Tourism is the main industry in the area and Daytona Beach is dotted with hotels, attractions and various points of interest. The first hotel, called the Palmetto House, was built in Daytona Beach in 1874 by one of the city's founding fathers, Mathias Day. Ormond Beach, where early land speed records were set, was once the playground of the Rockefellers. Today, Ormond Beach allows cars on certain portions of the beach. Sunbathers, shell collectors, fishermen and swimmers use the parts of the beach where cars are not allowed.
Bicentennial Park, with views of the Atlantic Ocean and the Halifax River, features a boardwalk, fishing dock, nature trail, pavilion, picnic area, playground and courts and fields for various sports. Sun Splash Park features an interactive water fountain, decorative walkways, a shaded playground, volleyball courts, picnic areas, two beach access ramps and a "cool zone" sponsored by Coca-Cola. Tomoka State Park is also nearby.
A large fleet of private charter boats offer deep sea fishing excursions for Marlin in the Gulf Stream; Sailfish, King Mackeral, Tuna and Wahoo can be found closer to shore; and Grouper and Red Snapper can be found in the numerous reefs. Surf and pier fishing locations are numerous. The main catches are Pompano, Whiting, Bluefish, Redfish, Flounder and Jack Crevalle.
Motor sports in Daytona Beach draw thousands of tourists every year. Daytona Beach International Speedway offers many types of car racing throughout the season. For those wanting to test their nerves, Daytona USA, the official attraction of NASCAR, features activities such as motion simulator rides, Acceleration Alley, Daytona Dream Laps, The Daytona 500 Movie and the 16-second Pit-Stop Challenge. The winning Daytona 500 car is on display here and a 30-minute tour takes visitors behind the scenes at the Speedway. Richard Petty Driving Experience allows visitors on the Daytona International Speedway's 2.5-mile track at speeds of up to 150 mph. There are ride-along and learn-to-drive opportunities.
Bike Week, billed as the "World's Largest Motorcycle Event" is held annually in Daytona Beach in March. Activities include motorcycle shows and exhibits, concerts, festivities, and racing at Daytona International Speedway. On the tamer side, there are several go-kart facilities with single and double go-karts. Klassix Auto Attraction features classic car collections set in period scenery to chronicle the role of the automobile in America.
Sightseeing excursions abound. See Daytona Beach from above with Air Florida Helicopters. A number of boat tours visit the various rivers, shorelines, coves and inlets. Rental canoes are available for those who want to get up close and personal with nature. Horseback riding on the many trails in the area offers a different view of Daytona Beach and its environs.
Museums and galleries display works by local artists and exhibits on early Daytona Beach and the surrounding areas. The lighthouse tour at Ponce Inlet provides a historical look at lighthouses and local maritime lore. Other points of interest include the Marine Science Center, the Planetarium, a tour at Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory, and the Bulow Plantation Ruins State Historic Site.
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