Known for its NASCAR and racing history, Daytona Beach itself is reminiscent of the New Jersey shore, albeit with cars allowed on the beach. Shops and hotels line the oceanfront which, unlike New Jersey, goes on for miles and miles.
We chose to park ourselves a bit north of Daytona in the town of Beverly Beach, a much quieter spot with dog friendly beaches and a more quaint feel.
In addition to craft beer adventures, we enjoy biking and were excited to discover the Lehigh Rail Trail. The Lehigh trail is an amazing 8 mile (+/-) former railway that has been improved and paved through a beautiful section of woodland and swampland, including bridges, boardwalks and benches. It’s one of the nicest bike trails I’ve seen and was impeccably well maintained and offered a great flat ride that was both easy and beautiful. You can find this trail from its beach side by making your way to the large old chimney stack from the former cement plant that this old railway once serviced. If you’re looking for a nice spot to bike or walk as an alternative to the beach, this is highly recommended and completely free.
On the ride back, we stopped at the small farmers market in town (Friday and Saturdays, year round from 8am – 1pm at the intersection of Route 100 and A1A) and picked up some produce for the week.
South on A1A (a nice ride) at the southernmost point of the island is the Ponce De Leon Inlet lighthouse. The second tallest brick lighthouse in the US, it’s actually impeccably well restored and offers a fun and blood pumping chance to climb the 200ish stairs to the top, as the lighthouse keepers did for years to keep the oil lamp burning. You can tour the keepers home and quarters as well as the grounds.
The view from the top is beautiful and the whole adventure offers an interesting look at the lighthouse keepers job and the construction of the brick lighthouse itself. Certainly worth the $5 per person admission and is a great way to spend an hour or so.
The Tomoka state park is just a short ride from there and offers a unique Canoe trail and great sunset views. While it’s not a great park for hiking (actualy the only hiking trail we found was outside the park itself, on the west side of the entrance road) the park has plenty of great spots to fish, canoe or just picnic. Sunset brought a great view and even some dolphins. Similar to most state parks, there’s a $5 fee per car.
Beer (and food)
For the freshest seafood we found on this trip so far, try Flaggers Fish Company. In addition to being a great local fish market, they double as a small restaurant (great idea) offering your choice of preparation on their fish market inventory. The peel and eat shrimp were so well seasoned and delicious we returned twice for more. They have a decent craft beer bottle list, although surprisingly little from Florida. We went with the trustworthy Bells Two Hearted and some Sweetwater 420, both excellent compliments to the spicy shrimp.
A rainy day led to a craving for barbecue and that led to Captains BBQ Bait and Tackle in Palm Coast. This place was no joke, the BBQ is the real deal. No surprise it’s on the Trip Advisors list of top 10 BBQ joins in the US. Deliciously seasoned and perfectly portioned, the pulled pork and brisket were amazing. The sauce selections were limited to just four choices but fit the bill perfectly, from vinegar base to sweet mustard, each complimented the base extremely well. The beer list here was all bottled, but offered a reasonable selection. Again nothing from Florida, but a Fat Tire fit the BBQ bill nicely. It was raining on this visit so we didn’t get to explore the outside but the location is right on the water and next to a park, so it looks like a fantastic place to dine in nicer weather and clearly a great fishing spot as well, considering the restaurant doubles as a bait and tackle shop.
JT’s Seafood Shack was our next stop that rainy night for some pub trivia (Tuesdays from 6:30-8pm). This live hosted trivia was a fun activity for a rainy night, well suited for all skill levels. As a matter of fact if someone didn’t encourage me to change my final answer, we would’ve placed 2nd… JTs is a local bar and grill, the menu was standard fare and the beer list was a bit lacking, but they had some Sweetwater on draft alongside the macros.
If you’re looking for something more of a legit “beer bar” try Break Awayz. This small pub seemed like a new spot in the area (based on the fact that they were installing a sign outside, but could be wrong). On a nice day, there’s a large outdoor deck on the beach side, but the inside atmosphere is a bit awkward as it appears this may have been a golf shop of some variety recently. That aside the bottle list was solid, the 6 draft selections were well curated and the service was excellent. It was here was were able to get our first Florida beer of the trip, some selections from Cigar City. The bartender was great and friendly and gave us some tips on where to pick up some package beers for the holiday weekend, which led to our next stop…
Considering Thanksgiving was the next day, we decided to pick up some Florida beers to sample along with our turkey. ABC liquor outlets are dotted along the coast and have a nice selection of craft beers among the aisles of wines and liquors. Offering the popular “make your own 6 pack” and a 15% discount for 6 or more. We were able to grab some selections from breweries like Intuition Ale Works and Cigar City (give us a follow on Untappd to see our comments on individual beers).
In Daytona beach we hit the small Tomoka Brewery. We were lucky to land there on black friday, when they were offering some barrel aged selections in addition to some of their traditional offerings. The pub also offers some guest drafts, on the day of our visit they had both Jai Lai from Cigar City and a deliciously oddball Sweet Potato beer from Funky Buddah. As for the Tomoka beers, the peppercorn saison was delicious and actually brought us back to the brewery later in the day for another. The barrel aged special drafts were all very good and considering our twitter feed was filled with people hunting down Bourbon County Stout it was nice to have some local bourbon barrel beers while reading about that nonsense.
Also in the Daytona beach area we visited Ormond Brewing. These guys are new and were celebrating their first year in business while we were there. This small brewery is located in an industrial park and you can pony up to the bar right next to the brewhouse. There’s a small bier garden out back and live music on the weekends. The draft offerings were the basics, with the notable exception of a Braggot, which you don’t see too often, and each pretty much held their own.
We chose to stay at the Beverly Beach Camptown, where you can back your Airstream right up to the ocean! Well maintained, small campsites, line the oceanfront. It’s a large park with lots of sites, a well stocked store and a friendly and helpful staff. Of course the real appeal here is the unbeatable beach views and access. Beverly Beach even allows leashed dogs on the beach which made Thor a happy camper as well. A final bonus was that from November through April, beach fires are permitted. We capped off this stop with a nice fire on the beach and some of those local beers we had picked up earlier, setting a scene that until then we thought was only something you saw in teen movies.
Overall, while the Palm Coast area isn’t a craft beer mecca, it offers a nice balance of choices for recreation, relaxation and a fair selection of spots to grab a decent beer. From here it’s on to Cape Canaveral to get some space on!