how to live, travel and explore the world from your van

Daytona Beach Florida Vacation on $20 a day

This is part of an 18 week, 7,532 mile, Vanabode road trip detailed in the book from Amazon
titled Big City Wild Country East Coast Road Trip on $20 a Day for just $2.99
See East Coast Road Trip for more pictures, itinerary, maps and trip overview.

Daytona Beach is the easy and relaxing beach vacation you've been seeking. The kind you might envision when going to the islands with unique shops and romantic walks on the beach. Other than the events that have made Daytona Beach popular in years past drawing large crowds like Spring Break and Bike Week, this beachside city is fairly uncrowded during the in between times. One of my favorite things about Volusia county beaches is the wide hard packed sand with ample space for group walks and ease of biking. This well-known "World's Most Famous Beach" has about 23 miles of beach access 24/7 and streets filled with gift stores, antique shops and fine boutiques.


brown pelican in daytona beach picture

Beachside activities are much like you would find on any other popular and well visited beach like parasailing and banana boat rides. You can also rent jet skis and kayaks. Because Daytona Beach is separated from the mainland by the Halifax River there are scenic riverboat tours you can take. The calm Intracoastal river cruises allow you the opportunity to view wildlife and riverfront estates. Riverboat cruises are exceptional during sunset too.

picture of daytona beach at low tide

Above: Picture of the Daytona Beach at low tide. Driving is allowed on the beach even though there are no cars in this picture. Like I was suggesting earlier, your preconceived ideas of Daytona probably don't matchy matchy with the desolation you see in the picture above. And the streets of A1A are no different from what you see here. Only a few annual events draw large crowds to Daytona.

daytona beach halifax river picture

Above: Picture taken at Collins Park on the Halifax River in Daytona Beach.

The Daytona International Speedway is home to the Daytona 500, the most prestigious stock car race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series along with a number of other well known motor sport events. The facility along International Speedway Boulevard covers 480 acres. Even if you aren't a die hard race fan the tours that are given are well worth your time and money. There is a tram ride that takes around the oval track, you can see the garages and driver's meeting room, go up in the Sprint tower, and takes pictures in the winner's circle and of the Daytona 500 winner's car of the current year.

daytona mr dunderbak restaurant picture

Above: Picture taken in the Volusia Mall of Mr. Dunderbak. This is a German restaurant that is actually a franchise. Very unique and I wish there were more of them. I was in shock when I saw this place because when I was growing up in Orlando my mom and I would eat at a Mr. Dunderbak's in the Altamonte Mall and then go to Tiffany's Bakery for a Napoleon or sometimes Farrell's Ice Cream.

Another one of Daytona's popular attractions are their golf courses. The LPGA International facility has two distinctly different professional golf courses and is the host of the final state of the LPGA Tour Qualifying School. The grounds feature natural wetlands, lakes, pine tree corridors while trying to avoid sand bunkers and strategically placed water hazards.

ocean walk shoppes in daytona beach picture

Above: Picture taken on third floor of the Ocean Walk restaurants and shoppes in Daytona Beach. There are condos and hotels that connect to Ocean Walk directly. The facilities in and around here have been planned carefully to draw a more sophisticated crowd and to be more family friendly than in years past. There are some great franchise restaurants here, stadium seat movie theater, open band stand to look at the beach without getting your feet sandy, a water park and convenient garage parking.

ponce lighthouse at daytona beach inlet picture

Above: Picture of Ponce Lighthouse at Daytona Beach Inlet.

The Ponce de Leon Light Station was completed in 1887, however Ponce Inlet was originally called Mosquito Inlet. That doesn't sound inviting at all. Not tooting our horn or anything but the lighthouse is one of the best preserved and most complete authentic light stations in our nation. It is also the tallest lighthouse in Florida and one of the tallest masonry lighthouses in the country. The tower is 175 feet and we climbed the dizzying spiral of all 203 steps to the top. I know the wind is always blowing off the ocean but on the day we visited the winds were powerful, felt like winds associated with a hurricane or tornado but with no rain and all sun. We were warned at the gift shop to pocket our sunglasses and anything we valued. They told us of a story of lost sunglasses and a wallet that was recovered on shore months later, weird but true. And with the strong persistent wind we never felt the tower sway; it is rock solid. The 360 degree views encompass the Atlantic Ocean, New Smyrna Beach, Ponce Inlet, Intracoastal Waterway, islands and estuaries. One the ground there are about 8 buildings housing historical artifacts on the area, about families that lived at the lighthouse, and what part Florida played during WWII, and the lens exhibit building. Maybe the most fascinating event the lighthouse staff hosts is the Climb to the Moon. Only offered once a lunar month when the moon is at its fullest, it begins at sunset with only minutes till moonrise.

ponce inlet resident ground tortoise picture

Above: Picture of a protected gopher tortoise at Daytona Beach Ponce Inlet. They are listed as a Species of Special Concern in Florida. Wild gopher tortoises live from 40-60 years and can be found throughout the southeastern states. One of their most important roles in the ecosystem is spreading the seeds from the plants and fruit they eat. The home range for tortoises is up to 4.7 acres. Their burrows are essential to many other wildlife species including other turtles, frogs, poisonous and non-poisonous snakes, small mammals, scrub jays and burrowing owls. There were so many people just walking by this fella but Jason saw him and we stopped took pictures and a video of him eating a cactus fruit. We called a few people over to see him but they weren't as thrilled as we were. More Florida wildlife can be seen in Ormond Beach at Bulow Creek and Tomoka State Parks.

downtown daytona beach art festival picture

Above: This picture was taken on Beach Street in Downtown Daytona Beach. The annual Halifax Art Festival is held here and unfortunately the wind was blowing about 15 mph and getting progressively worse. Many vendors were literally holding their tents down with their hands during wind gusts and some pieces were falling over. More Daytona Beach Pictures

Beach Street in Historic Downtown Daytona Beach hosts art shows and craft shows throughout the year. The streets are closed one day a week for a farmers market. Here you will find one of a kind local restaurants, a chocolate factory and café, unique retail stores and the Halifax Historic Museum. Drive or walk to the nearby City Island where you can go to the public library, play tennis, have a picnic and check out the Jackie Robinson Ballpark. A different atmosphere than the west coast of Florida like Fort Myers or Sanibel Island, but hands down nothing beats the Atlantic Ocean in Daytona Beach.

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