Beyond the Roar: 24+ Fun Things to Do in Daytona Beach for Non-Racing Enthusiasts

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Things to do in Daytona - View of Lighthouse from Ponce De Leon Inlet. Sand dune and grasses in the foreground with a red lighthouse in the background against a blue sky.
View of Lighthouse from Ponce De Leon Inlet. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

Here’s the secret about the self-proclaimed “The World’s Most Famous Beach” – adult visitors never have to gawk at a car, hear the roar of a motorcycle or experience teenagers whooping it up like it’s Spring Break to find dozens of fun things to do either for day trips from Orlando or as a beach getaway

As Florida’s eighth largest metro area, the Daytona Beach area spreads out along the Atlantic Ocean 23 miles from Ormond Beach to Ponce de Leon Inlet with attractions such as one of the East Coast’s tallest lighthouses, intriguing museums, shady gardens, more relaxed beaches in Ormond north of Daytona Beach and an up-and-coming riverfront entertainment and shopping district that offers more than flip-flops and T-shirts.

For the non-car enthusiasts, the attractions in Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach Shores and Daytona Beach are listed in non-testosterone order with the world-famous Daytona International Speedway last. For car aficionados, read from the bottom up!

Read More: Best Places to Stay in Daytona Florida

Things to do in Daytona - Portion of a tan and brown mansion with decorative accents and a large, gnarled tree in front.
The Casements. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

1. Winter like the Rockefellers at The Casements in Ormond Beach

In 1918, John D. Rockefeller bought a mansion and decamped for the winter, creating a touch of European elegance on Florida’s shores at The Casements on the Indian River Lagoon in Ormond Beach. Originally, The Casements was nine acres that stretched from its riverfront location along a private trail to the Atlantic Ocean. It gets its name from the casement windows incorporated into the design of the building to help keep the interior cool despite the subtropical climate.

Extensive renovations were done in 2009 to create Rockefeller Gardens, a promenade along the river with a view of the swooping Granada Boulevard Bridge from the beach to the mainland. Tours of the “The Jewel of Ormond Beach” are free and offered daily throughout the year by a team of volunteers.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Exercise in this famous mansion! Call for details about yoga and Pilates classes that are regularly offered in a studio in the mansion.

Things to do in Daytona - Gardens in Ormond, waterfall surrounded by lush greenery and pink flowers.
Gardens in Ormond.. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

2. Seek Shade and Inspiration at the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens

Near The Casements is the simple pleasure of the Ormond Memorial Art Museum and Gardens. Though small in total acreage, the intricately designed garden features winding paths at several levels offering shade from the dazzling Florida sun. The museum mostly features changing exhibits but includes “spiritual oil paintings” by well-known painter and illustrator Malcolm Fraser. The museum and gardens are free.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The waterfall is the most popular garden feature to photograph, according to the chief gardener of the Museum and Gardens.

Things to do in Daytona - Dunn’s Attic, large room filled with eclectic decor items, antiques and furniture.
Dunn’s Attic. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

3. Shop for Treasures at Dunn’s Attic

Unearth hidden treasures at Dunn’s Attic, a haven for antique enthusiasts on the mainland side of Ormond Beach.  In this upscale consignment store and auction house, browse through a densely packed maze of rooms filled from floor to ceiling with vintage furniture, collectibles and unique trinkets, each whispering tales of bygone eras. Discover the perfect souvenir or simply enjoy the thrill of the hunt amidst this quirky antique emporium which boasts several life-like statues that surprise visitors at several turns.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Grab a quick breakfast or lunch inside Dunn’s Attic at Rosie’s Cafe, offering homemade dishes at a reasonable price. It’s also a place to hang out while antique lovers dive into the treasures of the store.

Things to do in Daytona - Cici and Hyatt Brown Art Museum, couple reads placard on railing in front of a large multi-panel landscape painting.
Cici and Hyatt Brown Art Museum. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

4. See Famous Artists’ Takes on Florida Life at the CiCi and Hyatt Brown Art Museum

This private museum features the largest collection of Florida art, displaying only a fraction of over 2,600 Florida-themed oil and watercolor paintings collected by Daytona Beach’s most philanthropic couple – CiCi and Hyatt Brown. Over the years, they bought works by renowned artists such as Winslow Homer, Milton Avery, N.C. Wyeth, John James Audubon, Thomas Hart Benton, George Inness and Louis Tiffany, depicting Florida life, scenes and wildlife. The collection’s signature pieces are showcased in the grand central gallery and mezzanine, while six smaller galleries feature changing exhibitions with Florida themes such as fishing paintings and favorite locations for artists such as Key West.

