AOL Travel
Print

Daytona Beach Neighborhoods

While Daytona Beach proper is relatively small, the name is used to encompass a long, narrow strip of adjoining municipalities that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean between Flagler Beach and Titusville. Where you should go depends on what you want to do: The “Strip,” where Main Street hits the Atlantic Ocean down to about Speedway Boulevard, hosts the hardcore partying and also some nice hotels; farther south down through Daytona Beach Shores and Wilbur-By-The-Sea to Ponce Inlet is the most family-friendly territory. New Smyrna Beach is south of the inlet, a kitschy little beach town that never grew up. To the north of Daytona Beach are Holly Hill and Ormond Beach.

Mainland

Like most of Florida’s East Coast towns, Daytona Beach is in two parts: One part is on the mainland of the peninsula, while the actual beach portion is due east on a barrier island. Mainland encompasses the downtown area and anything west of the Halifax River.

The Strip

Once you cross over the Halifax River, you’re on the barrier island that fronts the ocean. Daytona Beach’s “strip” is centered where Main Street, which runs east and west, hits the ocean. There’s a small entertainment district here, dominated by four bars that attract a sometimes rowdy crowd. Ocean Walk Village, the Hilton Ocean Village and the cultural venue, the Ocean Center, are all here, along with a variety of small restaurants, some souvenir shops and fast-food joints.

Daytona Beach Shores

As you work your way south on Highway AIA from the Strip, the bars and stores give way to 1960s-era concrete block houses (on the landward side) and to high-rise hotels and condos on the beach side. Unless you’re staying in one of these, there’s not much reason to come down this way except to access the beach, which tends to be less crowded the farther south you go. Azure, the restaurant at The Shores Resort, is well worth the drive.

 

Wilbur-By-The-Sea

Although we haven’t been able to figure out who Wilbur was, the little town named for him is cute. It’s mostly notable as the place where the power elite from Orlando come to hang out and get sandy. Wilbur is mostly residential, and blends into Ponce Inlet where the high-rises begin again.

Ponce Inlet

This is the south end of the barrier island, and it’s home to some of the priciest real estate in Central Florida. Hawaiian Tropic founder Ron Rice has a home here. There’s a small working waterfront, with fishing boats, a boatyard and several restaurants, but its big attractions are the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse—a towering brick structure—and the beach. Down at this end, the beach is rarely crowded. The last access for cars is at Beach Street and the last few hundred yards north of the jetty that protects the inlet are closed to cars altogether.

 

Port Orange

This small town is on the mainland side opposite Ponce Inlet, and is bisected by Dunlawton Avenue. The Dunlawton Bridge crosses the Halifax River between Daytona Beach Shores and Wilbur-By-The-Sea.

New Smyrna Beach

The south shore of Ponce de Leon Inlet is Smyrna Dunes Park, an open, sandy area that has a small jetty. Just south of that is an older, historic section that has small boutiques and shops, along with the Victorian Riverview Hotel. South of town along AIA, the high-rise condos take over again. For longer stays, these can be a great deal for families, as they offer apartment-sized spaces and full kitchens, so you can cook breakfast and lunch in. Most have pools fronting the ocean. Even when Daytona Beach is going full throttle New Smyrna tends to be quieter, though it does fill up on race weekends.

Ormond Beach

North of Daytona Beach, Ormond is the quiet girl-next-door type. It benefits from the area’s visitors without having to throw all the parties. There are a few restaurants and scattered retail shops, but it’s for local demand and those who happen to be staying nearby. The headquarters of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) has a Daytona address (but is just as close to Holly Hill and Ormond) and has an excellent golf course.

ADVERTISEMENT