VIBE: Active, Busy, Family Friendly
Sunglow Pier, 3701 S Atlantic Ave, Daytona Beach, FL 32118
Update April 9, 2023: Daytona Beach Shores is open for driving on the beach! It is about 4 miles south of Daytona Beach and one of the closest beaches to Orlando. You can drive on the beach for over 20 miles all the way up to the Daytona Beach Pier.
Although the Daytona Beach Shores area sustained hurricane damage, the city and county are working to make it safe for beach visitors. The beaches are open for driving. Jeep Beach week was a success. Get more information here and on the county website.
The Shores is a popular beach and less busy than the main beach where there is a boardwalk, shopping, and major hotels. You might think anything "Daytona" is speed and motorcycles. Not so! Although this post covers the main Daytona Beach area which is great for families, we love Daytona Beach Shores because the ocean is pretty, and the beach is less crowded. It's perfect for walking and biking and folks of all ages driving on the beach!
You don't need to plan a special road trip for Daytona Beach: just driving onto the beach is a road trip! The sand is flat and firm but varies as you drive up the coast. We began our drive on Daytona Beach Shores where the sand is a little lighter in color. It is a great ride for any car or pickup truck. Lots of people walk here because it's so easy on the feet and legs, even when you're barefoot.
Daytona Beach Shores Sand
As we continued to drive on the beach into the City of Daytona Beach near the pier the sand got harder and had a touch of red color in it. The driving was super easy! If you bring your bike when you visit, this is the perfect spot to get it out of the back of your pickup and start cycling.
Daytona Beach Ocean Water
The beach in the City of Daytona Beach is great for jumping the waves. Some of them almost knocked us over. At low tide, swimming is easier. If waves are not your thing, then Ponce Inlet is a preferred spot for calmer waters. Why? When the tide is out small lagoons form into tidal pools. They feel like a warm hot tub and are perfect to lie in. Children love to splash in them too.
Daytona Beach Parking
Parking and driving is a great experience on the flat sand of Daytona Beach. There is off-beach parking if you don't have a county admission sticker. We think it's worth the $10 daily fee just to chill right on the sand. We followed an awesome jeep all the way from Sunglow Pier up to the Daytona Beach Pier to get the complete beach driving experience. You can see from our photos that people aren't bothered at all by vehicle traffic: it's part of the Daytona Beach experience. Being lazy is too!
In the City of Daytona Beach there is no shortage of activities: Bass Pro Shop across from the Daytona International Speedway, shopping outlets and waterparks for kids! You'll also find plenty to do right on the beachfront. Surfing, sunning, playing frisbee or football, wind-surfing, fishing or eating (our personal favorite - you can grill on the beach). You can walk and bike for miles on the flat sand.
Vehicles must exit the beach when approaching the Daytona Beach Pier, but a few blocks up you can drive back on. Why not take a walk on the boardwalk and enjoy the bandshell, amusement areas, fireworks and shops. Play a game of mini-golf. Sorry, no dogs allowed here, but nearby New Smyrna Beach and Ponce Inlet have designated dog beaches.
Look Out! This Could Happen...
It can get quite crowded on both the City of Daytona Beach areas and Daytona Beach Shores. On weekends and holidays you may end up searching for a parking spot, even on the beachfront which stretches for over 20 miles. Parking spots are situated all the way up the beach so even if you have to drive a bit, it's likely you will find a place to pull in and enjoy your day. Watch out for rip tides (according to beach flags posted at the lifeguard stations) and drivers going too fast on the beach.
Trucks on Daytona Beach
If you want to see unique vehicles then Daytona Beach is the right place. We passed this unique Jeep Sahara Wrangler that had a heavy-duty trail roof rack. Jeep Beach week is in April: more information here.
Classic cars and trucks are what the Daytona Beach vibe is really about! Take a look at this raised Chevy Blazer with those wheels/tires. No way are we climbing into this lifted truck, but this guy in the photo looked like he had no problem.
What We Really Think About Daytona Beach Shores
Daytona Beach Shores is a great choice for a safe, fun, Atlantic Ocean beach experience. It's a bit crowded near the City of Daytona Beach, but it's a nice long beach perfect for driving or any other recreational activity. If you just want to sit and people-watch? It's one of the best for that because there is so much going on.
This beach is close to Orlando, Disney World and the Kennedy Space Center too. We love to eat at Bahama Breeze near the speedway and at various restaurants within the shops of One Daytona. You will never be bored! Find a rental car at Orlando International Airport.
Daytona Beach Shores Hotels
Daytona Beach Restaurants
Crabby Joe's Deck and Grill
Rock Bottom Brewery
The Cracked Egg Diner
Genovese's Italian Cafe
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Susan and Bruno are travel bloggers. We write about Florida beaches on every coast. Our opinions only.