Daytona Beach Florida Offers Beaches and Racing

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

World famous Daytona Beach, Florida draws over 7 million visitors year round for two main reasons. Its 23 miles of hard white sand beach that is 500 feet wide at low tide has always attracted the Florida beachcombers, especially since driving is permitted right on the beach. The second main draw of course is the Daytona International Speedway, site of the famous Daytona 500 every February and the Pepsi 400 every July. The two go hand in hand since auto racing began on this sandy beach in the early 1900's.

Hard Sand of Daytona Beach, FloridaBeach Driving

Today you can drive on an 18 mile stretch of hard sandy beach at Daytona Beach. The remaining five miles of beach are set aside for beachgoers who prefer to not share the beach with vehicles. Although years ago there was no charge to drive on the beach, the price now is $5 per vehicle per day from February 1st through November 30th. After 3pm the charge is only $3 and driving on Daytona Beach is permitted from one hour after sunrise till one hour before sunset during the winter months of November through April, and from 8am till 7pm during the months of May through October. The speed limit is 10 mph and it is strictly enforced with fines of a minimum of $41. Seasonal passes are also available for residents and non-residents. All pedestrians and bicyclists can access the beach for no fee at any time.

Daytona Beach is a popular family vacation spot with hundreds of hotels right on the beach. The white sandy beaches remain a draw for millions of visitors, and when you are tired of a beach day, a fun way to spend part of a day is to tour the Daytona International Speedway.

Daytona International Speedway Tours

Depending on your level of interest, your time schedule and your wallet, there are three different types of tours from which to choose. The least expensive is the Speedway Tour which costs $16 per adult and $10 for kids from 6-12. This 30 minute tour will give you a chance to ride along Pit Row, stroll in the infield, experience the banked walls of the track and learn about the history of racing at Daytona. Tickets are sold at the track beginning at 9am daily for timed tours throughout the day.

For those looking for more, the All Access Tour is a 90 minute tour and costs $23 for adults and $17 for kids ages 6-12. Coupons are sometimes available and you can but the tour for as little as $15. On this tour you will driven  onto  the track in a little tram,  and go behind the scenes and see the Drivers' Meeting Room, the Nasser Garages, drive on Victory Lane, and go up to the Press Box seven stories above the track, which should provide some great photo opportunities.

Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FloridaThe VIP Tour is a privately guided tour on an air-conditioned bus where you will experience firsthand the Drivers’ Meeting Room, NASCAR Sprint Cup Series garages and tech inspection, as well as the DAYTONA 500 Club President’s Row. You will drive on Victory Lane and get to see the track from a special suite seven stories above the track. In addition the tour includes special access to the Archives Building with artifacts and previous champion trophies, and other pieces of racing nostalgia.  The final part of the tour ends with in the Coca-Cola Theatre and you will also have a chance to see Matt Kenseth's DAYTONA 500 winning car. The three hour tour requires advance reservations and costs $50.


Blackout dates exist due to schedules races, practices and car shows. You can find these dates before planning a visit  by clicking here. The track is not open on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. No matter which tour you choose you will have time to get out and take photos. When I went I was most amazed with the feeling of experiencing the 30 degree banked turns on the track. It is worth the price for something you can only experience at Daytona Beach.

Guest Post By: Margie Miklas

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Take a Shell Island Cruise while in Panama City Beach

Guest Post By: Linda Hale

Anyone who has vacationed in Panama City Beach, Florida, knows it’s all about the hustle and bustle. There is always something going on in Panama City! You’ve got Spring Break, or July 4th, or Friday Fest, or, like we encountered this fall, Thunder Beach. Which, in case you don’t know, is a convention of motorcyclists (We did not do this on purpose!). Anyhow, did you ever just want some peace and quiet, and solitude while there? If so, I have a great suggestion. Treat your family to a Shell Island Cruise!

There are several cruises that you can choose from, if you want to go to Shell Island. Captain Anderson has one, and then there is the Ashley Gorman Shell Island Cruise. We chose this cruise while visiting Panama City Beach with two of our grandchildren this fall, and we all had a blast. It is a 3 l/2  hour excursion to the island, and during the 1 hour trip over, you are treated to a meal of hot dogs, chips, and a drink, a rummage through crab traps they’ve pulled up for you, dolphin antics, and just the plain old fun of riding on a double decker boat.Ashley Gorman Shell Island Cruise, Panama City Beach, Florida

As far as the dolphins go, the boat actually will stop whenever they spot any and give you a chance to watch and take pictures. They actually have another cruise, that is seasonal, that will allow you to get into the water with the dolphins. Scuba diving lessons are given on this cruise.  You can check thiswebsite for a phone number and information on the Ashley Gorman cruises.

The double decker Ashley Gorman gives the kids the opportunity to walk around, climb the decks, and interact with the other passengers and crew. This also gives you lots of choices for views of the beautiful Gulf of Mexico, the dolphins, and the passing boats and Florida islands.White sands of Shell Island, Panama City Beach, Florida

However, the real treat is actually Shell Island itself. Here’s that solitude I was talking about. The Ashley Gorman carries over about 50 people, and I saw only two boat docks, so there are just not that many people there at one time. And the island is very long; so you can walk and just about be alone. The excursion gives you an hour on Shell Island, which is plenty of time to walk in the surf, or swim (if you bring your bathing suit), or just search for shells. Our grandkids had a great time shelling, and found some really good ones. Sandbars go out pretty far, so you can walk out and find sand dollars, and maybe a conch shell.Shelling on Shell Island, Panama City Beach, Florida


Panama City has some of the most gorgeous white beaches and aquamarine waters that I have seen on the Gulf, and on Shell Island this is just intensified. The beaches and water are just beautiful; and the sand dunes with the sea oats blowing in the wind are definitely picture perfect. All of this is something extra special that you just don’t expect at Panama City Beach, but something you should definitely experience.


