Welcome to Beautiful Daytona Beach!

Nature's Valium

 

Are you stressed out? Overworked? Is it time for a vacation? For stress overload, there is nothing like warm sandy beaches, palm trees swaying gently from an ocean breeze and an ocean view to wind down and rejuvenate your senses. Oh, and don’t forget the strawberry margaritas. Not only are they refreshing after an hour or two in the sun, sipping on a cold frozen strawberry margarita at the beach just somehow completes the whole package, making one feel that all is right with the world. Picture yourself here….

Picture Yourself Here

Town view
Town view

A Perfect Vacation Location


When choosing the perfect place to go for a relaxing vacation, you can’t go wrong with Daytona Beach, Florida. Daytona Beach is a very laid back town. While there are many souvenir shops, it lacks many of those “tourist trap” type amusements that are so common in other areas. When you choose Daytona Beach, you are choosing a beach vacation.

I’ve been fortunate enough to vacation at Daytona about 8 times in the last ten years or so. Fortunately for me, a friend owns a timeshare there that she can rarely use. I lived on the west coast of Florida for about 14 years, making it easy to drive over for a week. Though the Gulf coast beaches are fabulous, it is easy to get sensory overload from the attractions, crowds and traffic that abound there. Daytona is a whole different experience.

Somewhere along the way, Daytona Beach has gotten a bit of a bad rap. It is not all bikers and rednecks or spring break students, though like any other beach, it has its share. During Bike Week, it has more than its share, but that is just --- a week. Over the years, I’ve seen Daytona change a bit, but it still retains its charm. There are more high rise condominiums and less beach shacks. I’m not sure if that is good or bad, but everyone has different ideas of what the beach should look like. What makes Daytona great is that it is affordable. It is a great place for a family vacation and an even better place to go without them (to unwind). I’ve done both.

I always go around the end of May. The weather is normally perfect that time of year. While it can get hot on the beach, there is almost always a nice ocean breeze to counteract the heat. It rains most every day. Usually the storms that occur only last a short while in the late afternoon, leaving a beautiful evening for dining out at one of the local beach restaurants. There are not many families visiting since, for most of the country, the school year is just wrapping up. In short, it is the perfect time and location for a laid back holiday.

Drive on the beach!
Drive on the beach!

Drive On The Beach!

 

Like most other beach towns, Daytona is lined with hotel after motel, offering the traveler a wide variety of pricing, amenities, views and comfort. Many units offer a ‘kitchenette’ so that all meals do not have to be eaten out. For us, we shopped at the local Publix supermarket for a variety of fresh fruits, yogurt, and a nice bag of extra-large cocktail shrimp. Not only were we eating healthy for breakfast and lunch, the type of food we purchased enhanced our tropical vacation experience, instead of leaving us feeling deprived by the savings.

With many people deciding to stay closer to home this year, this gives those of us travelers a nice edge in finding accommodations for less. Many ocean front rooms can be had for less than $100 per day. While I enjoy my ocean view from the balcony of our room, if I had to, I could stay across the street for the additional savings with no trouble. Daytona is unique in that it offers driving on the beach for only $5 a day. The beauty of that is that you do not have to hike a mile with chairs and other beach paraphernalia just to enjoy your day at the beach. Drive right up to a nice spot, park, unload and enjoy!

Take A Mini Trip from Daytona Beach

 

When I go to the beach, usually I just want to lay back and enjoy my week right there. There have been times when we decided to forgo the views and the beach and take mini drives to other places. St. Augustine, the oldest city in North America, is only a little over an hour away by interstate, a little more by driving up SR A1A, the coastal route. I prefer meandering up the coastal road to the interstate and there are some gorgeous views of the ocean along the way through the Flagler Beach area. One year, we stopped at a little hole-in-the-wall along the way where the locals were enjoying extremely large platters of crab and hamburgers straight from the outdoor grill in an outdoor patio area. You don’t find that type of place directly off the interstate.

Of course, threatening to ruin the ambiance of the relaxing vacation is Daytona’s close proximity to Orlando and all the tourist activities that beckon. By car, it is about 1.5 hours (80 miles) to Disney World and a little less to Universal Studios and Sea World. I avoid those if I can, preferring to go there only under duress.

Photo by brianc
Photo by brianc

Are You A NASCAR Fan? You Are Going To Like This.

