On the east side of the State of Florida lies a golden sand, a very long golden sand which is acclaimed to be The Most Famous Beach in the World.
As only a small town this place half way up the east coast of Florida is famous for two things, a very famous car race and a once very popular beach, claimed to be the most famous.
The car racing franchise of NASCAR (head-quartered here) hold an annual meeting at a large speedway track beside the airport in this town. Many of you may well have heard of the Daytona 500. The speedway dominates one side of the carriageway as you drive on the main road that passes the airport. It is indeed a very large race track which can hold many thousands of spectators. The stadium itself though just appeared to be like lots and lots of temporary scaffolding.
Streets take name privilege from this massive commercial sporting event as you see names such as “Speedway” and “Nascar” on the green overhead signs.
I must admit that I have close to zero interest in motor sport. Even the term “motor sport” strikes me as a paradox. That aside I did note with curiosity that the speedway holds daily tours at varying times. Had time being more suited I might have been able to try this out to find out more.
I did take a quick wander around the outside of the stadium and could appreciate the size of the place. Each section of the stadium was also endorsed with images and names of some famous drivers in the history of NASCAR. That just about summed up my speedway education for this trip.
My trip was work related so time for such motor sport related exciting adventures were limited.
My workplace for this trip was maybe a couple of miles from the speed track, even still I could clearly hear the thundering sound of cars going around the track. Apparently you can book to drive around the track in one of the race cars which is admittedly quite exciting for any driver.
Life’s a beach
Visiting Daytona Beach provided a more interesting attraction for me and that was indeed the beach. In fact, for some bizarre reason I couldn’t get a Nicki Minaj song (“Starships”) out of my head. My mind kept repeating the lyric “Let’s go to the beach, each”. It was like a calling and I had to make my way there.
On arrival I was a little surprised at one of the signs on an entrance to the beach claiming to be the most famous beach in the world. This was a little known fact on me and at first I put it down to typical American “bigging up” something and being boastful.
Prompted with curiosity I did perform a search on a well known search engine typing in “the most famous beach in the world”. Sure enough, second on the 845 million search results was Daytona Beach! It was actually the Wikipedia page that came second which makes reference to this claim.
Famous as a holiday spot in the past, the resort location still gains appeal periodically for Spring Break and a biker week. Locals tell me that the place has fallen out of favour in recent times to warmer climes further south on the Floridian coast. Temperatures in Daytona Beach can peak in the low 90′s F (low 30′s C) but still be susceptible to sun burn.
A population of around 61,000 people in the last census shows how small this town by residents is. Even still it is alleged that there were around 8 million visitors in 2004.
The place does have some notable free promotion in Hollywood as it has featured in the 1990 film “Days of Thunder” (clearly a speedway theme) and more recently in “Marley and Me”.
The beach is indeed quite impressive. Like a bore at a party it just goes on, and on, and on! Admittedly it is more exciting than a bore at a party (odd comparison I know) but this beach stretches for miles! It is fairly straight too so no coves to hide away in.
The beach is not only straight but noted for its compact sand which allows you to drive cars on the beach. It was this factor which historically allowed various car races on the beach.
Now it is a clean and pleasant beach. I was there in April and can say it was never overcrowded.
The place is probably famous now as much for being a Conference venue as anything. Hotels line the beach front yet no rooms were available for my visit by the beach. I soon found out that there was a massive cheer-leading contest going on that week. Hundreds if not thousands of school girls overrunning the town made it not such a quiet walk on the beach. Well at least it was better than thousands of pubescent lads walking around in tight fitting shorts, although there were one or two of those as well!
Along the beach side were numerous seaside tacky gift shops and a few fair rides. Commercialisation had struck but there was opportunity to move away from it since the beach was so long.
Talking of commercialisation, the main other appeal of the place I would say is the Volusia Mall. This is a rather long shopping centre (or “Mall” to Americans) based along International Speedway Blvd; yes you guessed it, this is opposite the racetrack. For a small town it has a pretty reasonable range of the big brands of shops. Not bad for somewhere which claims to have the most famous beach.
There are also some great seafood restaurants near the beach where you can enjoy what is truly fresh fish. Yum, yum.
Overall I enjoyed my trip to Daytona Beach. The length of the beach is staggering and indeed it is a pretty good beach.
I always thought that Bondi was the most famous beach in the world but now maybe not. Even if Daytona Beach is the most famous beach in the world I wouldn’t say it is the most beautiful.