Sure, Miami is fun for an over-the-top, all-frills-attached escape with the girls or guys. West Palm Beach has it’s polo short-filled time and a place. There’s something about the gritty “glam” and glory of Daytona Beach that makes it a must-do at least once in your adult life. Especially now that Sunwing offers direct flights to Daytona Beach from Toronto – the only Canadian airline to do so.
While a weekend in Daytona Beach inevitably means some shameless partying (there’s a reason the spot has been synonymous with spring break for decades), you can also unwind at the spa, get all outdoorsy, dine at foodie-approved restaurants and even get your dose of culture.
Here is everything you need to know about spending a (jam-packed) weekend in Daytona Beach.
1. How to Get to Daytona Beach from Toronto?
Helping the long weekend and bachelor(ette) party cause of Torontonians, on January 28, 2019, Sunwing began its offerings of twice-weekly direct flights from Toronto every Thursday and Monday.
2. Where to Stay?
The shiny new(ish) Hard Rock Hotel makes a solid spot to rest your head and soak up the sun during a weekend of fun in Daytona Beach. Located right on the famous Daytona Beach strip, the sprawling hotel features… panoramic ocean views, an oceanfront pool, full-service spa and a large gym. Their outdoor bar serves local beer, and a surprisingly vast selection of wine. The hotel also features Sessions, the signature restaurant of Hard Rock Hotels.
For the music lovers, musicians and wannabe musicians, one of the biggest talking points of this hotel is the Sound of Your Stay music program, which offers complimentary in-room Fender guitars and Crosley record players. Naturally, live music is a staple at all the Hard Rock Hotels, and those who like to let loose can enjoy the occasional high-energy pool party — this is the place to be.
3. What to See when Visiting Daytona Beach?
Satisfy your “need for speed” (or just go because you can’t really not), at the world-famous Daytona International Speedway, the site of high-speed adventure and the high-profile Daytona 500 race. Here, you can take an all-access 30-minute VIP tour of the famed racetrack, pose for some double tap-worthy shots at the Gatorade Victory Lane, peruse the memorabilia-filled Motorsports Hall of Fame and get up close and personal with the Daytona 500 winning car.
Shake off your hangover by satisfying your sweet tooth at the Angell & Phelps chocolate factory – your inner child will thank you. Here, you can take a free 20-minute tour, where you’ll learn everything you didn’t think you needed to know about the gourmet chocolate-making process. Make sure you leave with some sweet goodness to satisfy those late-night, post-bar munchies.
Hop on board an eco tour on the Intercoastal Waterway to check out some of Florida’s beautiful marine life. From the comfort of a canvas-shaded flat-bottom boat, you’ll hit the water in search of dolphins, sea turtles, stingrays, manatees and shore birds. You’ll want to have your phones charged for this.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse – Florida’s tallest lighthouse – offers no shortage of views for those brave enough to climb the 203 steps of the circular staircase to the top. Here, you’ll find Instagrammable 360-degree views of the Atlantic coastline and the Ponce Inlet. If you’re afraid of heights, there are also great photo ops from the base of the lighthouse.
You can’t go to Daytona Beach and not check out the timeless boardwalk and pier. A the quintessential spot that defines Daytona Beach, here, you’ll find thrill rides and attractions, snack bars, restaurants, a classic arcade and stunning sunset views from the pier, making it a solid option to cap off the day.
Burn some calories and take in the beauty of the Daytona Beach area via kayak. Kayak tours include everything from sunset excursions to manatee encounter tours. Daily tours take place at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and they can accommodate large groups, making it a good option for bachelor and bachelorette parties.
Take the pace down a notch at the talking point-full, Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts and Sciences – one of central Florida’s largest museums. Here, you’ll find over 30,000 objects, including the most complete giant sloth skeletons in North America, a collection of early American furniture and art and one of the largest exhibits of Coca-Cola memorabilia in the world.
Where to Wine, Dine and Play?
Because every vacation warrants at least one splurge dinner, make sure you add Daytona’s Historic District, Italian fine dining spot, The Cellar Restaurant to your list of weekend must-dos. Within the walls of this history-rich building, you’ll find hearty pastas, made-to-perfection meat, ample veggie options and a well-rounded wine selection. Don’t just take our word for it; the spot has been recognized both as the best Italian restaurant in Daytona Beach, and the best overall restaurant in Daytona Beach.
For quintessential beach town party vibes, hit the Ocean Deck. This three-story waterfront spot offers a relaxed atmosphere that is facilitated by things like comforting burgers and seafood (like fresh oysters, crab leg and shrimp), flowing beer, cocktails and live reggae music. Hit this spot in the late afternoon – and maybe keep the rest of the day clear.
Located by the Loggerhead Marina, the lively and award-winning Caribbean Jacks features meals with a backdrop of oceanfront views. But also some of Florida’s best sunsets, live entertainment every day of the week, daily drink specials and a menu of diet-breaking-worthy beach town classics, like peel and eat shrimp, a jumbo fish sandwich and Caribbean nachos.
Craft beer enthusiasts will appreciate the growing Daytona Beach Ale Trail, a brew tour of some of the best craft beer and artisanal spirits spots. I recommend you do it, whether you hit up just a few or each one on the list. Every location has a unique atmosphere and offers a diverse assortment of beer for any brew-loving palate.
At Wine-Me, you’ll find a wine bar, craft beer bar, café and wine shop all under the same roof. Things like leather armchairs, many options for wine tasting, two patios and a lunch and dinner menu designed to pair with the wine and beer offerings make this spot a good choice to elevate your sipping and swirling experience a notch above the typical Daytona Beach bars.
If you’re not looking to flock where the masses are headed, Daytona Beach Florida is definitely a great choice. Check out some of our other travel content and stay tuned for more coming your way as we explore more and more destinations for fellow #6ixers! 😉