See Rock City

See Rock City

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Daytona Beach, FL

From top, left to right: Welcome sign when entering Daytona Beach; Daytona Beach Bandshell; Ocean Walk Shoppes; Daytona Beach Pier; Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Beach is a city in Volusia County, Florida, USA. According to 2006 U.S. Census Bureau estimates, the city has a population of 64,421. Daytona Beach is a principal city of the Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Florida Metropolitan Statistical Area, which the census bureau estimated had a 2006 population of 496,575. Daytona Beach is a prinicipal city in the Fun Coast region of the state of Florida.

Daytona Beach Seal

The city is historically known as having one of the few beaches in the world where the hard packed sand allows motorized vehicles to drive on the beach in restricted areas. This hard packed sand made Daytona Beach a mecca for motorsports, with the old Daytona Beach Road Course having hosted races for over 50 years. This course was replaced in 1959 by the Daytona International Speedway. The city is also the headquarters for NASCAR and the Grand American Road Racing Association.

Nickname(s): The World's Most Famous Beach

Daytona Beach is a year-round family-friendly resort area, but could also accurately be called a seasonal town, with large groups of out-of-towners descending upon the city for various events, most notably Speedweeks in early February when over 200,000 NASCAR fans come to attend the season-opening Daytona 500. Other events include the NASCAR Coke Zero 400 race in July, Bike Week in early March, Biketoberfest in mid October. In the past Daytona Beach catered to spring breakers, but in recent years most of the vacationers have migrated to other sites, like Panama City Beach.


The area was once inhabited by the Timucuan Indians, who lived in fortified villages. War and disease, however, would decimate the tribe. Florida was acquired from Spain by the United States in 1821, although permanent settlement was delayed until after the Second Seminole War from 1835 to 1842. When the Civil War ended, Florida experienced a boom in tourism.

Aerial Photograph of City Island And Islanders Ball Park

The city was founded in 1870 and incorporated in 1876. It was named for its founder, Matthias D. Day. In 1886, the St. Johns & Halifax River Railway arrived in Daytona. The line would be purchased in 1889 by Henry Flagler, who made it part of his Florida East Coast Railway. The separate towns of Daytona, Daytona Beach and Seabreeze merged as "Daytona Beach" in 1926, at the urging of civic leader J.B. Kahn and others. By the 1920s, it was dubbed "The World's Most Famous Beach".

View of Atlantic Avenue : Daytona Beach, Florida, 1919

Daytona's wide beach of smooth, compacted sand attracted automobile and motorcycle races beginning in 1902, as pioneers in the industry tested their inventions. On March 8, 1936, the first stock car race was held on the Daytona Beach Road Course. In 1959, William France created NASCAR and the Daytona International Speedway to replace the beach course. Automobiles are still permitted on certain areas of the beach, at a maximum speed of 10 mph.

"Cut-away" display of a NASCAR race car on display inside "Daytona USA".

"The World's Most Famous Beach"

Carriages on the beach in Seabreeze, FL, 1906

The city and its beaches, lined with hotels, motels, condominiums and houses, attract over 8,000,000 tourists each year. In a wide variety of price ranges, hotel and motel rooms are typically plentiful even during special events. Daytona Beach has high security around its main hotel locations, with multiple cameras filming hotel and beach areas. It is one of the few places in the world where a car can be driven on an ocean beach. Most other driving beaches require 4 wheel drive or other special equipment.

Stock car racing on the beach: Daytona Beach, Florida, 1947

During motorcycle events (Bike Week and Biketoberfest), several thousand bikers from all over the world visit the greater Daytona Beach area. While the city is often associated with spring break, the efforts of the local government to discourage rowdiness, combined with the rise of other spring break destinations, have nearly ended Daytona's former preeminence as a spring break destination.

