You’ll find Melbourne in Brevard County on Florida’s East Coast, in an area also known as the Space Coast. It sits south of Cape Canaveral and the mammoth Kennedy Space Center and north of Vero and West Palm Beach. Melbourne has an eclectic feel and doesn’t fit a mold like so many other Florida towns. I love that about Melbourne, and the outdoor offerings, as well as the historical treasures. You also won’t have huge crowds as some of Melbourne’s nearby counterparts, making the area perfect for social distancing measures. Here are the best things to do in beautiful Melbourne that I love doing.
Things To Do In Melbourne, FL
As I mentioned, Melbourne doesn’t fit a box, so the offerings are random, and most should appeal to 50+ tourists. From strolling historic Melbourne to game venues and parks, seeing top-notch entertainment, and dining at incredibly delicious eateries, you are sure to love this place as much as I do.
Historic Downtown Melbourne
We will hit the ground running with my favorite part of Melbourne. East New Haven is home to historic downtown Melbourne, circa the 1800s. Though the part I’m talking about only runs about seven blocks east to west, there are many great things to do here. Browse a large number of boutique, antique, and consignment shops, eat a great meal, and enjoy a delicious beer from Hells ‘n Blazes Brewing Company as you take in the best people-watching spot in town.
Shops you can’t miss are Sendala’s Boutique, Jessup’s, and Tallulah 9. Pop in Grimaldi Candy Company for a sample or take home a bag or serving of the wonderful chocolate-dipped potato chips, available in both milk or dark chocolate.
Get up close and personal with over 100 species at the Brevard Zoo. You’ll see spider monkeys, alpaca, alligators, and giraffe, and more in this manageable size zoo. For a small fee, you can hand-feed lorikeet and giraffe, take a guided kayak tour, or enjoy a 10-minute train ride through animal habitats.
Eau Gallie Arts District
Melbourne is one of Florida’s only places I can think of with a part of town dedicated to the arts. The Eau Gallie Arts District (abbreviated EGAD) offers fabulous art museums and galleries, impressive murals, and a handful of shops to browse. Explore 2,000 years of history at the Foosaner Art Museum, including 20th-century pieces from Central Florida artists. Grab a slice of pizza from FM Pizza and a tasty treat from Joan’s Perfect Pie as you explore.
Andretti Thrill Park
Channel your inner kid as you enjoy the thrilling options at Andretti Thrill Park. I had lived in Florida for five years before I even knew it existed, and now it is one of the top places I recommend for all ages to visit. You’ll find old-school video games (the ones I still know how to play), laser tag, go-karts (super fun!), batting cages, and climbing wall, to name a few.
Melbourne’s most noteworthy park, 391 acres, Wickham Park is a delightful place to get outdoors, hike trails, swim, and camp. Wickham’s activities include an archery range, bicycle and jogging roadway, disc golf, ball fields, event pavilion, and equestrian facilities. There are 133 campsites to choose from, with shower and laundry facilities, a dog park, playground, and dump stations (nominal fee).
At Christmas, you can drive through Space Coast Lightfest, a stunning landscape with 3 million twinkling holiday lights, festive displays, and a 200-foot light tunnel. I can’t wait to take my granddaughter this year!
King Center for the Performing Arts
See your favorite musical group, comedians, touring productions, and more at this 100,000-square-foot venue. There are performances year-round and offer an impressive variety. I’ve seen Hall and Oates, The Impractical Jokers, Ringo Starr, and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons there, to name a few. The King Center for the Performing Arts has great displays in the lobby, a bar, and outdoor dining for most events, and many choices for keeping you entertained while waiting for your show.
Pro Tip: Aisles at the theatre run straight across with no break in the middle. It requires you to stand up often to let people in and out when sitting on the ends, but you have to slide through dozens to get out if you are in the middle. Keep that in mind when choosing the best seat for you, and honestly, all of the seats are good ones at this venue.
Melbourne Greyhound Park
You have the best of both worlds at the Melbourne Greyhound Park, offering live simulcasts of harness, thoroughbred, and greyhound racing from tracks around the country and poker room and Vegas-style games. The Melbourne Greyhound Park was once a live racing track, but it has become simulcast over the past few years.
I have not been to the park, but it is a big draw and my friends in Melbourne go often. They do not have dog racing, just other forms of gambling, which is rare for the area other than gray machines and bingo.