SheBuysTravel Tip: There is one admission that provides access to this museum and the Museum of Arts and Science. If the CiCi and Hyatt Brown Art Museum is the main focus of a visit, it’s worth the short trip next door to see the Kenneth Worcester Dow and Mary Mohan Dow Gallery of American Art.

Things to do in Daytona - The Root Family Museum part of the Museum of Arts & Sciences, large area of museum showing Coca Cola decorations and items, and blue racecars.
The Root Family Museum is part of the Museum of Arts & Sciences. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

5. Coca-Cola Bottles, Trains and American Art

Despite its name, the Museum of Arts & Sciences is primarily focused on art – American art, decorative art and Chinese art plus the largest Coca-Cola memorabilia collection in the world and an immense collection of teddy bears. For children, there are Indy Series race cars and two large train cars plus a children’s museum home that is home to interactive exhibits demonstrating various principles of science.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Remember those uber popular laser rock concerts that seemed to have faded away. Not here! Each month, the Lohman Planetarium offers Saturday evening laser shows such as Pink Floyd’s “The Dark Side of the Moon.”

Things to do in Daytona - Riverfront Esplanade, white three-story buildings with tall palms and parking in front.
Riverfront Esplanade.. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

6. Stroll, Shop and Dine on the Riverfront Esplanade

To hear locals tell it, just a decade ago, downtown Daytona’s storefronts and riverfront on the western shore of the Halifax River were mostly to be avoided. Under the leadership of CiCi and Hyatt Brown – the same ones from the museum – in  2017, a nonprofit organization worked to revive the area along Beach Street and rechristen it as the Riverfront Esplanade.

Take a stroll along the Esplanade lined with charming shops, art galleries, live-music venues and restaurants on one side and, on the other side, a delightful manicured park that includes a playground, splash pad for kids and a dog park. As entrepreneur Meghan Duran, owner of Madeline’s Wine Bar, says, “This is a haven for single women. It’s a fairly safe, comfortable environment.”

SheBuysTravel Tip: Be sure to walk to the back side of the News Journal Center to see “Wild Florida,” an intriguing, 15-foot sculpture that showcases a dozen animals found in the state.

Things to do in Daytona - Fun Coast Tours at Madeline’s Wine Bar, couple hold wine glasses looking at each other while standing on sidewalk in front of commercial streetfront with sign reading 'Kava Bar'. The front of a tour bus reading Fun Coast Tours is in the foreground.
Fun Coast Tours at Madeline’s Wine Bar. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

7. Wine Tour on Fun Bus

Looking for a fun, safe coastal sip ‘n’ stroll? Book The Great Daytona Wine Bar Tour and hop on the Fun Coast Tours party bus for a 4-hour tour of three (or four) of the best wine bars from Daytona Beach to Ormond Beach to Ormond-By-The-Sea, including Madeline’s Wine Bar on Riverfront Esplanade. Fun Coast Tours also operates a 75-minute Beach Segway Cruise that includes cruising right on the beach (no bar stops included!), a Dive Bar Bus Crawl and a Daytona Beach Private Jeep Bar Crawl.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Owner Steve Gooch is very responsive and will happily customize a tour.

Things to do in Daytona - Angell & Phelps, kitchen area of chocolate factory with two workers in the background and trays of chocolates in front.
Angell & Phelps. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

8. Sample Chocolate at Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory

The one store that has stood the test of time along the Riverfront Esplanade is the most famous shop in Daytona – Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, where Willy Wonka wannabees hang out. Take a peek into the on-site chocolate factory, where you can witness the magic of chocolate-making firsthand.

Watch as molten chocolate is poured into molds, delicate fillings are piped and confections are enrobed in a smooth, glossy finish. The adventurous can sign up for a chocolate-making class and find out how to temper, mold and decorate chocolates. Tours and classes can be booked online or by phone.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Looking to work out the calories from the chocolate sampling?  A block away is Three Brothers Boards where one can rent paddle boards for a trip on the Halifax River.

Things to do in Daytona - front entrance to Jackie Robinson Ballpark.
Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

9. Take in a Game at Jackie Robinson Ballpark

At the southern end of the Riverfront Esplanade is Jackie Robinson Ballpark, where Jackie Robinson stepped on the field of the Spring Training home of the Brooklyn Dodgers to break the color barrier and end segregation of Major League Baseball. This historic field, once a spring training ground for major league teams, hosted other baseball legends such as Babe Ruth. Catch a local game under the Florida sun to watch the Daytona Tortugas, a Single-A affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, compete in the Florida State League.

SheBuysTravel Tip: A statue of Jackie Robinson interacting with two children can best be seen on the East Orange Avenue side of the ballpark which is a very bushy thruway from the Riverfront to the Beach across the Veterans Memorial Bridge. Park nearby and walk over to the park to photograph the statue.

Things to do in Daytona - The World Famous Boat Tours on the Halifax River, tour boat in the foreground of the river with bridge in the background.
The World Famous Boat Tours on the Halifax River. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

10. Cruise the Halifax for Mansions and Manatees

Leaving from the boat basin at the southern tip of the Riverfront Esplanade, the World Famous Boat Tours offer a variety of sightseeing opportunities on the Halifax River, the Intracoastal Waterway and the Ponce Inlet that separates Daytona from New Smyrna Beach. Their most popular tours are the dolphin tours, which take visitors out into the river in search of these playful creatures. They also offer charters and sunset cruises that include up-close views of waterfront mansions and views of Daytona at night.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Captain John says his trips are popular among female travelers who, if they are with husbands or partners, get a break from seeing racing cars.

Things to do in Daytona - View of red Ponce De Leon Lighthouse. against a blue sky with tops of palm trees and roofs at the bottom.
Ponce De Leon Lighthouse. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

11. Climb the Ponce De Leon Inlet Lighthouse

Experience breathtaking panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean, the oceanfront wildlife preserves and the Halifax River when ascending to the top of the 175-foot tower of the Ponce De Leon Lighthouse, Daytona’s most well-known historic site. Learn about the fascinating history of this vital navigation beacon and see several historic sites used by lighthouse keepers.

SheBuysTravel Tip: For those looking for a trip to the Lighthouse as a respite for a long trip on I-95, get off at the Port Orange/Route 421 exit and head east to the beach, make a right turn and follow Atlantic Avenue south through Daytona Beach to the southern tip of the barrier island.

Things to do in Daytona - beach at Ponce De Leon Inlet, with lifeguard tower and jetty.
Ponce De Leon Inlet. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

12. Meander along the Beach at Lighthouse Point Park

Feel the soft sand between your toes and listen to the rhythmic whisper of the waves as you walk along the beach at Lighthouse Point Park. This idyllic stretch offers stunning vistas of the ocean and endless opportunities for beachcombing, picnicking or watching surfers at the tip of the long jetty that juts into the ocean.

The nearby Marine Science Center unveils the watery wonders of Volusia County. Dive into interactive exhibits showcasing vibrant fish shimmering in aquariums, touch-friendly invertebrates in tide pools and learn about manatees and sea turtle rehabilitation. Explore the jetty aquarium, a glimpse into the ocean’s edge teeming with life.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Do as the locals do and arrive early for sunrise or after 5 pm for sunset when the gate for the county park is not attended, and visitors can enter for free.  There are also several free spaces along Lighthouse Drive where one can park and then walk right into the park for free.

Things to do in Daytona - Granada Boulevard Bridge
Granada Boulevard Bridge. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

13. Walk a Bridge

Do as the local walkers do and take a scenic walk up and over the Halifax River from the mainland to the barrier island on one of the several tall bridges, particularly the Main Street Bridge in Daytona and the Granada Boulevard Bridge in Ormond Beach. Yes, the car noise is a distraction, but these bridges have a walkway separated from the road.  It’s an excellent opportunity to see wildlife and bottlenose dolphins swimming in the river.

Things to do in Daytona - Dunlawton Sugar Mills Gardens, tall, gnarled tree surrounded by a white picket fence and benches.
Dunlawton Sugar Mills Gardens. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

14. Discover Florida’s Citrus History at Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens

Step back in time to the days of sugar barons at the Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens, a 10-acre garden with azaleas, camellias, ivies, magnolias, native plants, palms and succulents, as well as an Asian garden, master gardener demonstration area, ferns and tropical collections.  Explore the ruins of a once-thriving mill, the largest in Florida at its peak and learn about the fascinating sugar industry that shaped the region’s past. It was a tourist site as early 1939 but re-energized for gardening enthusiasts in 1985.

SheBuysTravel Tip: There’s no better recommendation for a garden than when one sees – as I did – the gardener from the Ormond Memorial Museum and Gardens showcasing Dunlawton to a friend.

Things to do in Daytona - Chief Tomokie Statue surrounded by trees against a vivid blue sky.
Chief Tomokie Statue. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

15. Pay Homage to Chief Tomokie at Tomoka State Park

Immerse yourself in Florida’s rich history at Tomoka State Park, where moss-draped oaks whisper tales of the past. Follow meandering trails beneath the canopy, leading to the iconic statue of Seminole Warrior statue Chief Tomokie at the northern tip of the park.

