Vero Beach is an incredible vacation destination located on Florida’s East Coast, halfway between Melbourne and Palm Beach. It is part of Florida’s Treasure Coast and has abundant outdoor attractions, citrus, and was home to the LA Dodgers for years in the past.
It is best to arrive in Vero Beach via I-95 or by flying into Orlando or Melbourne and renting a car for the 90- or 60-minute drive, respectively. The weather is favorable year-round, so that makes Vero Beach a wonderful getaway all year long. Multigeneration families will love the laid-back vibe and plentiful offerings. It is also where I reside.
1. Alluring Beaches
Vero Beach is a lesser-known gem than its northern (Melbourne) and southern (Palm Beach) counterparts. We have many beaches, with the most desirable being South Beach, about 10 minutes from Vero’s Beachside Shopping District. It’s a great place to spend the day, and it conveniently has restroom facilities as well.
Another beach that gets a lot of attention, mostly due to its convenience to downtown, is Sexton Plaza Beach, a public beach between two oceanfront restaurants with a free parking lot, making it an easy walk.
A third choice is Jaycee Park, which has several stairs leading to the beach from a fantastic boardwalk. Enjoy the sunshine, stroll the beach, or see an occasional dolphin show. The boardwalk is great for walking and unwinding, especially as the sun goes down.
Lastly, a hidden gem that the locals like to keep to themselves is Turtle Trail Beach, a scarcely populated beach a mile or so from County Road 510. This beach is open from 7 a.m. until sunset.
Fun Fact: Vero’s barrier island, Orchid Island, is where the beaches are found. We call it “the island.” Ocean Drive (with hotels and shops that run parallel to the Atlantic Ocean) counts as downtown on the island, but the real downtown Vero Beach is on the mainland around 14th Avenue.
2. A Thriving Art Scene
Vero Beach Museum of Art is a beautiful place to get acquainted with famous artists in five galleries of gorgeous fine art. It’s a great place for kids, too. The Wahlstrom Sculpture Garden adds even more to check out at this savvy museum.
One of our favorite attractions in Vero Beach is Riverside Theatre, home to touring Broadway shows and productions. There are two theaters, one that holds about 700 attendees for major performances, and the other that hosts The Comedy Zone on weekends.
3. Delicious Local Restaurants
You’ll find a wide array of local eats in Vero Beach, especially on the island. Here are my suggestions for where and what to eat for each meal.
Have breakfast on the beach at Cobalt inside the Vero Beach Hotel. Try the Coconut French Toast. Or, if you prefer watching the airplanes take off and land at the Vero Beach Regional Airport, C.J. Cannon’s is a locals’ favorite. I like the California Benedict and Pineapple Upside Down Waffle (with pecan syrup).
For lunch, enjoy typical burgers, sandwiches, and yummy barbecue at Casey’s Place, a popular window-serve outdoor cafe a few streets from the beach. Have a delicious lobster roll at Red Onion Eatery on Ocean Drive, or our favorite, The Traveler’s Shrimp from Waldo’s, on the oceanfront at Driftwood Resort. Be sure to admire the eclectic furnishings in this historical treasure, a Waldo Sexton property, which you will hear more of as you keep reading.
Dinner gives you lots of options. Vero Beach has fine dining, casual, moderately priced, cheap eats, and everything in between. My top pick is Kilted Mermaid, an artsy and cozy spot in downtown Vero Beach with gourmet food, cheese and dessert fondues, and great wine and craft beers. A popular eatery on the Indian River is Riverside Cafe, maybe more famous for being the place where Jake Owen, award-winning country music artist, got his start. They often have live music and indoor/outdoor seating.
Pro Tip: Many restaurants in Vero Beach are closed on Mondays. Casey’s Place is closed on Sundays.
4. Luxury Accommodations
There are three hotels I recommend when staying in Vero Beach. First, the Kimpton Vero Beach Hotel is swanky, pet friendly, and offers great customer service. The historic Driftwood Resort is a funky Waldo Sexton property, circa the 1930s, that sits on the beach. It’s an iconic treasure for Vero Beach filled with a mish-mash of objects and decor from all over the world, namely the Palm Beaches.
