The DAYTONA 500 may be stock car racing's Super Bowl, but just like that momentous football game, it only lasts a few hours. Luckily, Daytona is full of awesome things to do, great places to eat, and unique things to see. Here's our guide on the best things to do in Daytona Beach during DAYTONA 500 weekend.
The 2020 NASCAR® season kicks off in earnest this weekend with the 61st edition of "The Great American Race," the DAYTONA 500. On Sunday, February 16 at 2:30 p.m., the first green flag of the year will drop and dozens of racers will begin their campaign towards a championship. The DAYTONA 500 is more than just a race; it's a full-fledged event with tons of things to experience beyond the action on the track. True diehard fans will want to check out the University of Northwestern Ohio (UNOH) Fanzone for a one-of-a-kind insider experience. Enjoy pre-race performances from major music stars, walk the grid as your favorite cars are rolled into position, be stage-side for driver introductions as they head to their vehicles, and so much more in the UNOH Fanzone.
Just like the stock cars need pit stops before thundering into the 31-degree banked turns at Daytona International Speedway, you'll need to stop and put some fuel in the tank to keep going this weekend. There are plenty of unique restaurants throughout Daytona Beach ready to serve up some tasty grub. [caption id="attachment_108" align="alignnone" width="886"] Steve's Famous Diner[/caption] Start race day off right with a meaty omelet at Steve's Famous Diner or a titanic chocolate waffle from Starlite Diner. If that sounds too heavy, check out Vittoria's Italian Coffee & Pastry for a fresh-baked pastry and a hot cup of Joe. Countless chain restaurants offer options for lunch and dinner, but local favorites really stand out. Oklahoma Joe's Bar-B-Cue, Ocean Deck, Daytona Brickyard, and Rock Bottom have menus full of delicious sports bar fare while being conveniently located near the speedway. But when it comes to the perfect combination of speedway proximity and tasty food, it's hard to beat Houligan's Speedway. Locals rave about the sports bar's ribs and "Wally" wings, served up in your choice of 11 flavors. Chow down with a clear window view of the racetrack – so close you can probably hear the booming engines just down the street.
NASCAR® fans will, naturally, find a lot to get their engines revving in Daytona Beach. Though they're unavailable during DAYTONA 500 weekend, Daytona International Speedway tours reopen the Monday following the race. Fans sticking around the next day can venture behind the scenes with one of the speedway's various tour packages and learn more about the most popular racetrack in the country. [caption id="attachment_109" align="alignnone" width="665"] Dale Earnhardt, Sr. | Photo: Allison B. via Tripadvisor[/caption] You can also pay your respects to one of the sport's late legends with a visit to the Dale Earnhardt Sr. statue. Located outside the speedway, the nine-foot tall, 1,200-pound statue stands as a lasting tribute to The Intimidator, one of the greatest and most respected NASCAR® drivers in the history of the sport. All this stuff is excellent, but wouldn't it be amazing to drive around the racetrack just like the pros? The Richard Petty Driving Experience allows you to make that dream come true. Several package options give you the opportunity of a lifetime: to hit the track in a real NASCAR® stock car and feel the weight and speed of the race for yourself. Once you've gotten your fill of racing action, there's still plenty of things to do in Daytona Beach. Head to the beach for some sun, experience dolphin and manatee stand-up paddle boarding, or visit One Daytona, the area's new epicenter for premier shopping, dining, and entertainment. Are you heading to the DAYTONA 500 this year? Let us know what you're looking forward to most in the comments!