Our Day at Daytona Beach- 3 Stars
Before I review Daytona Beach, it would be prudent to set the foundation for our future Florida reviews. Our intent is to show how a family can beach hop in Florida for an extended period on a shoestring budget. Additionally, it's important to understand the reviewer... I am a 41 year old husband and father of four who hates heat, sand, crowds, and sweating. So needless to say, the beach is not my favorite place. I know this puts me outside of the norm, but I am who I am. In order to negate some of these irritants, we are beach hopping in the off season, the last week of December through January. The temperatures are typically in the 70's, the crowds are at a minimum, parking and traffic is much improved, and things are proving to be cheaper. That said, this non beach bum dad is a much happier camper. In our reviews, we will give an star rating out of 5 stars. We will average the opinions of the 6 of us and base it on things like cleanliness, parking, beach quality, amenities, beauty, cost, x-factor, and conveniences like beachside showers. With that ground work laid, let's get on with our review.
The beach front strip of Daytona is on the historic A1A which is a road we will be exploring much of on our future beach explorations. The "strip" to us really wasn't anything special. This was surprising to us considering how famous this beach is. There are the typical beach side amusements like a small water park, a sling shot (bungee launching ride), and something that resembles a tilt-a-whirl. As you drive the main drag, the expected generic souvenir shops and eateries (some local specific and some chains) line the road tucked up under the hundreds of gaudy and typical beachfront resort hotels. The beach was decently clean and in places there were beachside showers with clean restrooms. It was obvious that the facilities have seen many high traffic seasons and I have no doubt that in a busy July they may not be as well maintained. We noticed in places along the beach there were many shells deposited in large groups and there was a mixture of typical beige sand mixed with some pink sand as well. In December, the water is pretty cold and the sky has been overcast or misty most of the days we have been here, but it hasn't stopped the kids from having a blast playing on the shoreline, digging in the sand, finding shells, and running from the influx of the cold tide. We did very much enjoy exploring the beachside "Daytona Beach Ocean Walk" shops and amphitheater. The pier leading out to the beautiful Joes Crab Shack, as pictured above, would have been much more enjoyable had it not been overrun by homeless people. For the record, we do not have an issue with most homeless people, but in this case a couple of them were quite obnoxious. We ended the day with a trek down Main Street to see the shops and locals that host the annual Daytona Beach Bike Week in March.
At the end of the day, we enjoyed our time in Daytona albeit a little disappointing. All in all, we are giving Daytona Beach 3 stars. The positives are amenities, showers on the beach, and decently clean restrooms. The negatives are the totally generic feel of the main strip. Nothing about the strip was a wow for us. The boardwalk area around the Ocean Walk was the best part of the entire Daytona area for us. Our recommendation for Daytona: Go to one of the neighboring beaches. For example, be low key like the locals and chill in Ponce Inlet (review on Ponce Inlet coming soon).
Our shoestring budget:
$5 in bus diesel (approximately)
$5 in gas for our car
$32 in groceries for the day (Aldi's is amazing) for six.
Accommodations $0. We stayed in our Skoolie and parked it for free.
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