The Public Beaches
Although the beaches of Indialantic are not beautiful by any stretch of the imagination, they do offer warm Atlantic waters, a fairly wide open, sandy beach front, and a few eateries and surf shops across the street.
The atmosphere is very casual and laid back. You won't see many volleyball competitions or that sort of thing. You'll most likely see a few fishermen casting a reel out into the ocean, with the usual heron perched next to them, waiting to see what the tide brings in...or the reel.
Melbourne Art Festival
Not exactly international reknown, but the Melbourne Art Festival (held every year around the last weekend in April) does gather its share of people - and not just from the proverbial neighborhood.
5th Avenue (the main "downtown" drag) is closed off to traffic, while food pavilions, stages for live musical performances, and of course the reason for the season - the ARTISTS themselves - all line up along the street for a browsing bonanza. You can usually find some great buys on local artwork and artisanry from not only Melbourne locals, but from artists who come in for the Show from all over the United States (usually the Southeast).
It's a really nice way to spend the day.
For more info on the Art Festival, check out their website below.
Antiques and Boutiques of "Downtown" Melbourne
I always laugh when referring to "downtown" Melbourne. It's not your typical downtown with high rise buildings; instead, you'll find an array of older, historical buildings along the main avenue (5th avenue), dominated by quirky antique shops, some candle shops, book stores, and other specialty shops.
You can spend a couple of hours browsing along the street...it's enjoyable.
Airboat Ride Along the St. John River
By all means, spend some 45 minutes gliding over the St. Johns River watching snapping turtles sunning, great blue herons in all their majesty - and the main attraction: alligators sunning themselves, glancing up at you as you pass by at close range (shiver!). It's a definite blast of local color in every sense of the word!!
Quick note on the mechanics of airboats: these contraptions are noisy and strange. They don't feature a "V" shape hull so they're not really like a boat - and, the engine sits above the back of the vessel and literally propels the boat over the water, so that you are kind of gliding or skimming. It's the best way to see the swamp land and get close to the wildlife without disturbing the water underneath, and the delicate ecological systems at work.
Don't worry about the noise - most airboats come equipped with ear covers so you block out the sound of the motor!
Melbourne and the surrounding areas actually have nice, wide open beaches against whose shores lap the warm Atlantic waters. People most often think of Hawaii, Australia or California when the sport of surfing comes to mind - but actually, world champion surfer Kelly Slater hails from Cocoa Beach, just minutes north of Melbourne Beach. In fact, many national surf champions come from the Florida east coast - I think it's because the waves are smaller, and it takes a lot of skill to ride smaller waves.
If you're interested in hanging ten, there are some friendly surf shops around the Indialantic and Melbourne Beach area (LongBoard House and Spectrum Surf Shops on A1A, to name a few), with instructors available to teach the novice - and when you're ready and able, there's Monster Hole in Sebastian Beach (a few minutes south of Melbourne Beach) where the waves are king.
Between May and September, leatherback and green sea turtles flock to the shores of Melbourne Beach and the surrounding area to lay their eggs. There's even a "Turtle Society" organization here, devoted to combing the beaches at night in order to protect nesting turtles from predators or curious interlopers.
Condos and homes may be situated along beachfront property, but light wattage is regulated so that there's never any high powered lighting reflecting onto the beach - if baby turtles were to hatch during the night, they'd be confused by the high powered lighting and turn toward shore instead of the sea.
Between 9:00 pm and 2:00 am, you can bring along a low bulb flash light to help spot the turtles as they emerge from the surf and plod their way up the shore to higher ground to lay their eggs. The whole process takes about 1.5 hours.
If you're a conscientious observer of nature, then you will know to keep a respectful distance from the turtle so as not to disturb her concentration or the momentum of her mission. Once she feels the slightest bit threatened, it doesn't matter how desperately she needs to lay those eggs - she will turn around and drag herself back into the sea. It's really frustrating if this should happen, because any inadvertant move on the observer's part can set off such a retreat.
You know how they say you can see tears coming from the mother turtle's eyes as she's laying her eggs? Maybe it's because she knows she'll never see her young. Once she's laid the eggs, she makes her way slowly back to shore, disappearing into the inky night sea.