Standing over 45 feet tall, this imposing figure, sculpted from concrete and stone, depicts Chief Tomokie defending a sacred golden cup. Explore the legend woven into the scene – a love triangle culminating in sacrifice and vengeance. The park offers hiking and biking trails through lush wetlands teeming with wildlife.

SheBuysTravel Tip: For the adventurous, rent a canoe or kayak to follow the Tomoka River trail which can take 6-8 hours to complete.

Things to do in Daytona - Fairchild Oak, view from ground up towards the top of a massive tree against a blue sky.
Fairchild Oak. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

16. Stand Beneath the Glorious Fairchild Oak

Towering over 100 feet tall and boasting a massive trunk with a circumference exceeding 22 feet, the Fairchild Oak is a living legend in Bulow Creek State Park. Estimated to be around 400 years old, this magnificent live oak tree has silently witnessed centuries of Florida’s history, standing tall through storms, changing seasons and the rise and fall of civilizations. The park is open 365 days a year and entry is free.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Located just a few miles north of the entrance to Tomoka State Park, the Fairchild Oak is well worth the 15-minute drive from Ormond on Old Dixie Highway along the river and then through a “tunnel” of old oak trees.

Things to do in Daytona - Daytona Beach Boardwalk from Daytona Beach Pier, people walking along boardwalk with Michael's on the Beach restaurant and outdoor seating with blue umbrellas in the foreground.
Daytona Beach Boardwalk from Daytona Beach Pier. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

17. People Watch on the Daytona Beach Boardwalk

Now comes the famous part – the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. Curiously, there are no boards along the walkway and except for one arcade, one restaurant, one convenience store and one shop near the pier, there’s nothing to conjure up the image of a boardwalk. However, the walkway is wide and well-paved so perfect for a beachfront stroll. It also leads to the Ocean Walk Shoppes with a few well-known chain restaurants.

SheBuysTravel Tip: This area is best experienced during the day.

Things to do in Daytona - Daytona Beach Pier, Joe's Crab Shack atop the pier with palm trees in the foreground and a blue sky.
Daytona Beach Pier. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

18. Catch Surfers from the Daytona Beach Pier

At the southern tip of the Boardwalk is the Daytona Beach featuring a Joe’s Crab Shack with ocean views on top of the building that sits halfway between the Boardwalk and the end of the pier. Walk out to the end of the pier and cast your gaze towards the horizon, watch surfers carving waves and see fishermen reeling in sharks and fish from the ocean below.

SheBuysTravel Tip: For a family-friendly water park, try the seasonally operated Daytona Lagoon, a block off the beach. The tiny amusement park right off the beach has only a handful of rides that can be expensive.

Things to do in Daytona - Coquina Clock Tower, stone clock tower against a blue sky with high-rises in the background.
Coquina Clock Tower. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

19. Check the Time at Coquina Clock Tower

Stand beneath the towering Daytona Beach Coquina Clock Tower, a symbol of the city’s past and present. This impressive structure features a clock face with the letters D-A-Y-T-O-N-A-B-E-A-C-H instead of twelve numerals and is a popular spot to meet up with friends and family.

Things to do in Daytona - yellow stone Daytona Beach Bandshell, with high-rises in the background. Two people sit atop a stone wall in front of the bandshell.
Daytona Beach Bandshell. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

20. Hear Summer Sounds at the Daytona Beach Bandshell

Built from coquina in 1937, the seashell-hued facade of the Daytona Beach Bandshell exudes timeless charm, echoing the ocean waves rolling just beyond. Enjoy balmy evenings of free summer concerts filled with melodies drifting across the 5,000-seat amphitheater or see special events such as the Collegiate Cheer and Dance Championships and dance events.

Things to do in Daytona - Daytona Beach looking south from Daytona Beach Pier, with a truck and many people on the beach and high-rises in the background.
Daytona Beach looking south from Daytona Beach Pier. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

21. Drive, Bike, Walk the Dog…Whatever on Most Daytona Beaches

When locals are asked about driving cars on the Daytona Beach, Dayton Beach Shores and Ormond Beaches, they seem puzzled to comprehend what’s so unusual about that experience. Doesn’t every beach on the East Coast allow that? No way!

Daytona Beach boasts large stretches of sand where you can legally drive your car beachside – tide permitting – requiring nothing more than paying an entrance fee at numerous entry points. But that’s not it for rubber-tired vehicles.  Especially near the Daytona Beach Pier, visitors will see cars, motorcycles, bicycles, Segways and frolicking dogs.  Almost anything goes here.

