Even though there are many rallies across this great country of ours, when you hear someone say “Bike Week”, Daytona is the one that comes to mind more often than not. With 2017 being the 76th year of the rally, the amount of activities has increased to the point of sensory overload. With so many options, you could miss out on some of the staples, regardless of how many times you’ve attended. This is my list of must see places for Daytona this year. This may not be the “Holy Grail” list, but if I could only go to a few spots, these would be my choices.
1. Main Street
While Main Street isn’t as wild as it was in the past, it’s still a place everyone should experience at least once. This is the heart of Daytona and is home to many world renowned bars. Riders get to Main Street early to jockey for position to park their bikes to show off and check out the machines lining the street. Everything from raked out panheads to stretched Hayabusas with 300mm rear tires can be seen in the constant flow of bike traffic on Main. As you walk the sidewalks you’ll hear revving engines and killer music bellowing out of the bars and from stages set up just for the rally. Along with the plethora of bikes, is some nice eye candy serving up drinks at beer tubs up and down the strip. Hit the strip, buy a souvenir, and take some pics.
2. The Speedway
Daytona International Speedway is another must see. If it wasn’t for racing, there may not even be a Daytona Bike Week, so go check out the fun. You don’t have to be a race fan either, because there is so much more going on. The huge vendor area provides anything you could ask for to repair or customize your motorcycle, with most offering installation while you wait. The J&P Cycles big rig set up is right in the mix alongside Vance & Hines, Mustang, Kuryakyn, and so many more key players in the industry. It’s not just the big time guys though. There are several small companies with innovative products set up to show you their latest and greatest. There are also new bike test rides done leaving from the track, which will let you check out that new ride you’ve been dreaming about. All of this, plus world class racing of almost every variety can be found throughout the rally.
3. Willie’s Tropical Tattoo Bike Show
The chopper show at Willie’s is an event like no other. The coolest rides in Daytona show up and literally fill the parking lot of the tattoo shop on US1. When I say fill the parking lot, I’m talking 10lbs of poop in a 5 lb bag. Back yard builds lined up right beside chops built by some of the heavy hitters with only inches in between them. If you have any love for hard ridden, real deal, motorcycles, ya gotta hit up Willie’s. You may even leave with a new tattoo…
4. Destination Daytona
While it’s not even in Daytona, Destination Daytona has become one of the most visited areas of bike week. J&P Cycles has a huge store with their parking lot full of other vendors making it a one stop location to get anything and everything you need for you and your motorcycle, with mechanics ready to install most anything. There is also Rossmeyer Harley-Davidson, where you can get a new bike or just another t-shirt for your collection. The area offers food from sit down dining to food carts. There are small events to check out at destination as well. If you’re in a group, it’s the place to go, because there is something for everyone.
5. Sopotnick’s Cabbage Patch
You don’t have to be interested in cole slaw wrestling to go to the Cabbage Patch. While it has been a draw for many years, the wrestling is a small part of the festivities going on during the rally. From live music to the Harley Rodeo and Japanese bike destruction, The Cabbage Patch has been one of “the spots” to hit for years.
6. Rat’s Hole Show
The Rat’s Hole Custom Bike Show has been going on for 45 years. That means it started way back in 1972. The show has featured some of the wildest and most innovative bikes in the world and is always full of master pieces. For anyone who loves show quality custom motorcycles, the Rat’s Hole Show is a must.
7. Swap Meet
There are still many guys like me that love to hunt through piles of parts looking for that special something. The Swap Meets in Daytona are perfect for digging up old treasures. There have been a few bike week swap meets, but the two I will be most likely caught at are the Annual Swap at the Daytona Flea Market and the Volusia County Fairgrounds Swap Meet Extravaganza. These swap meets have tons of small events included, like several bike shows, and live music, and of course plenty of refreshments.
8. US 1 Party Spots
It just wouldn’t be bike week without hitting at least one of the party spots along US1 in Ormond Beach. The Iron Horse Saloon has bands every night. From my buddies, JB Walker and the Cheap Whiskey Band to the country music veteran David Allan Coe and tons of others. The Broken Spoke has some great music as well, with the band Hairball headlining many nights. This band puts on the most amazing 80’s tribute you will ever see. The Beaver Bar is another good spot to chill out, see some entertainment and grab some grub. There are many more, you will have to go check them all out and decide for yourself which you like best.
9. The Ride
The thing that brings all of these places together is motorcycles, so get out and enjoy the ride. For much of the country, this is your first opportunity to escape the cage and get some wind therapy. Go ride the beach, Main Street, or just tool around Volusia County enjoying the palm trees and spring weather.
As I said, this isn’t the “Holy Grail” list. These are just some of the places I’ve been visiting for the past couple of decades. If there is a place you think is a must see that I didn’t mention, tell me. I’m always open to check out new spots, and maybe your suggestion will be in next year’s guide to Daytona.
Ride em, don’t hide em,