Indian River County, world famous for its pink grapefruit, is located halfway between Jacksonville and Miami. It is the northernmost county of the Treasure Coast, with Vero Beach as its county seat. The county covers 512 square miles and was named for the Indian River Lagoon, which traverses the length of the Treasure Coast.
Indian River County has a population of over 102,000, a median age of 44, and a median household income of $40,400. According to statistics, thousands of new residents arrive yearly to call the area "home," while over a half million visitors arrive annually to enjoy its pristine beaches, fishing, wind surfing, sailing, surfing, boating, diving, kayaking, hiking, biking, golf courses, tennis facilities, restaurants, shopping, and baseball.
Quaint Towns, Delightful Parks
The county's other cities and towns include: Fellsmere, Gifford, Indian River Shores, Orchid Island, Roseland, Sebastian, Wabasso, and Winter Beach. Its most northern border is the Sebastian Inlet, which straddles the Indian River/Brevard County line. It is also the home of one of the most frequently used Florida state parks, the Sebastian Inlet State Park. Just southeast of Sebastian is the home of the first federally designated bird sanctuary in the United States, Pelican Island Federal Bird Sanctuary. It became a National Historic Landmark in 1963.
The Indian River Lagoon, running parallel to the coastline and separating the approximate 29 mile long barrier island (Orchid Island) from the mainland, contains a wealthy, environmentally sensitive ecosystem. Throughout the Treasure Coast, the Indian River doubles as the Intracoastal Waterway, which extends from just north of Jacksonville to Miami. The county's high quality of life is beautifully exemplified by its pristine beaches, plentiful parks, and wildlife areas.
"Orchid Island" received its designated name for the Indian River County barrier island after residents lobbied state legislators to change it from North Hutchinson Island in the mid 1980s. Residents cried foul when, after a splurge of growth on South Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County, they saw their island being referred to as North Hutchinson Island. Now, people traveling the barrier island from the Ft. Pierce Inlet traverse North Hutchinson Island in St. Lucie County and enter Orchid Island at the Indian River County border. The island is home to wild orchids found on aged trees and the Jungle Trail that runs parallel to the Indian River. Residences on the southern end of the island include single family homes and a blend of housing in the country club and yachting community of the Moorings. Equity golfing is available at Orchid Island Golf and Beach Club. On the northern end, a mix of multi-family, resort communities, and retirement living await residents including the town of Indian River Shores.
Upscale Barrier Island Community
The Sebastian River Area
Sebastian, Wabbasso, Fellsmere and Roseland make up the Sebastian River area. With a population base of nearly 12,000, Sebastian serves as the center of north Indian River County. (However, the unincorporated area around Roseland is the fastest growing.) The Sebastian River area is a thriving, bustling community offering a variety of activites for its residents. While not on the ocean, Sebastian, following U.S. Highway 1, meanders along almost 2 linear miles of Indian River shore -- a gem for future growth. The city of Fellsmere, with a population of nearly 2500, still holds its rural charm. Each year Fellsmere holds the Cracker Barrel rodeo and Frogleg Festival.
Vero Beach -- Disney
Driving south, motorists will find Vero Beach's wide, uncluttered beaches are connected to the mainland by two bridges; a newer fixed four lane State Road 60 span, and the 17th Street Bridge. The inland area of Vero Beach is probably better known as home of Dodgertown, where the Los Angeles Dodgers held spring training at the 6500 seat Holman Stadium for many, many years. The Dodgers have since relocated to another venue, and most, if not all, Vero Beach residents, were sorry to see them leave.
The county is also home to Disney's Vero Beach Resort, located on A1A. The Northeastern style seaside inn, set amidst lush tropical vegetation, offers accommodations of studios, two bedroom vacation homes, and three bedroom beach cottages--yet remains less than 2 hours from Disney's other attractions located in Orlando.
"Best Little Town in Florida"
The City of Vero Beach's mission is to "promote community liveability by providing low density housing and modest commercial opportunities along with those amenities that produce a sense of place, a sense of community and a high quality of life." And it does just that. It was named the "Best Little Town in Florida" (12th in the nation) by the Rating Guide to "Life in America's Small Cities," and one of four "Great Little Beach Towns" by Family Fun Magazine.
Oranges, Grapefruit and Tourists
Indian River County's major economic base includes agriculture/citrus, tourism, and light industry. Four of the 15 top level county employers are involved in the citrus industry, with approximately 229,000 acres devoted to citrus orchards in the Indian River Citrus District. The region extends from southern Brevard County, through Indian River, and south into St. Lucie, Martin, and northern Palm Beach. The Indian River Citrus District produces 75% of the total grapefruit crop grown in Florida.
Although Indian River County has no direct seaports, there are two accessible in neighboring counties: one located 65 miles north, in Brevard County at Port Canaveral; the other located 14 miles to the south, in St. Lucie County at Fort Pierce.
The Vero Beach Municipal Airport, named General Aviation Airport of the Year in 1995, is base to about 250 planes--including a fleet of 100 used for pilot training. The airport also provides a commuter and connecting service through American Eagle to Miami. The Sebastian airport is mainly restricted to use by light private aircraft and flight schools. International airport service is available within a two hour drive or less; Orlando to the northwest, Daytona Beach to the north, Palm Beach to the south and closest, the Melbourne International Airport, about 30 minutes north via I-95 in southern Brevard County.