I love to drive up to Melbourne from my town (Vero Beach) just to spend the day shopping, browsing, or the tasty food scene. The historic part of town, East New Haven, has a funky vibe and great shopping. While this is my area of expertise in Melbourne, I visit enough to know quite a lot about this fun city. Hopefully, I can be your guide to visiting Melbourne, FL, through my many visits and fun times as shared in this guide.
Geography first—Melbourne is a huge city that begins near I-95 on the west. It crosses the Indian River (Intracoastal Waterway) to the beachfront areas, including Satellite Beach, Melbourne Beach, Indialantic, and Indian Harbour Beach. It is often an overlooked Atlantic Coast Florida destination with the bigger West Palm Beach cities in one direction and Daytona Beach in the other. However, Melbourne is worthy of a visit, and I feel confident you will feel the same.
What to See and Do in Melbourne, FL
Melbourne is bountiful with picturesque landscapes, a radical art district, gorgeous beaches, and a few attractions you might not be aware of. Here are some of my favorites.
Eau Gallie District
Melbourne’s Eau Gallie District is home to outstanding artist installments, seven galleries, and many great shops and restaurants. The murals are especially noteworthy in this part of town. While in Eau Gallie, you can’t miss a slice of homemade pie from Joan’s Perfect Pie Shop. Check out the cool square heads (maybe LEGOS) mural littered with celebrities and famous names.
Melbourne has beautiful beaches that should not be missed, ones that surfers flock to for catching the perfect wave, and beginner lessons. Many world-famous surfing competitions are held here, two of which I have witnessed just by chance. Quaint surf shops line the street running parallel to the ocean, where you can buy swimsuits, sand toys, floats, sunscreen, and the beloved hermit crab. Longboard House has the most well-known name for your beach and surf gear.each
Also, at the Indialantic Beach access point in an older part of Brevard County, is Ocean Park. This spot is great for sunbathing, surfing, birdwatching, picnicking, or playing beach volleyball.
While the name might be misleading since there are no active dogs running at the Melbourne Greyhound Park, you can still place your simulcast wagers on Thoroughbred, Harness, and Greyhound racing from tracks around the country. What you can do at the Melbourne Greyhound Park is play poker and Las Vegas-style games. There are two floors of gaming to enjoy and a restaurant. I say order the Bada Bing Shrimp Bowl.
The King Center
Concerts, musicians, comedians, dramas, and much more perform at the 100,000+ square-foot King Center for the Performing Arts the Space Coast’s premier live entertainment venue. Regardless of your seat, the view is good at this performance hall that has seen the likes of Ringo Starr, Atlanta Rhythm Section, Hall & Oates, and much more. King Center’s Classic Albums Live series, which premieres every month, is a popular event.
Since you are in the area, why not come visit my beach town, Vero Beach, 45 minutes south of Melbourne?
Melbourne has several parks which are great for walking, biking, jogging, or family-friendly events, perfect in an area where the weather is favorable most of the year. Many have picnic spots and playgrounds. Birdwatching is another popular activity.
Wickham Park is one of Melbourne’s most popular parks, with plenty of space to enjoy the outdoors. Disc golf, an archery range, and equestrian facilities make this park a standout from its peers. At Christmas, Wickham becomes a drive-through holiday wonderland. You can also camp here.
Erna Dixon Park, a nice place for walking amid pine flat woods.
Historic Downtown Melbourne
One of my favorite things to do is explore a historic downtown area, and Melbourne has one of the best. East New Haven is a long street with several offshoots that up the ante for even more things to see and do and places to eat and drink. The murals are divine in this part of town, and parking is relatively easy to find.
Coastal Cloth Baby & Co is terrific for baby and toddler clothing and toys, while Meehan’s Office & Art Supplies is my go-to for paints, markers, adult coloring books, yard flags, and football merchandise. Sendala’s is a fabulous bath store emphasizing body products including Jack Black, Caswell & Massey, and Thymes. Pop into Tallulah 9 for trendy fashions and jewelry and Cottonways for women’s wash & wear casualwear that is perfect for your beach vacation and summer. There are a few nice and well-stocked antique stores, too.