Daytona International Speedway

Special events that draw visitors to Daytona Beach include:

Speedweeks (Daytona 500 NASCAR race, Rolex 24 sports car race, and others)

Coke Zero 400, NASCAR race on or around July 4 (Traditionally called the Pepsi 400 or Firecracker 400)

Daytona Beach Bike Week Daytona 200 motorcycle races, bike shows and biker reunion in March

Biketoberfest in October

Turkey Run car show and events during Thanksgiving weekend (Traditionally called the Turkey Rod Run)

* Spring break (date varies, usually the first and second week of March)

Daytona Beach is also home to the headquarters of NASCAR, Grand-Am, International
Speedway Corporation
, United States Tennis Association in Florida, and the LPGA.

Geography And Climate

View of Beach St. South, 2007

The city of Daytona Beach is split in two by the Halifax River lagoon, part of the Intracoastal Waterway, and sits on the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered on the north by Holly Hill and Ormond Beach and on the south by Daytona Beach Shores, South Daytona and Port Orange. The major highways that serve the city are the east-west Interstate 4 and the north-south Interstate 95, which intersect near the city. Other major roads in the city include US 92/International Speedway Boulevard, U.S. 1/Ridgewood Avenue, State Road 40 and A1A/Atlantic Avenue.

Bill Milam in his stock car : Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach has a humid subtropical climate, typical of the southeastern United States. Summers are hot and humid with highs usually in the 90s and a heat index often exceeding 100 degrees. Thunderstorms are frequent in summer afternoons and the hot, humid weather can last right through the fall months. Winters are dry and mild, marked by a constant series of cold fronts and warm-ups. Temperatures dip into the low 30s and upper 20s on rare occasion, and freezes are not common. Frost occurs a few times a year mainly in the inland areas, but is rare along the beaches. Snowfall is extremely rare. Temperatures in spring are famously pleasant with warm afternoons, cool evenings, and far less humidity. This beach-going weather attracts tourists back to the beaches usually by early March.

Motorcycle competitors line up for the race : Daytona Beach, Florida, 1947

Despite its warm location, there were a few catastrophic freezes in the area's history. Early settlers only left vague records, but severe freezes were indicated on: Jan. 2-3, 1766; Feb. 7-8, 1835; and Jan. 16, 1857. The cold weather was so severe that crops such as orange trees were killed and several plantation owners abandoned the area as a result.

Band shell and world's largest open-air theater : Daytona Beach, Florida, 1950

Hurricanes and Tropical storms

Wrecked phone booth in Daytona Beach, located at the corner of highways US-92 and FL-A1A. Damage caused by 2004 Hurricane Frances.

Clock tower : Daytona Beach, Florida, 1953

Because of Daytona Beach's proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the city has a significant chance of receiving hurricanes and tropical storms every hurricane season. However, prior to 2004, major hurricanes are only recorded as skirting by the coast of Daytona Beach without any direct hits.

View of the Pier and the Midway : Daytona Beach, Florida

Hurricane Floyd passed along the Florida coast in September 1999, which caused significant beach erosion and collapsed about 200 ft. section of the Daytona Beach Pier.

Rats Hole Custom Bike Show entries parked for judging. 2006

The 2004 Hurricane season was particularly tumultuous in the Daytona Beach area. Hurricane Charley was a very fast-moving, compact storm, which made landfall near Port Charlotte, Florida, on August 13, swept across the state and hit Daytona Beach from the inland before reentering the Atlantic Ocean. Hurricane Frances was a very large storm in size, which moved made landfall at Hutchinson Island South, Florida (near Port St. Lucie, Florida) in the early hours of September 5, and caused a significant amount of collateral damage. Portions of Daytona Beach were without electricity or phone service for ten days following Frances due to downed lines or shorted transformers. Just three weeks later, Hurricane Jeanne formed in the Atlantic Ocean and made landfall only six miles from the same spot Frances hit, at Hutchinson Island South, Florida, on September 26. Following the 2004 hurricane season, the names Charlie, Frances, and Jeanne were all retired from use.

Looking west along Main Street from intersection with South Ocean Avenue during 2006 Bike Week : Daytona Beach, Florida

Rogue Wave

On July 3 1992, a 27 mile long Rogue wave hit the Volusia County beaches. The wave's range was from Ormond Beach in the north, to New Smyrna Beach on the south. The crest was 18 feet high and centered at Daytona Beach. Sailboats crashed ashore onto cars and many people suffered cuts and bruises from glass and debris. Two people required hospitalization and 200 vehicles were damaged. 75 injuries were reported. The prevailing theory is that an underwater landslide caused the rogue wave, although others have theorized that it was the result of a squall line.

