Best Things To Do in Vero Beach
At first glance, Vero Beach may seem like just another beach town, but don't let its name fool you. In this East Coast locale, you'll find cultural... READ MORE
At first glance, Vero Beach may seem like just another beach town, but don't let its name fool you. In this East Coast locale, you'll find cultural attractions, high-end shops, family-owned restaurants, history-focused sights and a slew of outdoor oases both with and without beaches. Take the kids to the McLarty Treasure Museum for a history lesson, find your inner Zen while walking around McKee Botanical Garden, catch a performance at Riverside Theatre or surf Sebastian Inlet State Park's legendary waves. If riding waves isn't your preferred beach activity, head to Round Island Oceanside Park to sunbathe, picnic or fish.
Updated September 24, 2020
- #1View all Photos#1 in Vero BeachBeaches, Natural Wonders, Free, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, Free, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
One of Vero Beach's main draws is its beautiful beaches, and many consider the town's best to be the beach at Round Island Oceanside Park. Located 8 miles southeast of downtown Vero, this beach park offers everything you need. You'll find covered pavilions with grills, a playground and restrooms, among other amenities. Plus, the wide shore offers plenty of space for stretching out, even when there are sections blocked off to protect sea turtle nests.
But what sets this beach apart from others is its proximity to the Indian River Lagoon. When you want a change of scenery, you can walk across state Road A1A to the beach's sister park: Round Island Riverside Park. This park's amenities include a 400-foot-long boardwalk, nature trails, a fishing pier and an observation tower. Climb up the tower to look for manatees, or go paddleboarding or kayaking to see the gentle creatures up close. Water sports equipment rentals are not available on-site, so remember to bring your own gear or arrange equipment delivery if you want to get out on the water.
- #2View all Photos#2 in Vero BeachBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDBeaches, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, RecreationTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
Situated less than 2 miles north of Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean, this protected area is a surfer's paradise. At Sebastian Inlet State Park, you'll find world-renowned surf spots like First Peak and Monster Hole, which offer some of the state's best and most consistent surf breaks. In fact, this inlet's surfing conditions are so sublime, professional surfers like Kelly Slater and C.J. and Damien Hobgood came here regularly as kids to hone their skills. But the gnarly swells aren't the only reason why you should visit. The park's unspoiled beaches are great places to look for seashells and sea turtle nests, the jetties offer excellent fishing opportunities, the Bayside Marina serves as a terrific spot to view wildlife like dolphins and manatees, and the lagoon features calm water ideal for kayaking. There's also the Hammock Trail, a mile-long path that travels past various subtropical plants, including mangrove, palm and oak trees.
If you're a history buff, save time for a visit to the on-site Sebastian Fishing Museum. The free museum offers various exhibits about some of the fish houses that were established here in the 19th and 20th centuries, including a replica of an original fish house, a homemade fishing boat and fishing gear. Another must-see historical attraction is the McLarty Treasure Museum, which sits just outside of the park by its south entrance.
- #3View all Photos#3 in Vero BeachParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDParks and GardensTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Vero Beach appeals to travelers who have an appreciation for art and nature. If you have an interest in both, then you'll want to visit McKee Botanical Garden. Occupying 18 acres by U.S. Route 1, this outdoor oasis showcases a diverse collection of foliage native to Florida, plus top-notch sculptures by acclaimed artists like Hans Godo Frabel and Seward Johnson. The property also houses several restored buildings, which helped it earn a spot on the National Register of Historic Places in 1998.
According to previous visitors, McKee Botanical Garden's gorgeous garden, knowledgeable staff and interesting sculptures make it a can't-miss attraction in Vero. Many were especially impressed with the property's Children's Garden, which was added in January 2020 and offers interactive, educational features like a music maze, a splash pad and a pirate-themed climbing structure. However, a few bemoaned the main garden's small size and lack of shade. To see some of the property's best plants – its 80-plus kinds of waterlilies – in bloom, several reviewers recommended visiting during the summer months.
