Explore Daytona Beach as an LGBTQ+ Traveler

Daytona Beach Gay Florida Travel Guide
Photo by Kruck20 from iStock

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Along Florida’s eastern coastline, Daytona Beach stands as a renowned destination, welcoming travelers from all corners of the globe. Famous for its sun-soaked beaches, thrilling motorsports, and captivating atmosphere, Daytona Beach offers an array of experiences to cater to every traveler’s preferences. This coastal treasure is often celebrated as the “World’s Most Famous Beach,” and its vast stretches of pristine shoreline have continually attracted sun-seekers, surf enthusiasts, and families looking for relaxation and fun.

Daytona Beach’s claim to fame undoubtedly lies in the iconic Daytona International Speedway, a legendary venue hosting heart-pounding motorsports events. For racing aficionados, it’s an essential stop, offering informative tours and interactive exhibits that bring you closer to the high-octane action. But there’s more to Daytona Beach than just the racetrack. The city boasts a rich heritage, with museums, galleries, and heritage centers shedding light on its past, including its significant ties to auto racing. 

So, pack your bags and embark on your own adventure in this sunny paradise on Florida’s east coast.

How To Get To Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach offers sunny shores, sandy beaches, and exciting adventures. You can reach this dreamy destination by planes, trains, or automobiles!

Plane: If you are out of state, flying is the fastest way to reach Daytona Beach, and you can land at Daytona Beach International Airport (DAB) just a few miles from the city center. After your flight, you can easily rent a car or use transportation services to reach your final destination, be it a hotel or a beachfront rental.

Train: If you prefer a leisurely journey, consider taking an Amtrak train to the nearby city of DeLand, which is a short drive from Daytona Beach. The Amtrak ride offers beautiful scenic views of Florida’s landscapes, adding an enjoyable twist to your travel experience.

Automobile: For a flexible and adventurous road trip, drive to Daytona Beach using Interstate 95 (I-95) that runs along the east coast of the United States. Along the way, explore charming towns and roadside attractions, creating lasting memories before arriving in Daytona Beach.

How Gay Is Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach is actively promoting inclusivity and embracing diversity, particularly within its LGBTQ+ community. While assessing a city’s LGBTQ+ inclusivity is subjective, Daytona Beach is committed to fostering a welcoming environment. The city hosts LGBTQ+ organizations like Daytona Pride and events including the annual Love Is Love Pride Festival held in DeLand, demonstrating its dedication to embracing the LGBTQ+ community. 

While it’s LGBTQ+ nightlife scene may not rival that of larger cities, it is steadily evolving, offering LGBTQ+ friendly bars and entertainment options. Moreover, LGBTQ+ friendly hotels and businesses are prevalent throughout the city, ensuring that travelers feel respected and comfortable during their stay. 

With its beautiful beaches and a growing culture of inclusivity, Daytona Beach is emerging as a destination where individuals can freely express themselves and enjoy their visit, even if it may not yet be as well-known as some larger LGBTQ+ destinations.

Daytona Pride

Daytona Pride is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting LGBTQ+ acceptance and visibility in the Daytona Beach community. They work with DeLand Pride, another non-profit organization to organize the annual Love Is Love Pride Fest and actively support LGBTQ+ individuals through advocacy, events, and resources, making Daytona Beach a more inclusive and welcoming place for all.

Love Is Love Pride Fest

The Love Is Love Pride Fest in DeLand, FL, is an annual event that celebrates LGBTQ+ culture and promotes diversity and acceptance. This day-long festival features live music, entertainment, and a warm and welcoming atmosphere, fostering unity within the LGBTQ+ community and promoting love and inclusion for all attendees. It serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of embracing diversity and creating a safe and supportive space for LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to come together and celebrate their identities.

Daytona Beach
Photo by Sean Pavone Photo from iStock

History Of Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach has a rich and diverse history spanning several centuries. Initially inhabited by the Timucuan Indians, the area witnessed Spanish exploration in the 16th century, leaving a historical imprint. However, it was in the late 19th century that Daytona Beach began to emerge as a prominent tourist destination, largely due to its temperate climate and picturesque beaches.

