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.
The Ultimate Vero Beach Travel Guide
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.
Visit the Beach
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. 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.
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.
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.
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.
Top Vero Beach Attractions
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 The Bodyguard, La Cage Aux Folles, Lost in Yonkers, and Thoroughly Modern Millie 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.
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.
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.
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.
The Environmental Learning Center 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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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 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.
Art is another plentiful offering in Vero. 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.
Local Restaurant Suggestions
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:
- Sean Ryan’s Pub for Irish eats, trivia, happy-hour
- The Crab Stop for Blue Crab, Crab Legs
- Riverside Cafe for sandwiches, wings, burgers, oysters, views
- C. J. Cannon’s for breakfast, salads, airport views
- Ocean Grill for waterfront views, quiche, Caesar salad
- Savor Restaurant for incredible happy hour deals and Wagyu Beef over Roasted Brussels
- Mulligans Beach House for beachfront tables, burgers, spinach Benedict, breakfast
- Taco Dive for street tacos and smothered tots
- Casey’s Place for outdoor seating, sandwiches, bbq, hot dogs
- Cobalt (Vero Beach Hotel) for Sunday brunch
Not pictured: Kilted Mermaid for fondue, sandwiches, beer tastings, fun (try any of the sweet or savory fondues), Bobby’s Restaurant and Lounge for location, blackened chicken, salads, Nino’s Cafe (at the beach) for cannelloni, burrata, calzones, lasagna, and Barefoot Cafe for sandwiches, homemade sides, smoothies (try the Honduran Baliada Wrap).
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. River City Cafe has huge crowds on weekends, and you might even run into Vero Beach local, country music artist 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.
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.
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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.
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.
What is Vero Beach like? It 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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!
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