When planning a holiday getaway, many happily trade sparkling snow for sparkling sand beaches and warm sea breezes. Visitors have always been fascinated at the ways Floridians combine the best of the beach with the best of the holidays, including decorations from beach-quirky to elegantly ornate. Often called home of the world’s most famous beaches, Daytona Beach, Florida, is a holiday standout that sets the stage for a season of dazzling light displays, along with 23 miles of Atlantic Ocean shoreline and inland fun. It’s located on Florida’s east coast, midway between St. Augustine and the Kennedy Space Center (only an hour’s drive from each) and just an hour east of Orlando.
Slow drive in the fast lane
Since 1929, when Major Henry Segrave set his final land speed record on the white sand beaches of Daytona Beach, the “World’s Most Famous Beach” has become one of the world’s most popular racing destinations. From November 18, 2022-January 1, 2023, Daytona International Speedway is transformed into Magic of Lights®—a slow ride through a dazzling display of over a million holiday lights. (1801 West International Speedway Boulevard, Daytona Beach, Florida 32114; 800-748-7467). Drive through a 1.5-mile lights extravaganza that uses the latest LED technology and digital animation to create magical scenes like the Illuminating Mega Tree, 40 feet tall with dancing lights synchronized to favorite holiday tunes. Other beloved scenes returning are Tropical Christmas, Fairytale Scenes, Reindeer Crossing, 12 Days of Christmas and the Enchanting Tunnel of Lights. This year will feature the premiere of the BarbieTM holiday light display as well as Big Foot Monster Trucks and Prehistoric Christmas.
Walk across the pedestrian bridge or drive across the boulevard into a million square feet of world-class shops, restaurants, entertainment and hotel accommodations at ONE DAYTONA. Each weekend brings family-friendly events from live music and performances to special meals and shopping. Stay on-site at Fairfield Inn & Suites Daytona Beach Speedway/Airport or the Daytona Autograph Collection Hotel for an immersive race-fan and festive holiday experience.
Cuisine and holiday cheer
Built in the late 1800s, the exquisite Rose Villa was established as an ornate bed and breakfast in 1901 to accommodate guests who wanted more privacy than Henry Flagler’s popular Ormond Hotel. In 2007 it was restored and transformed into Rose Villa Southern Table & Bar to the delight of locals and visitors alike. From November 18, 2022, through January 5, 2023, a lavish display will light up historic downtown Ormond Beach as a beacon of the season in the center of the Granada Boulevard district. At Rose Villa Gingerbread Fantasy visitors can take memorable photos outside the one-of-a-kind Victorian jewel and explore the rich history within for a delicious dining experience, gingerbread snacks and signature cocktails. Make dinner reservations well in advance to experience the restaurant’s eclectic mouth-watering works of art and special holiday events. None needed to view the colorful lights reaching from the ground to the rooftop, larger-than-life Gingerbread men, towering lollipops, unique topiary snowmen, the “dogs of Rose Villa,” stained glass windows reflecting gingerbread men, gold bells, candy canes and candied fruit. (43 West Granada Boulevard, Ormond Beach, Florida 32176; 386-615-7673)
That’s just two of the holiday events planned for a season of magical memories and mild weather in Daytona Beach. Martina McBride will be bringing her “Joy of Christmas” tour to Peabody Auditorium on November 27. December 3rd is the Daytona Beach Christmas Boat Parade, where spectators line the Halifax River and take in the serene and magical displays on boats big and small, decked out from stem to stern. On land, the Bells and Shells Christmas Parade in downtown Daytona Beach is December 10. It’s virtually impossible to run out of great things to do in this area, any time of year. For more events, visit www.DaytonaBeach.com/events.
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