So, you’re headed to Daytona Beach with your family, but beyond NASCAR races, Bike Week and the beach, you’re not exactly sure what else there is to do. The answer: plenty! We can’t miss out mentioning the world-famous races and beautiful beaches, but check out our suggestions for other kid-friendly things to do in Daytona Beach, Florida.
Top Things to Do in Daytona Beach with Kids
Stretches and stretches of beautiful beach line the Atlantic Coast and areas of the Intracoastal Waterway- 23-miles in all. Pick a park (or pier), and enjoy the sand, sun and sea. The Daytona car races began on the beach in 1922, and they didn’t move to the speedway until the 1950’s. As tradition, they still allow driving on the beach in designated areas. Watch the kids while in the driving zones or move to a traffic-free area. There’s plenty of beach for everyone to enjoy 🙂
Daytona International Speedway
There’s nothing as thrilling as watching a NASCAR race live at the Daytona International Speedway. The crowd around you roars. You pick a favorite and watch in anticipation. There are accidents- usually in the laps nearing the end of the race, when the drivers let go and make their bid to win. If your child likes CARS, or just Hot Wheels, they’ll probably enjoy the Daytona 500. The recent renovations of the stadium have added food areas and plenty of bathrooms. This is noisy and crowded – not as noisy as the Gator Nationals, but be forewarned.
No races available? Racing fans can still enjoy the speedway on one of the guided tours offered. From a 30-minute Speedway Tour to a 3-hour VIP All-Access Tour.
The Daytona International Speedway is located at 1801 W International Speedway Blvd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114. Parking is off-site during races. See their website for race-day parking details. Rates for races & tours vary.
Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
Stop by Ponce Inlet Lighthouse, the 2nd tallest lighthouse on the East Coast (Cape Hatteras Lighthouse took first place 😉 Be sure to pick up a scavenger hunt sheet in the gift-shop entrance for the kids. On earth-level, you can poke around in the restored lighthouse keeper’s house and nearby barracks.
Sneak in a science lesson in refraction & reflection at the small (air-conditioned) museum filled with a display of lighthouse Fresnel lens. The pristine prisms provide a kaleidoscope of colors on a sunny day, and may make you want to wash your windows at home.
If you have energy to burn, climb the 203 steps of the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse for a breath-taking view of the Atlantic Ocean, Intracoastal Waterway and the surrounding areas.
Ponce Inlet Light House is located at 4931 S Peninsula Dr, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127. Fees: yes
Marine Science Center
Just minutes away from the Light House is the Ponce Inlet Marine Science Center. Explore the different exhibits and learn about artificial reefs, estuaries and other marine habitats in the area. There’s even a 1400 gallon stingray touch pool- if you are brave enough 😉 Hands-on, interactive learning in conservation and marine biology for all ages.
If you are having problems trying to explain why trash has become a big issue to your kids- stop by Turtle Terrace, the rehabilitation facility for sea turtles. You can see the actual items that were ingested by turtles that made them ill- like balloons.
Let the kids stretch their legs on the nearby nature trail. A quick walk to a boardwalk and observation tower with a view of the Intracoastal Waterway.
100 Lighthouse Dr, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127 Fees: yes
Lighthouse Point Park
This county-run beach park is the at the southern tip of Ponce Inlet. There’s 52 acres of recreation area. Fishing, nature trails, beach. If you look over the water at the point, you can see Smyrna Dunes Park. There’s no diving on the beach here, so if you were looking for that remote beach spot- you’ve found it! Bring a picnic lunch and spend the day. This is a pet-friendly beach, but Fido must stay on a leash.
5000 S Atlantic Ave, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127 Fee: $10 per vehicle
Take your bait and tackle and pick a spot- surf fishing is everywhere. Cast from the beach or pick a pier.
- Daytona Main Street Pier is located in the heart of the action at 1200 Main St, Daytona Beach, FL 32118. Fees: None
- Sunglow Fishing Pier is located at 3701 S Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118. Fishing fees applicable ($7 adults/$3 kids under 12). Rod rentals & bait available.
- Prefer some intracoastal fishing? Head off the beaten track to Ponce Preserve (see more about Ponce Preserve in Free Things to Do in Daytona Beach). It’s a hike down the boardwalk, but chances are you’ll have it all to yourself. Ponce Preserve is located at 4401 South Peninsula Drive
Ponce Inlet, FL 32127. Fees: none
- Fish the Halifax River at Highbridge Park in Ormond at 39 Highbridge Road, Ormond Beach. Highbridge is a one acre county park located on the Ormond Scenic Loop Trail.
Do you have a house of monkeys? Then you may enjoy a stop at the Daytona Zipline Park. Test your skills on an aerial obstacle course and fly through the trees at Tuscawilla Park on their 10-ziplines.
