A Weekend in Daytona Beach…
Since the 1920s, it’s been a vacation destination for folks escaping frigid northern winters. Today it hosts visitors year-round that come for sun, nature, and beach-life. Cars on the beach, NASCAR, amusement piers, buzzy bars, condos and hotels. That’s one side of Daytona Beach. Another is plantations, grand winter homes, empty white sand beaches, old Florida, and nature. A weekend here can cover beach life from the first Europeans battling misquotes to, ‘you never want to leave’ modern-mega-resorts.
Arrival Day One:
Lodging – When in Daytona Beach, you must stay at a beach resort. An oceanfront pool; pool bar; and beach front bar and grill are beach-life necessities. Hilton Daytona Beach, Oceanfront Resort has it all. Sitting between A1A and the Atlantic, this is the place to headquarter and soak-up modern Daytona Beach-life. TIP: Ask for an oceanview, high level room. They are quieter.
Play – Check-in and stay put at the resort for the rest of the day. Self-park your car , or leave it with a valet. Change into your beach-wear and head to the beach bar and grill for a snack and drink. Decompress from the drive.
Hang out on the beach – Vendors rent cabanas, umbrellas, lounges, beach-cycles and boogie boards. The water is shallow, and the surf is perfect for floating, body surfing or boogie boarding. Take out a beach-cycle and explore. Along the way you’ll find fishing piers, food, and beverage, for all taste and budgets. Bring the water-proof sun-screen, hat and shades. Florida sun is intense, especially when you’re in the water.
Dinner – The hotel has several dining options. Don Rico’s Fresh Mexican Grill serves lunch and dinner. Fresh Tex Mex with a beachy twist. Full bar, lots of screens, and excellent service. The perfect first-night casual eatery.
Play – Stroll the beach with your bare feet in the surf. It’s a great pedicure. Walk the boardwalk and people watch or have a drink at an outdoor bar. Buskers provide a variety of entertainment. Music, magic, and sideshow entertainers perform in the open night air. A ferris wheel ride and cotton candy on the amusement pier is the perfect nightcap.
Breakfast – The Hilton serves a sumptuous breakfast buffet in an ocean view dining room.
Play – Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is a perfectly restored and preserved light station. See what life was like for those brave enough to come to this wild ‘mosquito’ coast in the 1800s. A large collection of lenses is displayed in a glass front building. It’s like walking through a rainbow. If you hearty, climb the 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse.
Lunch – Stop in to Hidden Treasure Rum Bar and Grill and sit outside. It’s across the street from the lighthouse.
This is classic old waterfront Florida, very casual. The view across the estuary and Halifax River will occupy you for hours. The funky, slightly Jimmy Buffet vibe is genuine. The outstanding food and beverage is locally sourced.
Play – Marine Science Center – is only a couple of blocks from the lighthouse. Get up-close and personal with Daytona Beach’s marine inhabitants.
Explore Lighthouse Point Park and surrounding area. Kayaking, parasailing, fishing and boating are at their best in this quiet part of old Daytona Beach.
Dinner – Have a progressive dinner in the Riverfront Park area of Ormond Beach, just 15-minutes from the hotel. This historic area showcases 30s and 40s archecture for commercial and resdential buildings.
Try three eateries for one meal. Cocktails and apps at 31 Supper Club, entrée at Grind Gastropub, then Absinthe and dessert at Rose Villa Southern Table. Each are unique and within 2-blocks of oneanother. You’ll meet locals and maybe see some entertainment.
Breakfast – Crabby Joe’s on Sunglow Pier, breakfast, lunch, dinner, local seafood, full bar. Super casual, great views of Daytona Beach-life. Fresh, fresh seafood, especially the grouper. Try oysters on the half shell and a Bloody Mary for breakfast. It’ll really get your day started.
Play – After breakfast, walk out on the fishing pier behind Crabby Joe’s for some superb photo ops of the Daytona Beaches.
Explore old Florida and A1A – Drive Ormond Beach Scenic Loop and Trail. This 30-mile double-loop, wanders through scenic and regionally distinct nature and history. You’ll have access to ocean, rivers, and waterways. Parks have vistas of rivers, creeks, marshes, barrier island dunes, and beaches. Along the way you’ll find old sugar plantations, grand homes, historic public buildings, and museums.
Lunch – Pick up a picnic lunch and enjoy in a random spot along A1A. Picnic spots are marked in parks. I especially liked Fairchild Oak at Bulow Creek State Park. This ancient Oak provides cool shade and quiet picnicking. This area once hosted a thriving sugar mill and plantations.
Play – Along A1A – The Casements, former winter home of John D Rockefeller, retains it’s 1913 character from top to bottom. Tour the mansion and learn about the wealthy, but eccentric, John D.
Dinner – Outstanding cooking classes are taught here in the large, modern kitchen. My Big Fat Greek Cooking Class teaches hands-on preparation of traditional Greek dishes and ties them to local Greek culture.
Find the classic old, and trendy new Florida in Daytona Beach. There’s an old Florida saying, once you get Florida sand between your toes, you’ll always return. It’s true.
All photos by Mary Charlebois