Earlier this year, I reported in this space about a happy collision between my music and travel assignments, a Paul McCartney concert at Sun Life Stadium in Miami that offered the opportunity to hang at too-trendy-for-me South Beach.
Not bad, eh?
This past weekend, my worlds collided again as the American Music Festival resulted in a long stretch of hanging around the beachside neighborhood of the Ocean Center in Daytona Beach.
Beach driving and the Jonas Brothers isn't exactly the Art Deco District, but you work with what you've got.
The American Music Festival, with a roster that also included Tony Bennett and Buddy Guy, was touted as a way to entice visitors back to the World's Most Famous Beach outside of the annual rites of spring break and Bike Week.
So what is there to do around the Ocean Center?
There's the beach, obviously.
Personally, I'd rather look at the ocean than go into it. And, even with the presence of cars on the sand, there's no way to knock the appeal of staring out at the blue water, preferably with a drink in your hand. Although there are certainly more rustic places to do that than next to the cheesy boardwalk amusement rides next to the Main Street Pier, the ocean is still awesome.
Alas, that tiny spit of Main Street that extends from North Atlantic Avenue to the ocean is more like the setting for a Springsteen song (one of the bleak ones) than a bustling tourist district. The pier itself is sealed off by an iron gate for renovations expected to be done this fall.
The Ocean Walk Village, next to the towering Hilton hotel, is home to a Sloppy Joe's, Bubba Gump Shrimp Co., Wing House and a multiplex. It works in a mall food court way.
A better option: Head a few blocks south to the Ocean Deck, a beachside institution that offers dinner with a view. I settled for the enclosed, air-conditioned section, rather than the rowdier open-air bar.
A famous spot on a famous beach.