Physically, celadon porcelain from the Ming and Qing Dynasties and a 13-foot skeleton of the giant ground sloth don’t have too much in common. But both explore how our world has evolved and how we perceive it—making both perfectly suited for display in the eclectic exhibits of the Museum of Arts & Sciences. The 100,000-square-foot museum—which perches on a 90-acre nature preserve—houses a planetarium alongside myriad exhibits that delve into art, history, and science.
The museum’s particularly impressive assembly of Cuban art draws visitors through 300 years of history with more than 200 rare maps, paintings, and ceramics. Nearby, the exhibit of Chinese art glimmers with gemstones, bronzes, and cloisonné. Visitors also peruse crafts made closer to home in the 4,000-square-foot gallery of American art, where portraits by Gilbert Stuart and landscapes by George Bonfield hang on walls, rather than on the traditional horse’s withers. In addition to its traditional art galleries, the Museum of Arts & Sciences also hosts more fragile objects inside the Helene B. Roberson Visible Storage Building, a 4,400-square-foot glass-fronted space designed to maintain exhibits in a climate-controlled state.
Younger museum-goers can gaze longingly at the 800 teddy bears on display in the Americana-focused Root Family Museum before heading to the Charles and Linda Williams Children’s Museum to explore ever-changing, hands-on science exhibits. In addition to assembling and testing model racecars, whippersnappers strum the 16 laser beams of a laser harp and try the "Pull Yourself Up" exhibit. Daily shows in the planetarium continue scientific education by unlocking the night sky’s mysteries, such as why stars don’t go out when you blow on them.
Daytona has a longstanding tradition of beachside racing, and today, the Daytona International Speedway draws hundreds of thousands of racing fans each year to watch world-class champions such as Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Stock-car and motorcycle events round out the calendar all year, highlighted by the Daytona 500 in February—the first race of the Sprint Cup Series and typically regarded as the most prestigious. During insider tours, visitors can go behind the scenes to explore the speedway's elevated press boxes, banked infield turns, and vending machines with travel-size bottles of motor oil.Meanwhile, at Daytona Beach itself, cars toting beach gear roll across the hard-packed sand through oceanfront driving zones. There are also traffic-free areas; in one such pedestrian-only stretch south of town, you can see the Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, named for the famed Spanish explorer who once reputedly searched the area for the Fountain of Youth. There, a spiral staircase winds up to the top of a 175-foot tower, where you can overlook a 52-acre park filled with armadillos, sandpipers, and native wildflowers.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.
Burn Boardsports launches thrill-seekers skyward with experienced space-surfers and a curriculum designed by the International Kiteboarding Organization. A one-hour introductory lesson bestows the first steps toward mastering off-land travel for high-flyers 12 and older (those under 18 require parental permission). Certain safety techniques are highlighted during the session, which fosters skills with a two-line kite while keeping lungs and budding gills safely intact. Novices can establish a proper base to build upon in future lessons, eventually experiencing the thrill of plane-free air travel combined with the style of surfing. Burn Boardsports recommends participants bring sunglasses, sun-block, water, a towel, and cans of potent mermaid repellant. Call Burn Boardsports for available times and to set up a lesson location. Trainers will travel within 20 miles of the Daytona Beach area for lessons.
At Daytona Beach Bingo, up to 300 guests compete for bingo supremacy in a spacious gaming facility with a slew of games and specials each evening. Patrons can settle into lengthy bingo tables and try their luck at progressive jackpots that increase each night when there isn’t a winner. Visitors can also match up winning images in pull-tab games or bet on George Washington’s winning record in presidential elections to help conquer quarter games.
Oceanside Paddlesports' knowledgeable instructors—who are professional standup-paddleboard racers—hook customers up with rental equipment and teach them how to skim across the waters around Daytona Beach in standup paddleboards. The outfit also specializes in surfing, outrigger canoeing, and kayaking, offering lessons and tours with each activity. For those who want their own equipment, the shop sells gear by brands such as Piranha, Kialoa, and Boga.
Teri Lea brings her experience from the front lines of show biz to Ignite Arts Academy, where she works with actors and dancers to hone their crafts. Acting classes range from building strong foundations during a six-week fundamentals course to perfecting the art of the monologue. Dance classes are also available in a variety of styles and levels.