The city’s connection to motorsports is another integral part of its history. In 1902, Daytona Beach made history by establishing the first automobile racing track, setting the stage for its enduring association with high-speed competitions. The annual Daytona 500, one of NASCAR’s most prestigious events, continues to attract racing enthusiasts from around the world.

Mid-20th century Daytona Beach gained fame as a bustling spring break destination, drawing college students in search of sun and recreation. This era left an indelible mark on the city’s cultural history. Today, Daytona Beach stands at the intersection of its rich historical roots, the enduring legacy of motorsports, and its reputation as a captivating coastal getaway. Visitors can explore its fascinating past while enjoying the modern amenities and natural beauty that make Daytona Beach a unique destination.

Where To Stay Around Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach offers a range of inclusive hotels that cater to various needs, preferences, and budgets. From ADA-compliant accommodations to LGBTQ+-friendly options, visitors can find welcoming and diverse choices to ensure a comfortable and inclusive stay in this coastal city.

The Shores Resort & Spa – Located directly on the beach, this upscale resort offers luxurious rooms with private balconies and ocean views. The Shores Resort & Spa features a full-service spa, oceanfront dining, and a beautiful outdoor pool area.

The Daytona, Autograph Collection – A boutique hotel with stylish and well-appointed rooms, The Daytona offers an oceanfront location with a rooftop bar and an infinity pool. It’s known for its unique design elements and personalized service.

Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach – With a rock ‘n’ roll theme, this modern hotel offers contemporary rooms, a rooftop pool with ocean views, and a lively atmosphere. Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach is a great choice for music enthusiasts and those looking for an upbeat stay.

River Lily Inn Bed & Breakfast – Located in the charming town of Holly Hill, Florida, the River Lily Inn Bed & Breakfast beckons with its Southern hospitality and old-world charm. This quaint bed and breakfast offers a peaceful retreat along the banks of the scenic Halifax River, where guests can unwind in a serene and picturesque setting. The inn’s historic ambiance, comfortable accommodations, and warm hospitality create a welcoming haven for travelers seeking a relaxing getaway. Whether you’re savoring a homemade breakfast on the porch or taking in the river views, the River Lily Inn provides a tranquil escape with a touch of timeless elegance.

Daytona Bandshell
Photo by Paulbr75 from Unsplash

Restaurants Around Daytona

Daytona Beach offers an exciting food landscape that mirrors its coastal charm and rich cultural influences. Prioritizing fresh seafood, the city presents an eclectic mix of dishes showcasing the ocean’s abundance. From upscale establishments delivering refined dining experiences to laid-back venues serving American classics and barbecue, Daytona Beach has a wide array of culinary options. The city also embraces a global palate, featuring Mexican, Italian, and Caribbean flavors. Whether you desire a romantic oceanfront ambiance or a relaxed beachside setting, Daytona Beach caters to a diverse range of tastes and atmospheres.

The Cellar Restaurant – Situated in a historic building, The Cellar Restaurant offers an intimate and elegant dining experience. Known for its fine selection of wines and delectable cuisine, this restaurant specializes in steak and seafood dishes. The dimly lit, cozy atmosphere and impeccable service make it a perfect spot for a romantic evening.

Azure Oceanfront American Kitchen – Located in The Shores Resort & Spa, Azure Oceanfront American Kitchen provides a delightful dining experience with stunning ocean views. The menu features a range of contemporary American dishes, emphasizing fresh seafood and locally sourced ingredients. Whether you dine indoors or on the oceanfront terrace, you’ll enjoy a memorable meal paired with breathtaking scenery.

Hog Heaven Bar-B-Q is a beloved local spot for barbecue enthusiasts. This laid-back eatery serves up a mouthwatering selection of smoked meats, including ribs, pulled pork, and brisket. Guests can savor their barbecue delights in a casual and friendly atmosphere, often accompanied by live music.

