Around the Circuit– Daytona Beach

Home of Daytona International Speedway
Excitement looms in the air as NASCAR teams prepare for the Super Bowl of NASCAR. Early in February, Daytona Beach begins to bustle with visitors, temporary residents to the eastern shores of America. These are, easily, the most exciting two weeks of the NASCAR racing season. Speedweeks. Race fans travel from all parts of the country to watch the Daytona 500. It isn’t all about the 500, though. There are plenty of events on and off the track for race fans, beginning with the Budweiser Shootout Selection Party and ending with the biggest race of the year. Motorsports enthusiasts have turned it into a full vacation, taking in the sights and sounds of Daytona Beach, Orlando, and many other tourist landmarks nearby.
If you’ve decided to go to Daytona for the 500 or maybe for the Coke Zero 400 in July, then you may be planning to turn the event into a vacation, as many race fans do. If you’re looking to step outside the NASCAR box, I’ve compiled a list of things to do in and near Daytona Beach, Florida for you. So kick back and join me for an armchair road trip around the circuit.

The Beach
Distance from track: in time- 11-14 minutes; in miles- 5.5 miles. View Map
Twenty-three miles of paradise await you. Walk along the white sands of the Atlantic Ocean, shop and dine on the Ocean Walk, wade the seashore. It’s all just minutes away from Daytona Speedway.
The beaches of Daytona are a perfect outing, especially in the summer months when the temperature is an average of 78.5 degrees. In the winter, the average temperature is 59.3 degrees. If you decide to head out from a hot day at the track to visit one of the many beachfront parks, it’s only a 15 minute drive from the track. The beaches are also vehicle and handicap accessible. With so much to see and do, it’s almost a vacation itself!
Visit the Daytona Beach and Ocean Walk websites for more information, contact numbers, and directions.

Ponce de Leon
Distance from track:  in time- 5 hours, 43 minutes; in miles- 359 miles. View map
Legend tells that Spanish explorer, Juan Ponce de Leon, came to Florida in search of the mythical fountain of youth in the 1500s. What he found in the Florida panhandle may not have been the famed fountain of youth but a small paradise. The crystal clear waters of the springs remain a constant 68 degrees year-round.
While it may still be too cool to swim in the springs in February, there are plenty of other activities. Picnicking, self and ranger-guided nature walks, fishing, are just a few of the activities to participate in at the park. With fees of just $4 per vehicle of up to 8 visitors, you can’t beat the price. It may be a long drive from Daytona Beach, but if you enjoy nature, it is most definitely a worthwhile one.
Visit the Florida State Parks website for more information.

Historic Daytona
Distance from track: multiple locations.
There is much more to Daytona Beach than beaches, NASCAR, and shopping. There’s a rich history all throughout Florida. Without going too far, you can visit plantations, naval stations, and many other historical sites including a ghost tour right on the beach! If history is your thing, you’ll definitely want to check out some of the historical sites nearby.
Visit the Daytona Beach website to learn more.

Bizarre- Roadside attractions in Florida
Distance from track: multiple locations. View state map
Every state and many towns have them. You’ve seen them. You probably wondered “what the #*%^@?” while driving past them. Yeah, I’m talking about roadside attractions.
If you do head out to Ponce de Leon Springs and you’re a muffler man enthusiast, you may be excited to check out Johnny Donutseed just off I-10. He was reported as a part of the Florida scenery as recent as May of 2010. The happy fellow resides near a Quality Inn and holds a giant cup of Joe in one hand and a donut of equal size in the other. That’s what I call a balanced diet.
A little further down the road, in Tallahassee, you can visit the Automobile Museum. Simplistic as the name may sound, there are actually a few rare collectible cars in this museum. You can see the alleged Lincoln Funeral carriage, the Penguin’s Duckmobile, and even the Batmobile. Entrance fee may be a little steep for those who aren’t as, um, enthusiastic but for the visitor that just has to see the Batmobile, the $10 price tag may not be so steep.
They’re whales. In the ground. We’ll just leave it at that.

Daytona Beach websites and travel help
Lost? Want to find the hottest club in town? The coolest beach? Check out these websites!

Thanks for reading and join us next week as we head to my home track, Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Arizona!
Around the Circuit– Daytona Beach Around the Circuit– Daytona Beach Reviewed by Genna on Wednesday, February 16, 2011 Rating: 5