The Ultimate Guide to Vero Beach, Florida (From a Local)
Vero Beach, Florida, is part of the Treasure Coast on the Atlantic Coast in Central East Florida. Not only is it a town with a beautiful beach and long history as the Dodgers spring training facility, but it is the place I call home. Moving to Vero Beach, halfway between Melbourne and West Palm Beach, was an excellent decision for us. We use these coordinates often when describing where we live to those who aren’t familiar. Is Vero Beach nice? No matter what reason you have for being in Vero Beach, you’ll find much enjoyment in one of the lesser commercialized and prettiest places on the Eats Coast. Here is your ultimate guide to Vero Beach, Florida.
Where to Eat
Vero Beach has several local restaurants that offer tasty dishes, early-bird dining specials, fresh seafood, and the best Asian cuisine for miles. The places I recommend are:
- Waldos (in the historic Driftwood Hotel) for seafood, salads, burgers
- Riverside Cafe for sandwiches, wings, burgers, oysters, views
- The Crab Stop for Blue Crab, Crab Legs, Crab Cakes, casual eatery (share the Snow Special Table Combo)
- Red Onion for Lobster Rolls, sandwiches, salads
- Casey’s Place for outdoor seating, sandwiches, bbq, and hot dogs
- Barefoot Cafe for sandwiches, homemade sides, smoothies (try the Honduran Baliada Wrap)
- Kata Restaurant for Asian eats and Bento boxes (try the Massaman Chicken Curry)
- Savor Restaurant for incredible happy hour deals and Wagyu Beef over Roasted Brussels
- Nino’s Cafe (at the beach) for cannelloni, burrata, calzones, lasagna
- Taco Dive for street tacos and smothered tots
- C. J. Cannon’s for breakfast, salads, airport views
- Kilted Mermaid for fondue, sandwiches, beer tastings, fun (try any of the savory fondues)
- Bobby’s Restaurant and Lounge for location, chicken, salads, service (try the Caesar salad)
- Mulligans Beach House for beachfront tables, burgers, spinach Benedict, breakfast
My favorite meal in town is Traveler’s Shrimp from Waldo’s in the Driftwood Resort. The meal is delicious with fried, coconut, and stuffed (Monterey Jack) shrimp and your choice of two side dishes. Waldo’s is also one of the only places to dine al fresco in Vero Beach.
Settle your sweet tooth with delicious cupcakes from Classic Cupcake, a sweet treat from Cravings, or ice cream from Kilwin’s.
For more dining choices, check out this 42-restaurant guide.
Where to Drink/Nightlife
There are several places for both millennials and baby boomers to meet for a good, cold beer or hang out with friends. Orchid Island Brewery (local citrus used in most of the beers), What-a-Tavern, Bungalow, Kelley’s Irish Pub (great live music on weekends), and Walking Tree Brewery (family-friendly) are the most popular establishments for doing so. Filthy’s Fine Cocktails and Beer is a popular late-night locale with a DJ on weekends.
Grind + Grape or Blue Star are both awesome choices for a glass of wine and flatbread. River City Cafe has huge crowds on weekends, and you might even run into Vero Beach local, country music artist Jake Owen.
What to Do in Vero Beach
The obvious choice for what to do in Vero Beach would be to visit the 26 miles of beautiful beaches. We get asked if Vero Beach is nice from many of our readers, and as you can see for yourself, it is stunning. Vero has some guarded beaches, near Jaycee Park and South Beach, and more secluded spots like Turtle Trail. We sometimes take our dog to Turtle Trail as they are allowed on a leash, plus you walk through a mangrove to reach it.
You can rent kayaks, SUP, and other equipment at Sea Sup Go Paddle & Surf Company and Orchid Island Bikes & Kayaks. If you are just looking to see the beach and take a few pictures, Sexton Plaza Beach has benches, great views, and plenty of parking.
Riverside Theatre is a big draw in Vero Beach (and I volunteer there!), with six Broadway-style shows per season, a bi-monthly comedy zone, and dueling piano show. The 2020 season includes productions of The Bodyguard, La Cage Aux Folles, Lost in Yonkers, and Thoroughly Modern Millie. Often, there is free music and food for purchase outside of the theater on weekends before the shows. Having been a Broadway junkie my whole life, I’d put some of our Riverside Theatre productions up against the NYC ones any day! Vero Beach also has a Children’s Theatre next door that gets excellent reviews and brings in big crowds.
BigShots Golf is a two-story state-of-the-art recreation center where you can play course-simulation golf, arcade games, and munch on tasty items like grilled chicken satay and duck confit flatbread. It is family-friendly, as well.
A Unique Vero Beach Offering
Something special you can do in Vero Beach (Indian River County) is to explore the citrus capital of North America, which ships nearly eight million bushels of citrus around the world annually. Ways you can learn about the tasty gems are with a tasting at Countryside Citrus (beachside) or Poinsettia Groves (since 1947), or a run through the Indian River Citrus Museum.
You can also visit an orange grove at Schacht or Peterson Groves. Be sure to try a honeybell, the prized item of our citrus world. Never had one? The taste is a mix of sweet (like a mandarin orange) and sour (like a grapefruit) and is extra juicy. These are two of the perks for living in Vero Beach.
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Vero Beach Shopping
Shopping opportunities are plentiful in Vero Beach with pricy, luxury boutiques lining Ocean Drive, the Vero Beach Outlets by I-95, and Miracle Mile Plaza in the heart of town. Buying local is a way of life here, so be sure to check out Miracle Mile’s offerings, including Cottonways (ladies fashions), Bark Avenue (pets), and Vero Beach Book Center, a fantastic independent bookstore.
