Florida Guide > Days Out
Days Out – driving on Daytona Beach
Just about an hour’s drive from Orlando is Daytona Beach. The name alone instantly conjures up images of everything and anything to do with motor vehicles, speed and excitement. For many of us a quintessentially Floridian experience has to be to drive on the sands of this world famous beach.
Driving has happened on Daytona Beach since the dawn of the twentieth century, it is a very gently shelving beach, so offers large areas of open and hard packed sands. To begin with the beach was used by auto enthusiasts and motor bikers, keen to test their vehicles and push them to their limits. This quickly turned into more organised races, with the first stock car races occurring just before the outbreak of World War II.
At the very end of the 1950’s, Daytona International Speedway opened and the races moved to this course, rather than the sands. The Daytona Speedway still plays host to some classic racing events, like the Daytona 500 and Daytona Bike Week, so for those that love the smell of the exhaust fumes, there is plenty to entertain. Daytona becomes exceptionally busy during these major events, however, so if this isn’t your thing then it is probably best to avoid Daytona Beach at these times. Another peak time is Spring Break, when Daytona Beach becomes quite a party destination for the students taking a week long break from their studies.
You are still allowed to drive along Daytona Beach to this day, although the speed limit is now limited to a much more sedate 10 mph! The beach is open to cars virtually year round and there is a small charge to access the beach with your car, it may be best to check if the beach will be open during December and January.
So . . . what’s it like?
Well, it is definitely exciting and different. You make your way smoothly onto the sand and there is a distinct driving lane which you move along. Effectively, it could be considered, in some ways, to be like sitting in slow moving queues of traffic. Apart from the fact that you are crawling along, however, you do have to remember that you are driving on the beach! ! It is virtually compulsory to have the windows of your vehicle down and an arm crooked over the sill of the window, no excuses allowed. In some ways, the experience really is all about the setting. On one side of your vehicle are the breakers of the Atlantic Ocean rolling in, on the other the sand dunes with people sat beside and around their parked vehicles or camped out with sun loungers and sun umbrellas. In many ways it is quite surreal.
You are allowed to park on Daytona Beach, in between the driving lane and the sand dunes. You have to park at ninety degrees to the driving track, with many vehicles being front wheel drive, however, and this sand being looser there is the risk of getting stuck in the sand. If this happens (like it may have to this author! ) then you are more than likely to have other beach goers come along to your assistance and help you out.
Daytona Beach, itself, is maybe not somewhere that I would rush to for a day at the beach, ultimately Florida is blessed with many, many fine beaches and most of them will not have traffic! Like many of the other beaches, though, swimming at Daytona is an absolute pleasure. There are a couple of factors to consider for driving at Daytona Beach as well:
- Firstly, if you have rented a car, your may negate your car insurance so please check with your car rental agency; and
- Secondly, Daytona Beach is still an active and busy beach with many, many beach goers. Amongst them will be children who are much more excited about being on a beach than they are about watching for traffic. Please be very aware and careful.
Daytona Beach, the town itself, has somewhat of an air of faded glory, but as a Florida experience, driving on Daytona Beach is definitely way up there.
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