Daytona Beach: The World’s Most Famous Beach | RTX Traveler

Daytona provides the quintessential beach experience for visitors seeking sand, sun, surf and a variety of adventure. From family-friendly activities on the boardwalk to antique shopping on the riverfront, there’s plenty to explore beyond the popular beaches.

RTX members can stay at the Daytona Beach Regency, just steps from where the boardwalk begins. The Regency offers secure underground parking, weekly activities, indoor and outdoor pools, a poolside tiki bar and much more. The fully equipped units are the perfect place for the whole family to rest and relax after a full day of fun.

Pier_webBeach & Boardwalk

Of course the beach is a main attraction in Daytona. What makes this beach unique is that vehicles are allowed to drive on it. There are beach ramps every few blocks where cars can enter and exit, and they must stay on the designated beach road and parking areas. Be sure you do not block the beach road when you are walking or lounging on the beach. This also means there are often food trucks and vendors on the beach, which can be convenient on a beautiful summer day when you can’t bear to leave your chair. Speaking of chairs, beach chair vendors are lined up along the main part of the beach, so before you claim one, be sure to pay.

A stroll along the half-mile Daytona Beach Boardwalk will first bring you to the historic Daytona Beach Bandshell. Built in 1937, the outdoor venue hosts live music, public and private events and convention activities for up to 5,000 people. The bandshell is directly in front of the Ocean Walk Shoppes, a multi-story complex with your favorite beach shopping and a movie. There are also several dining options, including Mai Tai Bar, with outdoor seating overlooking the Atlantic Ocean and the best Happy Hour specials in town.

Just beyond the Ocean Walk Shoppes, the amusements of the boardwalk come into sight. The Joyland Amusement Center has a Ferris Wheel, Go Karts and more while the Mardi Gras Fun Center boasts plenty of classic arcade games. Grab a slice at Pizza King and pick up a souvenir at Lisa’s Gift Shop while you’re there. The end of the boardwalk is punctuated by the long pier that is home of Crabby Joe’s restaurant and the Calypso Bar. Take a stroll to the end of the pier for a stunning view of the beachfront attractions and hotels and watch local fishermen bring in their catch.

After a day of fun in the sun, try local favorite Pho Saigon for a meal that will satisfy even the pickiest of palates. This family-owned restaurant specializes in traditional Vietnamese dishes, all made from scratch with fresh and healthy ingredients. Try one of 10 variations of the classic Pho dish or a specialty noodle dish. The banh mi sandwiches are a great bargain and the clay pot dishes are full of flavor.

Ferriswheelnight copy_webDaytona’s Riverfront

Just west of the ocean side of Daytona is the Halifax River along which the Riverfront Shops, Riverfront Park and City Island can be found. This part of town is quickly becoming the place to be for shopping and dining in Daytona, with most of the area’s highest rated restaurants in these few blocks along Beach Street and plenty of eclectic boutique shopping. Just across the street from the storefronts is Riverfront Park, with colorful flower gardens and benches for relaxing with a waterfront view. Across the water is City Island, where a weekly farmers’ market takes place every Saturday in the parking lot of the Jackie Robinson Ballpark.

The Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory on Beach Street has been making handmade chocolates since 1925. Shop in their store or take a free tour to watch the chocolate makers at work. For something a little different, find out what’s playing at Cinematique, Daytona’s only art-house movie theater that serves food, beer and wine directly to your table while you enjoy an international, national or local independent film. Stop into one of the antique shops like Nicole’s Beach Street Antique Mall where you can spend hours browsing multiple vendors’ wares from handmade items to collectibles to curios. Be sure to say hello to the store’s resident corgi, Spencer.

Dining in the riverfront district is difficult only because there are so many delicious options to choose from. For a casual breakfast or lunch, the Dancing Avocado Kitchen has been serving up healthy and innovative dishes for 16 years. The inside of the restaurant has the feeling of a general store combined with a funky art gallery. If the weather is right, the outdoor patio is perfect for people watching. With a wide variety of hamburgers, wraps, sandwiches and salads, quirky sides like tie-dyed cole slaw, and a menu of house-made juices, it’s a good choice for anyone. The owner will likely be present, chatting with customers and making sure everyone is happy. He may even bring a free sample of a new dish that is being tested for the menu.

