Indian River County: Arts, Culture and the Great Outdoors
Indian River County, with the towns of Vero Beach, Fellsmere and Sebastian, is filled with natural and cultural wonders, a place for you and your family to explore and learn together.
Set aside in 1903 by Theodore Roosevelt as the first National Wildlife Refuge in America, Pelican Island NWR offers outstanding birding along Pete's and Bird's Impoundment Trails. A quick walk or accessible roll up the Centennial Trail brings you to a shaded perch with a telescope for spotting brown pelicans nesting on their namesake island.
Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area in Vero Beach has secluded birding spots and an observation deck along its mangrove-lined trails.
Manatees glide through the waters of Indian River County all year long. Alligators abound at Stick Marsh, a popular bass fishing and birding location in the northwest of the county.
Slip your kayak into the Indian River Lagoon for a paddle between the mangrove islands and mud flats. Launching from Middleton’s Fish Camp, Blue Cypress Lake offers broad waters with awe-inspiring ancient cypresses, while the St. Sebastian River is a proven favorite for manatee sightings.
Play like you’re in the jungle at McKee Botanical Gardens in Vero, where tropical plants create cool corridors for walking. The botanical gardens, which appear on the National Register of Historic Places, houses one of the South's most noteworthy collections of water lilies. It also has several restored architectural treasures, including the Hall of Giants, which holds the world's largest mahogany table.
Bromeliads dangle like chandeliers in the oaks at Oslo Riverfront Conservation Area, where uplands trails are lined with wild coffee.
At the St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park, you can roam or ride more than 50 miles of trails.
Make a Splash
Cool off with 26 miles of county beachfront fun.
It’s a slice of paradise at Round Island Beach, where interactive displays tell the story of U-boats along Florida’s coast. Splash along the steep slopes at Wabasso Beach, or grab a sub for lunch and picnic at Humiston Park in the heart of Vero Beach before a dip in the sea..
Or, explore Sebastian Inlet State Park, where canoeing, kayaking and surfing are favorite pastimes. Bask on three miles of beaches or reflect on the county's colorful past at the park's two museums.
Theater for All Ages
Riverside Park is home to several of the county's largest cultural facilities. The park is surrounded on three sides by the Indian River Lagoon, Florida's most diverse estuary. Stand on the banks and drink in the lagoon's natural beauty – look for roseate spoonbills and sea turtles – before meandering over to the Riverside Theatre and Riverside Children's Theatre.
At the Riverside Theatre, catch everything from Broadway-style shows and ballets to comedy performances and concerts.
As its name suggests, the Children's Theatre offers youth-oriented programs and services. Through in-house productions, children can even participate onstage and backstage.
Art and Music
Also located in Riverside Park is the Vero Beach Museum of Art. Here, the aesthetically inclined discover exquisite exhibitions. Wander the halls of the 55,000-square-foot accredited art museum, which features neoclassical structure, and see both American and international works of art. The museum also offers art and humanities classes as well as an international lecture series. (Note: the museum is closed on Mondays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.)
Jazz aficionados enjoy occasional afternoon concerts held by the Treasure Coast Jazz Society. The concerts take place at the Heritage Center in Vero Beach.
For a different sort of tune, visit the nearby Vero Beach Opera.
The McLarty Treasure Museum showcases the history of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet with artifacts, displays and an observation deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.
Another must-see is the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach. Located on an island in the Indian River Lagoon, the non-profit educational center offers pontoon boat rides through the area's diverse habitat, teeming with dolphins, alligators, pelicans and fish. Along the interpretive boardwalks you'll see lots of lizards and you might even catch a glimpse of an otter.
From jazz concerts to treasure museums, Indian River County is an unexpected cultural gem set in Florida's natural beauty.
For more information, check out visitindianrivercounty.com.