While I prefer to stick close to the beach, there are a few destinations in Daytona to keep one busy during a week’s stay. Of course, Daytona is well known for its racetrack, the Daytona International Speedway. Formerly Daytona USA, the Daytona 500 Experience, open year round, offers interactive games for the entire family. There are 3 simulated game experiences called Daytona Dream Laps, ARCA Driver Development Program (not a very exciting name) and Acceleration Alley. There is also a tour of the speedway available and an IMAX theater offering NASCAR 3D: The IMAX Experience. Don’t forget to stop by the gift shop to spend any money you still have left in your wallet. For NASCAR fans, this attraction is a must. For more information, visit the official website at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com.

For a fun day away from the beach, the only other real attraction in Daytona is the Daytona Lagoon, a water park. There are plenty of fun water slides and pools to keep you busy all day for just $27.99 for adults and $19.99 for the kiddies during the 2009 season. For more information, go to www.daytonalagoon.com. Daytona Lagoon also offers a mini raceway, miniature golf and laser tag (for an additional price, of course).

DJ's Deck
DJ's Deck

Eat Where The Locals Eat

My favorite activity to wind down a perfect day in Daytona is to visit one of the many local restaurants located on the water. My absolute favorite place to eat is DJ’s Deck, which is located under the Port Orange Bridge on the inter-coastal water in Port Orange, Florida, just south of Daytona Beach.  Not only are the prices as reasonable (or better) as your local favorite at home, the food is fabulous. The water, the marina and the tiki hut atmosphere are just icing on the cake. DJ’s Deck was the one place that we had to go to twice and, really, I could have gone every night without tiring of it.

While a big draw for many is the raw and steamed shrimp and oysters, I really enjoyed the fried shrimp with salad and hushpuppies at only $10.99 for eight large pieces. Though the menu stated that the dinner comes with fries and cole slaw, there was no problem substituting the salad for those two items. At other places we went, many were not as accommodating, some even stating on the menu that there are no substitutions. At DJ’s Deck, you get what you want, not what they want: friendly service, great food, low prices and a fun atmosphere.

My traveling companion was my cousin, Michelle. She fell for the deep fried shark bites, which are meaty and plentiful at $4.99 on the appetizer menu. According to the staff, these tidbits come directly off the boats into the restaurant. Michelle added French fries and hushpuppies to make a meal of it. Needless to say, we both enjoyed every bite. We also made one last stop there on our way out of town to get our fix until we can get back there again.

Inlet Harbor Sunset Deck   at Ponce Inlet
Inlet Harbor Sunset Deck at Ponce Inlet

Ponce Inlet

 

Ponce Inlet is a neat little area just down A1A from Daytona Beach. It really has a feel of old world Florida with a lot of vegetation, a lighthouse, water galore and several decent restaurants to choose from. Years ago, we discovered Down the Hatch, which back then was just a hole-in-the-wall with the fishing boats moored outside. This time, we decided to try the Inlet Harbor Sunset Deck, which is also gave us that outdoor water dining experience we love on vacation.

Because I was planning on writing about the local restaurants, I ordered the fried shrimp to see how it compared to DJ’s Deck. At about $5 more, it was half the meal that DJ’s offers. To add insult to injury, NO SUBSTITUTIONS was plainly written on the menu. I asked anyway, but I am sure that the server wondered about my reading comprehension as she flatly told me no. The shrimp was sadly overcooked and smaller, but the atmosphere made up for it, along with the entertainment, a band that was playing pop music in one corner of the deck. Being more of a tourist destination than a local hangout, we visited the handy gift shop on our way out.

Do Not Miss Out on the Ocean Deck Restaurant in Daytona Beach

The Ocean Deck is located in Daytona Beach, right on the water. The Caribbean flare (and ocean front dining) of the busy restaurant is right up our alley on a beach vacation. What I really love on a trip is the friendliness and camaraderie of other vacationers. There was no table outside available at the first come, first serve area and a couple of women visiting from Ocala, Florida promptly offered to allow us to sit at their table (without us even asking). Since they were close to finishing up, they soon left, leaving behind that feeling that, yes, there are more good people in the world than bad.

