Daytona Beach at a Glance
Location: Florida’s Atlantic coast, 95 miles south of Jacksonville
Access: At the junction of interstates 95 and 4; Daytona Beach International Airport
Hotel rooms: 12,000
Daytona Beach Area CVB
Ocean Center Daytona Beach Convention Complex
Built: 1985, expanded in 2009
Exhibit Space: 205,000 square feet
Other Meeting Spaces: 32 breakout rooms, decks, patios
Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort
Meeting Space: 60,000 square feet indoors, 25,000 square feet outdoors
The Daytona, a Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel
Meeting Space: 10,000 square feet indoors, 10,000 square feet outdoors
Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach
Meeting Space: 10,000 square feet
Who’s Meeting in Daytona Beach
International Shriners Imperial Session: 2017, 2018
International Ceramic Society
Fire Rescue East
A Florida Fun Coast mecca for motorsports, watersports and simple relaxation, Daytona Beach is known for its 23 miles of hard-packed beach that has welcomed motor vehicles for pleasure jaunts and racing for more than 50 years.
In 1948, Bill France founded NASCAR; he built the Daytona International Speedway in 1959. Now, some 10 million visitors a year convene in the city’s ever-burgeoning meetings facilities, marvel at its attractions and play in its waters and on its championship golf courses.
Daytona’s silvery beach, sunshiny days and near-constant sea breezes have made it popular with vacationers for more than a century. The first hotel was built in 1874, and through the years, folks have come to frolic in the sand, sail across the ocean on a catamaran, go deep-sea fishing, shop, toast at seaside tiki bars and revel in a dinner of fresh-caught delights.
Now, thanks to more than $2 billion in ongoing new development and hotel renovations citywide, this Atlantic Ocean-hugging spot is in the midst of a massive overhaul, adding more reasons for tourists and meetings to come.
Host city for the U.S. headquarters for the Ladies Professional Golf Association and for NASCAR, Daytona Beach is among BizBash’s Top 25 Destinations for Small Meetings and one of Golf Digest’s Top 15 Places to Play in the U.S.
Culture thrives here. The 26,000-square-foot Cici and Hyatt Brown Museum of Art, a 26,000-square-foot museum on the campus of the Smithsonian-affiliated Museum of Arts and Sciences, houses the largest private collection of Florida oil and watercolor paintings in the world.
“The first thing we hear from visitors who haven’t been here before or in a long time is, ‘I had no idea,’” said Linda McMahon, the Daytona Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau’s director of group sales. “We have great hotels, meeting facilities and restaurants, plus the Atlantic beach. Attendees and their families can come early and stay late.”
Major Meeting Spaces
The Ocean Center Daytona Beach Convention Complex, in the heart of the Daytona Beach resort area, lies 400 feet from the ocean, within an easy-to-walk two blocks of the center of town. The convention, entertainment and sports complex boasts a 12,000-square-foot Banquet Hall with seating for 850, a 42,000-square-foot arena and 36,000 square feet of meeting rooms with 32 breakouts.
Facility features include award-winning in-house catering, an art gallery and lots of outdoor light.
“We give meeting planners tier-one-city service,” said McMahon. “And we’re one of the most affordable Florida beach destinations.”
At the 744-room Hilton Daytona Beach Oceanfront Resort, the largest convention hotel in Daytona Beach, 8,000 of the total 60,000 square feet of event space is oceanfront, much with floor-to-ceiling glass, and its largest space can hold 2,000 attendees. Its 60 suites include 30 beachfront cabana suites.
“In late 2017, the property had a $25 million renovation of all public and meetings space,” said Kerry Mitruska, director of sales and marketing. “We’re directly across the street from the Ocean Center. A lot of large groups use our space plus the center’s 200,000 square feet.”
The only beachfront Hard Rock in the nation, the four-star, boutique Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach has 200 rooms, music memorabilia from its corporate collection — the world’s largest — and plenty of outdoor, oceanfront venues.
With Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal views, the Daytona Beach Resort and Conference Center, a condo-style property renovated in 2018, has 318 rooms, from studios to suites, and 17,000 square feet of function space.
Just off a $400 million facelift to change the racetrack to a multiuse stadium, Daytona International Speedway, built in 1959 to replace motor sports on the beach, is pure fun. Its 140,000 square feet of meeting space, which can accommodate 75 to 700 guests, includes 75 luxury, track-view suites; the Daytona 500 Club in the infield; and Gatorade Victory Lane, where attendees can snap photos of race winners getting doused with champagne.
Exciting team-building options include the Pit Crew Experience and the NASCAR Driving/Racing Experience. Participants can suit up, climb in with a professional driver and feel the speed, or slide into the window of a racecar and drive it themselves.
“You cannot get in that car, zoom at 150 miles per hour around one of the most iconic tracks and not have a good time,” said Kelly Kinney, sales manager for marketing and conventions.
Directly across the street, the $150 million One Daytona is a something-for-everyone complex with farm-to-table restaurants for a dine-around, shops, a movie theater, live entertainment in fountain-bedecked Victory Circle and 35,000-square-foot GameTime, event space for 700 and team building galore. Its Rock Bottom Restaurant and Brewery can host 20 to 500 for “intimate parties to blowout buyouts.”
Groups can stay at The Daytona, a Marriott Autograph opening this spring, and at a new, 105-suite, upscale Fairfield Inn and Suites, designed as a model for the entire chain.
After the Meeting
In addition to fast cars, Daytona Beach embraces its history, waters and wildlife, and offers a plethora of fun things to do.
Visitors to the 175-foot-tall Ponce de Leon Inlet Lighthouse, first lit in 1887, can climb 203 steps for magnificent views of the beach and the vast Atlantic Ocean. Groups of 25 can toast the full moon on an evening tour. Next door, the Marine Science Center is a storehouse of area ecology, including sea turtle and seabird rehab, and a huge aquarium.
Locals dub Florida’s first luxury estate as “the house that hats built.” The High Victorian, 1886 Stetson Mansion was originally the winter retreat of hatmaker and philanthropist John B. Stetson, with guests such as President Grover Cleveland, the king and queen of England and Thomas Edison, who installed one of the world’s first home electric systems there.
Though the home is privately owned, groups can book tours.
At De Leon Springs State Park, naturally flowing water was used to turn first a sugar mill, then a Civil War-era gristmill. Today, the park features swimming, hiking, kayaking and canoeing on 22,000 acres of natural water and eco/history boat tours to ogle manatees. Guests can make their own blueberry pancakes on tabletop griddles at the park’s Old Spanish Sugar Mill and Griddle House.
A great break from a meeting room, the Daytona Beach Ale Trail provides sips at craft beer breweries, wine bars and distilleries. The Copper Bottom Brewery spices its Florida-crafted specialty swigs with bootlegger legends from Florida’s colorful past.