Things to do in Daytona - Daytona Beach Flea and Farmers Market, three people look at produce in the foreground with displays of shirts and hats behind.
Daytona Beach Flea and Farmers Market. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

22. Find Bargains at the Daytona Flea Market

Bargain your way to bliss at the Daytona Flea and Farmers Market right off I-95 at the International Speedway Boulevard Exit. This sprawling marketplace offers hundreds of unique vendors offering vintage clothing, quirky souvenirs, local crafts and fresh produce. Haggle with friendly vendors, discover hidden gems and immerse yourself in the colorful hustle and bustle of this complex. Most vendors show their wares under long, fixed-roof sheds. Open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Things to do in Daytona - One Daytona, Five story cement building with red trim with statue of a diving woman in front and sign reading 'The Daytona'.
One Daytona. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

23. Dine, Shop and Stay at One Daytona

Across from the iconic Daytona International Speedway roars One Daytona, a vibrant hub buzzing with retail therapy, regular car shows and popular restaurant chains such as P.F. Chang, Rock Bottom Brewery, Smoothie King and First Watch.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Definitely stop at the Daytona Marriott Autograph Collection hotel. On the second-floor lobby, the designer has cleverly woven race cars into the check-in area and loungers.  There’s also a good view of the Speedway across the street.

Things to do in Daytona - Daytona International Speedway, view of the stands with colorful seats in the foreground and a small crowd sitting.
Daytona International Speedway. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

24. Daytona International Speedway Tour & Motorsports Hall of Fame

Would you visit Rome and not see the Coliseum?  What about visiting Athens and skipping the Parthenon? Even if you’ve never heard of NASCAR and don’t care for everything related to cars and racing, the Daytona International Speedway Tour is worth the trip, even just to answer the inevitable question:  Did you go to the track? On a well-organized tram tour that leaves from the Speedway Offices just off International Speedway Boulevard, take a fun 50-minute tram tour to delve into the history and high-octane world of motorsports and NASCAR.

Explore the infield, visit the Victory Lane where legendary drivers have celebrated and peek into the driver pits where cars are prepped for adrenaline-pumping races. Take an escalator up to the viewing stands overlooking the track and imagine the roar of the cars with more than 100,000 spectators cheering. At the end of the tour, the tram stops at the Motor Sport Hall of Fame with exhibits showcasing legendary vehicles, iconic drivers and the evolution of racing throughout history.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Book the tour in advance through the Speedway’s website. Some dates and times are not available due to events or race preparations.

Things to do in Daytona - Racing’s North Turn Restaurant, view from patio seating toward the ocean, with two people looking out while sitting at a table.
Racing’s North Turn Restaurant. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

25. Sip a Cocktail with a View at Racing’s North Turn

Step back in time at Racing’s North Turn Restaurant, nestled on the very sands where Daytona Beach’s racing legacy began in Daytona Beach Shores on the way to the Ponce De Leon Lighthouse. Soak in the vintage charm of a former beachside concession stand, transformed into a vibrant hub for locals and racing enthusiasts. Walls adorned with racing memorabilia evoke the roar of engines and the thrill of checkered flags. Even for non-car enthusiasts, this restaurant features terrific water views.

What’s New in 2024

Daytona Aquarium & Rainforest Adventure

Opening in early 2024, this 55,000-square-foot facility will be Daytona Beach’s first aquarium, featuring close to 40 separate tanks, including a 110,000-gallon shark tank and a 12,000-gallon stingray touch pool. There will be habitats for alligators, frogs and lizards and a rainforest section with sloths and armadillos.

Getting There

For those arriving by car, 1-95 is south of cities such as Jacksonville and St. Augustine and north of Cape Canaveral, Bethune Beach and New Smyrna Beach. Interstate 4 crosses Florida west to east from Tampa to Orlando and ends its journey in Daytona Beach, meeting up with I-95.

Things to do in Daytona - Daytona Beach Shores viewed from the Jetty at Ponce De Leon Inlet.
Daytona Beach Shores viewed from the Jetty at Ponce De Leon Inlet. Photo credit: R.C. Staab

Where to Stay

Unless one craves the boisterous Daytona Beach experience typified of a boardwalk scene, seek out more laid-back hotels north, west or south of the Daytona Beach Pier.  Suggested hotels include:

SheBuysTravel Tip: Prices can double or triple during the Daytona 500 race and other major events at Daytona International Speedway along with Daytona Bike Week (motorcycle event) and Spring Break.  If dates are flexible, there’s plenty of availability off-peak times, even in the summer.

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