Because of its popularity among race fans, motorcycle enthusiasts, spring breakers, and summer vacationers, Daytona Beach is often overlooked by many boomers as they search for a Florida retirement destination that will fit their ideal lifestyle. However, those popular reasons for visiting Daytona Beach are really just scratching the surface of what residents enjoy here throughout the year.
Located just over an hour northeast of Orlando, this oceanfront destination provides residents with everything they could want from a big city on the beach while still maintaining the quaint feel of a small town atmosphere. Let's wade out into the water and see what Daytona Beach has to offer!
Daytona Beach History
The area that would become Daytona Beach was originally settled as a citrus and sugar cane plantation by Samuel Williams. That plantation operated from 1787 all the way up until it burned down in 1835. The area was then purchased by Mathias Day, Jr. in 1871 and a small community developed around the hotel he built there.
Local residents decided to name the new town after Day, and things really took off in the late 1880s when Henry Flagler's Florida East Coast Railroad started offering easy access to the area. Shortly after the turn of the century, Daytona Beach had already become a popular tourist destination that was earning the reputation as “The World's Most Famous Beach.”
You also can't talk about the history of Daytona Beach without mentioning that the hard-packed sand here made it a popular spot for early auto races. There were a number of racing firsts that happened in Daytona Beach over the years, and any NASCAR fan will tell you how important “Daytona” is to their heart.
Daytona Beach Lifestyle
Attracting and entertaining tourists is the root of a major portion of the Daytona Beach lifestyle. The region plays host to two NASCAR races each year, as well as all kinds of auto-racing events. Then there are the huge Daytona Bike Week and Daytona Jeep Beach events that attract people from all over the globe.
But while many locals do participate in the fun during these busy weeks, it is important to realize that most year-round residents have a much calmer lifestyle that makes use of all of the local parks and beaches. You can do everything from standup paddleboarding in the Atlantic Ocean to hiking through the woods of Doris Leeper Spruce Creek Preserve here in Daytona Beach.
Daytona Beach Culture
Because it is one of the most popular destinations along Florida's Atlantic Coast, there is plenty of arts and culture to go around in Daytona, starting with historic landmarks like the Ponce Inlet Lighthouse.
Residents here can spend hours exploring destinations like the Halifax Historical Museum, the Museum of Arts & Sciences, and the Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art. On top of that, there are always exciting performances happening at the Daytona Beach Bandshell, the Peabody Auditorium, and the Daytona Playhouse.
Daytona Beach Shopping
If unique boutique shopping is what you are looking for, your first destination for shopping should be the Riverfront Shops of Daytona Beach. Here you will find more than 60 stores selling a wide range of merchandise in a beautiful, waterfront setting.
And if you are looking for more of a mall-style shopping experience, then you can choose from the Volusia Mall or the Tanger Outlets, which are both easy to access and packed with popular stores.
Daytona Beach Dining
Because Daytona Beach is such a popular tourist destination, local residents have the benefit of being completely surrounded by outstanding restaurants.
One of the most popular choices in the area is always Caribbean Jack's, which is located right on the water and is a perfect spot to enjoy local favorites like gator bites and coconut shrimp.
There are plenty of seafood options in the area, but if you are in the area, you should definitely go see my friends at Millie's and get a fish sandwich or the shrimp and grits. When I lived in Daytona, I would eat there multiple times a week, and it's a must-visit whenever I return. Tell them Ryan sent you!
If you're looking for upscale dining, it doesn't get much better than The Cellar. Located in the former home of President Warren G. Harding, The Cellar Restaurant is the perfect treat for any special occasion.
Where to Retire in Daytona Beach
Latitude Margaritaville, a partnership between Minto Communities and Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville brand, is one of the most talked about Florida 55+ communities.
Amenities include a fully outfitted gym / Spin Room, aerobics room with virtual personal trainer, indoor whirlpool spa and lap pool, Latitude Town Square where you’ll find the Bandshell with live music, The Last Mango Theater includes a banquet hall with stage for performances and dancing, Barkaritaville Pet Spa, Coconut Telegraph Business Center, Latitude Bar & Chill Restaurant, Changes in Attitude Bar, Paradise Pool with beach entry, cabanas, and tiki huts, plus, an amenity that you don’t see every day…your very own private beach club! Home prices start right around $300k.
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Many people think of Daytona Beach as a tourist destination, but many boomers who choose to retire here have realized that there is a whole lot more than meets the eye once you dig down a little bit below the surface here. If that is something that sounds appealing to you, then Daytona Beach should definitely be on your shortlist!
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