We also have the typical box stores (Best Buy, Target, Home Goods, etc.) along I-60 coming into town from the interstate. You’ll find names like Williams Sonoma, Coach, Restoration Hardware, and Columbia Sportswear stores at the Vero Beach Outlets.
What is Vero Beach like? To me, it’s a ritzy best-kept secret, mixed with a bit of hometown feel and great weather. With the largest population of retired millionaire CEOs in the country (mostly residing at John’s Island), Vero Beach has an enormous amount of wealth. To us, that translates to a great selection of thrift and consignment shops with incredible merchandise. I have never counted, but I would say there are close to 100 of these in our town. If you are looking for treasures and bargains, try Habitat for Humanity, Kaleidoscope Consignments, Humane Society Thrift Shop, and Hope Resale Boutique.
Lastly, The Village Shops, located on A1A, has oak-lined walkways with a treasure trove of luxury boutiques. This is where I take friends visiting Vero Beach to see what we have to offer through gifts, clothing, gourmet food items, and home accessories. Save room for a tasty slice of pie or bread pudding from Citron Bistro.
You can’t come to Vero Beach and not see manatees. These gentle giants are one of the coolest things about this part of Florida. For the best views, go to Round Island (on the Intracoastal), also a great place to picnic, kayak, and enjoy nature. It is 7 1/2 miles south of 17th street and A1A and has a playground, is ADA accessible, and has covered pavilions. Did you know that the modern relative of the manatee is the elephant?
A local favorite thing to do in Vero Beach is to walk around Veteran’s Memorial Island Sanctuary early in the morning to not only get steps in but also for dolphin and manatee sightings. Bring some shelled peanuts and hand-feed the fat little squirrels that will run to greet you. Be patient; they will come. This lovely property dedicated to our veterans is a peaceful, scenic, and a beautiful place to reflect or read a book.
Vero Beach has every outdoor activity imaginable. Premier saltwater fishing is excellent in Vero Beach or the Sebastian River for freshwater fishing. My husband and I enjoy camping only a few minutes outside of Vero Beach at the Sebastian Inlet State Park, also a wonderful place for boating or kayaking. You may also want to do an airboat tour on your visit.
You can even search for treasure diving in the Treasure Coast waters of Vero Beach. To date, $4.5 million has been recovered in gold coins from the eleven 1715 Spanish Treasure Fleets that shipwrecked during a hurricane.
What to See in Vero Beach
The Vero Beach Museum of Art has an extensive collection of lovely pieces in the exhibit halls, rotating galleries of state, national, and regional art, art classes, museum store, and a cute cafe. There are two outdoor sculpture gardens, too.
If you want more art, numerous galleries and upscale boutiques (Gallery 14, Flametree Clay Art, Laughing Dog, and Highwaymen Galleries) are lining the streets of downtown Vero Beach and a few around the beach area, also. First Fridays of every month bring the evening art stroll in downtown Vero with galleries staying open late.
Dodgertown was the name of the famed complex where the Dodgers did their spring training for dozens of years until 2008. I still get asked if they practice here at least once a month. Renamed the Jackie Robinson Training Complex, Dodgertown has recently been revitalized and now houses lodging, 6,500 seat stadium, meeting space, and much more. The complex also hosts training and tournaments for baseball, softball, lacrosse, rugby, football, rowing, swimming, and soccer teams from all over the country.
My favorite attraction in Vero Beach is McKee Botanical Garden. Designed by Waldo Sexton, an eccentric local artist, and philanthropist, McKee is home to 18 acres of serene landscapes and botanicals that are a photographers dream. It’s a great place to learn about native plants and trees, or just enjoy being outside and the beauty of lily ponds, bamboo forests, and garden art.
Where to Stay
Though I live in Vero Beach and don’t have a reason to stay in the hotels, we do have a pretty impressive lineup. The Vero Beach Hotel would be our top pick if we were looking for somewhere to stay. It has an upscale feel, oceanfront rooms, and is pet-friendly. Gloria and Emilio Estefan’s Costa d’Este has a stylish lobby and restaurant, plus a big city vibe, or you can enjoy Old Florida in a shabby chic setting at Driftwood Resort, another Waldo Sexton designed property.
Vero Beach is home to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, which is a Disney vacation club timeshare or private pay vacation destination that is open to the public for spa treatments and dining. The Disney Vero Beach Resort offers tasty breakfasts and dinners at Wind & Waves Grill, special occasion pirate character dining at Seagrape, and Goofy’s Beachside character dining every Saturday. The spa at the Disney Vero Beach Resort is exceptional, offering traditional services as well as some more exotic. Plus, our daughter got married there.
There are 22 miles of pristine beaches in Vero Beach/Sebastian along the Florida Treasure Coast. Known as the “gateway to the tropics,” Vero enjoys the same climate as that of Southern Florida. We don’t have the crowds in Vero as some other Atlantic Coast beaches, but what we lack in people, we make up for in sea turtles. You’ll see their nests marked with orange triangles up and down the beaches. There are hundreds. You know you’ve scored something as impressive as winning a jackpot if you happen to see them hatch and head to the shoreline.
The most well-known beaches are Humiston, Jaycee, and South Beach Parks. Humiston has fun playground equipment and Jaycee is wonderful for picnics, family time, and watching wild rabbits scurry around.
First in the country is Vero’s Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the first federal wildlife sanctuary. Birding is excellent at Pelican Island.
Vero Beach: A Gem on Florida’s Treasure Coast
I’m pretty lucky to live in this gorgeous slice of paradise and can’t wait for you to visit. Life doesn’t get in a hurry in Vero Beach, and we appreciate and conserve our precious scenery and natural attractions. We hope you fall in love with our town and make special travel memories here. Welcome!
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