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Daytona Beach Travel Guide, Florida

A couple of miles away from Miami, Daytona Beach is a town with a similar fame, a favorite destination for VIPs, but also for tattooed motorcyclists and pierced spring-breakers, with a famous beach and an even more famous racing center, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing or NASCAR for short. People have flocked to Daytona Beach for more than a century to either watch or take part in racing on the beach. And even if now there are some restrictions as where you can drive your car due to environmental protection rules, Daytona’s residents’ appetite for racing has not diminished.

The beachfront area around the famous Main Street Pier boasts resort and entertainment facilities and lots of shops and it is especially crowded when racing enthusiasts come for the big competitions, during spring break when college students overrun the palace, during Bike Week or Biketoberfest. If you want to visit Daytona Beach during these periods make sure you buy tickets to major events in advance and have a reservation at a hotel otherwise you won't be able to find a vacant room. This is what all racing fans do if they want to see the Daytona 500, the Pepsi 400 or Daytona USA, a motor-sports entertainment attraction.

Opened in 1959, 4 miles west of the beach, the Daytona International Speedway is the main attraction of the city and the reason for its fame. The track can accommodate more than 150,000 fans and presents major racing events, automobile and motorbike testing and other events throughout the year.

It is a place visited even by non-racing fans and they can walk around to see the track during non-race days or take the guided tram tours from World Center of Racing Visitor Center and explore the facility. If you want to stay at the visitor center you will have plenty of choices: go to buy souvenirs at one of the many shops specialized in selling them, relax in a snack bar, but don’t miss the Daytona USA, an interactive motor-sports attraction that traces the history of racing in the city and on display there is even a car that actually won Daytona 500. Children can play radio or television announcer by calling the finish of a race.

If you would like to experience what a race car driver feels while driving his car there are fabulous simulators that that combine motion, video, projection, and sound that can give you the ultimate virtual experience. For the ones that prefer reality they can come from May to October to take advantage of the Richard Petty Driving Experience Ride-Along Program and they can sit next to a professional driver and make three laps around the track in a stock car at about 115 mph.

In a city where racing is king you would hardly expect to find a good art museum, but there is. It is located in a former bank with a wonderful neoclassical architecture and it is home to model cars, a mural of Old Florida wildlife, an eclectic collection including tools and household items from the Spanish and British periods and about 10,000 historic photographs.

As far as entertainment is concerned there are other options where the adrenalin level is not as high as in racing. You can have a good time at the Peabody Auditorium, the major venue for symphonic concerts and Broadway musicals or at the Oceanfront Bandshell that hosts big-name concerts. For the more non conformists there’s Main Street and Seabreeze Boulevard featuring plenty of bars and clubs and dancing fans can exercise their steps on live music at Rockin' Ranch.

Whether you’re seeking sun, fun, adrenaline, or tranquility, you’ll find just what you’re looking for in Daytona Beach.

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