I definitely want to go back to Vero Beach!
We arranged to meet friends at The Ocean Grill in Vero Beach, Florida, for dinner three weeks ago. (It’s less than two hours down the turnpike from Orlando and then you take route 60 from Yeehaw Junction until it dead ends at the restaurant.) The Ocean Grill has very tasty food (pricey, though) and a fun, eclectic interior. It was full very soon after it opened at 5:30. I’d put in a reservation for the restaurant and be prepared to pay $22/dinner, but there’s a few lower-priced items or even a tasty soup and appetizer. I had Chicken Oscar. Their lunch menu is definitely cheaper (under $10.)
I felt like we were in “another country” just because Vero Beach was so different from Orlando. You could park near the restaurant and do shops and walk the beach. There’s plenty of beach access points along A1A north and south of Vero Beach. Disney has a resort north of the restaurant on A1A.
We arrived in Vero Beach well before dinner, so we stopped at the McLarty Treasure Museum. It takes less than an hour to do this museum and only costs a few dollars. It was fascinating to learn about 1,500 survivors stranded here when a fleet of Spanish treasure ships sank off the coast in 1715.
We only had a half hour to stop at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge was America’s first National Wildlife Refuge. President Theodore Roosevelt signed an executive order to set aside this land for wildlife in 1903. (Read more…)
I can’t guarantee you would see dolphins, but if you want to try, go straight in past the first parking lot in the Refuge and then turn at the next right into the Centennial area. It’s an easy walk to the observation tower overlooking the Indian River. We saw a pod of dolphins feeding in the river.
After dinner, we drove past a large home with lots of Christmas lights in a huge front yard off of route 60 not far from the restaurant. If you’re in Vero Beach in December, read this article first and then this article to learn more. Apparently you can drive around the outside of this large home, at least, to see hundreds of thousands of Christmas lights. (Maybe we should have stopped.) They also have special times to see the twenty decorated rooms as well.
Here’s a good list of things to do in and near Vero Beach; most of the things in the second half of the list “within an hour” are south of Vero Beach.