Once known as the Spring Break Capital of America and for the Daytona 500—the motorized equivalent of the Kentucky Derby or Boston Marathon—Daytona Beach has worked hard to let tour operators know that it’s more than just pretty beaches (23 miles of them to be exact).
While Daytona International Speedway is generally associated with the February NASCAR classic, it offers tour operators and their clients plenty to do any time of the year, from a daily tour of the Speedway grounds to a stroll through the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
A switch from revving engines to amusement rides and attractions isn’t that much of a stretch in Daytona Beach. For a touch of nostalgia, take your group to the Boardwalk and Pier. On Saturday nights between Memorial Day and Labor Day, they can enjoy a dazzling fireworks display; the rest of the year, they will have to content themselves with concerts, street performers, food and fun.
Other activities that appeal to group travelers are eco-tours that showcase some of Florida’s most endangered species, from turtles to manatees, and a visit to the Marine Science Center.
Just south of Daytona, the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse is the tallest in Florida at 175 feet. Your group may have to go single file to climb the 203 steps to the top, but it’s worth it for the panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.
If the lighthouse, built in 1887, is something old, Daytona also has something new: One Daytona. The massive complex of shops, restaurants and entertainment venues was scheduled to open in late 2017, but Hurricane Irma pushed back the opening, which is now scheduled for early 2018.
Finally, tour operators should know that Daytona is the Festival Capital of Florida, celebrating everything from oysters to outdoor art. The Daytona Beach Blues Festival, held each October (in 2018 it's from Oct. 5 to 7) is one of the nation’s most prestigious.
Top photo: A segment of the 23 miles of beaches at Daytona Beach, Florida
Photo by Daytona Beach Area CVB