If you’re looking for a romantic weekend by the ocean, look no further than Daytona Beach. Located on the Atlantic coast of Florida and just a few hours south of Jacksonville, Daytona Beach is an easy drive down Interstate 95. My husband and I recently headed down there for our anniversary, and we discovered much more than just great views and amazing seafood! We fell in love with Daytona Beach and the surrounding area; check out our list of favorite eateries, attractions and shops!
Of course we have to mention the beach itself! Miles and miles of gorgeous shoreline, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. But that’s not even the best part of the beach; the wet, packed sand at low tide is perfect for walking, cycling, and even driving! My husband and I enjoyed many long beach walks together and wished we’d brought our bikes; the un-crowded beach was the perfect place for a nice, relaxing ride next to the water.
It was great to dip my toes in the water after a nice, long beach walk!
Daytona Beach is one of the few beaches you can still drive on in the US. But no speeding!
There are several very affordable hotels along the beach as well; we enjoyed our stay at the Oceanside Inn. The hotel itself was pretty basic, but the rooms were clean, the views amazing, and you could walk right out of the back door and onto the sand. My favorite feature of the room was the little kitchenette where we could plug in our egg cooker and Ninja blender (which we brought with us) and make a quick, healthy breakfast before heading out for our morning walk.
Our view from the Oceanside Inn was fantastic.
Although the downtown area is small, it more than makes up in character for what it lacks in size. The shops in downtown Daytona Beach are charming and unique, and we spent several hours losing ourselves in stores full of zany art, antiques, magic tricks and chocolates!
I could shop for days in the awesome antique stores in Daytona Beach.
We stopped for lunch at the Dancing Avocado Kitchen, a fun restaurant with a funky atmosphere and delicious food. If you love avocado, you’ll find it served just about any way you can imagine here! I had the Dancer Avocado Melt off their “herbivore” menu: 3 cheeses, sprouts, onion, lentils and toasted multigrain YUMMINESS. While I waited for my sandwich, I ate some of the best guacamole EVER and made Wikki Stix art for the wall! The staff is friendly, the owner is extremely personable, and the entire dining experience was thoroughly enjoyable.
The Dancer Avocado Melt. YUM.
Located south of Daytona Beach, Ponce Inlet is home to the Ponce de Leon Lighthouse. This lighthouse is the tallest in Florida and has gorgeous views of the ocean and surrounding inland waterways. Of course, in order to enjoy the scenery, you have to make the grueling 203 step climb to the very top of the 175 foot lighthouse! It’s worth it though, because you get a breathtaking 360 degree view of the Atlantic Ocean and Ponce Inlet. Once your feet are back on solid ground, take some time to enjoy the lighthouse museum, including a building filled with beautifully restored Fresnel lenses.
203 steps to the top of the lighthouse! My thighs were crying.
If you love marine life, check out the Marine Science Center in Ponce Inlet. Pet a baby stingray in the touch pool, and then walk around the huge artificial reef aquarium (it’s fun to watch the octopus play with the toys in the tank!). See the rehabilitation of live sea turtles and sea birds, and learn about the protection efforts for sea turtles that lay their eggs along the Florida beaches. Stroll along the nature trail or take a class on shark biology in their classroom lab! There’s so much to see and do for people of all ages. This was definitely one of my favorite stops in the Daytona Beach area.
You can’t head to the beach without eating seafood, right?? My husband and I both LOVE seafood, so we set out to try several of the most popular restaurants in the area. We really didn’t have a single bad meal the entire time, but we have to give a shout out to a couple of places for really impressing our palettes.
Crabby Joe’s was our first seafood stop and it really set the bar high! It’s perfectly located out on a pier over the ocean, and we sat next to an open window overlooking the water. The only thing better than hearing the waves crashing onto the shore while we ate our dinner was the dinner itself. Delicious, fresh seafood and great service; Crabby Joe’s gets 2 thumbs up!
Another great seafood place in Daytona Beach is Bay St. Seafood Market and Deli. They have a great menu of fresh seafood; I had a delicious swordfish sandwich with a cucumber salad, and seriously the best key lime pie I have ever tasted. This family owned, no-frills eatery is definitely worth a stop while you’re in Daytona.
It doesn’t look fancy, but this key lime pie is hands-down the best I’ve ever tried!
If you love museums, Daytona Beach is a treasure trove! The Museum of Arts and Sciences, which is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, has an incredible collection of art, furniture, vintage cars, and Coca-Cola memorabilia. It even houses two full sized antique train cars! My favorite part of the museum was the visible storage area, which reminded me of a Warehouse 13 episode. Shelves and shelves full of fabulous artifacts and antiquities! Indiana Jones would have been impressed!
Visible storage area = wicked cool.
Next to the MOAS is the brand new Cici And Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, exquisitely showcasing pieces that highlight Florida’s culture, geography and natural history dating back to the early 1800’s. It tells the history of Florida through the works of art hanging on the walls, housed in a building just as beautiful as the paintings inside. If art museums are your thing, this one is definitely a gem.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or family vacation by the sea, head down to Daytona Beach. With such a great combination of beautiful beaches, delicious seafood, affordable accommodations and a wide variety of fantastic activities, you won’t be disappointed with your Daytona Beach experience!
Thank you to the Daytona Beach CVB for hosting us during our stay!