Sebastian Inlet State Park#2 in Best Things To Do in Vero Beach
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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.
Although some previous travelers lamented the crowds they encountered during their visits, most said the stunning scenery, abundant wildlife and family-friendly atmosphere make it a can't-miss destination. Keep in mind, though, that the ocean's currents can be strong at times, so pay careful attention to the warning flag signs posted on the beaches and at welcome stations. Swim at the Cove, a calmer area on the north side of the inlet, if you're traveling with little ones.
Sebastian Inlet State Park can be found in Melbourne Beach about 15 miles north of downtown Vero. It is open 24 hours a day and charges a $4 or $8 entrance fee per vehicle, depending on the number of passengers. The Sebastian Fishing Museum welcomes visitors every day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Kayak and canoe rentals are available for a fee at the on-site marina. Additional information is available on the Florida State Parks website.
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#1 Round Island Oceanside Park and Round Island Riverside Park
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.
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