Jim Abbott on Florida Travel
Postcards from Florida
April 2, 2011
If one were to identify Daytona Beach by sound, the crash of the Atlantic surf wouldn't be the first thing that comes to mind.
This place likes to introduce itself with a roar: Stock cars tearing around the Daytona International Speedway, hundreds of Harleys rumbling on Main Street for the annual Bike Week. Heck, even the beach comes equipped with cars.
Not that there's anything wrong with horsepower, but my favorite trips to the World's Most Famous Beach don't involve any of those things.
I recently took another lovely Sunday drive, exiting I-95 to leisurely pass the speedway in search of quieter charms.
My first stop was the compact business district around International Speedway Boulevard and Beach Street, just at the foot of the big bridge from the mainland to the beachside.
I was bummed a few months back when one of my favorite independent bookstores closed, but there's good news since then. Daytona Books & Metaphysics (125 W. International Speedway Blvd.; daytonametaphysics.com) has opened in the space that housed Mandala Books for more than a decade. If the shelves look familiar, it's because the rows of fiction, history and philosophy are populated by unsold inventory left behind by Mandala.
In addition, the store has purchased 10,000 used books from another seller in east Volusia County to bring the total inventory to more than 20,000 volumes. It's the place to go if you want to find beach reading or a paperback copy of "War and Peace" for $2. It's also the place to stock up on Lucky Karma beads, stress-relief candles and tumbled stones.
Around the corner on Beach Street, there's another terrific independent bookstore with a long history in the neighborhood. With books stacked from the floors to the high ceiling, Abraxas Books (256 S. Beach St.; 386-258-8060) projects the nostalgic vibe of walking into your grandfather's study. Owner James Sass is unbelievably knowledgeable about what's on the shelves.
Book lovers, go there: Linger and then take a book next door to Stavro's for dinner — or to the beach.