There’s no better time for a Daytona post than the day after the Daytona 500. It was nice to see Austin Dillon in Victory Lane last night! I have been going to Daytona since I was a child and still visit quite often when NASCAR or a 1/2 marathon are involved. The City of Daytona is experiencing some major changes. Daytona International Speedway underwent a multi-million dollar renovation over the last couple of years. The surrounding area soon followed with One Daytona; an art, shopping and entertainment district. The Fairfield Inn and Suites by Marriott is now open and I was able to stay there during the 1/2 marathon on Feb 4th. Super nice and walking distance to the speedway, shopping, restaurants and the new Cobb Luxury Theaters. PF Changs (yes, a restaurant chain I do like) and Bass Pro were also nice additions. Free parking and wifi are added bonuses.
I’ve noticed a little change to the beaches as well. Although, it’s always hard to find a nice place to stay that isn’t in need of a total makeover, South Daytona/Daytona Beach Shores is trying to make a comeback. Up until recently, I wouldn’t given any hotel on the beach anything above a C+. I’ve been seeing some potential B- and that makes me happy. We’ve stayed at Coral Sands Oceanfront Resort, La Playa and a few I wouldn’t dare mention because they were so awful. Some restuarants on or near the beach I recommend are: The Chart House, Ronin Sushi Bar, Joe’s Crab Shack (on the pier), The Streamline Hotel (historic hotel and rooftop bar), Ocean Deck (very outdated beach bar and needs renovations, but still a tourist/local favorite. Also, Jake Owen shot part of his music video, Beachin’ there!). And, yes! you can still drive on the beach. The boardwalk/pier was revived when Joe’s Crab Shack was built several years ago. Much needed and so much nicer.
Most definitely some of the best times in my entire life were spent on those beaches and at that race track.
My friend MM introduced me to Daytona almost 20 years ago when we worked at Busch Gardens. She had connections with Anheuser Busch and we got to go to the Daytona 500 and Coke Zero 400 every year. We have endless stories and super special memories. The actual race offers the best people watching you will ever experience. We always got Fan Zone passes that would allow us access to the infield and pre race concert. I could write for hours about the craziness I experienced. Most definitely some of the best times in my entire life were spent on those beaches and at that race track.
In early February, I ran the Daytona Beach Half Marathon for the 2nd time (2016 & 2018). It’s always a tough race for me. I PRd the course this year, but no where near my best time. It must be the bridge us Floridians can never really prepare for. The course goes around the track, to the beach and back. The medals never disappoint. They’re always big and bold. They also give all finishers a beach towel. Packet pick up is a breeze and race morning is very well organized. As mentioned above, I stayed the at new Marriott in the One Daytona District, which was super convenient.
Daytona’s location on the east coast is ideal. An easy drive to St. Augustine, Jacksonville and even Orlando & Central Florida, making it a great stop on a road trip or even a long weekend or vacation destination.