seafood feast with the Gulf of Mexico as a backdrop; check out vendors offering everything from drink koozies to custom rides; and enjoy live entertainment with big names like Travis Tritt, Kid Rock and Ted Nugent across an assortment of official venues.
TALLAHASSEE BIKE FEST— The canopy roads that bend through the rolling hills of Tallahassee make this festival ideal for bikers in search of a unique biking experience. Geared towards new riders, experienced riders and their families, this black-woman and veteran-owned and operated organization takes pride in putting on a motorcycle rally that benefits local charities. A kids corner; vendors; live entertainment; poker runs; guided rides that include memorable rides like the Honor Tour: War Memorial & Monument Ride; parties; and bike shows ensure three days jam-packed with fun and thrills.
WEST COAST RIDERS ANNIVERSARY PARTY— Live entertainment, group rides, and shenanigans abound at this annual three-day bash celebrating the group’s anniversary at Screwie Louie’s Scooter Haven County Club in Inglis, just north of Crystal River. Check out more rides, events and parties on the West Coast Riders’ Facebook page.
ROLLING THUNDER RIDE FOR FREEDOM FLORIDA-- Honor our Vietnam heroes when you unite with the Rolling Thunder Ride for Freedom Florida, an enormous, rumbling, living salute to those who’ve served. This annual 35-mile escorted ride is part of The Heroes Honor Festival, departing from Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach. The first 500 riders registered will get a free patch.
SALUTE TO VETERANS POKER RUN-- If you have $20 to spend and a yen for a good time in a support of a great cause, venture over to the VFW in central Florida’s Dade City for the Salute to Veterans Poker Run, the highest paying Poker Run in the area. You’ll score a long sleeve T-shirt, lunch and a chance at winning enough cash for a bodacious Christmas shopping spree. If you don’t have a ride, note that this Poker Run isn’t just for bikes—and if it’s raining, most will drive instead of ride. Cars, pick-ups, SUVs and even motorized Amish Buggies are welcome. You’ll stop at five designated stops on the route where you’ll draw a card. The person drawing the best five card draw hand is the winner.
DAYTONA BIKETOBERFEST—This major four-day rally lights up Daytona Beach with smoking hot outdoor concerts, demo rides, bike shows, vendors and rides that include The Loop, a 30-mile jaunt famed for its verdant canopies of live oaks and picturesque river and marsh views; the Iconic U.S. Hwy 1 Ride featuring notorious haunts like the Iron Horse Saloon and Broken Spoke as well as the "World's Largest Harley Dealership" at Bruce Rossmeyer's Daytona Harley-Davidson; and the National Seashore Ride that winds through New Smyrna Beach to the pristine sands of Canaveral National Seashore.
THUNDER BEACH AUTUMN RALLY—The smaller of the two Thunder Beach Rallies, this gala still qualifies as a mega-event, and like its sister rally in the spring, is staged next to the sparkling sugar sands of Panama City Beach. Likewise, you won’t find gate or parking fees, but you will find sizzling live entertainment; vendors; food and drink.