A “Kid-less” Weekend at the Beach
I’ve owned DVC since 2012 and decided just recently to make the drive from Orlando and spend a weekend in Vero. At the risk of jumping to the conclusion at the start, I left saying to myself, “Why on Earth have I not come here sooner? Man have we missed out!”
It started with the thought that every parent thinks from time to time (and non-parents can likely imagine), “Boy could I use a weekend without the
brats kids.” We’ve always sort of thought of DVC’s Vero Beach Resort as a “someday” sort of excursion; largely because we didn’t think there was much for the kids to do compared with the parks. When the opportunity arrived to bid our babies toddlers kids – my gosh they got old fast – goodbye for the weekend, it was “Hello Vero!”
From Orlando, Vero is an easy two hour drive. While I live in town, I can imagine the rental from MCO for folks out of town would be an easy single-tank sort of drive. There are also all sorts of fun little antique and other eclectic shops along the way if you’re looking for mid-drive distractions. If you want to see real Florida, not quite the sort that The Country Bears portray, this is it folks.
When you arrive, you could easily drive right past the resort. I half-expected the giant “Welcome” signs that you see on the drive into the Orlando resort; but not here. A diminutive sign with the DVC hallmark Mickey-Ears logo is the only indication you’re there. The guard-gate is all-too-familiar though. You park in the porte-cochere for a quick stop at check-in to get your requisite “Welcome Home!” experience and your “Key to the World Cards” – an experience many of us long-time Disney Parks goers had forgotten about since the advent of the Magic Band.
At check-in, be sure to mention anything you’re celebrating. Just like the parks, they have celebration buttons for birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, etc. Not only do you get the button, but they ring an adorable bell and announce to the whole lobby that you’re celebrating something. Super fun for the outgoing among us but perhaps terrifying to those less so.
The Lobby serves many functions; think of it as the “hub” for the resort. Sundries are found at the front; library, game center, and spa to the back north; meeting spaces, special events, and restaurants to the back south. The lobby also has stairs to the second floor “Inn” rooms and access to the Green Cabin Room lounge – more on the fun to be had there later. Finally the lobby serves as the grand gateway to the beach and connects to the pool and other activities on the south side of the resort.
After checking into our spacious studio at the Inn we dropped our stuff and hit the town… ok, maybe we napped first; but then we hit the town. The resort is literally in the middle of nowhere. For miles, both north and south, are gated resorts and multi-million dollar homes all reclusively set far back from the road. There are a few places dotted here and there north-bound but nothing in the way of a city to explore. For that, a 20-minute drive south is required to Orchid Island. You’ll be rewarded for the effort with a gorgeous boutique town, right on the water, and full of restaurants, bars, and shops.
While Disney provides a list of places at the front desk to visit, and some the places on the list include Orchid Island, what that list misses is the wide array of options here. For example, Grind & Grape, a coffee and pastry place turns wine-bar and cocktail lounge at night. Citrus Grillhouse, a beach-side fine dining restaurant with fabulous Italian inspired dishes and giant list of rare whiskeys. Even a fully working brewery with tasting room and a small but inspired food menu and live entertainment. Speaking of Orchid Island Brewing, this is where we learned of the Treasure Coast Wine & Ale Trail. Lots of local folks brewing beer are in the area, even a fully working Winery. We knew what we would be doing the next day!
It’s also worth mentioning that Uber and Lyft both had a small but noticeable presence. If we didn’t have our own car, it would be entirely possible to use these ride-sharing services to get back and forth from the resort. As a test, we looked at the apps and found that we’d have to wait about 20 minutes for a ride to pick us up at the resort and just a couple minutes while in the Orchid Island area. While you may be used to a faster pick-up in a more metropolitan location, these services are definitely an option.
