The Eco-Boat Tours at the Marine Discovery CenterThe Marine Discovery Center is a non-profit group encouraging healthy use of the Indian River Lagoon. Eco-Boat Tours depart from its location in New Smyrna Beach for a close-up look at the pelican rookery, swimming dolphins and varied wildlife that reside among the many mangrove islands. An informative narrative is provided by the Discovery Center's staff who are enthusiastic about the their mission to preserve this beautiful area. It's a lot of fun too. Kayak tours are also available and they even provide you with a kayak. Reservations are necessary. Get the details at their website.
Afterwards, head over the draw bridge toward the beach and enjoy an early supper at Breakers, located right on the Atlantic. They offer seafood and 17 kinds of burgers, so you'll have plenty of choices.
Marine Discovery Center
Ponce InletIf you travel south on Atlantic Avenue, you'll end up in historic Ponce Inlet (drive the speed limit, the police are particular there). There you'll find a museum at the Historic Lighthouse, a fun beachside park where the surfers congregate, and the wonderful Marine Science Center that rescues and rehabilitates sea turtles and sea birds. A great area to explore.
On the river, approacing the inlet, is the Inlet Harbor Restaurant. It's a local attraction featuring live music, a gift shop, a seafood menu, and an expansive dock overlooking the Halifax where you can enjoy a drink or a meal while watching a beautiful sunset. Click Here for the Inlet Harbor Restaurant's website.
The Daytona International SpeedwayInternational Speedway Blvd near I-95
NASCAR fans or anyone interested in learning about America's new #1 spectator sport will enjoy a trip to see the Speedway. Outside of it is The Daytona 500 Experience (formerly known as Daytona USA) attraction with computer games , computerized rides and exhibits including the actual car that won the Daytona 500 that year. It's too expensive really, so we recommend you skip it and instead purchase the tour of the racetrack that's sold at The Daytona 500 Experience's box office for $7.50. The tour will take you around the oval where the cars race at over 190 mph, through the infield where racefans become wild party animals the entire weekend of a race and end up in Victory Lane for some photo opportunites. You can also pickup some discount NASCAR souvenirs at the NASCAR outlet underneath the stands.
Click Here for
The Daytona International Speedway's website
Click Here for The Daytona 500 Experience's website
For a daredevil experience that's exciting, scary and fun (we've heard this from our friend Amy who's done it in Atlanta), buy 3 laps in a racecar going over 150 mph on the racetrack as the passenger of an experienced driver. The Richard Petty Driving Experience is in charge and the cost is $150. Call ahead to make sure it's going because the rides do go everyday 386 947 6530
Click Here for
the Richard Petty Driving Experience website
The classic Florida attraction is Silver Springs. That's were you ride in glass bottom boats over crystal clear water and look at the fish and the plants as your captain presents an amusing narrative. On another boat ride, you'll go by the area inhabited by wild monkeys - we were lucky enough to see one while we were there. Silver Springs has a lovely collection of alligators and a giraffe too. You get to Silver Springs from Daytona Beach by driving on a country road through some national forests, and the trip takes about 90 minutes. Take State Road 40 west and look for the signs for Silver Springs. Discount coupons might be on the Silver Springs website. It's a really fun place to see.
Click Here for Silver Springs website
Kennedy Space Center Tour
That's an actual Saturn rocket on display at the Kennedy Space Center - just one of the interesting features on the tour of the Kennedy Space Center. The tour involves taking a bus all over the Space Center and stopping in selected areas for special activites; our favorite was the simulated-space-shuttle-blast-off ride. The Space Center is about 60 miles south of Daytona in Cocoa Beach. Chect out its website for all the details.
Click here for the Kennedy Space Center Tour website
That's New Smyrna Beach across Ponce Inlet.
The Mosquito Lagoon is over there
toward the right.
The Historic Ponce Inlet Lighthouse
The view from the top is spectacular
if you're brave enough to walk up all the steps
(it's the tallest lighthouse in Florida).
Bike Week (late February) and Biketoberfest (middle October) every year.
Don't be intimidated by these bikers, they're just a bunch of teddy bears all butched up. Biketoberfest, which we attended for the second time this year, is a constant parade of awesome machines, a bizarre of motorcycle fashions and bike accessories, plus special appearances by those dinosaur bands you've always wanted to see like Blue Oyster Cult, ZZ Top, Johnny Winters - wild acts like that. After experiencing the uninhibited lifestyles of the bikers, you might want to become one yourself.
Click Here for the Biketoberfest website
Click Here for the Bike Week website
SpeedweekThis week-long festival kicks off the NASCAR season. It's the week preceeding the Daytona 500 and there something different to celebrate everyday. If you're not camping at the Speedway, watch out because the hotel rooms become very pricey during this event. Check out The Speedway's website for the complete schedule.