Daytona After Dark

After the sun sets, the city comes alive with entertainment options for every preference. Whether you’re into beachfront bars, thrilling races at the speedway, oceanfront dining, live music venues, or LGBTQ-inclusive spaces, Daytona offers a variety of experiences for a fantastic night out.

Daytona Beach Boardwalk – Nestled along the shoreline, the Daytona Beach Boardwalk is a delightful seaside attraction that truly shines after sunset. With beachfront bars, restaurants, and live music, it’s the place to be for evening entertainment. Guests can sip on tropical cocktails, savor fresh seafood, and enjoy the soothing sea breeze while taking in the stunning ocean views. The Boardwalk’s relaxed yet lively atmosphere makes it a must-visit destination for those seeking a perfect blend of relaxation and coastal nightlife in Daytona Beach.

Daytona Boardwalk
Photo by Nick Fox from AdobeStock

Daytona Bandshell – In the summer, the historic Bandshell hosts free concerts and entertainment events right on the beach, providing a unique musical experience with the ocean as your backdrop. Concerts run every Friday night from June through August and are free to the public.

The Bank in Daytona stands as a testament to the city’s rich history and architectural heritage. Originally established in a grand neoclassical-style building that exudes timeless elegance, it was once a hub of financial activity in the heart of Daytona Beach. Today, the building has been repurposed, serving as a captivating venue for various events, art exhibitions, and cultural gatherings. Its iconic pillars and classical façade are a striking backdrop for both local residents and visitors exploring the city’s arts and culture scene. Whether attending an event or simply admiring its historic charm, The Bank is a unique blend of past and present that continues to play a valuable role in the community.

509 Lounge – Located one block from the beach, the 509 Lounge stands out as a warm and inviting nightlife destination  for the LGBTQ+ traveler. Recognized for its inclusive ambiance and diverse clientele, it serves as one of the most popular nightlife destinations. The lounge hosts an array of music styles, ranging from DJ performances to live acts, guaranteeing a diverse musical palette to suit every taste. Its welcoming atmosphere and a calendar filled with engaging events, create an exceptional night out. Here, patrons can relax, connect, and relish the local nightlife scene in Daytona Beach, fostering a sense of belonging and camaraderie among its patrons.

Getting Back To Nature: Daytona’s Natural Wonders

Explore Daytona Beach’s captivating natural wonders. These serene and unspoiled locations offer a glimpse into the region’s rich biodiversity and scenic beauty, providing a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Tiger Bay State Forest – Begin an exciting adventure by exploring Tiger Bay State Forest in the Daytona Beach area. This pristine natural treasure showcases Florida’s unique ecosystems, including wetlands, pine forests, and tranquil waterways. Birdwatchers can spot a variety of avian species, while nature enthusiasts may encounter native wildlife like deer and alligators. Whether you’re an experienced outdoors enthusiast or a newcomer looking to connect with nature, Tiger Bay State Forest offers a peaceful escape from city life, allowing you to uncover the wild beauty of Florida’s wilderness.

Tomoka State Park, in Ormond Beach, offers a serene oasis along the Tomoka River. Explore the lush forests and marshes, and keep an eye out for the resident bald eagles and abundant wildlife. The park is a paddler’s paradise, with winding waterways that lead to hidden springs and secluded inlets. It’s a tranquil spot for picnicking, birdwatching, or simply unwinding amidst nature’s beauty.

Ponce Preserve – Just south of Daytona, at Ponce Inlet, where the Halifax River meets the Atlantic Ocean, you’ll discover a marine wonderland. The Ponce Preserve is known for its abundant marine life and tidal creeks, brimming with wildlife. You can take a boat tour to witness sea turtles and indigenous birds in their natural habitat or visit the Marine Science Center to learn about sea turtles, birds, and the local ecosystem. The area’s serene charm and ecological significance make it a must-visit destination for those seeking a peaceful encounter with Daytona Beach’s coastal wonders.