At the boat’s warning horn, you have to rush back across the long boardwalk over the dunes to the Ashley Gorman for the return trip. But that’s OK, because they have a little snack bar where you can buy the kids some Cheetos and a Slushie, and they will go off happily to watch the dolphins;  while you buy yourself a treat from their mini bar, and sit back and enjoy the ride home.

Guest Post By: Linda Hale


Visit Beautiful St. George Island in the Fall

Guest Post By: Linda Hale

I have known about St. George Island, Florida forever. What I don’t know is why it took me so long to go.  Our family has a tendency to vacation at the larger, more well know beaches. My kids and grand kids like the crowds, the restaurant choices, the putt-putt ranges, and the big condos. I, on the other hand, could do without all of that. So last November, my husband and I decided to take a short vacation to St. George Island.

Quite beaches of St George Island FloridaIt is one of Florida’s barrier islands in the Gulf of Mexico. And it is one of those “you can’t get there from here” types of places. It’s not just a hop off of an interstate. There are miles of road where you won’t see much of anything.  And be warned. If you get there at night, which we did, there is a four mile bridge (low over the water) from the mainland to St. George Island. Now in the daylight, it was beautiful, but approaching it at night, and not knowing how long you were going to be over the water, sort of freaked me out!

Early Morning St George Island FloridaThat being said, the rest of the trip was unbelievable! I can’t say exactly what it’s like the rest of the year, but don’t miss St. George Island in the fall. There was absolutely no one there, and no matter where we went, we had everything almost to ourselves.  A random fisherman or a dog might pass by your beach house every hour or so, but otherwise just gorgeous, solitary beach!

This is a very small island, with about a third of it designated as state park, so you won’t find big condos, and a lot of restaurants. There are about  five restaurants on the island, and quite frankly, I was happy with them. I have heard others say you need to go over to Apalachicola to eat. This is definitely true if you are an oyster lover. Some of the best in the world are supposed to come from Apalachicola Bay. St. George Island is only ten miles from there (almost all bridges), so it’s a really easy trip.

Sunset at St George Island FloridaI think there was one condo building on the island, but it was very small and unimposing; maybe three or four stories. Most of the dwellings on St. George are single family beach houses, and many are available to rent for your vacation. The one grocery store was totally adequate for what we wanted, and the two or three trucks parked beside the road selling the fresh catch of the day, made for a fabulous seafood meal.

St. George Island is probably one of the most pristine, serene, beautiful Florida beaches I have ever seen.  It is not for my children, but it is certainly for me. I selfishly  hate to recommend it, because I just don’t want it to change. I want to go back in the fall, and stroll those beautiful beaches in solitary wonder. I want to have the most gorgeous sunset ever all to myself. Just hearing nothing but the seagulls screaming, the waves roaring,  and a random dog barking is my dream vacation. Thankfully, I know where that dream can come true – St. George Island!

Guest Post By: Linda Hale


3 Lesser Known Fabulous Beaches Across America

Guest Post by: James Helliwell

The United States is one of the most geographically diverse countries in the world. Majestic mountains, vast arid deserts, dense forest lands and of course amazing and beautiful beaches.

Most people automatically think of Hawaii or San Diego or Miami when thinking of U.S. beaches, but with three out of 4 national borders being primarily beach front property, there are thousands of lovely beaches to choose from. As with the rest of the country, the coastlines are also quite diverse.

Port Arkansas TexasSome of the less known beach communities are absolutely lovely and do not have the huge crowds that are found in the more commercialized areas. One of those lovely communities is Port Aransas, Texas. Located on Mustang Island in the Gulf of Mexico around 25 miles from Corpus Christi, Port Aransas is accessible by ferry or if you are coming from the South, via the John F. Kennedy Causeway. Blessed with an ideal climate to enjoy the sandy beaches and warm Gulf waters, Port Aransas is also known for its excellent fishing and abundant recreational pursuits.

The island has a colourful history, having once been the retreat of the infamous pirate Jean La Fitte. It is said that he buried a treasure chest there filled with jewels and gold, marking the spot with a Spanish Dagger held in place by a silver spike but the treasure has never been found.

Myrtle BeachAnother glorious coastal retreat is Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Myrtle Beach is a first class resort town with 60 miles of beautiful white sand beaches. There is a fantastic assortment of family venues that include water and amusement parks, live entertainment, vibrant night life and a host of gastronomical delights that range from casual to fine dining.

Golf enthusiasts will be rewarded with the best golfing the South has to offer on the nearly 100 courses in the area. Myrtle Beach has something for everyone!

Panama City Beach FloridaPanama City Beach is one of the finest beaches found in Florida. White sand beaches and a relaxing atmosphere are complimented by legendary Southern hospitality. This beautiful city is located in the Northwest part of the state and is bordered by the warm turquoise waters of the Gulf of Mexico. With 320 days a year of sunshine and average daily temperatures of 74 degrees, any time is the right time for a beach holiday in Florida so if you want the above, and who wouldn’t, make your way down to Southern USA. Sport fishing is legendary here and scuba diving and snorkeling are favorite pastimes as well. Hiking, water sports, camping and much more await you at Panama City Beach.

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