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A winter splash at Daytona Beach
By Tom Adkinson

Daytona Beach
Frolicking on Daytona Beach; image by Tom Adkinson.

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida – If you have escaped the frigid Midwest, the frozen Northeast or even the chilly Southeast, you’ll jump at the chance to splash in the Atlantic Ocean, as these two youngsters prove along the Daytona Beach Boardwalk. Daytime highs here can fluctuate substantially (from the 50s to the 80s, sometimes on successive days), so visitors often gamble that today might be their last shot at getting in the ocean before returning home.

One Daytona Beach gamble that certainly paid off was the one Matthias Day from Mansfield, Ohio, made in 1870 when he bought 3,200 acres of Florida real estate for the princely sum of $1,200. Three towns (Daytona, Daytona Beach and Seabreeze) grew up along the hard-packed beach, and they came together in 1926 as Daytona Beach. Early in the 1900s, that beach became known for high-speed automobile testing. Racing on the beach soon followed, and that led to one of NASCAR’s most famous races, the Daytona 500. The 2020 Daytona 500 is Feb. 16.

Of course, the Daytona 500 now is slightly inland on an asphalt track, but the beach will be busy, even on race day. The boardwalk area is filled with an array of hotels, restaurants, thrill rides and arcade games. Its north end is anchored by a vintage bandshell built during the Great Depression by the Works Progress Administration.

Trip-planning resources: and

(Travel writer Tom Adkinson’s new book, 100 Things To Do in Nashville Before You Die, is available at

Published January 3, 2020

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