EXCURSIONSSightseeing adds to the fun of a Florida vacation, and there are many entertaining sightseeing opportunities near Daytona Beach. Here are some gay favorites.
Blue Spring State Park2100 West French Avenue
Orange City, Florida 32763
During the winter months, manatees seek refuge in the water of Blue Spring which is a constant 72 degrees year around. Above is a picture of a manatee we took on a chilly December day - that's how close-up you can get to observe the graceful manatees. In the warmer months, the manatees return to the St. Johns River and park visitors can swim or skin dive in the crystal clear spring waters. There are a variety of activites available there. Check out the park's website for that information and directions. The park is about 30 minutes west of Daytona Beach off I-4.
Click Here for the Blue Spring State Park website
America's oldest city, St. Augustine, is about 90 minutes north of Daytona Beach. Its historic areas have been beautifully preserved. For the most scenic outing, drive there vai A-1-A where gorgeous vistas of the Atlantic Ocean will impress you all along the way. About midway on the journey, you'll pass by Marineland, once a giant salt water aquarium tourist attraction. Built in 1937, Marineland's futurist look seems modern even today. Now Marineland features a dolphin and human interactive aquarium where members of the public can swim or even have their weddings performed with dolphins as the guests. Gay marriage is unconstitutional in Florida; but the dophins probably don't care. Check the Marineland website for the most current information.
Click Here for the website for St. Augustine
Click Here for Marineland's website
WHERE TO GO SHOPPING
GroceriesFor the lowest prices, check out the Super Wal-mart which is at the interesection of Nova Road and Belville (Northwest corner), south from INTERNATIOAL. It's one of the modern Wal-Marts with a more pleasing decor inside.
For a better selection, there's Publix, but they're hard to find, so here are some addresses to help you out
The liquor store to go to is the ABC chain. You'll need to enroll in their price card program (it's easy) for some discounts but for others you won't need to. Here are the addresses of two.
Hull's Seafood Market
111 W Granada Blvd.
(take US 1 North from Daytona Beach, turn right on Granada and Hull's is a few block before the big bridge)
A huge variety of fresh local seafood; open everyday until 6pm
Click Here for Hull's Seafood Market's website
TARGET is #1 for the gays and lesbians and there are 2 excellent TARGETS in Daytona. Both are located near I-95. the Super Target is next to the Lowe's on Dunlawton heading west (look for the small sign beside the road for Lowe's) and the regular Target is on INTERNATIONAL heading west beyond the Speedway.
Car RepairsOrlando & Sons Car Repair Center
586 S. Yonge St.
386 677 9971
Once the battery in our Park Avenue ran down and our realtor Debbie recommended Orlando & Sons. We were pleased with their service and reasonable price - so if you encounter an automotive breakdown and need somewhere for the auto club to tow you, try there. Yonge Street, by the way, is what US 1 is called in Ormond Beach. From Daytona Beach, go north - it's not that far away.
Shuttle Bus Service to the Orlando AirportDaytona Orlando Airport Shuttle
665 Beville Road
Daytona Orlando Transit Service
1034 North Nova Road
Many discount airlines fly from the Orlando Airport, so the prices are often way lower than flying directly into Daytona Beach. For $30-something one way, these shuttle bus services will get you to the Orlando departure terminals in about 1 1/2 hours. For departure schedules, check the shuttles' websites.
Click here for Daytona Orlando Airport Shuttle's website
Click here for the DOTS - Daytona Orlando Transit Service's webite
Just for Fun
Outdoor Farmers' MarketEvery Saturday morning from 9am until noon produce vendors assemble on City Island offering low prices on fresh vegetables and more. It's a great place to save a lot on tomatoes and especially oranges and grapefruit and pick up a present that will be appreciated by the folks back home.
City Island is across a little bridge from the Downtown Business Area. The big library is there.
The Daytona Beach Flea MarketTee shirts for $2, fresh produce, cell phone caddies that look like a thong - those are a sample of the magnitude of bargains available at the weekend flea market that advertises over 3 miles of wares. It's open Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 9 til 5. Most of it is not air-conditioned, so dress cool. The Flea Market is just West of !-95 off INTERNATIONAL. Take a left at Tomoka Farms Road. Click here for The Daytona Beach Flea Market website
Downtown Used Furnitureintersection of Nova and Mason (south of INTERNATIONAL) in the Masonnova Plaza
(386) 239 9884
This store is a real find for those queens into retro. Lots of 70s & 80s stuff you'd find at quadruple-the-price in those trendy big city shoppes. For instance, we found a Magnovox console hifi stereo from the 1960s with a stackable turntable and it acturally works. It was $67.
the best way to listen to records - remember those
|If you have any suggestions or comments, please let me know.
Betty Jack DeVine BettyJack@gaytona.com