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Daytona: Still Fun In The Sun

by Kathryn Lemmon, Wedding Zone Staff Writer

Some things never change, like our image of Daytona, Florida. Sand, sun and driving on the beach are all part of the Daytona experience and fortunately, that hasn't changed in over a hundred years.

If you're planning a honeymoon in the coming months, consider sunny Daytona. Above and beyond the great weather, the area has sights to see, fine dining, and enough sand and surf to make even a hard-core beach person giddy.

It's still a novelty, not-to-mention just plain fun, to drive on the beach. Because the sand conditions are just right, Daytona is one of the few places it's possible. Seeing the cars along the water made me think of those old, but lovable beach movies from the 50's and 60s. A note of caution, the city has designed driving areas, and a ten mile-per hour speed limit is enforced.

Of course, the groom will love Daytona Speedway and the Daytona USA, but not-to-worry brides, you'll enjoy it too. Called The World Center of Racing, Daytona Speedway history goes back to 1903, when the races were held on the beach. The hard-packed sand provided the scene for more than 30 years of speed trials. Eventually an official track was constructed, which opened in 1959. Track tours are offered daily from 9:30 to 5:00 and begin every thirty minutes. The cost is $6.00.

Daytona USA, opened in 1996 and is an interactive motorsports attraction filled with the sights and sounds of racing. Their film presentation in "ThunderRoundSound," is a must-see. In the film, the Daytona 500 race comes to life in a big way. After experiencing this high-energy movie, you'll understand why auto racing has a huge following. Other exhibits explain the history of racing in the Daytona area.

Another alternative to the beach is the Daytona Flea and Farmers Market. If you've got the time, they've got the merchandise, with 1000 vendors under one roof. The market is entertaining for a walk-through or for an entire afternoon and would be a good place to pick up gifts for family back home. You'll be amazed at their low prices.

If you care to check out other attractions in Daytona, I can suggest a tour of the Angell & Phelps Chocolate Factory (with delicious free samples at the end!) or the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences.

The Bahama House, situated on the oceanfront, makes an ideal choice for accommodations in Daytona. Their rates include a continental breakfast in the morning and complimentary cocktails in the evening. There are plenty of high rise hotels along this stretch of beach, but the friendly staff at the Bahama House are a cut-above and will treat you right.

Their large rooms are equipped with full kitchens, so after a stock-up trip to the grocery store, food and drink will always be close at hand. Nothing starts a day better than sipping your morning coffee on a breezy, warm balcony, as you watch the waves roll in. The Bahama House also has an outdoor pool and I can personally vouch for their relaxing, hot tub.

For Italian food with flair, plan a dinner at Buca di Beppo in Daytona. Remember when your mother admonished, "share with your little brother!" Well, that's the theory at Buca; typical southern Italian style dining. Their portions are designed for two or more. Why sit through a single, boring entree, when you can sample several? Makes perfect sense. Was it the Italians who said, variety is the spice of life? Their chicken marsala is delectable and so tender, you won't need a knife.

Surrounded by kitsch photos of Sofia Loren, Frank Sinatra and the Pope, Buca doesn't let the tiniest bit of wall space peek out. Us Yanks continue to love all things Italian, so they take "Italian" to the limit. Buca is a bawdy throw-back to the Italian supper clubs of the 1940s and 1950s. You gotta love a place that strings Christmas lights on a statue of the Madonna and has a name that translates to: Joe's basement. Oh, and did I the mention the food is great?

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