- #4View all Photos#4 in Vero BeachNatural Wonders, Free, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, RecreationTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDNatural Wonders, Free, Parks and Gardens, Hiking, RecreationTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
You'll feel worlds away from society when you visit Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. Established in 1903 as the country's first national wildlife refuge, this 5,400-plus acre sanctuary is a haven for migratory birds, fish, sea turtles, alligators and mammals like manatees, dolphins and bobcats. More than 10 kinds of pelicans also nest here. It's hardly surprising, then, that the refuge's main activities are bird-watching and fishing. You can also enjoy leisurely hikes along three trails that cover roughly 7 miles of the property.
For the best view of Pelican Island, the refuge's main landmark, past visitors recommended trekking the Centennial Trail. This nearly 1-mile-long trail features an 18-foot-tall observation tower with two mounted spotting scopes, as well as a boardwalk with several signs that display QR codes you can scan with a smartphone to access additional information. Regardless of which trail you choose to traverse, reviewers suggested bringing plenty of drinking water since it's not available on-site. Also plan on slathering on lots of sunscreen and insect repellant, especially during the warmer months, to keep yourself protected from the sun and mosquitoes.
- #5View all Photos#5 in Vero BeachMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
Head to this nonprofit in Riverside Park (a green space on the barrier island that also houses Riverside Theatre to browse some of Vero's most impressive works of art. Within the property's 7 acres, you'll find five art galleries, a sculpture park, seven studios that host art classes, an interactive kids space, an auditorium, a cafe and a gift shop. With so much space dedicated to its 880-plus pieces, it's hardly surprising that the more than 55,000-square-foot facility is considered the largest of its kind on the Treasure Coast.
The museum's impressive collection means you'll discover plenty to admire, so consider prioritizing the kinds of works you gravitate toward. Recent visitors recommended checking out the sculpture park and the permanent collection of contemporary paintings by the likes of Andy Warhol and Salvador Dalí. The museum's collection of glass objects by Dale Chihuly and Frederick Carder, among others, also shouldn't be missed. Depending on when you visit, you may also want to save time for perusing the museum's temporary exhibit. Past ones have focused on everything from the gold Chinese zodiac sculptures to astronomy photos to 19th-century posters from France.
- #6View all Photos#6 in Vero BeachMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPENDMuseumsTYPE1 to 2 hoursTIME TO SPEND
At first glance, Vero Beach may not seem like a destination with a rich history, but dig a little deeper and you'll quickly discover some fascinating facts about the town. In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the state of Florida was a Spanish colony. When the famous 1715 Fleet – a group of 11 ships that set sail from Havana to bring a massive haul of gold and silver coins to Spain – shipwrecked off the coast of Vero during a hurricane, the town cemented its place in history. Treasure hunters still come to the town's beaches to search for washed-up coins from the sunken ships.
While your chances for striking gold during your trip are slim, you can learn more about this part of Vero's past during a visit to the McLarty Treasure Museum. Located on the site where survivors from the fleet camped after swimming to shore, this museum is filled with artifacts and displays about the failed voyage and its treasure. The property also features an observation deck with views of the ocean.
- #7View all Photos#7 in Vero BeachEntertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPENDEntertainment and NightlifeTYPE2 hours to Half DayTIME TO SPEND
After spending the day swimming at the beach, shopping on Ocean Drive or checking out the Vero Beach Museum of Art's exhibits, catch a performance at Riverside Theatre. Located in Riverside Park, this nonprofit institution is the largest professional theater in Florida. Its events calendar regularly includes touring musicals, kids productions, comedy shows and lectures with distinguished guests like Colin Powell, Tom Brokaw and Ben Stein. What's more, the theater hosts the fun Live in the Loop event, a twice-weekly outdoor concert series featuring alfresco dining and live music.
Regardless of which event you attend here, past theatergoers said you'll have a memorable experience. Many praised Riverside Theatre's Live in the Loop event, which takes place most Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30 to 9:15 p.m. Others raved about the theater's Broadway-style performances, citing the beautiful sets, talented actors, excellent costumes and thoughtfully laid out theaters as highlights. You won't find a bad seat in the house, so plan on choosing a spot based on your budget. Since main events like musicals sell out fast, you'll want to make sure you reserve tickets for bigger shows months in advance. Prices vary depending on the chosen event, but many previous visitors said they're more affordable than what you'd pay to see a show on Broadway.
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