Vero Beach and Sebastian
Vero Beach and Sebastian sit on what’s called Florida’s “treasure coast” because of Mel Fisher’s discovery of many treasures in the reefs off the east coast. (See below about the treasure museum).
This area contains some small towns, Sebastian, Fellsmere, Winter Beach, Gifford, and the larger city of Vero Beach. Here are the top picks of free things to do in Vero and Sebastian and please see the map at the bottom for locations. I have SO many picks for this area (my hometown), it was hard to choose just a few!
The Sebastian inlet is a favorite amoung fisherman, surfers, tourists, locals, and beachgoers. It has much to offer. There is an $8 entry fee per car, but if you plan on being there for the day, it is worth it. You can launch a kayak or boat there ($4 fee for the boat ramp). You can set up a tent on the little beach that has a tide pool – great for kids as it’s usually fairly shallow when the tide is out- and also a string of rocks to stand on and fish. The beach section has excellent surf during the winter and spring seasons. There is a small rv campground at the inlet as well. During the weekends, the inlet is PACKED so get there early or visit during the week. They are open 24 hours.
This has got to be one of the cleanest and well kept suburban farms I’ve seen. Located down a tiny dirt road, is a family owned farm by Laura LaPorte. It is a donation based place to visit. The farm has birds, goats, chickens, bunnies, ponies, monkeys and a zebra! Feed is available for $1. Pony rides $5. The staff is so sweet there and the animals so friendly. Sometimes if you catch them at the right time you can hold a bunny or a baby chick. Check their website for annual events as well during Christmas, Fall, and Back to School. Read more in my blog post here
3. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge and Historic Jungle Trail – FREE
This is by far one of the most natural places left in this area of Florida. Historic Jungle trail is a dirt road that has been kept in place and preserved for years. You can walk, bike, run or even drive down the road and see views of the river and shaded parts of Florida tropical woods. At the beginning of jungle trail is Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (Free also). Here you can walk a trail, launch a kayak, or birdwatch. There is a boardwalk to a tower where you can see over the river.
A small museum, but very rich in history and artifacts. This museum displays all of the treasures from Mel Fishers dives and a lot about the man himself. Even my young ones enjoyed this experience. There is a coupon listed on their website as well for $5 off admission.
During the summer months, the aquatic center opens. It has a zero entry pool with a small waterslide for the littles, and a bigger double water slide for the older kids and adults. They also have lane swimming and diving boards. Get there early on the weekends to grab a table!
Right on the river in Sebastian is a quaint park with a playground and a splash pad. There are docks you can walk or fish from across the street. During many weekends in the fall and spring there are various events at this park, including art festivals, shrimp festival, and the famous Sebastian clam bake.
When you venture down past Sebastian to the southern area of the county you will find round Island. You can access it from State road a1a (see map). This has long been one of my favorite spots to drop a kayak. We have often seen manatees hanging around the island that let you get up close. There is also a boat ramp and a trail you can walk on the island to a big tower. Playground and restrooms too. Usually it is not too crowded here and parking is easily found.
Also down in Vero Beach you can find a bunch of free and beautiful spots to park for the beach. My personal favorite is JC Park and Boardwalk. There is a playground, restroom, long boardwalk to walk, and an ice cream shop across the street for the kids. You can also drive farther south to find other public parking places.
This is a nature center right off the Indian River. They offer an indoor small museum and touch tank (see websites for times), 2 miles of boardwalks, beautiful garden areas to walk through, and lots of local information about wildlife and mangroves. This is an excellent educational spot for yourself or your children.
The admission price is also reduced for those in need. They offer free admission once a month (check their calendar). In addition, the center has an ELC/Earth day every March where they open the whole place for free and have vendors and games. Read more about the ELC on my blog post here.