I almost didn’t write this post. This post is after all about Florida (most of us have been there!) and a place my family has come to annually for the past twelve years (of course it would be special to us!) so what would I tell you then that sets Vero Beach apart from any other Florida beach vacation? Well, I easily realized I could come up with five reasons!
1. Not Your Typical Florida Beach Town
For starters, Vero Beach is an absolute hidden gem of an almost begotten era of a Florida beach town. Boutique hotels (recommendation: South Beach Place) and private homes are scattered along the coast and while there are a couple of big names in hotels, (Disney at Vero Beach which is a random yet small, pretty resort that is only one of two Disney properties outside Orlando and Gloria Estefan’s art deco swoon of a hotel, Costa D’ Este) no building is allowed to exceed four stories in Vero Beach. With that, you get the sense you are in a charming coastal village rather than an over developed waterfront city that unfortunately a lot of Florida has given way to. You will find great boutique shopping in downtown Vero Beach but you will also find a good old fashioned independently owned pharmacy, Corey’s, and the Islander Inn, a throw back to the 1950’s motor lodge reminiscent to Old Florida.
2. Unspoiled Beaches
If you are not staying on the water, there is public beach access up and down the coast. By public, I mean a few parking spaces outside a beach trail where spots always seem available. That is because here you experience virtually private and untouched white sand beaches for as far as the eye can see. Yes please!
3. Activity in Natural Surroundings
Life is centered around the water and sun of course but in doing so, you are often in natural surroundings. I log a ton of hours biking along historic Jungle Trail hugging the Indian River and my family logs even more hours fishing on the river’s piers. I love Sebastian Inlet State Park where you can go throw a fishing line in at the pier or spend the afternoon watching the surfers take the waves. The park also offers sea turtle nesting tours in season, as Vero is home to one-fourth of the world’s sea turtle nests. We did this a couple of years back and were able to witness a mama sea turtle lay her eggs on a moonlit beach night. It was incredible! Kayaking in the Indian River lagoon, which is home to more than 3,000 species of plants and animals, is also a great activity to do on the water. There are options for taking dolphin and manatee cruises or an Airboat ride to get up close (really close!) with alligators and other Florida wildlife. Speaking of wildlife, America’s first wildlife refuge center is based in the area, Pelican Island.
4. Culture Outside the Beach
If you are in need of a break from the sun, there are plenty of cultural actives to engage in. Yes, there IS culture in a beach town! You can see an opera, watch a Tony Award winning play, peruse art galleries or head to my favorite, the Vero Beach Art Museum. It is a small but impactful museum offering a variety of programs and exhibits, including Deborah Butterfield’s jaw dropping cast bronze horses that we saw on our last visit.
Of course you can find restaurants in any resort town but Vero Beach offers some of the best and options are plentiful. While the beaches might be quiet, the restaurants are filled with beach goers and liveliness. For fine dining, an award winning wine list and the best prepared grouper around, head to The Tides. If you are looking for great fish in a more casual and rustic setting then the Ocean Grill is a Vero Beach favorite. If seafood is not your thing there are excellent choices in Italian, Caribbean and Bistro style fare. A favorite recommendation is the Citron Bistro. For breakfast nothing beats the Lemon Tree. Great burger and fries? We never leave Vero without heading to Casey’s Place. Looking for great margaritas and live music? Local hot spots Captain Hiram’s and the historic Driftwood Resort are a must. Hit Captain Hirmam’s at the end of the day to see the local catches for the day coming in to the docks and as for the Driftwood, you will feel your are right on the set of a Priates of the Caribbean movie! If dining out all the time is not your thing, one of our favorite things to do is to head to Crab E Bills seafood market to get local fresh fish to prepare at home. For a great selection of wine and gourmet food stop in at Alimentari Market. Make sure to tell Javier hello for me! Finally don’t forget to grab all the fresh citrus you can at Poinsettia Citrus on Route 1, harvested from the groves that are just inland and up the road!
Yes, Vero Beach is special to me because of all the wonderful memories that have been captured there for my family. Yet Vero Beach is also truly an unspoiled corner of Florida that is a rarity in the Sunshine State. Whether you are a nature lover, water fanatic or simply want to enjoy wonderful shopping and fine dining in a peaceful seaside setting, I would definitely add Vero Beach to your travel list.
Thanks for stopping by!
Getting there-Directly out of Chicago, there are only two ways to reach Vero Beach. Fly into Orlando and drive 1.5 hours or fly into Palm Beach and fly 1.5 hours. If you live in Atlanta, there is direct service to the Melbourne, FL airport which puts you at about 45 minutes outside of Vero. If you are used to flying into the likes of Miami, Orlando, Ft. Meyers and Tampa to reach a beach, this seems like a very long travel day. Well, it is, but this is what makes the area so great-a little untouched and un-touristy (I may have just made up that word!)