It’s Part 6 of my multi-part Thursday blog series on my recent 77-hour / (4-day / 3-night) / 472-mile road-trip spanning Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, Martin, St. Lucie, Indian River, and Okeechobee Counties (in that order). It was my first extended visit ever along Florida’s Treasure Coast. While there I was always within about 5 miles of the Atlantic Ocean and the adjacent Indian River.
Last Thursday we left off at one of the city beaches owned and operated by Vero Beach. The city enjoys about 4 miles of beachfront property along the immediate Atlantic Ocean coastline. Indian River County extends about 22 miles along the coastline.
On my final full day of vacation I mostly stayed within the city limits of Vero Beach, but I took a few side-trips. I visited the southern extent of another Florida State Park – Sebastian Inlet – right along State Road A1A. I visited the McLarty Treasure Museum, and it was the northern-most point of my vacation at 27.83° north latitude. The museum was very educational and informative. I watched about a 45-minute video in their theatre that tells the story of the 1715 Treasure Fleet – treasure that was headed to Spain, but didn’t make it very far off the coast of the present-day museum due to a hurricane.
From there I traveled southward back through Vero Beach to the McKee Botanical Garden. It’s been open as an 18-acre Indian River County attraction for the past 20 years, but for 40 years from the early-1930s to the mid-1970s it was a much larger (80-acre) roadside attraction right alongside U.S. 1. Known as McKee Jungle Gardens back then – it was very popular during the 1950s and 1960s (pre-I-95) – boasting 100,000+ visitors annually. My favorite part of the botanical garden was actually the part where the main entrance / footprint of the original park was maintained and honored. Admission to the botanical garden is $15 for adults, and slightly less for seniors, teens, children, and military.
My next destination was the 14TH Avenue district of downtown Vero Beach for a number of stops along a walking tour. First-up was the Indian River Citrus Museum at the Heritage Center. It’s a very small museum, but it’s packed with fascinating citrus memorabilia. I walked over to the Indian River County Historical Society which houses a museum in the old railway station building. They were closed (“indefinitely”), but I got some good photos of the exterior. I would have loved to talk with someone inside the building (as I’ve done in other small towns nearby), but maybe I can do that on a future visit to the area. I enjoyed a nice late-Lunch / early Dinner (#LuDinner) at Italian Kitchen (across the street from the citrus museum). I had their “Combo Special”. It was a lot of good food !
I probably would’ve spent a little bit more time walking the streets of downtown Vero Beach (working-off my big meal), but it was really hot on that day (Friday June 04TH), the area wasn’t as pedestrian-friendly as I envisioned it to be, and I didn’t feel as safe as I wanted to be. I kind of stuck out walking around solo as perhaps the only tourist in the area. Even a cop drove by slower than normal looking over towards me to see if I was up to no good. I got back in my car, and I headed back to my hotel room. I did go out a few hours later in the afternoon to Sweet Kiss Ice Cream for some banana gelato.
Day 3 of my road-trip is now complete. I drove 40.1 miles on this day. That brings the total thus far to 291.6 miles.
Next Thursday I’ll conclude this road-trip recap with Part 7 and my birthday drive home from Vero Beach to Homestead. I’ll also reveal the destinations of my next Florida road-trip that I’ll take in a few months.
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