The Daytona Beach Zip Line Adventure Park is located at 1000 Orange, Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32114. Fees: Start at $27 + tax. Check their website for special deals and coupons.
Wait, you’re thinking- my kids can make pancakes at home! The Old Spanish Sugar Mill Grill & Griddle House in De Leon State Park is so unusual that it’s considered an attraction- and one of the yummiest. Inside the sugar mill, the griddles are set in the center of the tables and you can literally make your own pancakes. The servers provide pitchers of homemade batter- one with unbleached white flour, the other a special blend of 5-different stone ground flours (brown). Then they bring dishes of toppings- from fresh blueberries to chocolate chips, pecans and peanut butter. You get a quick tutorial from your server, pour your batter onto the hot griddle and add toppings, flip it to cook the other side- and bam- breakfast is served. There are sides of meats, eggs and other items (including lunch) on the menu as well, but the pancake making takes the prize at this popular restaurant. Be warned, the griddles are hot, so watch those little hands.
The Old Sugar Mill is such a popular restaurant, that wait times to be seated (no reservations) can get long, but De Leon Springs has a swimming area in a fresh water spring, nature trails and an eco-boat tour to keep you and the kids occupied. The Old Sugar Mill Grill & Griddle House is located inside De Leon Springs State Park at 601 Ponce De Leon Blvd , De Leon Springs, FL. 32130. State Park admission is required ($6 per vehicle) to access this unusual restaurant.
Top Free Things to Do in Daytona Beach with Kids
Everyone loves free stuff, right? You’re in luck, because there’s plenty of ways to spend your family time- without going broke in Florida’s famous beach town, that most people don’t even know! (That means less crowds!)
Daytona offers plenty of free parking areas with access to the beach. Some of the parks are located on the Atlantic side of the road, while others you will have to park and walk across. It will cost money to park around the Main Street Pier area. However, the ocean walk and pier are free. Take a stroll along the paved ocean walk. Play in the waves on the beach, catch a free concert at the Daytona Bandshell and watch twilight fall over Daytona from the boardwalk and pier.
Sun Splash Park
4-acre park for kids to play, splash and run free. Take advantage of this fee-free beach side park for the kids. Splash pad, playground, changing rooms. Sun Splash Park is located at
Ponce Inlet Preserve
This little 41-acre park is by far the gem of the area. Ponce Preserve stretches from the Atlantic all the way to the Intracoastal Waterway (Halifax River) and sets the perfect example of the diversity in coastal ecosystems. Cross the road (use the crossing flags) to reach the boardwalk to the Halifax River and explore the mangrove forest. Watch for mangrove crabs crawling up the trees. Though this is a sunny walk, there are a couple of shady shelters along the walk. There’s even a kayak launch for a paddle through the mangroves. Beware of the low tide if paddling, because you can get stuck in the mud.
Nature trails wind through ancient oaks and Indian shell mounds (middens) at the Green Mound State Archaeological Site in Ponce Preserve. There’s also a playground and also an exercise trail through the hardwood hammock. A sunnier and sandier trail leads through a palmetto scrub ecosystem and across South Atlantic Avenue with access to the beach. Although dogs are permitted in the park, they are restricted from the beach area. Parking is available
Ponce Preserve is located at 4401 South Peninsula Drive, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127. Parking is available at South Peninsula Drive and also at the beach access point on South Atlantic Avenue.
Ormond Memorial Gardens & Art Museum
Cars may be whizzing by on highway 40, but the foliage at Ormond Memorial Gardens provides a refuge from the city traffic. It was created in the 1940’s to honor World War Veterans. Take a pleasant wander through the paths in the gardens. A labyrinth walk beneath a covered pavilion provides a nice shady spot to relax. Bubbling creeks with turtles run beneath bridges and paths wind and twist up and around. Check out the peacock in the main fountain by the art museum and the bronze memorial to veterans by the turtle pond.
Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens
If someone told you about the dinosaurs near Daytona, you’d think they were loopy, but yes, there are dinosaurs, in the heart of a beautiful botanical garden. There’s a plaque by the dinos commemorating their creation back in 1948 for a short-lived attraction called “Bongoland”, and if you check out the ‘things to look for’ information at the front of the gardens, ‘Dinosaurs” makes the list.
Dinos aside, winding paths lead through the ruins of an old sugar mill. Nature trails take you through wild coffee plants in the woods and other paths circle through flowers and cross over bridges. There’s lots to see at Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens . Closed toed shoes are suggested. Dunlawton Sugar Mill Gardens is located at 950 Old Sugar Mill Road, Port Orange, FL 32129
Ormond Scenic Loop Drive
Ever had those times when you didn’t want to have to watch the kids like a hawk? The Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail drive gives you the perfect excuse. Strap the kids into their car seats and drive. This Florida Scenic Highway and National Byway is a 31-mile figure-8 drive through salt marshes and canopied old forests located just minutes from the beach. But you don’t have to do the whole drive. Tackle a portion and stop off at the state parks and historic sites along the way, or just drive and let nap-time unfold for the kiddos.
