Daytona Beach - Beyond the Sand - Part 2
The sand on the beaches of Daytona Beach is densely packed, making it firm enough for a car to drive on. Racing fans may recall that the vaunted Daytona 500 NASCAR race had its genesis in shorter races that were run partially on the sand. There are numerous spots in the city where there's an entrance to the beach for motor vehicles and these are fully taken advantage of by visitors and locals alike. Once past the entry checkpoint you can just drive down the beach to have that experience or you can pull off to the side and park, put out your beach chair and enjoy the sun and surf. There's a charge to drive on the beach that is paid at the entry point; if you walk or bicycle in there is no charge. Of course there are other rules too like a modest speed limit.
The great Jackie Robinson was a man of many firsts and most importantly he was the first Black player in Major League Baseball. Fans can learn all about Jackie's career, including his collegiate sporting activities at UCLA, at the museum at the aptly-named Jackie Robinson Ballpark. Now the home of the minor league Daytona Tortugas, an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds, this is the very stadium where Robinson broke the color barrier by playing in the first integrated MLB spring training game in 1946. The museum features a very nice statue honoring Robinson (visible from the street anytime) as well as a series of informative installations that are behind the stadium's gates. It makes for the perfect place to kill two birds with one stone (a sort of double play!) by seeing the museum and then taking in a Tortugas game. Further information is here.
Since Daytona Beach is located on the Atlantic Ocean it's no surprise that the local restaurants serve up the sea's bounty every day. One unique restaurant is Crabby Joe's which is located on the Sunglow Fishing Pier. A longtime favorite with locals and visitors alike, Crabby Joe's features delicious breakfast items like Crab Cake Benedict and a Fisherman's Breakfast available with snapper, while Gator Bites, Coconut Shrimp, Mahi-Mahi and Clam Strips are on the lunch and dinner menus. But here's the really fun part; have your breakfast then step outside and walk down the pier a bit and do some angling. There's a fee to fish off the Sunglow Fishing Pier but you don't need to worry about bringing any gear; there's a fishing pole rental, a frozen bait shop, a place to clean your catch and other amenities. Note that outside food and beverage is not allowed on the fishing pier, you'll have to get those items at Crabby Joe's. Some of the fish that you may catch include whiting, trout, sail cat, tarpon and maybe even a shark! Find more info here.
Also called the Daytona Beach Bandshell, Oceanfront Bandshell is a historic venue where Gregg and Duane Allman often performed when they lived in Daytona Beach. Their style back then, remembered by many in the region, was garage rock that predated their soulful so-called Southern rock sound as the Allman Brothers Band. Just a short walk from a shopping area where there are also many restaurants, you can snap a photo of the bandshell pretty much any time. Live music is still heard at the bandshell, primarily on Friday and Saturday nights, and scheduled for this summer are a series of tribute shows featuring bands paying homage to performers such as the Bee Gees, Kid Rock, Guns N' Roses, Pat Benatar, Bad Company, Foreigner and Huey Lewis. The bandshell is just a couple of minutes away from the beach. Find more info here.
So that will keep you busy for a while! But there really is so much to do in Daytona Beach and surrounds and all you have to do to find it is look around. The two biggest events in Daytona Beach both happen in the same place, at the Daytona International Speedway. The famous NASCAR event the Daytona 500 takes place on Feb. 19, 2023 while the rock music blowout Welcome to Rockville takes place on the speedway's infield May 18-21, 2023. For help in planning your visit to Daytona Beach during either event or at any other time go here.
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