Tia Cori’s Tacos is a great casual spot for your taco fix for lunch, dinner or late night bites (until 3 a.m. on weekends). This family-friendly and family-owned restaurant serves up authentic Mexican food with fresh ingredients, even down to the locally made tortillas. With daily specials and an already affordable menu, choose from tacos as cheap as $1.50 to traditional dinner plates that are less than $10. In addition to steak, chicken, pork and seafood, more traditional Mexican meat options include lengua, chorizo, chicharrones and more.

If you want to take your time and enjoy a full-service dinner experience, Don Vito’s is one of Daytona’s favorite Italian restaurants. With a large selection of pizzas, calzones, seafood, meat and pasta dishes, the fresh ingredients and homemade sauces as well as the hospitality of the staff make this spot stand out. Reservations are encouraged as the space is small. Another popular dinner option for a taste of Thailand is Zen Bistro, serving culinary Thai delights in a relaxed atmosphere. Whether you’re new to Thai food or it’s your favorite cuisine, you’re sure to find something here that is your new favorite dish.

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Beyond the Beach

After a few days of exploring the beach, riverfront and surrounding communities, you may think you’ve seen it all. But wait, there’s more! Just about 20 minutes from the beach is the Daytona Flea & Farmers’ Market, open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Voted one of the “Top 5 Markets in the Country” by USA Weekend, it has more than 350 vendors selling just about anything you can imagine.

To get plenty of fuel for your shopping adventure, before heading to the market check out Chucherias Hondurenas for lunch. Located in a small, unassuming building on a busy street, this local favorite manages to be simple, casual and elegant all at once. The chef and owner Mayra Rodriguez and her staff greet you with open smiles and the positive first impression continues with the food. A blend of Central American and Latin fare is served like Salvadoran pupusas, Cuban sandwiches and plates with a protein of your choice and rice, black beans and plantains on the side. The chef even gives customers a gratis parting treat of traditional Honduran cookies served on a plate and dusted with powdered sugar. Hint: beat the lunch rush and arrive around 10 a.m. for an early meal.

Once you arrive at the flea market, pick up one of the free directories found at most of the entrances. If nothing else, you’ll need the map as the maze-like connected buildings can get a bit overwhelming; for example, if you decide to return to the sunglasses vendor you saw 20 minutes ago. You really can get just about anything here. Sunglasses, handbags, plants, clothing, produce, puppies, jewelry, shoes, toys, perfume, hats, home décor, kitchen goods, tires, gourmet pickles, jams, and much, much more. At many of the entrances you’ll be greeted with the sweet delicious smell of praline pecans or cotton candy, and throughout the endless aisles of vendors there are snack kiosks with everything from bratwursts to beer. You could easily spend hours here, or as long as your feet can take.

Once you think you’ve seen and bought all that you can at the flea market, head next door to Heli-Hogs for a unique adventure, or just another good meal. Heli-Hogs offers helicopter tours of the area for two or three passengers. Four different tour options range from 2.5 to 30 miles, with routes that go over the beach, the Ponce Inlet lighthouse or the speedway. Right next to the landing pad, Heli-Hogs BBQ is served from a deluxe food truck with covered picnic tables for chowing down. Enjoy a plate or a sandwich with mouth-watering sides and top it off with one of four homemade sauces. You can even take home your favorites by the pound. It’s likely the best barbecue you’ll find in the area, so don’t miss it.

145122492_webDaytona Day Trips

As if there wasn’t enough to do and see in Daytona, there’s even more within no more than a two-hour drive in any given direction – except east maybe, as you’d be in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.

To the North: Less than 90 minutes north of Daytona is St. Augustine, the oldest city in the country. Spend a day exploring the quaint downtown and picturesque Flagler College. In between Daytona and St. Augustine, beach communities like Ormond Beach, Palm Coast and Flagler Beach dot the coast along with three coastal state parks and the Fort Matanzas National Monument.

To the South: Cape Canaveral is less than two hours south of Daytona Beach. Tour the Kennedy Space Center, explore 24 miles of undeveloped beach at the Canaveral National Seashore and check out nearby Cocoa Beach. Closer to Daytona, New Smyrna Beach is a laid back beach town with boutique shopping, oceanfront restaurants and a sand dune park to explore.

To the West / Inland: If Orlando’s theme parks are on your Florida wish list, you can see them with Daytona as your home base! Just an hour and a half southwest of Daytona, the drive to the theme parks of Orlando is direct and easy, with communities like Altamonte Springs and Winter Park to stop on the way.

 

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