Located on the northeast coast of Florida, Daytona Beach is known for its mild year-round temperatures, 23 miles of white and sandy beaches—not to mention that the community hosts some of the largest motorsports events in the world including the Great American Race and the Daytona 500. The communities that comprise the Daytona Beach area include Ormond-By-The-Sea, Ormond Beach, Daytona Beach, Daytona Beach Shores, Wilbur-By-The-Sea, Ponce Inlet, Holly Hill and South Daytona.
Daytona Beach offers a unique ocean park atmosphere that differentiates it from the rest of Florida. Food and recreational vendors are found right on the beach and sell everything from burgers, ice cream and hot dogs to bicycles and boogie boards. Daytona’s hard-packed sands even make bicycling on the beach possible and on certain stretches (11 out of the 23 miles) and for a $5 toll, you can drive and park your vehicle on the beach.
Racing is no longer allowed on the beach, but it did get its start on these shores. John D. Rockefeller is credited with starting racing in Daytona Beach in the early 1900s. He and his family bought a home and wintered in Daytona. (The home, The Casements, has been restored and now functions as a cultural center.) Young millionaire playboys of the era followed Rockefeller down to Florida, took their cars with them and learned they could race on Daytona Beach’s hard-packed sands. This led to beach racing, which then spawned NASCAR. The new sport had other benefits, too: The technological advancements that came from beach driving during the early days in Daytona Beach were utilized in World War II.
James Gamble of Proctor & Gamble fame also wintered in Daytona Beach. The carriage home of his estate is now the August Seven Inn, and his hunting lodge is open for tours. Another famous Daytona Beach resident was Mary McLeod Bethune, who founded the historically black university Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach. Oprah Winfrey has mentioned that Dr. Bethune inspired her to open her girls’ school in South Africa. Bethune was the only woman in FDR’s groundbreaking “Black Cabinet” and was a close friend of Eleanor Roosevelt. In addition to learning about past residents like Bethune and Rockefeller’s rich history, visitors to Daytona Beach will experience great downtown and oceanfront shopping and dining and entertainment options, plus a wide range of museums, historical attractions and nightlife.