“It’s like walking around a defunct amusement park, except people live there.”My friend T on Daytona Beach
As someone who is neither a racing enthusiast nor in the demographic who cares about spring break, I’ll admit that Daytona Beach was never really on my bucket list of places I wanted to visit. All that said, when Michael picked up a promotional two-month companion pass good for January and February this year and had a business trip to Daytona in the latter half of January, the idea of going anywhere warm was enough for me to hop on a plane and fly to Florida, boosted and masked, obviously.
One of the reasons why I do so much research into the destinations I do is that I hope to find at least one thing endearing about the place, no matter how small, and sometimes I surprise myself and end up falling in love with it a little. While the latter did not happen on my trip to Daytona, I was able to appreciate it for what it was and found a few pretty sweet places there in the meantime.
My friend T is not wrong about how walking around Daytona sometimes feels like walking around somewhere defunct, as a number of the hotels along the shore were stripped down to their studs in the process of (presumably) being converted into new hotels, or demolished for new construction. One kind of cool thing about this is as you walk along the beach, you sometimes find ghost signs of places that have long been taken down painted on the seawall, and it gives even the sunniest day a touch of eeriness.
Still, that sun, the sound and smell of the ocean, and the warm weather did a lot in helping me enjoy myself considering that we had left Baltimore following a snowstorm. Thankfully, the roads were mostly clear by the time we had to go to the airport, so the sensation of touching down somewhere sunny and warm was downright heady. Did this likely bias my perception of Daytona? Undoubtedly yes, but sometimes the simple things are enough.
I will own that Daytona is not really a food enthusiast’s destination, though we had a few notable meals during our stay. We had to cross a causeway to get a lovely meal at Ronin Sushi, but given the sincere nod of approval our hotel’s bartender gave when we told her where we were going, we knew it was worth it. Their offerings were definitely more traditional, but a personal highlight was being able to try smelt roe for the first time, and I absolutely loved it.
We also had a really good late lunch at Daytona Taproom, where they feature 50 beers on tap and a menu of well-executed bar food like fried pickles and tasty burgers. Everything is made in-house and fresh but the wait is totally worth it.
All told, as a respite from the grey and cold that is synonymous with Baltimore in winter, I enjoyed our stay in Daytona, and I would probably come back if the opportunity to go during the off season arose again when it’s far sleepier.
In the meantime, I’ll be sharing more of our recent travels because well, there’s been a lot of them.