Vero Beach-An Environmental Gem

Apr 2011

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Tucked along The Treasure Coast is a barrier island which has been labeled “The Best Small Town in Florida”. Restrictive zoning has allowed Vero Beach to grow and still maintain its beauty and small town charm.

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Known as the Gateway to the Tropics, the climate is a transitional zone that allows for an unusual mix of vegetation, combining that of the Carolinas with tropical palms and gorgeous intense flora.
STAY: The posh, West Indies inspired Vero Beach Hotel & Spa is currently one of only two Florida hotels that has been given Silver Environmental Certification by Green Seal.  It is owned by Kimpton Hotels, a leader in  the industry for their ecological practices, management of hazardous substances and environmentally sensitive purchasing. The hotel is pet friendly and has a deluxe full service spa.

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The Vero Beach Hotel & Spa

A completely different experience is the Driftwood Hotel.  Built in the early 1900’s by Waldo Sexton,a pioneer in developing the agra business and tourism in the area, it’s facade is fabricated from ocean washed abandoned timbers and found objects.  Listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, it offers a wide variety of accommodations, each decorated with period appropriate furnishings and fabrics. His friendship with Addison Mizner {of Palm Beach development fame} is evident throughout the hotel and some of his antique furnishings are on display inside.

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The Driftwood Hotel

NOSH: Both of the above mentioned hotels have good restaurants in a lovely setting: Cobalt and Waldo’s respectively.  In addition, many of the eateries in town offer local produce and seafood which changes seasonally.  Gloria Estefan’s Costa d’Este has a great selection of tapas and is a hip, late night place to hang in sleepy Vero.
DONT MISS: There are a wide variety of activities for the outdoor enthusiast. Golf, tennis, deep sea fishing, kayaking among the mangroves and bicycle paths-not to mention the fantastic beach! My favorites include:

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A bike ride down the historic Jungle Trail.  Travel to it from the bike path that runs along A1A.  It is 8 miles of dirt road along the Indian River past some of the most expensive properties in the area, and some of the early homes on the trail that have refused to sell to developers. Make sure to stop at Captain Forster’s Hammock Preserve, a 110 acre wildlife area with guided tours and well marked paths. {insider tip-bring some bug spray for this activity}.


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McKee Botanic Gardens


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Saturday Farmer’s Market

The Farmer’s Market on Saturday from 8am-Noon is a great place to start off the day.  Local vendors offer sustainable coffee and yummy baked goods.  Breakfast sandwiches are also available from the barbeque vendor. The market is kid and pet friendly.  There’s plenty of produce, along with orchids {a wonderful gift if a friend in the area is entertaining you} and homemade guacamole in many varieties. Perfect supplies for a lunchtime picnic on the beach. Finally, nearby McKee Botanic Garden is a 18 acre Florida Landmark.  Showcasing an amazing collection of water lilies and orchids in a subtropical setting its a highlight for the gardening enthusiast.
When I first started going to Vero, over 5 decades ago,  {hmm does that sound better than 50 years ?? not sure..}  most of the island was still a jungle.  My dad would take me down sandy paths thru the heavy vegetation to get to the beach, and I would imagine that a jaguar or monkeys might appear thru the bush at any moment. Much has changed in the area, but thanks in large part to the foresight of  Waldo Sexton and Arthur McKee, Vero Beach has remained one of the most unspoiled and beautiful beaches on Florida’s Treasure Coast.

  1. […] my bike down historic Jungle Trail is a view I have repeated for close to 50 years, always […]