If you're looking for NASCAR-focused camaraderie and beer, you can find plenty of both in Daytona Beach's diverse bars. The best of them will be packed to the rafters soon when Daytona Bike Week arrives (March 7-16). Consider this chance your last to party with the laid-back locals.
If you're not too picky, the main drag of U.S. Highway 92 offers a number of familiar but serviceable bars within walking distance of the Daytona International Speedway: Hooters, Bahama Breeze, Daytona Ale House. Local favorite Halftime Sports Pub (2525 W. International Speedway Blvd.) offers the usual sports-bar mix of pool and darts, and an animated crowd if you're hoping to catch the races on TV.
But if you've seen the races live, you're probably itching to get behind the wheel yourself. Hop in the car and head east across the Broadway Bridge to the Daytona Beach Boardwalk area. Here you'll find the notable and notorious biker bars of Main Street, including a concrete piece of NASCAR history. Main Street Station (316 Main St.) claims to be "where stock car racing was born," and the antique gasoline pumps out front drive that point home. In the late 1930s the building was a garage owned by Bill France Sr., a co-founder of NASCAR. Today Main Street Station is a music venue and bar with strong ties to both the biker and racing community. No neon memorabilia here, just strong drinks.
Be sure to check out the equally colorful crowds at the Full Moon Saloon (9 S. Wild Olive St.) and Boot Hill Saloon (310 Main St.). You'll know you're not drinking in Kansas anymore when you see the row of bras hanging above Boot Hill's bar. Those garments include one worn by serial killer Aileen Wuornos.
If you're looking for less Metallica and more Jimmy Buffett, head east on Main Street to State Road A1A and the Daytona Beach Boardwalk, with its Ferris wheel and carnival delights. A short lap down the beach from there, you'll find the Ocean Deck (127 S. Ocean Ave.), a textbook beach-bum bar where you can practically skip stones out on the Atlantic Ocean from the back patio. The downstairs bar features rock and reggae bands, and the margaritas are tasty.
You can get your fill of Budweiser at the Speedway, but if you like your drinks with a bit more character, stroll a few blocks north to the Seabreeze Entertainment District. There you'll find Moonshiners Hideaway and the adjoining Daytona Taproom (308-310 Seabreeze Blvd.), two relative rookies that opened last year. Moonshiners offers a top-notch bourbon selection in an unpretentious country-western setting, and the Taproom boasts the best lineup of draft beers in town: 52 on tap, to be exact, including gems from local microbreweries such as Ormond Brewing.
Looking for a quiet Irish bar to cap off the days of thunder? Best bets are Robbie O'Connell's (550 Seabreeze Blvd.) for some cozy conversation in a dim and smoky setting, or Tir na nOg (612 E. International Speedway Blvd.), Daytona's oldest Irish pub with an eclectic lineup of live bands.
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