When you would like to spend a day outside in Florida nature, take a trip to Vero Beaches’ Environmental Learning Center (the ELC for short)! The center offers a variety of trails and boardwalks along the mangroves of the Indian River Lagoon, kayaking and canoe tours, nature walks, and children’s programs. You can visit their website for a schedule of their upcoming events.
Our first stop was to take a walk along one of the boardwalks. They have two looping boardwalk trails, one that leads out to a platform where you can view the river. This is also where they have their guided canoe and kayak trips. They even have see through canoes!
Along the way, right before you get to the boardwalk, we discovered they have a huge selection of native Florida plants for sale! We can’t wait to get some of these for our yard here… excellent for the local wildlife.
After walking the trail we came back toward the entrance and found this amazing giant humpback whale jawbone! Near the jawbone there is a shaded little area under the buildings with picnic tables and hammocks where the kids can stop to have a packed lunch or play on the hammocks.
We then stopped back by the main office, where your kids can grab a bag for seining in the pond. The bag includes a net, a little jar, and a pair of binoculars. We let the kids take their shoes off and wade in the pond. They could have spent hours here looking for tadpoles!!
Our last adventure of the day was back by the entrance to the ELC. There is a small area off to the right side, where there is an outdoor mud kitchen. This was the best part! The kids made pretend “cakes” and breads’. I love that they have a rain barrel with mesh over it to collect water for the kids to use. It has a little faucet at the bottom for them to take water out. I want one for my kids mud kitchen at home!
Overall we had an excellent day at the ELC. The two places that we did not stop on this trip, was the touch tank area (which is indoors and upstairs). and the butterfly garden. We ran out of time! Next time we will have to stop by.
The ELC is free on the first Saturday or every month (check their Facebook for an update to be sure before going). Regular price is $5 for kids and $7 for adults. If you go, pick a nice day and plan to spend several hours outside.
Environmental Learning Center
Monday – Saturday: 8 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
255 Live Oak Drive
Vero Beach, Fl 32963
Located on the western base of the Wabasso Bridge on the 510 Causeway