I had never heard of Rasta sauce, so I ordered the Rasta marinated grilled chicken salad. Whew! It’s really hot, but deliciously tasty (and made the chicken really tender). I enjoyed it thoroughly and it was a nice break from all that shrimp I had been eating. If you love Rasta sauce or just would like to try it, they sell it through their website at www.oceandeck.com. At only $7.95 for a 14 oz. bottle, you will not be sorry you did. The website even lists some recipes to go along with the Rasta sauce. This is a place where you can dine inexpensively or spend a lot, depending on what you order. My check was under $20, which included a couple of vodka and cranberry drinks.

Michelle and I at Sunglow Pier.       Look at that view!
Michelle and I at Sunglow Pier. Look at that view!

Crabby Joe's Deck and Grill at Sunglow Pier

 

Crabby Joe’s Deck and Grill is located on the Sunglow Pier, just south of Daytona Beach. Because it is juts out into the water, the view in each direction is stupendous. The food was good, not great, but the view and the service made up for it. We got there a bit late and the moon (full the next night) was glowing so beautifully on the water. To add to the atmosphere, occasionally a fisherman would tromp through the dining room coming or going from the end of the pier, which according to the website, is 1000 feet out into the water. This is another place where you can eat inexpensively or spend some money, depending on what you order.

Michelle is really sad.
Michelle is really sad.

 

All too soon, our Daytona Beach vacation was over. A week is not a very long time unless you are working through it. It is really hard to leave behind the peace and serenity of the water. I’m not sure what it is about the ocean, but it really gives me perspective on life, along with serenity. Though we were sad, we knew we were really only halfway through. We were heading west to the Gulf coast of Florida. Stay tuned.

Comments 34 comments

Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

There's something about knowing my favorite author has published that gives my day a boost, even though it is dreary, cloudy and humid here in Jersey-Land This was sure worth the wait and a two-parter to boot, I'm staying tuned, don't worry. :)

Daytona Beach sounds fabulous. I enjoyed the picture slide show, thanks for including it. Your friend Michelle, makes the BEST sad face too. :D She reminds me of me when we have to end our vacation. I usually start the sad face a night or two before its time to leave.

I'm glad I have a different part of Florida to recommend to my husband. He has tired of Orlando and Tampa Bay, now I can name drop Daytona Beach.

You put a lot of work into not only the writing of this article, but also the lay-out and extensive research. I for one appreciate it very much.

Good job and an obvious thumbs up for the excellent writing style.

~Jen


ChrisNLexi'sMomma 7 years ago

Maybe next year you can take your whole family and write more about what to do when you have children with you in Daytona. Just a suggestion! ; )


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Jen, Thanks once again for your kind comments.  That is the first travel piece I've ever done and wasn't sure if it was too boring and long for readability.  I will probably have to wait for an unbiased reader to find out lol.  For people who like the nightlife, Daytona is definitely not for them. It is just a great relaxing vacation.  I also love the stronger surf of the Atlantic compared to the Gulf beaches.  Michelle really is a beach nut and she will kill me when she finds out that picture is on the internet lol.  As far as the research goes, that was the tastiest research I've done yet.  There is something to be said for travel hubs after all. 

ChrisNLexi'sMomma  -- for some reason, I don't think taking my whole family will add up to quite the vacation experience that I enjoyed this year, so I will probably decline.

Sincerely, ChrisNLexi's Nonnie


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

LOL, I understand, no prob . . .

Jen


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 7 years ago from Chicago

This is a great Hub about a place of which I am quite familiar.  You nailed the place, to be sure.  Nature's valium!? What a great combination of words that is!

I have sat at Inlet Harbor many times.  My uncle lives in Ponce Inlet and that is his hangout. What I always loved most about Daytona besides the beautiful sand and gorgeous ocean, is that you can drive on it.  I never got over how cool that is no matter how many times I have been there.  I have also played a lot of music in Daytona, including Bike Week and Spring Break many times. 

One time, a long time ago, I went over there with my kids, as usual.  We drove out onto the beach and parked.  They were hungry so I pulled in right by a hot dog stand.  The guy at the counter leaned over and whispered, "What are you doing here man?"  I asked him what he meant and he said "It's black weekend!"  Only then, being oblivious to my surroundings as I always am, living internally and all, (a friend on the phone was coming over and asked me the color of my house once and I had to step outside and see.  I had lived there several years) did I notice we were the only white people on the beach!  I didn't even know there was such an event (it was fairly new at the time).  We didn't care.  We stayed all day and had a great time. 


