We wanted a lazy vacation, one where we could sit on the beach, drink frozen beverages, and just chill out. Since the fall was the only time we could vacation, a trip to the Jersey shore, our normal beach haunt, was out of the question. We decided that we should head to Florida, but where? Because we trust the Disney name, the obvious choice was to head to Disneyâ€™s Vero Beach Resort, on the East Coast of Florida
Disneyâ€™s Vero Beach Resort seemed to have what we were looking for: a nice resort, a beach, and sunny Florida weather. And of course, the Disney name attached to it. The original plans were to go down for just a few days to save some money so we booked a Saturday to Thursday trip. As I did more research I found that although Orlando International Airport wasnâ€™t the closest to Vero Beach, it was the most affordable to fly into. How could I possible fly into Orlando and NOT hit up the World? I just happened to remember that we had some old Park Hopper Passes from 1999 that each had one day left on them. That got me thinkingâ€¦What if we check-out of Vero Beach early Thursday morning and drive back to Orlando and go to the parks for the day? Iâ€™d get my yearly Disney fix in even if for one day. So thatâ€™s what we decided on and I made reservations for one night at Scopa Towers (a.k.a. Pop Century) to end our vacation.
We arrived in Orlando on a slightly sunny, slightly rainy Saturday afternoon this past October. After picking up our car rental, we hit the road. Vero Beach is approximately two hours from Orlando. Itâ€™s a very easy drive with little traffic and a simple route. Upon arrival at Disneyâ€™s Vero Beach Resort, the guard at the entrance station immediately greets guests with a â€œWelcome Home.â€ Upon parking at check-in, we were taken in with a grand lobby that evoked a beach theme. The cast members working at check-in were extremely friendly and helpful, giving out all sorts of information about the resort and the area. Our room was ready and we headed back to the car to park underneath the main building in a covered garage. We were fortunate to have our rooms in the main building, although, the resort is not large so it would have not mattered either way.
I had reserved a studio room with a standard view and we were pleasantly surprised to see that our balcony overlooked the pool AND ocean. Iâ€™m not sure if we were upgraded but it sure seemed like it. The room was very spacious with a large hallway as we entered with a small kitchenette area that contained a fridge, microwave, and wet bar. At the end of the hall was a sitting area with chaise lounge. To the left was another hallway with the bathroom to the left and the bedroom at the end. The bedroom contained two full beds, a table with chairs, a TV and the balcony with chairs. The room was very spacious to say the least. The dÃ©cor was beach-themed with pastel colors. It was clean but showing its age. And what would a Disney stay be without some towel animals?
Our first night we arrived pretty late so we first checked out resort. There is your standard Disney general store which was small but contained most necessities, including refillable mugs at around $12.00 each. Also, in the main building are three dining options. The Green Cabin Room, on the second floor, overlooking the lobby, is a comfy bar/lounge with big, soft chairs, a fireplace, small tables, live entertainment and a deck overlooking the ocean, serving a small, bar menu. Shutters is the more casual of the table service restaurants, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner on the first floor. And Sonyaâ€™s is the more upscale table service only serving dinner Thursday through Sunday evenings. Also located in the main building are the masseuse areas on the first floor and free laundry on the fourth floor.
The next day we were able to explore the outside of the resort. Towards the back of the lobby are glass doors leading to a porch with rocking chairs overlooking a grassy area. Beyond the hedges is the ocean but you are not able to see from ground level. Towards the right is the main path leading to the beach, pool and other recreation areas.
The beach is located directly beyond the resort and accessible with your key card. There is a deck overlooking the beach which houses showers and a small building where rentals are available as well as free towels. Available rentals included chairs, umbrellas, boogie boards, wave runners and kayaks. The prices for chairs alone were about $12-15 a day per chair. The beach is beautiful. Comparing it to the NJ shore, itâ€™s smaller but very similar. The sand was lighter in color and only slightly softer in texture. The ocean water is not as clear as you would imagine for Florida but clearer than the Atlantic Ocean in NJ. Not bashing NJ beaches at all. I live at them and love them. More on that laterâ€¦
The beaches were never crowded and very peaceful. We did find the waves to be quite rough, tossing us around quite a bit. And be advised there is no lifeguard on duty here. But overall, we loved the beach and thought it was beautiful (wishing I was on it right now).
Our schedule for the week including spending our mornings at the beach, heading back to the room for lunch, and then retiring to the pool for the rest of the afternoon. The Mickey Mouse shaped pool was very large and never crowded. There were ample chairs situated around the pool with tables and umbrellas. The pool also had an incredible lighthouse shaped water slide for kids and big kids (i.e. adults). Donâ€™t let the slide fool you â€“ that thing goes fast! We thoroughly enjoyed the slide many times over the week. The pool stayed opened until approximately 10 p.m. however, lifeguards were only on duty until 5 p.m. (also the same time the slide shuts down sadly).