Canaveral National Seashore – Just a short drive south of Daytona Beach, you’ll find the Canaveral National Seashore, a pristine coastal gem. This untouched barrier island is home to miles of unspoiled beaches, where sea turtles nest and shorebirds soar. Take a leisurely hike through the maritime hammocks or paddle along the peaceful Mosquito Lagoon, where you can spot dolphins and manatees. It’s a serene escape from the hustle and bustle.

Arts And Culture Around Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach’s arts and culture scene is a captivating tapestry of history and creativity. With historic museums, thriving arts districts, and engaging live performances, the city offers a wide range of unique experiences.

Halifax Historical Museum – Step into the past at the Halifax Historical Museum, housed in a historic courthouse. It showcases Daytona’s evolution from its indigenous roots to the present through artifacts and exhibits.

The Daytona Beach Coquina Clock Tower – Located just south of the Daytona Beach Oceanfront Bandshell, the Coquina Clock Tower and fountain has been an emblematic fixture of the “World’s Most Famous Beach” since 1937. This impressive clock tower stands at a height of 55 feet and boasts a unique design. Instead of conventional numerals, its clock face features the letters D-A-Y-T-O-N-A-B-E-A-C-H. Crafted from locally quarried native Florida coquina, this architectural wonder provides a captivating backdrop for photographs and is one of the many iconic landmarks that adorn the Daytona Beach area.

Daytona Coquina Clock Tower
Photo by Paulbr75 from Pixabay

Daytona’s Museum of Arts and Sciences is a multidisciplinary museum featuring fine art, regional history, and hands-on science exhibits. Kids will enjoy the Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum, and be sure not to miss the planetarium’s cosmic adventures.

Peabody Auditorium – Originally opened in 1949, has been a beloved venue for both locals and visitors alike, hosting countless memorable events and contributing to the vibrant arts and entertainment scene of Daytona Beach. Its iconic architecture and historical significance make it a must-visit destination for those interested in the area’s cultural heritage.

Mary McLeod Bethune House – Step into the preserved home of Mary McLeod Bethune, a pioneering educator and civil rights leader. This National Historic Landmark offers insights into her life and the founding of Bethune-Cookman University.

The Howard Thurman Home, where Howard Thurman lived until he left for high school in Jacksonville, holds significant historical importance. Thurman went on to become a prominent Baptist minister and theologian, playing a pivotal role in the civil rights movement and mentoring influential leaders like Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Named a 20th-century saint by Ebony magazine, Thurman’s home in Daytona Beach remains a symbol of his enduring legacy and contributions to American history. The city honored him with a parade and the key to the city upon his return in 1963.

Daytona Playhouse is a dynamic theater committed to elevating your community and visitor experiences through live performances. They aim to offer a wide range of captivating theater experiences that push boundaries and provide creative opportunities for people of all ages. Their mission is to cultivate a strong appreciation for and education in all aspects of the theatrical arts. Serving the community since 1946, Daytona Playhouse, as a not-for-profit community theater, has been enriching the lives of those who share their passion for the stage.

Shopping Near Daytona Beach

Two fantastic shopping destinations stand out in Daytona Beach. The Riverfront Shops and the Ocean Walk Shops. Both feature a mix of stores and dining options, making both great spots for finding beachwear, home décor, and souvenirs. Both locations offer a laid-back atmosphere with picturesque surroundings, ensuring a delightful experience for visitors and locals alike.

Daytona Flea and Farmer’s Market ranks 6th in the world of Best Markets with 650 registered vendors and more than 2 million visitors annually. A family tradition since 1981, it spans more than 40 acres, is 90% covered, and is a treasure trove of unique discoveries, including new and used items, antiques, collectibles, fresh produce, and handcrafted goods. Open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, the Daytona Flea and Farmer’s Market is a weekly gathering place for both locals and tourists. Visitors can meander through its vast array of offerings and enjoy live entertainment. With its rich history and eclectic mix of vendors, it’s an essential destination for those seeking an engaging shopping and cultural experience in Daytona Beach.

