Sometimes it’s fun to be a tourist in your own hometown, and that’s exactly how I felt on a recent visit to Vero Beach, Florida, when I stayed at the Driftwood Resort, an inn packed with history for me and the community.
My roots run in deep in Vero, a town where my great, great-grandfather was the first mayor. He also helped found the county, Indian River, and served on the State Senate and House of Representatives. History here is personal to me.
In the past when I visited I typically stayed with family, not a resort on the beach, but I’d always wanted to try the Driftwood (that’s how it’s referred to by locals).
This resort was created by Waldo Sexton back in the early 1900’s. He used ocean washed timbers and planks (driftwood) and filled the hotel grounds with unusual art and antique pieces, including cannons, massive sea buoys and more. My favorite is the painting of Florida on the ground as you walk out to the beach. The Florida Keys are made up of, well, keys. This quirkiness is the very definition of the Driftwood to me.
It’s the spot in town everyone picked to have their high school photos taken because it’s so full of character and beauty.
There’s folklore, too. Many say Sexton’s ghost still walks the grounds.
And there’s fun. The restaurant on premises, Waldo’s, is ideal for a delicious meal or a drink with friends. The patio dining area overlooks the beach and the resort pool. It’s classy, yet casual. Comfortable.
My family and I only had 24 hours in town for this visit, from 10:30 one morning until 10:30 the next, but we made the most of it by spending the first several hours on the beach. Even in late November the water was warm enough for my kids to play in the surf.
We had lunch by the pool, then spent the afternoon checking out some of the beach shops nearby.
We had dinner inside Waldo’s that night with other family members who lived in town, then ended up back in our room for the night.
The next morning we were up bright and early for a long walk on the beach. It was so fulfilling for me to walk with my daughter, showing her all the things only a local would know about the sand and surf there. From the fun sea grape tree pieces that I used as a pen to write in the sand, to the pipe that jutted from the sand that I, at her age, pretended was my personal balance beam. She loved the ‘treasures’ that she found in the sand…pieces of driftwood, coconuts that washed ashore with the tide (you should have seen the amazement in her eyes when I shook it and she could hear the milk inside), and even an old bottle (nope, no message in a bottle this time).
After our treasure hunting we walked to Cravings, the nearby bakery and ice cream shop, for breakfast. Again, the memories rushed back, this time from my high school days, of countless trips to this ice cream shop with friends.
It was a quick visit but full of wonder for me and the family. I can’t wait to get back.
(Note to Readers: I was not compensated for this post. I simply wanted to share a fun place to stay if you ever happen to be down in Indian River County, Florida.)