A postcard depicting Daytona's Ridgewood Avenue, c. 1915


Daytona Beach Skyline, from the Seabreeze Bridge, 2007

The Museum of Arts and Sciences is the primary cultural facility for Daytona Beach and Volusia County. Other museums located in the city include the Southeast Museum of Photography and the Halifax Historical Museum. The Museum of Arts and Sciences is actually a collection of museums and galleries and includes the Klancke Environmental Complex, the Cuban Museum, Root Family Museum featuring one of the largest Coca-Cola(R) collections in the world, the Dow American Gallery and the Bouchelle Center for Decorative Arts which together form what is probably one of the finest collections of furniture and decorative arts in the Southeast. There are also changing exhibitions and a new children's science center planned to open in 2008.

Custom trike on display at the speedway during Bike Week 2006 : Daytona Beach, Florida

Daytona Beach in popular culture

Novels set in Daytona Beach include:

Day Number 142 (1974) by Edgar A. Anderson

Last Cruise of the Nightwatch (1956) by Howard Broomfield

Kick of the Wheel (1957) by Stewart Sterling

There have been a number of movies based on Daytona Beach, usually with a racing theme. The most recent example was the 1990 hit Days of Thunder, parts of which were filmed in Daytona Beach and nearby DeLand.

View of Daytona Beach from the water picture, 1970

Chris Rea wrote the song Daytona which was in his 1989 album The Road to Hell


Posted speed limit on Daytona Beach

Cars parked on Daytona Beach, 1957

A large part of the Daytona Beach area economy is involved in the tourist industry. Over 8 million visitors came to the Daytona Beach area in 2004.

The Oleander Inn : Daytona Beach, Florida, 1950

The area's economy includes other industries besides tourism, such as manufacturing. Daytona Beach provides a dynamic business environment with opportunities for the development and growth of smaller, home grown businesses and large corporate enterprises. It's a community with a talented and diverse workforce. Daytona Beach has industrial sites within an enterprise zone and sites within a foreign trade zone adjacent to Daytona Beach International Airport. A medical office park provides additional sites. Prime Interstate 4 and Interstate 95 sites are available with excellent access to road, air, rail and water transportation.

Sun and Sand Hotel Court : Daytona Beach, Florida, 1950

Companies and organizations that have their corporate headquarters or a major presence in the area:

Advanced Ordnance

Brown & Brown Inc. (Insurance)

Consolidated Tomoka Land Company

Crane Cams

ACT Corporation - Enrichment Industries

Halifax Health

International Speedway Corporation

Gambro-Renal Products

Ladies Professional Golf Association



Ocean Design

Piedmont Plastics

Raydon Corporation

SunTrust Bank

X1R (auto lubricants)


Public primary and secondary education is handled by Volusia County Schools. Daytona Beach has two public traditional high schools, Seabreeze High School and Mainland High School. Some of the larger private schools include Father Lopez Catholic High School.

The life-sized Wright Flyer statue is located at the Daytona Beach campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Colleges and universities

Bethune-Cookman University
Daytona State College
Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
University of Central Florida, Daytona Beach Campus

Vocational schools

The Airline Academy - Offers flight training for pilots and other airline professionals.
Keiser College
WyoTech (formerly AMI) Offers automotive repair, motorcycle repair, and marine repair training.
Phoenix East Aviation - Offers flight training for pilots.


Passenger airline services are located at Daytona Beach International Airport (DBIA), which is centrally located within the city, adjacent to Daytona International Speedway. The city first located its airport at this location in 1930, with terminals being constructed in 1952 and 1958. The present facility was constructed in 1992 at the cost of $46 million, and includes both a Domestic terminal and an International terminal. Despite the new facilities, DBIA has found difficulty in attracting and retaining carriers, having seen Continental Airlines, AirTran Airways, and United Airlines discontinue flights to Daytona in 2007 and 2008.

