Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of the oldest refuges of its kind in the country, and is home to dozens of varieties of birds in addition to its namesake pelicans.
Pelican Island is a big attraction for nature lovers and bird watchers, but many of the island’s inhabitants are only around for parts of the year, so many savvy bird lovers time their visits to coincide with that of the ones they’d like to see.
The refuge’s entrance is on Wildlife Way in Vero Beach, and a variety of staff-led programs are offered periodically, so check their website for specifics.
Featuring five distinct galleries spread over more than 50,000 feet of floor space, the Vero Beach Museum of Art is one of the central Atlantic coast’s premier art museums and ranks high on the list of must-see attractions for art aficionados who find themselves in the area.
The museum’s focus is on prominent state and national artists; though much of what’s on display is contemporary, there are a number of older pieces as well.
Works include paintings, art glass, and sculpture, and there’s a wing that’s dedicated to educational and community outreach programs that are big hits with locals.
Located on Live Oak Drive in Vero Beach, the Environmental Learning Center is set on a 60-plus acre site that’s comprised of both indoor space and pristine natural habitats.
The center’s interactive exhibits include live animals, a visitor’s center and gift shop, and several areas dedicated to the educational and instructional courses offered by the staff.
There’s an idyllic lagoon on-site as well, and pontoon boat tours are available regularly.
Most guests choose to see the center partly on their own and partly by joining a regularly scheduled tour. Expect to spend a few hours on site.
Vero Beach’s McKee Botanical Garden isn’t the state’s largest, but it packs a lot of natural punch into its 18 acres.
The garden is really several distinct cultivated areas with unique themes. They’re each connected by well-marked and easily traversed paths that include plenty of informative plaques, so in addition to appreciating the flora’s beauty, you’ll be able to learn about them as well.
The grounds feature waterfalls, ponds, and quiet seating areas, and offer some community enrichment programs as well.
The entrance is located on Highway 1 just outside of town and can get crowded during peak times.
Though Vero Beach has some developed municipal beaches that are both beautiful and convenient, for those who prefer those areas less traveled by most tourists, there are several more remote and less-visited options too.
The Seagrape Trail gives outdoorsy types access to Vero Beach’s more rugged stretches of shoreline; though there aren’t many amenities or lifeguards, for many vacationers, they’re just what the doctor ordered.
Most of the beaches along the trail lie between Wabasso and North Beach, and many of them are turtle hatcheries. They may be restricted during certain times of the year, so check in advance of your trip.
Though most visitors associate Florida’s coast with warm water and perfect waves, during storms in the open sea, the Atlantic can turn into an epic wrecking ball that’s been devastating boats and ships since the beginning of time.
In the early 18th century, a large storm sank a significant portion of Spain’s massive fleet. Along with ships and crewmen, untold amounts of gold and silver went to the bottom too.
The history that goes along with the treasure hunters trying to find and recover those precious metals is long, twisted, and almost surreal, and there’s no better place to take it all in than the McLarty Treasure Museum.
The Hallstrom Farmstead was a pineapple farm that was cultivated by Scandinavian immigrants in the 1890s; it’s now one of the area’s most well-preserved examples of a pioneer-era home and farm, giving visitors interesting insights into the lives and occupations of those hearty folks who settled the area when it was wild and dangerous.
The farmstead is managed by the Indian River County Historical Society and covers about five acres.
The collection includes furniture and housewares, photographs, personal memorabilia, and first-hand accounts of the family who worked the plot.
It’s located on Old Dixie Highway SW, and most guests spend between an hour and two on-site.
The Farmers Market Oceanside hasn’t been around as long as some of the state’s other farmers markets, but it has attracted quite a loyal following in recent years. In addition to fresh and seasonal Florida produce, vendors sell meat and dairy products, arts, crafts, and health and body products, as well as a number of prepared food items.
Like many farmers markets, it’s as much a social event as it is a shopping opportunity, and it all takes place on Saturdays from 8 AM until noon.
It’s dog-friendly too, but canine companions must be leashed and cleaned up after, so bring baggies and hand sanitizer.
Vero Beach’s Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area – or ORCA – is comprised of more than 400 pristine acres in the southern portion of Indian River County.
The conservation area includes a variety of natural habitats like lagoons and Palmetto scrub. There are several trails that give visitors relatively complete access, and due to its sheer size, it’s common to find long stretches of empty trail.
With multiple entrances that are convenient to reach from different areas, the park’s staff offer seasonal, guided tours. You can also check out their other programs, like the ever-popular Coastal Wetlands Walk which is held the first Saturday of the month.
Located on Riverside Park Drive, Riverside Theatre is a local performing arts venue that’s capable of seating hundreds of visitors.
Throughout the year, the theater hosts and produces many Broadway and off-Broadway shows. In addition, they offer standup comedy, live music, and up to eight yearly productions specifically for children.
Unlike many theaters, there’s a bar and restaurant on-site that’s known for its hearty fare and cold drinks. For those who prefer learning to entertainment, there’s a popular guest lecturer series that’s offered four times yearly and covers a wide range of local, national, and international issues.