There is also a pirate ship water play area for the wee ones and a small hot tub. Also located in the pool area was a mini golf course, a recreation booth for rentals and childrenâ€™s activities sign-ups, a community room for activities, and the fitness center. Of the mentioned activities we used the fitness center several times during the week and found it to always be just us or one other person working out. It has free weights and several cardio machines such as treadmills and ellipticals. There are also towels provided and two televisions.
Also located outdoors in the pool area is the counter service dining, Bleachers. This was only open from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. Although the pool stays open later, no opportunities to get a quick bite here. They served your typical counter service food â€“ chicken fingers, ice cream, and also mixed and frozen drinks. Also, located next to the counter service was the refillable mug station. This was open sometime in the morning until about 10 p.m. There were several options for soda and unsweetened ice tea. Unfortunately there was no water available and if you wanted some sugar for your unsweetened ice tea after 5 p.m. you were out of luck because it was available at Bleachers. Another issue with the refillable mug station was the location. The only way to get to it was to go outdoors and I know most of WDW resorts are the same but since many nights it poured while we were there, it wasnâ€™t worth running out there to get a drink. For your morning cup of joe, there was a coffee station for refillable mugs available right off the lobby. Again, issues with this were only regular and decaf coffee available. No tea which was an issue for me because while I like my occasionally cup of coffee, I am a daily tea person. Also no hot chocolate like at most WDW resorts refillable mug station, which was an issue for my husband who loves his hot cocoa in the mornings from the refillable mug stations at other Disney resorts.
We were able to enjoy several meals at the resort. We had dinner twice at the Green Cabin Room. Weâ€™d enjoyed the atmosphere more so than the food. Itâ€™s very cozy and if the weatherâ€™s right you can sit outside on the deck overlooking the ocean. The service was good here and the live entertainment was enjoyable. On our first night we tried the flatbreads which were just okay. On another evening we each had the cheeseburgers, which again were okay. They have a great drink menu here and we were able to try some new concoctions. This was one of our favorite places to have a drink, relax in the big leather chairs and check our emails (wi-fi only available in the main lobby areas). We also had a much more enjoyable breakfast and dinner at Shutters. No ADRâ€™s needed but then again, the resort was slow. The service here was superb. Breakfast was average but dinner was very, very good. We enjoyed a shrimp margarita cocktail, meatloaf and an oak-grilled scallop special for dinner. For breakfast, we had eggs, home fries, corned beef hash, and a croissant.
For our other dining options, we had taken the short drive over to the Publix and bought some bagels, cereal, and cold cuts and some snacks to eat in the room. We did venture off-property two other nights for dinner. First we tried Riverside CafÃ© in Vero Beach. I had read online it was very good and a local haunt. Itâ€™s located under a bridge and easy to miss. This casual eatery has two areas, one dining room and one bar area with dining tables. We chose to eat in the bar area as there was live music we wanted to watch. We had conch fritters (okay), ribs (good) and fish tacos (very good). For dessert, key lime pie and chocolate peanut butter pie, both were forgettable. Another restaurant we tried was Mr. Manateeâ€™s. This was another casual eatery on the riverfront. The food was just okay here, service was very good. I would return to Riverside CafÃ© but not Mr. Manateeâ€™s.
There are quite a few activities to do in the area if you are willing to drive. We checked out the Outlets in Vero Beach and did some shopping which is always fun. We also took a drive out to the Manatee Center which is about 40 minutes away. Itâ€™s really not worth the drive as itâ€™s very small and you are not guaranteed to see any manatees. Although Cape Canaveral is also about 40 minutes away we couldnâ€™t tear ourselves away from the beach to make the drive. We were however, very fortunate to see the recent shuttle launch from the beach very clearly. We were told from the staff at the resort that it would be crowded and heavily congested if we tried to get closer to Cape Canaveral and we would be able to see it just fine from Vero Beach, and they were right. There is also an art museum and botanical garden nearby.
Disneyâ€™s Vero Beach is a lovely resort. Would we go back there? Probably not and hereâ€™s why. Disneyâ€™s Vero Beach is an ideal vacation for families or couples who would like a relaxed, quiet beach vacation. The resort and beach are beautiful. You have many amenities on site and several activities off-site, though all at least a 20 minute drive. I would recommend Disneyâ€™s Vero Beach Resort for those of you who do not have easy access to a beach. Living in NJ, I can get to a beach in less than 20 minutes and if I want to make a week out of it, I take a short two hour drive to our Southern most part, Cape May, and have a town full of things to do and a great beach. Iâ€™m glad we experienced Vero Beach and had a wonderful time. I definitely recommend it if you are looking for a beach vacation at a great resort. But then again, I also recommend the Jersey shore!