Best Restaurants In Melbourne, FL
I love the dining scene in Melbourne, though I have been known to drive the hour it takes me to get there from my house in Vero Beach and never stray from the gourmet hot dogs most of the time. The places that rank high on my foodie radar are these six, sorted by type of meals offered.
For a town this size, Melbourne has an arsenal of delicious breakfast joints. I have two favorites: Backwater and Mulberry Lane Cafe. At Backwater, enjoy skillet creations like The Boss Hog (provolone-stuffed rope sausage, cheese grits, balsamic onions, and a sunny-side-up egg) or cook-your-own pancakes on one of eight griddle-insert tables available.
A second option for a memorable breakfast is Mulberry Lane Cafe, a strip mall find with really good food, excellent service, and a wide variety of dishes. Try Smoked Salmon Hash, Pork Carnitas Benedict, Carrot Cake Pancakes, or one of the other specialty dishes. Or, if you prefer, Mulberry Lane has traditional favorites, too, like omelets, oatmeal, and pancakes. Breakfast is served all day at both restaurants.
Mustard’s Last Stand is my favorite restaurant in Melbourne. You know they are doing something so right when a poppy seed hot dog bun and creative ingredients with fun dog names keep me coming back time after time. Pair the dogs with perfectly thin-cut fries and toppings that will make your mouth water, and you’ve found success in the food scene.
Mustard’s is at East New Haven in the historic downtown, with a second location in the Eau Gallie Arts District. My favorites are the Reuben Dog (kraut, Swiss, 1000 Island) or Joe Dogmaggio (marinara, bacon, Swiss, Parmesan), and the Island Fries, Thousand Island dressing, grilled onions, and melted cheddar.
The Nomad Cafe sits on Harbor City Boulevard (US-1) at the corner of East New Haven. This fresh and trendy cafe has delicious food and a great menu. Try the Signature Nomad Guacamole and Roasted Beets with goat cheese and candied walnuts. I love Nomad Cafe’s salad creations for the main course, but the burrito, smothered in chipotle bechamel sauce, is phenomenal.
Located at Melbourne Beach, and the best sunset view for miles, enjoy a German meal at its finest at Cafe Coconut Cove, or a tremendous Irish menu full of yummy choices from Meg O’Malley’s in downtown Melbourne.
Cafe Coconut Cove is at Melbourne Beach, and you will be shocked when you see the hidden location. The atmosphere is warm and welcoming, and the service is pretty dynamite. Start your meal with the Liver Pate board, complete with crackers and veggies. Potato pancakes are another great choice. I love the Combination Plate, which has small portions of Jaeger Schnitzel, red cabbage, Bratwurst, and Sauerbraten (my fave!).
Another place I enjoy dining, actually for lunch or dinner, is Meg O’Malley’s Restaurant and Irish Pub, which is currently undergoing a renovation but should reopen soon. You will find all of your favorite Irish dishes here, such as Bangers and Mash (consider sharing, it is enormous!), Fish and Chips, and Shepherd’s Pie.
Start your Meg O’Malley’s experience with an 18-cent cup of Irish Parliament Bean Soup, something I can never pass up. It is so delicious and really … 18 cents? You’ll also need to try the Sausage Rolls in flaky pastry with whole grain mustard for dipping. OMG, they are superb! For dinner, my favorite dish is the Guinness Pot Roast.
Best Hotels To Stay In Melbourne
Two of the most talked-about places to stay in Melbourne are the Crane Creek Inn and Radisson Suite Hotel Oceanfront. Crane Creek is a historic waterfront location with coastal-chic rooms, a lovely heated pool, and free parking. Included with your stay are complimentary breakfast, Wi-Fi, and drinks (soda, wine, water, beer, and coffee) all day long. The Manatee Room would be my pick.
For those wanting a more chain hotel experience, the Radisson Suite Hotel Oceanfront on A1A looks like a perfect choice. There are also on-site restaurants, a pool and jacuzzi, two sundecks, and a 15th-floor fitness center in this 168-suite property. You’ll find the Radisson 7 miles from the Melbourne International Airport.
Pro Tip: Melbourne, along with most coastal cities in Florida, offer great golf, snorkeling, fishing, and other outdoor activities. They are abundant and available for your year-round enjoyment.
Here are some of our other recommendations in eastern Florida!