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(2011 - Winter Issue)

Writer: Roberta Sandler

Welcome to Florida’s historically-famous vacation sandbox.

Located in Volusia County just south of St. Augustine on Florida’s central east coast, Daytona Beach is a frolicking, family-friendly playground. Its shoreline is dotted with resorts, boutique hotels, restaurants as well as beach lovers who pursue leisure in the sun, whether they’re enjoying recreational activities, building sand castles or soaring 84 metres in the air on board the Sling Shot thrill ride at Daytona Beach’s historic Boardwalk. Another popular gathering spot is the Daytona Beach Pier for fishing and casual dining.

From Sand to Racetracks

Stretching 37 salt-air kilometres along the Atlantic Ocean and extending 152 metres wide during low tide, Daytona Beach’s sands are so smoothly packed that automobile races were once held on the beaches beginning in 1903. The area became known as “The Birthplace of Speed.” Cars are still permitted on 18 kilometres of the beach, where the maximum speed is 16 kph.

The packed sand also enables disabled visitors to navigate the beach easily, thanks to beach ramps and surf chairs and special wheelchairs, which are available at lifeguard stations.

Daytona Beach’s daring car races have moved from the sandy beaches to the fast-paced Daytona International Speedway. The Speedway is a thrilling centre for stock car, sports car and motorcycle races and is home to the Daytona 500, a rip-roaring annual February event. For more excitement, watch the greyhounds race at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room.

Diverse Attractions

Beyond the beaches, the city offers great shopping at Ocean Walk Village and the Volusia Mall. Stroll along downtown’s historic Beach Street to tour the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, then savour some sweet samples.

Daytona Beach is flush with superb entertainment and cultural venues. Take in live performances at the Peabody Auditorium, where Miracle on 34th Street and The Wizard of Oz are scheduled for Winter 2012, and visit the Museum of Arts and Sciences’ Planetarium, laser shows and exhibits.

Follow the area’s historical trail to discover several historic downtown homes, which are open to the public. A bronze statue of Jackie Robinson greets visitors at Jackie Robinson Ballpark, where the baseball icon played in the first racially-integrated baseball game in 1946. In Ormond Beach, tour John D. Rockefeller’s winter home, The Casements. In Port Orange, visit the hunting lodge of Proctor & Gamble magnate James Gamble and the on-site replica of Snow White’s Black Forest cottage. At Ponce Inlet, climb to the top of the 53-metre Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, Florida’s tallest lighthouse, which dates back to 1887 and still possesses its original keepers’ dwellings.

Daytona Beach’s diversity is astounding, from its winter festivals, ubiquitous restaurants, scenic cruises and landside attractions to its beautiful beaches and bustling boardwalk. What’s your idea of an exciting and relaxing winter getaway? In Daytona Beach, the possibilities are endless.

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