Located halfway between Daytona Beach to the north and Fort Lauderdale to the south, Vero Beach is a charming slice of the Florida coast, protected by the barrier shores of North Hutchinson Island. An important part of the region known as the Treasure Coast, Vero Beach is a haven of fascinating culture and scenic natural wonders. Unlike many of Florida’s other waterfront cities, which have given way to high-rise hotels and tourist traps, Vero has a policy that no building can exceed 4 stories, making it feel more like a quaint seaside hamlet than a crowded resort destination. Along the beach, there’s plenty to be found in the way of immaculate white sand, fun watersports, and native wildlife, while Downtown and Ocean Drive offer high-end shopping, fabulous art galleries, and world-class venues. With elegant beachside hotels, a range of delectable culinary options, and a convenient location for day trips to Orlando or Palm Beach, Vero is a chic and quiet escape for those looking to get away.
A nature lover’s dream, Vero is bursting with places to soak up the sun or enjoy outdoor activities; however, the city also boasts an array of non-beach-related attractions throughout Downtown and along Ocean Drive. Here are the places you need to know to make the most of your time in Vero Beach.
Running east from 20th Avenue to the Indian River, which separates the mainland from North Hutchinson Island, Downtown is a vibrant area filled with shopping, dining, and entertainment options. Along palm tree-lined 14th Avenue, Mediterranean-style buildings house everything from eateries and galleries to the historic Theatre Plaza. Throughout the year, the street hosts a gallery stroll every first Friday of the month and the Downtown Friday block party every last weekend. Every Saturday from October through March, you can shop for collectibles, antiques, and fresh flowers at the Vintage & Green Market.
About a 20-minute drive north of Downtown is Golden Sands Park, the southern end of the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which is dedicated to protecting the habitat for green and loggerhead sea turtles. If visiting between May and August, it’s common to see mama sea turtles nesting on the sand. In fact, Vero and its surrounding beaches are the most significant spots for sea-turtle nesting in all of the Western Hemisphere.
Located right along Vero’s beachside shopping district, immaculate Humiston Park is a favorite of locals, with plenty of amenities including picnic tables, playgrounds, restrooms, and showers. Once a month, there’s a free concert in the park, beginning in the early evening and ending when the stars have illuminated the sky.
Running north to south for about 3 miles (5 km), Ocean Drive is where you’ll find the majority of Vero’s beachside hotels. It’s also the city’s primary shopping district, with luxury clothing boutiques, high-end jewelry stores, and glamorous salons.
Located to the west of the shopping district along the Indian River is Riverside Park. Home to the Vero Beach Museum of Art and the Riverside Theatre, it’s the center of the city’s cultural scene. At the museum—the nation’s largest created by private funding—there’s something for everyone, from meticulously curated contemporary exhibits to art classes and screenings. At the Riverside Theatre, you can take in a Broadway-caliber show, listen to a lecture by a distinguished writer, or enjoy a free outdoor concert every weekend through the year.
Less than a 10-minute drive north of the beachside shopping district is where you’ll find The Village Shops, a seven-building retail complex built outside among brick sidewalks and towering palms. Stroll the serene destination in search of apparel, art, and speciality items, and when you’ve worked up an appetite, settle in for a relaxed yet sophisticated meal at Citron Bistro.
Wabasso Beach, just south of Golden Sands Park, is a spectacular stretch of white sand and a favorite spot of local surfers. About a half-mile (.8 km) south of its main access point is Seagrape Trail, a secluded part of beach that’s a treasure hunter’s dream. Bring your metal detector as millions of dollars worth of coins from the 1715 Spanish Fleet have been found here in recent years.
Scope out the spectacular scenery to be found in and around Vero Beach on an unforgettable airboat ride through the marshy Blue Cypress Conservation Area. Glide through cinematic swamps to see famous Florida alligators, nesting osprey, and colorful water lilies in full bloom. For more views of the region’s wonderful wildlife, rent a kayak for a ride through the sparkling water of the Indian River Lagoon. Home to more than 10,000 species of plants and animals, including butterflies, dolphins, and manatee, the destination is the most biodiverse lagoon ecosystem in all of the Northern Hemisphere.
With more than 25 beaches and parks open to the public, there’s no end to the outdoor fun that can be had in and around Vero Beach. Rent a jet ski for a fast-paced ride through the Atlantic Ocean, learn to paddleboard in the calm waters of the Indian River, or go fishing for snapper and redfish off the coast of the Sebastian Inlet.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of sand and surf, make your way into town to discover the rest that Vero has to offer. If you’re in the mood for culture, head to the Vero Beach Museum to see a collection of international work, including paintings, sculptures, photography, and glass. At nearby Riverside Theatre, enjoy a range of live entertainment from musicals and movies to comedy and concerts.
And then there’s all of the mouthwatering culinary options to be uncovered, which are especially enticing for those who love seafood. Treat yourself to a plate of fresh-caught grouper at high-end restaurant The Tides, or roll up your sleeves and slap on a bib for a shellfish feast at The Crab Stop. Following dinner, take a leisurely stroll along Ocean Drive as the sun sets over the water. With the moon high in the sky, grab a seat at an outdoor lounge for a nightcap under the stars.