Stay Home and Take a Vacation


The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse was built in 1860.

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As summer approaches, the time for vacation planning also is here. Forty-five percent of Americans will take a summer vacation and 91 percent of that travel will take place in cars, according to the American Automobile Association.

Florida is actually the most-visited summer vacation destination, giving Florida residents a definite advantage. Even if you have only a few vacation days or on a tight budget, you can still enjoy traveling to local getaways. Here are some Florida mini-vacation spots that are within a few hours or less of Viera.

Sebastian Inlet State Park 9700 South Highway A1A, Melbourne Beach 59 mins from Viera

For fishing, camping, surfing and swimming fun, head to southern Brevard County. Sebastian Inlet offers three miles of accessible beach that accommodates swimming, snorkeling, shell hunting and relaxation. Kayak and canoe access is available at the Indian River Lagoon and a one-mile Hammock Trail offers shade and bird watching. For those who want to stay overnight, RV and tent campsites are available, along with an on-site boat ramp.

Kelly Park 400 East Kelly Park Road, Apopka 1 hour, 23 mins from Viera

Admission is $3 for one or two guests in the same vehicle. Cars with three to eight people pay just $5 to enter. Kelly Park features a free-flowing natural spring that remains at a brisk 68 degrees year-round. Visitors can float down a natural lazy river or tube down the Rock Springs Run. It’s a nature’s waterpark that is affordable for families.

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum 500 Captain Armour’s Way, Jupiter 1 hour, 49 mins from Viera

Under the management of the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, this lighthouse, built in 1860, offers 360-degree views and a museum that commemorates 5,000 years of local history. In addition to taking the official lighthouse and museum tours, visitors can enjoy the 120-acre nature preserve that includes a hiking trail through tropical hammocks, mangrove swamps and a Florida scrub jay habitat. Manatee and other wildlife sightings are common.

Silver Springs State Park 5656 Silver Spring Boulevard, Silver Springs  2 hours, 11 mins from Viera

Located at the largest opening of the Floridian Aquifer, Silver Springs pours out 880 million gallons of water every day. Silver Springs is most known for its glass-bottom boat rides, safari by Jeep, and reptile shows. The park is open 365 days a year, from 8 a.m. to sunset, and park entry fees are just $2 per person.

Bok Tower Gardens 1151 Tower Boulevard, Lake Wales 1 hour, 51 mins from Viera

The combination of lush landscaping and architecture makes Bok Tower Gardens an interesting trip for both adults and kids. The National Historic Landmark offers several hiking trails of differing distances and ability levels, and the popular hobby of geocaching has several on-site locations. A children’s garden complete with a fairy tale house is available for younger visitors. Tickets are $14 for adults and $5 for children.

Enjoy live music at the garden during the Music Summer Series presented by Allen and Company. Member price: $25 per concert, $120 for all five performances Non-member price: $30 per concert, $125 for all five performances.

Solomon's Castle 4533 Solomon Road, Ona  2 hours, 41 mins from Viera

Visit the private home of sculptor Howard Solomon, and the dream he brought to life. Guided tours of the home, art gallery and workshop which show case Solomon’s artwork are available. A Boat-in-the-Moat restaurant offers a fun perspective for families. Admission ranges from $10 to $12.50.

Florida Caverns State Park 3345 Caverns Road, Marianna  5 hours, 26 mins from Viera

This park features dry caves (air-filled) and is the only state park in Florida to offer cave tours to the public. Guided tours last 45 minutes. You can fish, canoe and boat on the Chipola River and Blue Hole Spring. This park is also popular for camping, picknicking, hiking and horseback riding (horses not available to rent but stables are available). The park also feautures a nine-hole golf course. Park entrance fee is $5. Cave tour fees range from $5 to $8.

St. Augustine St. Augustine  2 hours, 3 mins from Viera

St. Augustine is the nation's oldest city. Stroll along on foot or ride along in a horse-drawn carriage or trolley while you explore the historical streets and observe century-old buildings and landmarks. The city offers a variety of art galleries, boutiques and unique places to shop as well as more than 42 miles of beautiful beaches. Be sure to check out the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Maritime Museum. The lighthouse is rumored to be haunted and was even featured on an episode of Ghost Hunters. Take a regular tour, or the scary one, if you dare.

Ybor City Tampa  2 hours from Viera

This 200-acre historic city is located within Tampa. Named afer its founder in 1886, Vincent Martinez Ybor, Ybor City is one of only three national historic landmarks in Florida. The city became “the Cigar Capital of the World” in 1900. Take a ride on the iconic yellow TECO streetcar through Centro Ybor, Centro Ybor, a shopping plaza with restaurants, bars and a movie theater. Admission to the Ybor City Museum State Park, located in the historic Ferlita Bakery building, is $4 per person.

Coral Castle Museum 28655 South Dixie Highway, Miami  3 hours, 4 mins from Viera

Secretly sculpting 1,100 tons of oolite and limestone under the secrecy of night, Latrian–American Ed Leedskalnin took 28 years to create Coral Castle for his fiance who cancelled the wedding just the day before. Around the perimeter are 8-foot tall vertical stones. Despite natural disasters, the stones have not shifted. How he created Coral Castle still remains a mystery. Admission ranges from $8 to $18 with free entry for children under 6.

Devil's Den 5390 NE 180th Ave. Williston  2 hours, 27 mins from Viera

Visitors can snorkel and scuba dive in a spring located inside of a dry cave. Extinct animal fossils dating back from the Pleistocene Age have been discovered here and are now viewable at the University of Florida's Museum of Natural History. The spring remains 72 degrees year round. You can rent scuba/snorkeling equipment on site and shop at the gift store. This site also features a lodging area, heated swimming pools and charcoal grills for picnicking. Admission starts at $15 and does not include mask, snorkel and fins, which are required.