Old News-Journal Building : Daytona Beach, Florida, 1950

Current passenger airlines serving DBIA include Delta Air Lines, with service non-stop to Atlanta, GA and US Airways, flying non-stop to Charlotte, NC. Both carriers offer connecting service from those cities to destinations worldwide.

International flights from Daytona Beach are available to destinations in the Bahamas through air-taxi and charter services Airgate Aviation and IslandPass. Non-stop flights are available from DBIA to Marsh Harbour, Treasure Cay, and North Eleuthera.

Daytona Beach civic center made of coquina during the WPA, 1940

DBIA is heavily used for the purpose of general aviation, largely due to Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, whose campus is located at the airport.


Other airports nearby are Orlando International Airport and Jacksonville International Airport, both of which are approximately one and one half hours away.


The Volusia County Parking Garage in Daytona Beach provides a place for visitors to park and walk around.

Daytona Beach is easily accessible by I-95 that runs North and South and I-4 connecting Daytona Beach with Orlando and Tampa. U.S. 1 (Ridgewood Avenue) also passes through Daytona Beach. A1A is a scenic North/South route along the beach.


The Volusia County Parking Garage is located at 701 Earl Street at North Atlantic Avenue (A1A). The garage is strategically located, next to the Ocean Center, Daytona Lagoon, and across the street from the Hilton Hotel and Ocean Walk Shoppes. Over one thousand parking spaces are available inside the garage, which also houses an intermodal transfer station for VoTran. Pricing varies at different times of the year.

Gilbert Hotel: Main Street and Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, 1938


Passenger railroad service to Daytona Beach was established no later than 1889 by the Jacksonville, St. Augustine and Halifax River Railway, predecessor of the Florida East Coast Railroad (FEC). Passenger trains continued calling at Daytona Beach till 1968, when the FEC terminated passenger operations system-wide.

Daytona beach and famous auto speedway,

Daytona Beach is served by Amtrak by way of a Thruway Motorcoach connection between the beachside and Amtrak's DeLand Station, 28 miles to the west. There, the service connects northbound with train 92, the Silver Star, and train 98, the Silver Meteor. Southbound connections from Daytona Beach are limited to the Silver Meteor's southbound train 97. The DeLand - Daytona Beach service is Amtrak's only Florida Thruway Motorcoach route provided by a taxi-cab, rather than a bus.

Notable inhabitants:

Dan Allen, comedian

Duane Allman and Gregg Allman, musicians

Lee Apperson, body builder and former Mister America

Fulgencio Batista, 19th Cuban President

Vince Carter, basketball player

Ed Charles, former Major League Baseball player

Bill France, founder of NASCAR

Danielle Harris, actress

Ryan Lochte, 2004 Olympic medalist in swimming

Mark Martin (racecar driver), NASCAR driver

Mary McLeod Bethune, civil rights activist

Walter M. Miller, Jr. - Author of A Canticle for Leibowitz

Kevin Nash, professional wrestler

Ransom Eli Olds, automobile pioneer

Josef Papp, engineer

Ron Rice, former owner/founder of Hawaiian Tropic

Glen "Fireball" Roberts, former NASCAR driver

Bob Ross, artist and television host

David Sholtz, 26th governor of Florida

Mike Skinner, NASCAR driver

Howard Thurman, author and theologian

Rickie Weeks, MLB player for the Milwaukee Brewers

T. K. Wetherell, president of Florida State University

Robert Wright, musical theater writer

Aileen Wuornos, serial killer executed in 2002.

Smokey Yunick, mechanic and motor racing innovator

Points of interest:

Daytona 500 Experience

Daytona Beach Bandshell and Oceanfront Park Complex

Daytona International Speedway

Daytona Lagoon Water Park

Halifax Historical Museum

Jackie Robinson Ballpark

Main Street Pier

Mary McLeod Bethune Performing Arts Center and Visual Arts Gallery

Museum of Arts and Sciences

News Journal Center

Southeast Museum of Photography

The Ocean Center

List of Registered Historic Buildings in Daytona Beach, Florida

External Links:

City of Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach Chamber of Commerce

Daytona Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau

Daytona In Pictures: