Daytona Beach not just about speed -- check out these off-track offerings

Sentinel Staff Writer

Although the focus will be on the track for the Coke Zero 400, the Daytona International Speedway isn't the only hot spot in the Daytona Beach area.

In addition to the lure of the World's Most Famous Beach, there are an assortment of clubs and restaurants offering diversions after the sun goes down.

Bear in mind, with hundreds of thousands of fans in town for the big race, there won't be much elbow room at the bars. Likewise, patience on the roads will be a necessity because traffic will make it hard to emulate the speedy moves of NASCAR's heroes on the track.

For that reason, it's a good idea to expand the list of nighttime attractions to neighboring towns such as New Smyrna Beach, Ormond Beach, Port Orange and Ponce Inlet. Yet even in those spots, there will be no shortage of race fans.

Here's an assortment of nightlife options, with some dining and family-friendly ideas in the mix:

In Daytona Beach:

-- Razzles, 611 Seabreeze Blvd., Daytona Beach;; 386-257-6236; A fixture on the scene for more than two decades, the dance club features a 50,000-watt sound system, 11 bar stations and a VIP Ultra Lounge that was renovated in 2007.

-- Bank & Blues Club, 701 Main St., Daytona Beach;; 386-257-9272: Housed in a converted bank building, Bank & Blues is home to a steady lineup of rock and jazz acts. The club also hosts a weekly Wednesday jam night for local players.

-- Dirty Harry's Pub & Package, 705 Main St., Daytona Beach;; 386-252-9877: The bar, a popular Bike Week hangout, features two courtyards and an "outback" area with an outdoor stage.

-- The Aquarium Restaurant and Nightclub, 125 Basin St. Ste 102, Daytona Beach;; 386-255-6477: Stepping inside the restaurant and lounge is like, well, entering an aquarium. The menu specializes in seafood and the nightclub is open late Thursdays-Saturdays, with daily happy hours from 4-8 p.m. and all day on Sundays.

-- Ocean Deck Restaurant and Beach Club, 127 S. Ocean Ave.,; 386-253-5224: Known for its reggae and island music, the club is right on the beach, 1-1/2 blocks south of the Main Street Pier. The party atmosphere is comfortable enough for the family and there's a children's menu available.

-- Ocean Walk Shoppes, 250 N. Atlantic Ave., Daytona Beach;; 386-258-9544; The centerpiece of this beachfront, touristy shopping plaza is a 10-screen multiplex movie theater, a cool option on a hot summer day. There are restaurants and shops, including Bubba Gump's Shrimp Co., and Johnny Rocket's. Family friendly.

Outside of Daytona Beach, but within reach...

-- Down the Hatch, 4884 Front St., Ponce Inlet;; 386-761-4831: This seafood restaurant, a landmark at the Inlet, has been known to attract some NASCAR types. The walls are adorned with photos of famous drivers, but the real attraction is the menu and the sunset over the water.

-- Caffeine Bistro and Wine Bar, 49 W. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach;; 386-672-7277; Yes, there's wine, as well as a selection of domestic and imported beers. The menu ranges from burgers and sandwiches to Mahi tacos and Lobster mac-n-cheese. Dinner reservations are suggested.

-- The Ormond Wine Co., 1108 W. Granada Blvd., Ormond Beach;; 386-615-1001; A combination wine bar and cafe, libations are accompanied by a menu of cheese plates, flatbreads, panini sandwiches and specialty salads.

-- The Flagler Tavern, 414 Flagler Ave., New Smyrna Beach; 386-426-2080: The cozy bar is nestled amid a stretch of old-school Florida shops that manage to keep a laid-back pace even in race weeks. Stroll down to the beachfront and have one of the best burgers anywhere at The Breakers.

-- JBs Fish Camp, 859 Pompano Ave., New Smyrna Beach (7 miles south of The Islander on A1A); 386-427-5747: Terrific fish sandwiches in a tranquil setting that's far away from the roar of the races.

-- The Last Resort, 5812 S. Ridgewood Ave., Port Orange; 386-761-5147; Not much -- make that not anything -- fancy about this hole-in-the-wall bar, but it is the home to a notorious piece of Florida lore. The bar was the stomping grounds of serial killer Aileen Wuornos. Part of the bar's outdoor back wall has been spruced up by movie crews working on the film version of her story.

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