Grab a French pastry or macarons from Jacqueline’s Bakery & Cafe, sure to satisfy your sweet tooth. The coffee and tea from 905 Cafe are excellent or try a cold brew kegged coffee from nearby Bagel 13. One thing you can’t miss in Melbourne is chocolate-covered potato chips from Grimaldi Candies, who, for all I know, might be the first ones making this salty and sweet treat. I’ve been buying them there (in various chocolate flavors such as milk, white, dark) for a decade. They also made chocolate dipped citrus strips because you are in the citrus capital of the country.
For an alcoholic beverage treat, I love Hell ‘n Blazes Brewing Company for artisan craft beer. The brewery resides in a 120-year-old farm supply store and also has a pretty delicious-sounding menu. Not a beer fan? No worries, there are over 25 wines to choose from.
A new offering in downtown Melbourne is the lovely Hotel Melby, featuring the area’s only rooftop lounge. The weekends are especially crowded as hotel guests and visitors sip wine and craft cocktails from the top of this sleek boutique-style hotel. Bonus, the Hotel Melby is within walking distance to the entire historic downtown and is a Tapestrey Collection by Hilton property. If you choose this location, the beach is only ten minutes away and the airport, three.
Need luxury accommodations away from the it all? We recommend the beautiful and waterfront Island View Cottages in nearby Sebastian.
Melbourne has a great zoo, one that doesn’t get mentioned or talked about enough. This 75-acre attraction features nearly 1000 animals with species from Australia, Africa, and South America, to name a few. The sloth and alpaca exhibits are my favorites. Zoo add-ons (an additional ticket or fee is required) include a ropes course, animal encounters, lorikeet and giraffe feedings, and kayaking. Admission is $24.95 for adults and $15.95 for those ages 3 to 11.
While Viera is branching out to become its own address, it will always be Melbourne for myself and the locals. The Avenue Viera is an excellent outdoor shopping and entertainment complex that offers retail shops (think Bath & Body Works, Charming Charlie, Cost Plus World Market), a fantastic Books A Million, and even an AMC Theatre. The Avenue Viera has big stores like Kohls, Belk, Ethan Allen, and Bed, Bath, & Beyond, but the starring attraction is The Melting Pot, a seriously good fondue restaurant.
Andretti Thrill Park
Families will especially love the Andretti Thrill Park. You’ll find an impressive selection of rides, a 100+ game arcade (that even has old-school video games for us old folks), lazer tag, bowling, a ropes course, mini-golf, and paddle boats at this entertainment complex. Andretti’s go-carts are really fun and action-packed—they can go up to 30 mph on the Andretti Challenge, available for those 16 and up.
Where to Eat in Melbourne
Melbourne, also known as Harbor City, is seriously a foodies town. When I tell you that I drive an hour to get there often for a meal, that should speak volumes for how tasty the restaurants are. A few of my favorites are:
- Meg O’Malley’s (Irish favorites, beer, Parliament Bean Soup, Cheese & Ale Crock)
- Matt’s Casbah (flatbreads, beer, sushi, live music)
- Mustard’s Last Stand (best hotdogs ever, Joe Dogmaggio, Island Fries)
- The Beachside Cafe (Reubens, sandwiches, fries)
- Melting Pot (cheese fondue, chocolate fondue, wine, craft cocktails)
- The Burger Place (burgers, fries)
- Crush XI (cocktails, appetizers, Southern fare)
- Backwater (Breakfast dishes: Bennys, Omelets, Juice)
- Coaster’s Pub and Biergarten (sandwiches, soup, beer)
- KeKe’s Breakfast Cafe (amazing breakfast!)
- FM Pizza (great pies and beer)
- Hemingway’s Tavern (excellent Cuban food and coffee)
Jim Morrison House
The frontman and lead vocalist of The Doors, James “Jim” Douglas Morrison was born in Melbourne, Florida, and lived there until he was a teenager. Morrison is an iconic singer, musician, poet, and songwriter. You’ll find his previous homes at 2100 Vernon Place and 1310 US 1, which is where the Brevard Hospital sat where he was born. It is now turned “Riders on the Storm” motel.
Fall in Love With Melbourne
I hope you will find visiting Melbourne, Florida, triumphant in both culture and opportunities. I really love it! You may want to consider making Melbourne your Florida vacation destination with much less traffic and lower prices than some Florida coastal towns. Safe travels!
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