Start your drive at Highbridge Road in Ormond, Florida. There’s a free map available on the Ormond Scenic Loop & Trail website.
It may be hard to resist temptation on the Chocolate Tour at the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory– as you walk through their shop surrounded by delicious goodies to reach the tour, but there’s a free sample at the end of the tour. Learn about the fine art of chocolate making, where chocolate comes from and why dogs won’t get sick eating white chocolate. Really. Angell & Phelps have been making chocolate since 1925, so they know their stuff. The tour lasts 20 minutes. You get to choose your free sample from their choices at the end (good for kids ;), but be warned, it’s soo good that you may end up buying a treat to take home.
Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory is located in historic downtown Daytona Beach on 154 S Beach St. Street front parking is free, but limited to 2-hours.
For Arts & Science Fans
MOAS, the Daytona Museum of Arts & Sciences is a good way to escape the Florida storms. Art, history, memorabilia and cars. Kids will enjoy the planetarium, exploring real trains in a train station setting, and playing on the interactive, hands-on exhibits in the Children’s Museum. 352 S Nova Road, Daytona Beach, FL 32114. Fee: Yes
Have a budding artist in the family? Stop by the Cici & Hyatt Brown Museum of Art (Adjacent to MOAS) to view a collection of over 2,600 paintings, many Florida-themed. (Older kids) 352 S Nova Rd, Daytona Beach, FL 32114. Fee: Yes
Best Places to Eat in Daytona Beach with Kids
There are the usual chain-restaurants along South Atlantic Avenue to choose from, but If you don’t live at the beach, you inevitably will want to dine with that seaside view. A lot of the ‘beachy’ places are more bar-like come sundown, so if you have the kids, eat earlier and enjoy the sunset over the intracoastal waterway or with a walk on the beach (sunrise is on the Atlantic). Here are a few family-friendly suggestions:
- Bubba Gumps
One notable eatery is Bubba Gumps. If you are a Forest Gump fan, this is the place to go. Packed with memorabilia of the movie, there’s so much to see. The tables are set in different areas of the Forest Gump movie. The servers will hit up with Gump trivia. It’s definitely an experience. There’s even a statue of Forest on that park bench by the front door for the ultimate fan-selfie.
250 N Atlantic Ave Suite 120, Daytona Beach, FL 32118 at the Ocean Walk
- Johnny Rockets
Parking for Bubba Gumps & Johnny Rockets, and all Ocean Walk shopping & dining is in the parking garage across the South Atlantic Ave (fee)- cross via the pedestrian bridge
- Racing’s North Turn
Racing fans or even just car-lovers will adore this old-fashioned diner located at the north point where the race cars did their turn when they raced on the actual Daytona Beach.
4511 S Atlantic Ave, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127
- Hidden Treasure Rum Bar & Grill
Located on the south point of Ponce Inlet, this open air restaurant is a kitschy series of patio decks. You can even dine in a boat- built onto the restaurant (it won’t float away), with a view of the Intracoastal waterway. Just steps from the Ponce Lighthouse & Marine Science Center at 4940 S Peninsula Dr, Ponce Inlet, FL 32127.
- Aunt Catfish’s On the River
Simple southern cooking in a family-owned restaurant.. Tuck into some shrimp & grits, fried catfish or their famous cinnamon rolls & Boat Sinker Pie. All with views of the Halifax River 4009 Halifax Dr, Port Orange, FL 32127
Places to Stay
From campgrounds to condos to chain hotels, there are plenty of places to stay in the Daytona Beach area. Visit the Daytona Beach Visitor Center for a full listing
Can I Take My Kids to Daytona During Spring Break?
Most parents want to know if it’s good to bring their kids to Daytona during Spring Break. Yes, but the truth is- it’s packed- atleast the beach area & main pier. The traffic around there comes to a stand-still. The rooms are at peak rates. There are free concerts in the Daytona Bandshell (by the boardwalk) and that’s where the most crowds will be. But, the good thing is that there are plenty of beaches in and near Daytona to go around. Head up to Ormond (Gamble Rogers State Park is good), Flagler or St. Augustine/ Vilano Beach or farther south (Lighthouse Point Park)/ Smyrna Dunes Park to get away from the Spring Break crowds.
There’s plenty to do in Daytona Beach for kids- from hidden dinosaurs to climbing lighthouses, boardwalks to bridges and beyond. What do you plan to do on your next trip to Daytona Beach?
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