Sometimes you just want to relax and read a book against a beautiful backdrop of pounding surf, seagulls calling and the smell of salt water spray in the air. It's amusing to watch the little sandpipers dart back and forth along the surf as pelicans bob up and down in the waves, with the occasional heron making a pitstop to see if anyone has any fish to share. It's a very peaceful atmosphere in which to unwind on the weekends.
NASA: Home of Shuttle and Rocket Launches
Those of us who have lived here for a while have become, I don't know - desensitized - to the spectacular launches at nearby Cape Canaveral.
NASA is always working on some project, whether it is a shuttle launch, a rocket, or some sort of satellite. Nevertheless, it's still a thrill to look out into the sky and see a trail of billowing white smoke signaling yet another successful take-off.
NASA makes for a fascinating and stirring visit. There are several IMAX movies to see - the last one usually ends at 4:00pm so plan your visit accordingly. If you're lucky - and chances are you will be - there might be a real live astronaut around participating in a question-answer session; you'll be moved at the Apollo Center where they have one of the Apollo rockets on display (it takes up the entire building) and a short film on the first lunar landing. Did you know an astronaut comes back to earth anywhere from one to two inches taller after spending time in space? At the Apollo Center you can learn all about the physics of weightlessness as well as exactly what it is that people do up there in Space....why are we going up there in the first place?! You can even touch a "moonrock".
Not that we don't enjoy a nice walk - but NASA is huge and takes up miles of territory on the peninsula of the Cape. Shuttle buses are provided to transport guests from one center to another. The rides usually last about five minutes, during which you're treated to a narrative video and a bus driver who's always ready to point out the wildlife (NASA is located on a wildlife sanctuary) along the way.
I've only been to NASA twice, and both times I've been really moved by what I've seen and learned each visit.
I HIGHLY recommend visiting NASA. It's great stuff.
Skydiving doesn't necessarily come to mind when one thinks of Melbourne Beach - but if you travel a few miles south to Sebastian, you'll find the sport alive and well. The view from 14,000 feet is spectacular - SkyDive Sebastian has a worldwide reputation for excellence and an unparalleled safety record. You'll find people from all over the globe camping out in their tents right next to the hangars, and the sounds of Eric Clapton and other favorite artists wafting out of the main building lend a relaxed feel to an otherwise potentially nerve-wracking sport. My friends and I dove tandem on our lunchbreak one day, during a regular workweek. Can you beat that?
melbourne historic district
located in downtown melbourne is the new haven ave. historic district. this interesting street is lined with shops, restaurants and bars. in this part of town is an interesting collection of old florida buildings and homes. new haven ave. is a fun and safe part of town for nightlife.
- Beer Tasting
- Food and Dining
5 th ave. indialantic
across the bridge from downtown melbourne is the beach town of indialantic. 5 th ave. (US192) in indialantic is lined with surf shops, restaurants, and bars. at the east end of 5 th ave. is indialantic beach park. a nice part of the melbourne area to visit.
- Food and Dining
melbourne beach pier
the 1889 melbourne beach pier is located in the melboune beach historic district. this pier on the indian river was built to transfer building materials for the construction of buildings and homes in melbourne beach in the late 1890's. today this pier is used for fishing and shrimping. the melbourne beach pier is listed on the national register of historic places.
- Historical Travel
spessard holland park
spessard holland beach park is located a mile south of the town of melbourne beach on SR A1A. in my opinion this is the best beach access in the melbourne area. the park offers restrooms and a large free parking lot. spessard holland park is usually less crowded than nearby indialantic and melbourne beaches.
eau gallie arts district
the town of eau gallie is located just north of downtown melbourne. the eau gallie arts district has an art museum, art galleries, restaurants, bars, and historic homes. for those interested in art and architecture eau gallie is worth a visit in the melbourne area.
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
indian harbor beach
indian harbor beach is located a mile east of downtown eau gallie at the intersection of eau gallie blvd. (SR 518) and SR A1A. the town of indian harbor beach has a number of free beach accesses along SR A1A. indian harbor beach is usually not as crowded as nearby indialantic and melbourne beaches.
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