Vero Beach sand and sky

The Ultimate Vero Beach Travel Guide (From a Local)

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Our ultimate guide to Vero Beach, Florida, includes what to see, do, where to eat, and suggestions from a local for a fun-filled vacation.

No matter what reason you have for being in Vero Beach, you’ll enjoy being in one of the lesser commercialized and prettiest places on the East Coast. We love living here and having friends and tourists to visit. You might say we are proud to share our little slice of paradise. Here is your ultimate guide to visiting Vero Beach, Florida.  

Vero Beach, Florida, is part of the Treasure Coast on the Atlantic Coast in Central East Florida. It is a town with a beautiful beach and long history as the Dodgers spring training facility, and also the place I call home. Moving to Vero Beach, halfway between Melbourne and West Palm Beach, was an excellent decision. We use these coordinates often when describing where we live to those who aren’t familiar.

vero-beach-florida-ocean

Visit our Beaches

The obvious choice for what to do in Vero Beach would be to visit its 22 miles of pristine and beautiful beaches along Florida’s Treasure Coast. Known as the “gateway to the tropics,” Vero enjoys the same climate as South Florida.

Vero Beach and blue skies

We don’t have the crowds in Vero as some other Atlantic Coast beaches, but what we lack in people, makes 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 see them hatch and head to the shoreline.

baby on beach wearing hat and shoes

The most visited beaches are Humiston, Jaycee Park, and South Beach, and more secluded spots like Turtle Trail. Humiston has fun playground equipment, and Jaycee is great for picnics and spotting the wild rabbits. All are good for swimming and sunbathing, but keep in mind that we have rip currents, which can be dangerous. We get asked if Vero Beach is nice from many of our readers, and as you can see for yourself, it is stunning.

Vero Beach sand and sky
lifeguard shack in Vero Beach

Near the Beach Offerings

If you just want to look at the beach and enjoy the ocean’s fresh salty air and sound, Vero Beach has a handicapped-accessible boardwalk that is perfect for just that. Enjoy the sunrise, a brisk walk, photography options, and the spectacular scenery steps from the beach.

beach day in Vero Beach
walking on Vero Beach boardwalk

Indian River Lagoon

If the beach isn’t a desire for you, we also have the Indian River Lagoon, situated between the barrier island and downtown Vero Beach. Boating, jet skiing, water skiing, and kayaking are abundant there. Two picturesque bridges offer a place to walk or ride bicycles or make for incredible photos. Or, admire the bridges from A.W. Young Park and Royal Palm Pointe, excellent parks with picnic facilities and social distancing space. 

royal palm pointe park

Riverside Theatre

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 2021 season includes Carousel, Billy Elliott, On Your Feet, and Almost Heaven productions. There is often free music and food for purchase outside of the theater on weekends before the shows. Vero Beach also has a Children’s Theatre next door that gets excellent reviews and brings in big crowds.

riverside theater vero beach

Vero Beach Museum of Art

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.

vero beach museum of art

BigShots Golf

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.  

golfing at big shots golf

Dodgertown

Dodgertown was 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 was recently 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 worldwide. 

ELC

The Environmental Learning Center (ELC) is a fascinating attraction with museum exhibits, hands-on learning, and outdoor rentals. You can take a boat ride, kayak, or go on a guided excursion to learn about nature and ecotourism. We love the easy hiking paths. ELC is great for kids, but adults will get something out of a visit, too.

kid at touch tank environmental learning center vero

McKee Botanical Garden

I take friends and family who visit 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 photographer’s 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.

Lilly pads at McKee botanical garden
McKee botanical garden flowers and plants

Outdoors

I often get asked, “What is there to do in Vero Beach”? Outdoor attractions are a big draw in Vero Beach. You can rent kayaks, SUP, and other equipment at Sea Sup Go Paddle & Surf Company and Orchid Island Bikes & Kayaks. Premier saltwater fishing is excellent here or the Sebastian River for freshwater fishing. 

outdoor activities Vero Beach

You can’t come to Vero Beach and not see our 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?

round island Vero Beach
manatee hunting in Vero Beach
manatees in Vero Beach

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.

Vero Beach has great parks. Locals like to walk around Veteran’s Memorial Island Sanctuary early in the morning to get steps in and 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. There are several parks and playgrounds for kids to enjoy, as well.

playground Vero Beach

Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge

First in the country is Vero’s Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, the first federal wildlife sanctuary. Birding is excellent at Pelican Island, plus it is another option for a stroll and enjoying nature. You can enjoy a nice walk or hike at this spacious, picturesque setting, and parking is easy and accessible.

Hungry ibis looking for food in Vero Beach.
pelican island viewing area

Art Offerings

Art is another offering in Vero. There are numerous galleries and upscale boutiques (Gallery 14, Flametree Clay Art, Laughing Dog, and Highwaymen Galleries) lining downtown Vero Beach streets and a few on Ocean Boulevard. The first Fridays of each month bring the evening art stroll in downtown Vero with galleries staying open late. Look for the colorful and Instagram-worthy murals around town, too. 

Vero Beach florida mural
colorful mural in downtown Vero Beach

Local Restaurants

Vero Beach has several local restaurants that offer tasty dishes, early-bird dining specials, fresh seafood, and the best Asian cuisine for miles. Some of the places I like on the mainland are The Crab Stop for snow crab legs, C.J. Cannon’s for breakfast dishes, namely omelets and Benedicts, Sean Ryan’s Pub for Irish food and trivia Tuesdays, and Kilted Mermaid for fondue, craft beer, and delicious sandwiches.

mainland Vero Beach food pics fondue snow crab legs omelet

On the island, Casey’s Place is excellent for a quick lunch (try their BBQ sandwich), Nino’s Cafe (Easter Lily Lane) has the best Italian food in town (I’m crazy for their cannelloi), and Bobby’s Restaurant and Lounge is great any time of day for blackened chicken, salads, and soup. Michael’s on 7th is another tasty option, with quality ingredients and an ever-changing upscale menu.

Caseys place bbq and fries
gourmet sandwich from Michael's on 7th

My favorite meal in town is Traveler’s Shrimp from Waldo’s in the historic Driftwood Resort. The plate is filled with fried, coconut, and stuffed (Monterey Jack) shrimp and your choice of two side dishes; I never miss the pasta salad. Waldo’s is also one of the only places to dine al fresco in Vero Beach. 

waldos at the driftwood

Grab a freshly roasted coffee, tea, or other favorite beverage from our newest coffee shop, Coffee House 1420 in Downtown Vero Beach. This shop is great for meeting a friend, working remote, or gearing up for a stroll around our local shops and art galleries downtown. If you have a toddler, they can make special drinks just their speed and have pretty pastries to pair with them.

coffee house 1420 baby with cookie and drink

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. What-a-Tavern, Kelley’s Irish Pub (great live music on weekends), and Walking Tree Brewery (family-friendly) are the most popular establishments for doing so. River City Cafe has huge crowds on weekends, and you might even run into Vero Beach local, country music artist Jake Owen.

vero-beach-florida-jake-owen

Filthy’s Fine Cocktails and Beer is a popular late-night locale with a DJ on weekends. You have ultimate beach views and upscale surroundings at the outdoor bar at the Costa d’Este Beach Resort. 

costa-d-este-frozen-drinks

Vero Beach Shopping

There are numerous shopping opportunities. Choose from luxury (but pricey) boutiques lining Ocean Drive, The Village Shops, Miracle Mile Plaza (in the heart of town), and the Vero Beach Outlets by I-95.

Ocean Drive’s selections consist of high-end fashion boutiques, home decor and accessories, jewelry, and souvenir shops. At The Village Shops, north on A1A, check out these cool shops: Noteworthy by Design, Alimentari Gourmet Market, Elegance but the Sea, and Coastal Comforts. On Saturdays, there is an open-air farmers’ market that the locals flock to.

downtown Vero Beach shopping and dining
the village shops at vero beach

Buying local is a way of life here, so check out Miracle Mile’s offerings, including Cottonways (ladies fashions), Bark Avenue (pets), and Vero Beach Book Center, a fantastic independent bookstore. You’ll find names like Williams Sonoma, Coach, Restoration Hardware, and Columbia Sportswear stores at the Vero Beach Outlets. Or, we also have box stores (Best Buy, Target, Home Goods, etc.) along I-60 coming into town from the interstate.  

Vero Beach book store

What is Vero Beach Like?

Vero Beach is an elegant 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. 

vero-beach-florida-outlet-mall

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. You can learn about the tasty gems with a tasting at Countryside Citrus (beachside) or Poinsettia Groves (since 1947), or a run through the Indian River Citrus Museum.

downtown buildings in Vero Beach

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.

countryside citrus

Where to Stay in Vero Beach 

Though I live in Vero Beach and don’t have a reason to stay in the hotels, we do have an 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. You can enjoy Old Florida in a shabby chic setting at Driftwood Resort; another Waldo Sexton designed property.

Vero Beach hotels
gloria Estefan's hotel in Vero Beach

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. 

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort

Vero Beach is home to Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, 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 and some more exotic. Plus, it is special to us since our daughter got married there.

disneys-vero-beach-resort
vero beach disney resort pool

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. I hope you fall in love with our town and make special travel memories here. Welcome!

Vero Beach Photos

merrill barber bridge Vero Beach
Walking across the Merrill Barber Bridge.
bridge over Indian River lagoon
murals and canals of Vero Beach florida
Vero Beach, Florida is a beautiful hidden gem in the sunshine state.
wherever I may roam ladies
Vero Beach theatre plaza

Pin This Post For Later!

drinks from costa d'este Vero Beach
Guide to visiting Vero Beach, Florida

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