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

I have never gotten over how cool it is to be able to drive on the beach, either, James.  The first time I went I was 20 years old.  This time around, as 50 is about to hit me head on, I thought a lot about those first visits.  I had just moved to Florida and was staying with an aunt in Deltona.  Later, I moved back to Ohio and you should have seen the guys faces at the muffler shop when that big pile of sand ended up on their shop floor!  It was priceless. 

I might have passed your uncle on my way in or out.  I really do love Ponce Inlet myself and could live there too.  Occasionally, I look at the prices in Daytona and really, it is so much more affordable to buy real estate there than on the Gulf coast.  I probably wouldn't care much for Bike Week (I think there are several a year now), but I sure would enjoy that lack of traffic that I've put up with on the West coast for so long. 

It was Michelle's first visit to Daytona (she always goes to the Gulf coast)and she is now hooked as well.  She is already making plans to go next year if I get the opportunity to rent my friend's time share.  She must have thanked me a million times to taking her with me!


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 7 years ago from Central Oklahoma

This is fabulous!  Being an midwesterner, I didn't know the surf on the Gulf side is different than the Atlantic side.  Sounds like you had my kind of vacation.  Off the tourist track and eating at places the locals frequent.  Never had a desire to visit Daytona until now.  Thanks for sharing!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Hey JamaGenee,

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciate the input. The Altlantic side surf seems much stronger than the Gulf side. I think you can hear the roar of the ocean better from a certain distance as well. At least, it sounds great from the balcony of my room! There's nothing like a cool ocean breeze and the roar of the ocean on a hot summer (or late spring, in this case) night.

The best restaurants in any tourist area are the ones where the locals go. One can always ask, but it is also great fun to discover that little gem on one's own, like my husband and I did on the way to St. Augustine one year. One year, we also drove down through Kentucky and Virginia. We called it the "Great Cheeseburger Search" to add some purpose to our drive. We stopped at several little out of the way diners along the way. End result? The best burger (at least at that time) was at the Sonic where we started out, lol, in Corbin, KY.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

I love the ocean, BC. It is amazing. I've added a few additional pictures under the comment section, also available in the slide show. It was very cool to see the Space Shuttle fly by so close. It actually was much closer than it appears in the picture.


Jerilee Wei profile image

Jerilee Wei 7 years ago from United States

Very good representation of Daytona and what it has to offer. Personally prefer Sebastian Inlet if you haven't tried that one. Less crowded, more to do, less tourists.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks, Jerilee.  I end up at Daytona because my friend has a time share there and I get such a good deal on it most every year.  At least at the time I go, I don't believe that Daytona is crowded at all, especially compared to the Gulf coast beaches like Clearwater.  As I lived in that area for over 14 years, I find Daytona a refreshing change. Next time I am in the area, I will check out Sebastian Inlet, though. Sounds intriging, thanks.


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 7 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Now that you mentioned it, I'm itching to go the beach.  LOL  Congratulations for being a Hubnugget Wannabe!  The details of the Nuggets Festivities is just a click away:  http://hubpages.com/community/Summer--and-the-HubN...


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you, ripplemaker! I am honored at being chosen with all of the talented people out there writing. Nothing like hitting the beach for inspiration....I highly recommend it. Thanks, again.


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

Its like this hub has given you a new awareness that you should get involved in writing for the travel industry in some way. If this first stab turned out this well, imagine how good the SECOND one will be.

I think I'm going to examine your hub again and then get involved in the hub challenge about writing about a local tourist area. I think you should too, since you are my inspiraton. Don't you? LOL

Signed,

Jen's-Ahem-Solitude, who is very happy to congratulate you on another nomination, although not surprised to be able to do so. You do remember as to what I refer, right? :D


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

LOL! I just sent you another email about that very subject. I sure would like to be able to travel around and write hubs about it -- a very good thought, for sure. Maybe I will be discovered by a major travel magazine and get to do that lol. Otherwise....I shall be stuck writing about being a tourist in my own hometown, not nearly as exciting a thought, I will tell you. Oh, well, anyone interested in our famous local attraction here in Ohio: Super Walmart?