Costa d’Este Beach Resort and Spa, Emilio and Gloria Estefan’s sparkly little gem, is a boutique hotel with a lively pool and outdoor bar, swanky lobby, and upscale restaurant.
Fun Fact: Waldo Sexton was an eccentric and creative citrus, dairy, and cattle farmer (amongst other things) who arrived in Vero Beach in the 1920s. He built some of the town’s most famous structures and was a partner in McKee Botanical Garden. Sexton’s buildings are known for the one-of-a-kind trinkets that adorn them. He is the best-known name in town.
5. A Beautiful Garden
McKee Botanical Garden has more of that Waldo Sexton flair and uniqueness with a stunning outdoor kitchen and the world’s largest single-plank mahogany table -- over 40 feet long. The palm trees and bamboo are enchanting, while the subtropical jungle plants and gardens are full of incredible flowers and trees, all meticulously marked around the 18-acre property. McKee is on the National Register of Historic Places and has beautiful statues and artwork amidst the park.
If you are traveling with kids, they will fall in love with the newly opened multi-million dollar Children’s Garden that features a splash and pollinator garden, music maze, and rocking ropes bridge.
6. Abundant Shopping
Vero Beach has a wide range of shopping from outlets and consignment stores to antiques and high-end boutique finds.
The outdoor Vero Beach Outlets offers nearly 40 stores, with Williams Sonoma, Coach, and Restoration Hardware being three of the most popular.
Ocean Drive offers luxury shopping for ladies and men’s apparel, shoes, souvenirs, home accessories, jewelry, and beach attire. Cardinal Drive, behind Ocean Drive and away from the beach, has impressive art galleries. Another shopping area that shouldn’t be missed is Village Shops on State Road A1A. Be sure to pop in Elegance by the Sea, Alimentari Gourmet Market, and Coastal Comforts, all with adorable goods to purchase.
Don’t miss the Vero Beach Book Center for two floors of paper and hardback books, cards, puzzles, magazines, and gifts. There are dozens of high-end consignment shops throughout town, too.
7. Outdoor Fun
Vero Beach is a spectacular place to go for outdoor activities and fun. You can enjoy the Atlantic Ocean for fishing, boating, scuba diving, surfing, and snorkeling. Or, take advantage of the Indian River Lagoon (Intracoastal Waterway) for sports fishing, kayaking, boating, and stand-up paddleboarding. You can even take an airboat ride, which is a super fun way to see and learn about the Indian River’s ecosystems -- the most biologically diverse estuary in the country. Golf is prominent, too, but many courses are private.
Kids will enjoy the playground equipment at Humiston Beach Park, a palm tree-clad area at the heart of the island. Pack a picnic and take them to Jaycee Park, a spot with picnic shelters, barbecue grills, volleyball nets, wild rabbits, and more playground equipment. Jaycee’s beach area has a lifeguard station, whereas many others do not.
Pro Tip: Be cautious in the ocean. Rip currents are plentiful. Should you find yourself in one, always yell for help and swim parallel to the shore to escape.
Florida is known for manatees, often referred to as sea cows or gentle giants. Vero Beach has an excellent manatee population that keeps growing each year. You can see them almost daily at Round Island Beach Park, which has a wheelchair-accessible walkway, seating areas, a World War II memorial, and a bridge for great photo-ops. There are hiking paths, too, and Round Island is my favorite place to kayak.
9. Nearby Attractions
Sebastian Inlet State Park is where to go for excellent saltwater fishing. Snook, redfish, and mackerel are some of the coveted catch. The property is pretty, and you can camp there, too.
Also nearby is Pelican Island Wildlife Refuge, the nation’s first wildlife refuge, designated by President Theodore Roosevelt. Here, you’ll find great spaces to walk around and enjoy the most biologically diverse estuary in the country with 5,400 acres of water and land. An impressive number of birds make this refuge their home, especially heron, egrets, and brown and white pelicans.
If you’re planning your next Florida vacation, here are a few of our other recommendations!
- 15 Top East Coast Florida Homes To Rent Near The Beach
- 9 Quaint Beach Towns In Florida
- The Best Things To See And Do On Amelia Island
- Amelia Island To Vero Beach: The Perfect Coastal Florida Road Trip
- 8 Beautiful Gardens To Visit In Florida
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