As I round the corner of Main Street onto the iconic Daytona Beach Boardwalk, I can’t help but smile. The sight that greets me is classic Florida, from the paint peeling off the amusement park rides to the sleeker beachfront hotels and towering palm trees further down.
This is the Daytona Beach, Florida most people are familiar with, but it barely scratches the surface of what this destination has to offer. It’s not just a spring break destination for college students. There are plenty of year-round family-friendly activities in the area—you just have to know where to look!
Riverfront Shops on Beach Street
Located on the banks of the Halifax River, the Riverfront Shops on Beach Street are comprised of boutiques, restaurants, museums and more. Stop at Angell and Phelps Chocolate Factory for a short and sweet tour to get a glimpse and taste of how chocolate is made. Grab a coffee at Sweet Marlays’ Coffee and stroll along the river.
If your kids are getting restless, you can cross the bridge to the Volusia County Library. It’s home to the Rachel Robinson Playground, the perfect spot for kids to get their wiggles out.
The white sand shoreline in Daytona Beach is obviously one of the biggest attractions in the area. The sand is so hard-packed that you can even drive a car on it. Beach driving costs just $20 per vehicle and is open from sunrise to sunset. It’s a wonderful way to enjoy the scenery of the beach or avoid slogging your beach chairs, towels and toys while also trying to manage your kids.
Rent an umbrella and lounge chairs or simply splash in the waves and play in the sand to enjoy the world’s most famous beach.
Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier
The Daytona Beach Boardwalk and Pier is part amusement park nostalgia and part laid-back beach hangout. Along the boardwalk are restaurants, rides, arcade games, hotels and ice cream shops. Zeno’s Boardwalk Sweet Shop has some of the best saltwater taffy on earth, if not the largest selection of flavors. Or, if you prefer, skip all of that and simply enjoy the view of the beach as you stroll along the boardwalk.
In the summer you can enjoy free evening concerts at the Daytona Beach Bandshell. Get there early and go fishing on the pier before having dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack.
If you’re visiting Daytona Beach during baseball season, be sure to watch the Daytona Tortugas play at Jackie Robinson Ballpark. If you happen to catch a Friday or Saturday night game, you get to enjoy fireworks after the game, so don’t leave early!
The stadium has a lot of history, as it was the site of Jackie Robinson’s first integrated spring training game in 1946. If you want to learn more about the ballpark’s history, stop by during the day for a look at the Jackie Robinson Museum.
Daytona International Speedway
Auto racing fans should not miss a chance to tour Daytona International Speedway, home of the Daytona 500. Tours come in varying lengths from 30 minutes to 3 hours and take place in open-air trams. All of the tours end up at the Motorsports Hall of Fame, where you can learn more about world records and your favorite drivers and racing vehicles.
The Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum is located in its own wing of the Museum of Arts and Sciences. It’s full of hands-on exhibits that help kids learn about pulleys, microscopes, potential future careers, gravity, gears and more. Kids won’t even realize they’re learning while playing with the interactive displays.
Entrance to the museum also grants you access to the Museum of Arts and Sciences as well as the Planetarium, so this activity doesn’t have to be all about the kids.
Daytona Lagoon is a seasonal waterpark and entertainment center located not too far from the boardwalk and Ocean Walk shops. Open March through September, they offer mini golf, laser tag, a rock wall, water slides, an arcade, go-karts, pools and more for unforgettable family fun.
Go off the Beaten Path
Daytona Beach might be the world’s most famous beach, but there are still some under-the-radar-spots nearby that are worth a visit. Take Ponce Inlet, for instance. It’s home to Florida’s tallest lighthouse, great waves for surfing and the Marine Science Center, a small aquarium with a touch tank, nature trail and turtle rehabilitation center.
Even further south is a quaint beach town called New Smyrna Beach, where you’ll be inspired to trade in your minivan for a Jeep and a surfboard. Flagler Avenue is where all the action is with smoothie shops and ultra cool boutiques everywhere you turn.
If you head in the opposite direction you’ll run into Ormond Beach, which boasts shorelines every bit as alluring as Daytona Beach’s, but with a bit more small-town charm. Locals flock to Andy Romano Beachfront Park to enjoy the splash pad and playground overlooking the ocean.
The popular spots in Daytona Beach are popular for a reason. The beach and boardwalk are pure fun, and there’s nothing wrong with that. If you dig a little deeper, though, I think you’ll find there’s more than meets the eye. It’s truly a beach getaway destination for every budget with culture, history and outdoor activities visitors of every age will love.
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