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Daytona Beach

National Parks
Cruise high above the Daytona Pier in a cablecar
© Atlee Mercer

The Daytona Pier has an elevated cablecar system that cruises the length of the pier.

Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is conveniently located 54 miles from Orlando on Florida's Central East Coast, just an hour's drive from many popular theme parks and other favorite tourist destinations. If you are traveling around Florida, Daytona Beach is easy to reach via Interstate 95 or Interstate 4. Daytona Beach International Airport is served by several major airlines with service from more than 150 destinations worldwide.

A warm 70 degrees Farenheit

The average annual temperature is a warm 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius), and the average water temperature is 70 degrees Fahrenheit. A typical January might range between the mid 60s and low 70s during the day and the 50s at night. Occasionally, there are cooler days but the temperature along the beach will usually be several degrees warmer than it is 15 miles (24 kilometers) inland. This moderating effect occurs because of ocean breezes, which also keep the climate mild in the winter.

Hurricane season, between August and December, can produce some unpleasant weather on the rare occasion when a tropical storm chances to veer inland in the immediate vicinity. Many US families brave the heat and flock to Daytona during the summer school holidays from the beginning of June until the end of August.

Hot rod cruising Daytona Beach © Todd Aarnes
A hot rod cruises a stretch of Daytona Beach open to motor vehicle traffic.

The Beach

The beach is 23 miles long and up to 500 feet wide at low tide. The gentle slope and tides have packed the hard, white sands nearest the ocean, enabling automobile access. Of the 23 miles of beach, 16 miles allow driving and parking during the day and when the tide permits. The sand becomes softer as one moves further inland from the waterline. Sand dunes in the area can reach as high as 25 feet.

The beach became well known because it was used as a proving ground for developing the automobile engine. That technology was also put in use in developing aircraft engines for World War II fighters. Thus, the world's eyes were on Daytona Beach each time an automobile raced along the beach in the late '30s and early '40s attempting new land speed records.

Proud Racing Heritage

Automobile racing has grown and evolved in the Daytona Beach area since the turn of the 20th century. On March 29, 1927, Englishman Major Henry Segrave made automotive history by breaking the 200 mile per hour limit by racing down the sands of Daytona Beach in his car, the Sunbeam "Mystery S".

In 1959, William "Big Bill" Henry Getty France completed construction of a high-banked 2.5-mile tri-oval track known as Daytona International Speedway. The first Daytona 500 was run on February 22, 1959. More than 41,000 fans witnessed a race.

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Over the last four decades, NASCAR racing has continued to grow in popularity. More than 150,000 race fans attend the association's premier race, the Daytona 500, which is now nationally televised on CBS. Competition remains fierce, with the margin of victory totaling just seconds!

In addition to the Daytona 500, which is held each February, and the Pepsi 400 held annually in July, major motorcycle races are staged in both March and October at the speedway.

On the rare occasion when Daytona International Speedway falls silent, racing remains at two nearby tracks - the Volusia County Speedway in Barberville and the New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach. Both tracks offer a full racing schedule every Saturday night.

Superior Small Lodging Options

From a glamorous Mediterranean-styled villa to intimate beachfront cottages, the Daytona Beach area is filled with a variety of quality, small lodging accommodations which provide excellent value and convenience to families and couples on vacation.

Seventy-four small hotels, motels and inns are members of the Daytona Beach area's Superior Small Lodging program. This program is a unique accommodations concept that helps visitors choose from the finest small lodgings this area has to offer. The hotels participating in this program have no more than 75 rooms and are distinguished by their warm, friendly ambiance and personalized service. To become a member of the SSL program, each small hotel must pass an annual inspection and meet quality assurance criteria for cleanliness, comfort, privacy and safety. Travelers can look for the familiar SSL logo that designates participating properties.

Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse © Daytona CVB
Those who climb the stairs to the top of the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse are rewarded with panoramic views of the Daytona Beach resort area.

Additional attractions in the Daytona area

The Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse Museum - Located at the southernmost point of the area, the lighthouse serves as a faithful guide to mariners off the Atlantic coast. Historical displays and a gift shop are located on the grounds. A climb to the top provides a spectacular view of the Daytona Beach resort area.

Adventure Landing - This Caribbean-themed waterpark and family entertainment center features three waterslides; a quarter-mile, two-level, go-kart track; three nine-hole miniature golf courses, and an arcade with over 100 games that feature the latest technology in sports and fantasy video games.

DAYTONA USA - An interactive motorsports attraction designed to entertain and inform race fans about the history of motorsports in the Daytona Beach area. Included in the 50,000 square-foot attraction are opportunities for visitors to participate in a NASCAR Winston Cup stock car pit stop; design their own race car; talk to their favorite competitors (via video); take a walk through the history of Daytona Beach racing and play radio or television announcer by "calling" a race.

Written by: Ken Bailes
Top Photo Credit: © Moni
Photo Description: Daytona Beach in Florida.