I was originally planning on spending this past weekend in Sarasota, but decided on Friday to stay more local and go back up north a couple hours to Vero Beach and Ft. Pierce. I started off my Vero Beach advenure at the Oslo River Conservation Area. The area has several different hiking trails and after doing a few small ones, I went on the main one that meanders to a few different points of interest, including a really cool observation tower that overlooks a coastal wetlands lake. There are some great views from the elevated tower, but the walk up the long ramp was my favorite part. I also passed by the biggest slash pine in the world, aptly known as Awesome Pine.
I next went right around the corner to the McKee Botanical Garden. Originally an 80-acres jungle gardens back in the 40’s and 50’s with monkeys and other animals running around, the remaining 20 acres have now been transformed to a beautiful botanical garden, and the only monkey out there was me. I truly enjoyed these gardens, and the walking paths and cute litle bridges added to the gorgeous scenery and foliage. I particularly liked the Bamboo Pavilion and the Hall of Giants, a building built back in 1941 that depicted the history of the gardens through both pictures and words. They also had a video playing of what the jungle gardens were like back in the early 40’s that I found extremely entertaining and funny, particulary the monkey scenes.
I then drove over to the beach and south along A1A, where I next visited Round Island Riverside Park. Another cool park with some more great hiking trails and an observation tower. It was also a popular spot to go canoeing and kayaking, and I really wished I could have gone too. Just down the road was Avalon State Park, where I took a nice walk on the beach. I then continued south into Ft. Pierce, where I came upon Jack Island Preserve State Park. When I pulled into the parking lot, it seemed very familiar and realized I had not only been here before but always wished to visit it again. So I was very happy to accidentally stumble upon it again, and it was fun to hike around it and enjoy the nice breeze from atop the observation tower.
My next stop was at Ft. Pierce Inlet State Park. I may have been here once before but I can’t recall. But it was definitely a very nice park where I enjoyed another nice walk along the beach. I then got off of A1A along the coast and drove south down Indian River Drive. I’ve done part of this drive before when A1A was closed while I was driving around Jensen Beach and Stuart, but it wasn’t planned like this time. And what a cool drive it was. I got a particular kick out of all the piers and docks out into the river and how long some of them were. I also came upon quite a few parks, including Savannas Preserve State Park. I got to check out this park for the first time a few years back, and I’ve wanted to return to it, as I recall it had some great hiking trails. They were closed this time, though, so I continued down the river road to Walton Scrub Preserve. Another park I can’t remember being to before, I hiked on the mile-long trail but got a little off track and ended up at a horse ring where the skiddish horse there was non too happy I had stumbled upon his territory. I finally did get back on the right trail.
I then went to Indian Riverside Park and Sandsprit Park, which I’ve never been to before, but really enjoyed exploring both and hanging out on their respective piers as the sun was starting to set. I next made a quick stop at DuBois Park in Jupiter before enjoying a nice walk around the Juno Town Center, which I was just at last Saturday. I concluded my fun day with a nice dinner at the Reef Grill in Juno.