Nice place to visit, for a week, then go home.
It's important to know there are two Daytonas. There's Daytona Beach, which is where, well, the beach is. Then there's Daytona on the mainland side of things. These are two very different things. Daytona is home of the racetrack and a big 'ol flea market. The downtown is pretty sad. There isn't much there. When we lived there, there was one real coffee house that we didn't like (Marly's), one Christian coffee house, some antique stores, a Christian Science Reading Room, a very small time theater of sorts, and a few restaurants that weren't much to write home about. The Popeye's was probably the best of the bunch. The local bus station was downtown too, which was basically a refugee camp for felons. This is not inaccurate, the wife and I rode the bus, and refused to catch it at the Votran station, preferring to catch it after it had swung out of there because the station was downright scary day or night. Politics are far right Tea party type, and the France family and the developers run the city, much to it's detriment. They even have developers on the Tourism board!!! There's a lot of poverty too, and blacks have a tough time of it due to the city's less than enlightened hiring practices. Lots of crime on the mainland side too. Plenty of rednecks. There are a few people downtown who think they're "hip", which is pretty sad because there is NO hip anything in Daytona. Please.
Daytona Beach is just what it is. A beach town that has the view of the ocean blocked by huge hotels. All the mom and pop motel/hotels are about gone, and the beach boardwalk is essentially gone as well. Too bad, because in years past it was fun there. There is a large part of the city on the Daytona Beach side that is ghetto. How people can let prime real estate get this way is beyond me. Lots of tweakers and alcoholics. There are nice neighborhoods, but you have to travel down the beach in either direction away from the pier to find them. When the bike guys come, leave. Believe me, both Daytona and Daytona Beach are awful during those times and the noise is deafening. There is very little to do other than go to the beach and try not to get run over by the cars that are allowed to drive on the beach. Every year someone is run down. It's a real, real stupid idea, but that's what the locals hang their hat on, that they used to race on the beach. It was dumb then, and it's super dumb now. There is little mingling between races, and when I and the wife went anywhere (I'm white and she is black), we were always the only mixed race couple.
I'm only giving two stars because the beach and water are so beautiful. But that alone isn't enough to live in Daytona unless you're a snowbird maybe.
steve | ,