Tie dye shopping in Daytona
Photo by Sean Nufer from Unsplash

Riverfront Shops along the scenic riverbanks is both a shopper’s and foodie’s paradise. Explore unique boutiques like The Pink Poodle, known for its eclectic fashion, or browse Coastal Gifts & Décor for coastal-inspired home décor. Satisfy your cravings with seafood delights at Hull’s Seafood Market & Restaurant or enjoy a burger at Grind Gastropub & Kona Tiki Bar. Whether you’re looking for souvenirs or savoring local cuisine, this riverside destination offers a delightful and relaxed atmosphere.

Ocean Walk Shoppes stand out as a shopping and dining hub located right by the beach. You can find stylish swimwear at Maui Nix Surf Shop, or discover unique souvenirs at Zeno’s World Famous Taffy. When hunger strikes, indulge in seafood at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. or savor Italian cuisine at Maria Bonita. This shopper’s delight offers a wide range of stores as well as eateries, making it a perfect spot for beachfront shopping and dining in Daytona Beach.

Events In Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach Art Festival – Experience the essence of Downtown Daytona Beach at the Daytona Beach Arts Festival. This event isn’t just about having fun; it’s your chance to embrace Daytona’s rich history. Dive into the world of art, music, and creativity as you explore amazing artist displays and witness live painting competitions. Celebrate the community and the arts in this lively and engaging social gathering.

Daytona Bike Week is a beloved annual gathering for motorcycle enthusiasts, revs up the excitement in early March. It’s a thrilling week filled with the roar of engines, exciting races, and live music. Thousands of bikers from all walks of life converge in Daytona Beach to share their passion for two-wheelers. The event showcases custom bikes, offers scenic rides, and creates an electric atmosphere throughout the city. It’s a time when the Daytona Beach streets resonate with the thunderous sounds of bikes, uniting riders and spectators alike.

Biketober Daytona
Photo by Beatrice Schumuki from Pixabay

Daytona Turkey Run is a cherished Thanksgiving tradition in Daytona Beach, drawing classic car enthusiasts and collectors for a weekend of automotive appreciation. Held over Thanksgiving weekend, it features thousands of well-preserved classic and custom cars, alongside a bustling swap meet and car corral. Visitors can stroll through rows of vintage automobiles, chat with passionate car owners, and maybe even find a gem to take home.

Halifax Art Festival

Halifax Art Festival – Typically held in November, the Halifax Art Festival serves as a showcase for talented artists and craftsmen, offering a diverse array of creative works for art enthusiasts. Spanning along Beach Street, the festival provides a laid back atmosphere where visitors can purchase unique art pieces, from paintings to handcrafted items.

Daytona International Speedway – As the sun sets, Daytona International Speedway undergoes a remarkable transformation. With events like the renowned Coke Zero Sugar 400 the track becomes an electrifying spectacle illuminated by powerful floodlights. The thunderous roar of engines and the dynamic racing action under the night sky create a thrilling and unforgettable atmosphere. Racing enthusiasts gather to witness their favorite drivers in an exciting nocturnal showdown, making Daytona Speedway after dark a memorable experience for all.

Daytona Speedway
Photo by Tim Trad from Unsplash

Discover Daytona

Daytona, Florida, captivates with its coastal allure. Sun-drenched beaches, a rich history, and an eclectic cultural scene create a picturesque destination appealing to racing enthusiasts, nature lovers, and history buffs alike. It’s a place where beauty meets a rich blend of attractions. Plan your trip using the sections outlined in this travel guide, and set out on a delightful journey filled with coastal charm, racing excitement, and a variety of attractions waiting to be enjoyed.

For more great travel destinations near Daytona Beach, click here.

**Disclaimer: There is a good chance that this post contains affiliate or sponsor links. If you make a purchase through them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you (for which we are extremely grateful).

Also, while we do our best to highlight LGBTQ-friendly destinations and businesses, info provided is based solely on personal experience and recommendations by community partners. We hope that nobody experiences discrimination or homophobia while visiting Florida, but we make no guarantees. Please inform us if you experience discrimination or homophobia while visiting any destination so we can make updates to our recommendations.

Events are subject to change. Please check the events webpage for updates and schedules.

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june, 2024

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