From opera to ballet, from visual and performing arts to theater, world-class culture set in the heritage of Old Florida can be found in Indian River County, located on the state's Atlantic Coast.
By day, admire world-renowned art collections in an expansive museum or stroll botanical gardens rife with culture and history. By night, score front-row seats to a Tony Award-winning musical or a ballet performance.
While you're sampling the rich cultural amenities, be sure to set aside time to explore the area's miles of pristine beaches and parks often located just blocks away.
In Indian River County, skip the big-city hassles and experience a wealth of enriching experiences in a relaxing, picturesque environment.
Theater for All Ages
Begin your journey in Vero Beach at Riverside Park, home to several of the county's largest cultural facilities. The park is surrounded on three sides by the Indian River Lagoon, Florida's most diverse estuary.
Stand on the banks and drink in the lagoon's natural beauty – look for roseate spoonbills and sea turtles – before meandering over to the Riverside Theatre and Riverside Children's Theatre.
At the Riverside Theatre, catch everything from Broadway-style shows and ballets to comedy performances and concerts.
As its name suggests, the Children's Theatre offers youth-oriented programs and services. Enjoy productions such as "Disney's Aladdin Jr.," a musical filled with magic, mayhem and flying carpet rides, or sign up a child for a summer instructional program. Through in-house productions, children can even participate onstage and backstage.
Art and Music
Also located in Riverside Park is the Vero Beach Museum of Art. Here, the aesthetically inclined discover exquisite exhibitions.
Wander the halls of the 55,000-square-foot accredited art museum, which features neoclassical structure, and see both American and international works of art.
January through April, you can grab a bite at Chelsea's at the Museum Café before exploring the outdoor sculpture park. The museum also offers art and humanities classes as well as an international lecture series. (Note: the museum is closed on Mondays from Memorial Day to Labor Day.)
Jazz aficionados enjoy occasional Saturday afternoon concerts held by the Treasure Coast Jazz Society. The concerts take place at the Heritage Center in Vero Beach and have included appearances by the Duke Ellington and Woody Herman orchestras.
For a different sort of tune, visit the nearby Vero Beach Opera. This year's schedule boasts soprano operatic concerts by Deborah Voigt and Susan Neves, plus a musical extravaganza featuring opera, tango, Afro-Cuban and other genres.
History and Nature
History buffs and nature lovers have a plethora of places to discover in Indian River County, starting with a historic Florida landmark: McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach.
The botanical garden, which appears on the National Register of Historic Places, houses one of the South's most noteworthy collections of water lilies. It also has several restored architectural treasures, including the Hall of Giants, which holds the world's largest mahogany table.
Afterward, explore Sebastian Inlet State Park, where canoeing, kayaking and surfing are favorite pastimes. Bask on three miles of beaches or reflect on the county's colorful past at the park's two museums.
The McLarty Treasure Museum showcases the history of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet with artifacts, displays and an observation deck overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The Sebastian Fishing Museum tells the history of the area's fishing industry. Admire a replica of an original fish house and dock and learn about three of Sebastian's early families that operated fish houses.
Another must-see is the Environmental Learning Center in Vero Beach. Located on an island in the Indian River Lagoon, the non-profit educational center offers pontoon boat rides through the area's diverse habitat, teeming with dolphins, alligators, pelicans and fish.
From jazz concerts to treasure museums, Indian River County is an unexpected cultural gem set in Florida's natural beauty.
For more information, visit www.cultural-council.org or call 772-770-4857.
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