But this traditional Atlantic Ocean vacation spot also boasts a boardwalk and pier, natural wonders and kid-friendly attractions, including new beachfront parks and a dazzling water park and family entertainment center just blocks off the beach. The Daytona Beach area also offers access to 23 miles of beaches, with 11 of those open for vehicles. Nearby are the Daytona International Speedway, historic St. Augustine and charming New Smyrna Beach.
- Florida Beach Guide Pictures: Daytona Beach
- Main Street Pier
This beach ranks in the top 5 for... closest to Orlando .
Activities: Camping, Canoeing and Kayaking, Game Playing, Jet Ski, Miniature Golf, Roller Skating, Rowing, and Swimming
Driving time from Orlando: 1 hour, 7 minutes
Interactive Map: Points of interest around Daytona Beach
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Phone Number: 386-239-SURF
Web Site: http://www.daytonabeach.com
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* TOO MUCH FUN
Daytona Beach works hard to please kids of all ages with "soft adventures" such as parasailing, snorkeling, inflatable Banana Boat rides, personal-watercraft and jet-boat excursions all offered on and around the waterfront. The boardwalk and Main Street areas have thrill rides, restaurants and souvenir shops galore.
* BEST ADVENTURE
Daytona Lagoon (open March through October) and its year-round family-entertainment center feature: Kraken's Conquest, a speed slide with four lanes and a 55- foot drop; Blackbeard's Revenge, a 62-foot tube slide into darkness; Panama Jack's trio of slick and steep water slides; Adventure Mountain flume rides; a 500,000-gallon wave pool; Pelican's Drift tubing river; and Castaway Bay with four slides for smaller kids, water nozzles, climbing nets and a dump bucket.
The entertainment center next door offers Grand Prix go-kart racing, miniature golf, laser tag, an arcade and sports pub -- all within a few blocks of the beach.
* KEEP 'EM HAPPY
Light it up at Florida's tallest lighthouse at Ponce de Leon Inlet just 12 miles south of Daytona Beach. Built in 1887, the Ponce de Leon Inlet Light Station sits on Mosquito Inlet. Those who climb the 175-foot tall lighthouse are rewarded with spectacular views of the Florida coastline -- and get lots of exercise in the process (ponceinlet .org).
* TIMING IS EVERYTHING
You might want to avoid the crowds and traffic jams that come during Biketoberfest in late October, Bike Week in late February and early March, and Speedweeks (the Daytona 500) in late January and February.
Check for red-tide and rip-current alerts.
* AVOID THE CROWDS
Gamble Place on Spruce Creek in Port Orange is the dreamy former winter hunting lodge of James Gamble of Proctor and Gamble. This 175-acre park includes scenic walking trails, a cracker-style bungalow, a citrus packing plant and -- sure to thrill the little kids -- a full-scale replica of Snow White's Cottage (moas.org/gamble_place .html).
* CAN'T MISS
"Disappearing island" at the Ponce de Leon Inlet south of Daytona Beach is a favorite of locals and visitors alike -- if they can find it. The island appears only during low tide and is accessible by boat, kayak or personal watercraft, such as a Jet-ski. The peek-a-boo place becomes like an impromptu block party of sunbathers, manatee and dolphin spotters, bird-watchers and Frisbee tossers.