Daytona Beach is a Florida city that is located in the county of Volusia. This city covers an area of sixty-five square miles and has a population of sixty-five thousand residents. It is a principal city in Daytona Beach/Ormond Beach Metropolitan Statistical Area, as well as the Fun Coast Region of Florida. Daytona Beach is known for its hard packed sand that allows dune buggies to easily traverse the surface. These beaches have made the city a prime location for lovers of motor sports. It has also been traditionally known for Spring Break, but many of these spring breakers have migrated to other Florida cities like Panama Beach.
The area on which Daytona Beach is located was once the home to the Timucuan Indians. This Native American tribe built fortified villages to protect them from other tribes. But, ultimately their civilization was destroyed by pestilence and war. In 1821, the United States acquired the state of Florida from Spain. In 1870, Daytona Beach was founded and six years later was incorporated as a city. It was named after its original founder, Matthias D. Day. The next decade saw the arrival of the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway to the city. Three years later, Henry Flagler purchased the line and included it in his Florida East Coast Railway. This had the effect of uniting the area together and in 1926, the communities of Daytona, Sea Breeze and Daytona Beach would be merged together. The hard sands of the beach attracted many motor sport fans to the city at the turn of the twentieth century. These ‘motor heads’ would come from all over the United States to engage in motorcycle and automobile races on the beach. In 1936, the first stock car race was held at the Daytona Beach Road Course. This would eventually be replaced in 1959, when William France started NASCAR and Daytona International Speedway. Today, the city attracts over eight million visitors each year.
A popular attraction that draws a lot of visitors to the city is the Daytona 500 Experience. This interactive motor sports attraction is open year round and was formerly known as Daytona USA. This eighty thousand square foot attraction has a number of exhibits which include Coca-Cola IMAX Theater, Acceleration Alley, Chevy 16-Second Pit Stop Challenge, Goodyear Heritage Museum, Toyota Tundra’s Thunder Road and the Champion’s Walk of Fame. Daytona International Speedway is another popular attraction among visitors to the city. Since it opened in 1959, it has been home to the Daytona 500. This facility has a seating capacity of over one hundred and sixty-eight thousand and has an assortment of races which include sports cars, motorcycles, go karts, stock cars and even pickup trucks. The track of the Daytona 500 has a variety of layouts which include a two and a half mile oval, a three and a half mile sports car course, and a three mile motorcycle course. The tracks one hundred and eighty acre field has the twenty nine acre Lake Loyd, which is used for powerboat racing. Every year, the track hosts various events including a car show, swap meet and a half marathon.
Another fun attraction in the city is Daytona Lagoon. This water park is open year round for its main attractions and March to October for the water park. It has twelve rides and three miniature golf courses. Rides that are located here include Blackbeard’s Revenge, Panama Jacks’, Adventure Mountain, Pelican’s Drift, Castaway Bay, Kraken’s Conquest, The Wave Pool, Grand Prix Go-Kart Raceway, The Phoenix, Twenty-Seven Holes of Mini-Golf, Rock Wall, Lazer Runner Lazer Tag, Carousel and an Arcade. The Museum of Arts and Sciences at Daytona Beach is another prominent attraction in the city. This museum belongs to the American Association of Museums and is an affiliate of the Smithsonian. It is home to over thirty thousand artifacts and is one of the largest museums in Florida. Exhibits at this museum include a complete giant ground sloth skeleton, Chapman Root’s lifetime collection of Americana, permanent exhibition of Cuban art, gallery of Chinese art and a Florida history exhibit. The Southeast Museum of Photography is another favorite among visitors. It is located on the campus of Daytona State College and was opened in 1992. It has a permenent collection of over thirty-five hundred photos and includes work by photographers such as Robert Rauschenberg, Harry Callahan, Paul Strand, Aaron Siskind, Gordon Parks, Edward Steichen, Alfred Stieglitz, Sally Mann and William Klein. The Southeast Museum of Photography also has about two dozen exhibits every year. Current and past exhibits include Journal, Anthology, Images of Recovery, Departures IV, Understory: Lumen Prints of Florida Flora and Henry Diltz.
Other attractions in Daytona Beach include Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, Ocean Palm Golf Course, Richard Petty Driving Experience, Cypress Knoll Golf Club, Air Florida Helicopters, Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, Haunts of Daytona, Oceans West Golf Club, Congo River Adventure Golf Daytona, Marine Science Center, Turnbull Bay Golf & Country Club, Daytona Lagoon, Tuscawilla Park, Daytona Flea and Farmers Market, Bethune-Cookman College, Boardwalk Amusement Area and Pier, Ponce Inlet, Speed Zone, Jackie Robinson Ballpark and Statue, River Bend Golf Club, Legends at LPGA International, Pelican Bay Golf Course, City Island Ball Park, Ocean Walk Village, Indigo Lakes Golf Club, Daytona Beach Golf Club, Riverfront Marketplace, Hidden Lakes Golf Course, Riviera Country Club, Beach Street, Lighthouse Point Park, Halifax Historical Museum, Spruce Creek Country Club, Southeast Musuem of Photography, Daytona Beach Drive-In Christian Church and the Ocean Center. Daytona Beach is also home to numerous popular restaurants. These include Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., The Aquarium Restaurant and Nightclub, The Cellar Restaurant, Caribbean Jack’s Restaurant, Ocean Deck Restaurant & Beach Club, Daytona Beach Pier Restaurant and the Chart House Restaurant. There are so many hotels and motels in the city of Daytona Beach that its almost impossible to list them all. But, some of the more prominent ones include Hilton Daytona Beach Ocean Walk Village, La Playa Resort & Suites, Holiday Inn Hotel & Suites, Hotel Daytona Beach, Tropical Winds Ocean Front Hotel, Plaza Resort & Spa and the Desert Inn Resort and Conference Center.