On Saturday morning we woke up just before the sun, walked down to the beach, and took in the breathtaking sunrise that only a cool Florida Winter can produce. After taking a good hour to just decompress and watching the rays of the sun pierce the clouds, we headed back in to the Wind & Waves Grille for a fantastic breakfast. There were far more than the typical “Bounty Platter” options you’ll find at the Parks here. The menu features such whimsical fare as Piña Colada Pancakes, Nutella Stuffed French Toast, Crab Cake Eggs Benedict, and a Crème Brulèe Oatmeal; of course, they also had everyone’s favorite Mickey Waffle. Don’t forget to also check out the breakfast cocktails and, my personal favorite, Champagne for two with a build-your-own mimosa carafe of either orange, grapefruit, or guava juice. Don’t judge me too harshly for treating this like Churchill would treat a Martini, by looking at the juice while I drank the Champagne.
After Breakfast we explored the resort for a couple of hours taking in the sights and sounds. Having never been to this resort before I didn’t quite wrap my head around the wide array of things to do for both adults and kids. The pool is epic, with a giant pirate ship and super sweet lighthouse slide which borders the 9 hole mini-golf course that’s just $5 and is free for DVC members. The outdoor Wind & Waves pool bar is also super fun and they’ll make non-alcoholic beverages for the kids; pro-tip: they’ll even make you a to-go cup with your beverage to take on the beach! But what I think is the biggest surprise is the array of kids activities they have that are fully supervised and include dinner. Adults can enjoy some alone time while the kids from 4 to 12 can enjoy all the activities at the Discovery Club. There’s also teen activities including geocaching, dance parties, and a private campfire. For a brief moment, I regretted not bringing the kids.
After a few hours exploring the resort we decided to venture out to the Walking Tree Brewery, which is roughly a 20 minute drive from the resort. After a flight of some pretty fantastic beer we took another 20 minute drive further south to the Summer Crush Winery for a tasting of the local muscadine wine. If you’ve never had muscadine, just keep in mind it’s sweet; embrace it and enjoy a taste of Florida in a bottle. On the drive back from the winery we decided to take in a movie at the Majestic 11 theaters, itself just a 20 minute ride from the resort (the joke became that everything is just 20 minutes away). Not only was the theater gorgeous, but the matinee was just $6! I haven’t paid that little for a movie since I was a high-school student in the early 90s.
Since Orchid Island was on the way back we stopped in to try the food at Orchid Island Brewery and I must say, for a brewery, the food was pretty delicious. The menu is small but well put together. The curry soup was far and away one of the most delicious things I’ve tasted and it never hurts to wash down some delicious food with a freshly brewed beer.
When we arrived back at the resort we made a stop at the Green Cabin room to check it out and have some dessert. The bar, as you may surmise from the name, is nautically themed and has that Disney flare we all know and love. The bar is simply gorgeous with mahogany wood and brass fixtures throughout; but the real view is on the patio. Grab a beverage and watch, or listen if it’s night, the Atlantic crash onto the shore. We decide to sit inside since it was night-time and a bit brisk for our native Floridian blood. As we noshed on a raspberry covered cheesecake and sipping our beverages, a cast member walked in setting up some speakers. We stumbled right into Saturday Night Karaoke! Now for those of you who don’t know me, I… well, let’s just say I love some Karaoke; much to my wife’s displeasure. Naturally I was the first to sign up, and as one does in a bar full of people, I serenade them with a classic; Hotel California. Whether you’re into Karaoke or not, the Green Cabin room has nightly activities for folks of all ages.
Waking up on that Sunday morning was a bit of a chore; but thankfully check-out isn’t until 11am. We gathered our things, loaded the car, and enjoyed Sunday brunch at Wind & Waves before waving goodbye to our first time at the Vero Beach resort. It was a whirlwind trip, less than 48-hours really; but it was a magnificent escape. Just far enough to get away from it all but close enough to be just a few minutes from all sorts of fun. It’s true that if I brought my children this would have been an entirely different trip; but looking back it’s easy to see that there was plenty of fun for them to have as well. I think that’s what made this trip so special. The time alone with my wife was priceless and we couldn’t have picked a better place to reconnect. Leaving knowing that I could come back with the kids is absolutely why, as I made the drive home to Orlando, I said to myself, “Why on Earth have I not come here sooner? Man have we missed out!”