Daytona Beach, FL
Daytona Beach is one of Florida’s top destinations. Located an hour’s drive from Orlando, it has miles of tempting sea and sand. NASCAR enthusiasts arrive by the tens of thousands to watch the Daytona 500 in February and the Pepsi 400 in July.
Get a taste of the track anytime at Daytona USA, racecar driver wannabes can change a tire in a timed pit stop, broadcast a famous race finish, climb into the driver’s seat in a race-car simulator, and experience the heart racing thrills of high-speed laps at NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience.
But not all of Daytona revolves around burning rubber. Encounter Daytona’s surf and scenery from atop 175-foot-high Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Florida and the second tallest in the nation. Check out exhibits on Fresnel lenses, Florida shipwrecks, and what life was like for lighthouse keepers and their families in this 1887 coastal tower.
Along with a 5,000-gallon artificial reef aquarium, Daytona’s Marine Science Center has a wooden “birdwalk” that takes you through its Seabird Rehabilitation Sanctuary. Starting in April, look for sea turtle nests and learn about hatchlings as part of the Center’s “Saturdays at the Sea” program of year-round outings.
Daytona also has a great Museum of Arts and Sciences that lets you see up close to a prehistoric 13-foot-tall giant ground sloth. The 130,000-year-old skeleton, found near the museum in 1974, is considered one of the finest specimens of its kind in North America. Check out the museum’s Kid’s Adventure program, too, which offers learning activities centered around major exhibits on display at the museum.
At NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, 45 minutes from Daytona Beach, visit the place where traveling through the cosmos begins. As part of the Astronaut Adventure room, strap in and experience an interactive space-flight simulator and a G-force trainer that lets you feel the pressure of four times the force of gravity. In the Rocket Garden, climb aboard Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules for a look at astronauts’ cramped intergalactic living quarters. You can also learn about space firsthand by lunching with an astronaut, although be sure to reserve ahead for this popular program.
Daytona Beach, Florida Events
Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona
The 50th anniversary of the Rolex 24 At Daytona showcases the world’s best drivers competing for 24 hours on Daytona’s 3.56-mile road course.
Speedweek / Daytona 500
The Daytona 500 is known as The Great American Race and sometimes it’s called the Super Bowl of NASCAR, but it doesn’t really matter what you call it. It just matters that you are there at Daytona International Speedway to see it, hear it and feel it. There is simply no other experience that matches seeing a NASCAR race in person, especially the prestigious Daytona 500.
The “World’s Largest Motorcycle Event” rolls into Daytona Beach for 10 days featuring motorcycle shows, exhibits, concerts, racing at Daytona International Speedway and street festivals. Bike Week has been designated a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event. Bike Week activities take place at various locations throughout the Daytona Beach area. Admission: Varies.
Coke Zero 400
Daytona International Speedway 1801 W International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach. Fans come from around the globe at NASCAR Sprint Cup Series racing returns to the Speedway to run under the lights on Independence Day weekend. the racing weekend features several high-energy races. 800-PIT-SHOP.
An international event that attracts motorcycle enthusiasts from throughout the U.S. and Canada to the Daytona Beach area. Festivities include motorcycle races, charity rides, street festivals and expos. Biketoberfest® is a family-oriented event that gives motorcycle enthusiasts that one last ride before storing their bike away for winter. The event takes place at various locations throughout the Daytona Beach area. Biketoberfest® was designated a Southeast Tourism Society Top 20 Event for October 2001, 2003, 2005 & 2007. Admission: Varies.
Daytona Turkey Run
Times to be announced. Daytona International Speedway 1801 W. International Speedway Blvd., Daytona Beach. The Southeast’s largest car show and swap meet takes place Thanksgiving weekend in the expanisive infield of the Speedway. (386) 255-7355; (386) 767-9070.
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