Jen's Solitude profile image

Jen's Solitude 7 years ago from Delaware

LOL You know what they say, the talented ones can make even a Super Walmart seem exciting. Test your skills, stretch those writing muscles, you can do it! Fortunately, for me I have more interesting local attractions to pick from. I just have to go back to the forum board and see what is required.


Betsy Baywatch profile image

Betsy Baywatch 7 years ago

I couldnt agree more..nothing relaxes quite like the beach!


RedElf profile image

RedElf 7 years ago from Canada

Ooooo - now I really miss the coast. Time for a trip westward to see my sis. Congratulations on your nomination! I'll be back to read more.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thank you, Red Elf. I look forward to seeing you back. I was honored to be chosen out of all the talented people here at hubpages.


Charia Samher profile image

Charia Samher 7 years ago

Oh nice place! =)


k@ri profile image

k@ri 7 years ago from Sunny Southern California

I've been to Florida, but not Daytona. After reading this, I may have to get there! :D


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks, K@ri, for stopping by and for leaving a comment. Daytona is just one of many good places to go in Florida. I'd love to be able to write about them all. :) In that case, I would be on a permanent vacation. I could really get into that.


jill of alltrades profile image

jill of alltrades 7 years ago from Philippines

We share the same love ... the beach. You are right, it's nature's cure for stress. I never tire of going to the beach.

I have never been to Daytona but we have an equivalent beach here in the Philippines, the Boracay beach. I hope you will be able to visit.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

I would love to visit the Philippines but I will be surprised if it ever happens at this point in my life. However, I love to travel and usually take all the opportunities to do so that come my way, so I won't say that I've never get there. Thanks for commenting, Jill. I appreciate it.


Garrett McLee profile image

Garrett McLee 7 years ago from Florida

I live south of Daytona, but still on the east coast. I try to get to the beach at least once a week.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Nice place to live, Garrett. Thanks for checking out my hub.


Iðunn 7 years ago

wonderful Hub and great pictures. I love the beach. I haven't been to florida since I was a child, but any beach is a good beach I think. I took my children several times to the coast in Texas.

To this day though I still remember the childhood trips to Miami beach. It really was lovely. My whole family loves the beach and I hope someday they get to see a real one instead of just our Gulf coast.

There is something very soothing about sand sky and air that nourishes the soul, I think. :)


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks for the comments Iounn. I got distracted when I first got this one and forgot I had gotten it (old age, you know -- and the need for another beach trip already!). I do agree. I think the beach, the water, the sky....the feeling of being insignificant compared to all that does nourish the soul. It makes problems seem smaller and much more solvable. I recommend it as a prescription of almost anyone!


Crazdwriter 7 years ago

After reading this connie, made me want to hop off my couch and visit that beach even though yes as sad as it may be I'm a Cali girl who hates the beach. But I think a beach day is what I need right now here in California for my stress. I loved reading this!


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks, Crazdwriter. It made a very nice subject for a hub:). I am very envious of travel writers! I could definitely vacation for a living. Thanks for reading it and for leaving some feedback.


Anamika S profile image

Anamika S 7 years ago from Mumbai - Maharashtra, India

The Beach can always make me feel happy and relaxed. Thanks for this wonderful hub and nice pictures.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 7 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks for reading it, Anamika. Very nice of you to leave a nice comment as well. I appreciate it.


billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

We have nothing even remotely close to the beauty of the beach you have. For me I have to go to the mountains when I'm feeling overwhelmed...but I get the same rewards. Great hub and fantastic pictures.


Connie Smith profile image

Connie Smith 4 years ago from Tampa Bay, Florida Author

Thanks, billy. I love the mountains and find that scenery just as beautiful as the beach. That may be because I was born in a little house in southwestern Virginia that had a backyard view of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

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    View from balcony of room.
    View from balcony of room.
    Sunset At Inlet Harbor Sunset Deck
    Sunset At Inlet Harbor Sunset Deck
    Sunrise at Daytona Beach
    Sunrise at Daytona Beach
    Another sunrise picture at Daytona Beach.
    Another sunrise picture at Daytona Beach.
    The Space Shuttle flew by on its way back to Cape Canaveral from Houston!
    The Space Shuttle flew by on its way back to Cape Canaveral from Houston!
    Can you see the double rainbow over the water?
    Can you see the double rainbow over the water?
    Boats at the marina at DJ's Deck
    Boats at the marina at DJ's Deck

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