This five-mile stretch of Vero Beach is often overlooked by cruisers and what they miss is a lush, friendly, little treasure surrounded by pleasant scenery. For a town that's so unknown among most tourists, it has captured the eye of people who assess a town's importance. It's rated the best small town in Florida and 12th-ranked in America. Since 1948, it has also been the smallest city in the nation to have its own professional baseball team—the Vero Beach Dodgers. This farm club of the Los Angeles Dodgers plays a 70-game home schedule at Holman Stadium from April to September. It was listed among the top 100 art towns in America based on the quality of life and economic vitality of the town's art galleries and festivals.
Also regarded as the "gateway to the tropics", Vero Beach is located in a climatic transition zone that offers a mix of vegetation found in coastal Carolinas as well as tropical palm trees. The Indian River citrus industry thrives here, producing 75 percent of the state's grapefruit crop. The industry credits its close proximity to the warm waters of the Gulf Stream and the flat fields, which can be flooded in case of an expected freeze, as major factors in regulating the climate. This, in addition to the calcium and mineral-rich soil and high water table, lead to the sweet, juicy fruits that have made this region most famous. You can learn more at the Indian River Citrus Museum in Vero Beach (772-770-2263).
Take in a ball game at Holman Stadium. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and kids aged 6 to 12 (772-569-4900 or www.vbdodgers.com). The Los Angeles Dodgers arrive for spring training in February.
Vero Beach Museum of Art (772-231-0707) is the largest cultural arts facility on the Treasure Coast. Its permanent collection focuses on American art of the 20th and 21st centuries. There are currently 872 works of art in the collection plus exhibitions, workshops, and lectures. There are also many galleries in town.
McKee Botanical Garden (772-794-0601), known for its 18-acre subtropical jungle hammock, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It's open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. The beautiful Hibiscus Cafe at McKee serves a delightful lunch indoors or on the scenic grounds. Bring your laptop or PDA and order a beverage—the café is rigged for WiFi.
Restaurants and Provisions
Waterfront restaurants near the municipal marina include Jack Baker's Lobster Shanty (772-562-1941) and Riverside Café at Vero's Tackle and Marine, (772-234-5550), or the Ocean Grill (772-231-5409). For dining off the reservation, sophisticated The Black Pearl Riverfront features elegant continental dining (772-234-4426), while The Tides (772-234-3966) is an equally elegant seafood restaurant.
For beachside drinks go to the oceanfront Driftwood Resort. Aptly named, this establishment has been capturing the hearts of visitors since the early 1900s when Waldo Sexton began assembling the place out of ocean-washed timbers and planks (772-231-0550 or www.thedriftwood.com).
Provisioning by foot beyond convenience foods will send you more than a mile, and it's more than three miles from Loggerhead Club and Marina to the grocery store. Or hop in the dinghy and motor up Bethel Creek, where you'll discover a modest shopping area.
Use ChartKit Region 7, page 41, and Maptech electronic and NOAA paper charts 11472 (1:40,000) and 11476 (1:80,000).
Navigation and Anchorages
Beach is the Loggerhead Club and Marina within Grand Harbor (772-770-4470), just south of R"122" on the ICW.
Just north of the hi-rise Vero Beach/Merrill Barber Bridge (SM 951.7) a marked channel leads east and north to the Vero Beach Municipal Marina (772-231-2819). This cruiser-friendly facility offers dockage and two mooring fields in protected spots on Bethel Creek. Advanced reservations are accepted. Stay south of G "139" and run parallel to the bridge before making your turn north. The northern moorings run from markers R "18" to R "10" and the southern moorings run from R "2" to R "4." Call the harbormaster on VHF 16 for a mooring assignment. Services include pump-out, showers, laundry, fuel, and access to local transportation.
Anchoring is not allowed in the harbor and anchoring elsewhere in Vero Beach is limited to a maximum of 12 hours.
The Vero Marine Center (772-562-7922) and several restaurants are south of the Merrill Barber Bridge. The area east and west of the channel around G "145" is a haven for manatee due to warm water coming from the power plant so slow speed is the only speed allowed.
From Vero Beach it's a straight shot to G "181" where the waterway widens a bit at the approach to Fort Pierce North A1A Bridge.
Shoreside and Emergency Services
Police, Fire, Ambulance: