Vero Vine Top 9 Oddest Locations

Vero Beach is packed full of historic buildings, take a look at some of the oddest locations. From a chocolate factory to ghost tours this list is full of excitement! 

How Sweet it is Chocolate Factory 

How Sweet It Is Chocolate Factory is family owned & operated. We offer over 200 varieties of hand-dipped chocolates including sugar-free. We make over 12 flavors of creamy butter fudge including sugar-free. Check out our custom gift baskets & unique gifts. Stop in our old fashion ice cream parlor and chocolate factory. Watch as we hand dip the mouth-watering chocolate & creamy fudge. The smell alone is guaranteed to satisfy. Our chocolatiers welcome family or scheduled group tours to see our chocolates being made. “Always old-fashioned quality.”

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The Historic Driftwood Resort

Waldo Sexton arrived in Vero Beach in the 1920’s and proceeded to build the Driftwood Inn, one of the most extraordinary structures in the South. Sexton, founder of McKee’s Jungle Attractions, also in Vero Beach, built his sprawling dream of cypress logs and pecky-cypress paneling from the swamps around the Blue Cypress Lake about 26 miles away. Townspeople who remembered the 1930’s describe Sexton pacing up and down the beach shouting verbal instructions to the crews, who worked by voice command only, without plans. The result was a two-story hotel with balconies everywhere surrounded by pole railings with turned or peeled-log supports.

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Indian River Hauntings

Indian River Hauntings offers our guests the opportunity to explore and participate in adventures into history and the unexplained.

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The Hallstrom House

The Hallstrom House (also known as the Hallstrom Farmstead) is a historic house in Vero Beach, Florida. It is owned by the Indian River County Historical Association and located at 1723 Old Dixie Highway, SW. Beginning as a 40-acre pineapple plantation in 1909, the main house was erected by Swedish horticulturist Axel Hallstrom. With help from Norse and Swedish craftsmen, the structure was completed in 1918. Later on, after Axel moved on to the citrus business, he eventually moved out. After Axel Hallstrom’s death in 1966, his daughter continued the citrus business until the 1980s. In July 2000 efforts to preserve the remaining 5-acre plantation were achieved when Ruth Hallstrom willed them for the sole purpose of preserving the farmhouse. On June 6, 2002, the farmhouse was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. 

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McKee Botanical Garden – Hall of Giants

McKee Jungle Gardens was a popular roadside attraction on US 1 opened in 1929 by Arthur McKee and Waldo Sexton. It featured lush tropical gardens, eccentric architecture and exotic wildlife. In 1976 it closed and most of the land it was built on became a condo development.

In 2001 it re-opened, a third the size of the original. Prominent among the remaining architecture is the Hall of Giants, an exotic structure created to house the world’s largest table built from a single piece of mahogany. Designed and built by Waldo Sexton, the building is made of cypress and adorned with bells and stained glass. 

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Mel Fisher’s Treasure Museum

In December of 1992, world famous treasure hunter, Mel Fisher, opened a permanent museum in Sebastian, Florida. Mel started his full-time treasure hunting career in Vero Beach when he moved there with his wife Dolores and their family, from California in 1963. Mel spent the next 7 years successfully salvaging the 1715 Fleet, a fleet of sunken treasure-laden ships, which sank off the coastline which is why the surrounding area got the name, “Florida’s Treasure Coast”. He then went on to discover the main pile of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha in July of 1985. This is the largest underwater treasure find in history. Mel’s family continues the search for the remaining cargo of the Atocha today.

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Marsh Landing Restaraunt 

The Fellsmere Estates Buildings was built in 1926 as the land sales office for the Fellsmere Estates Corporation founded by E. Nelson Fell. After the 16 inch floods in 1927 and the Depression in 1929, the Florida land boom crashed, as did the corporation. The building later became the headquarters for the Florida Crystal Sugar Company as sugar was the main commodity grown here through the early 1960’s.

A handful of Fellsmere residents remember getting their paychecks at the pay window that is still located at the southern outside door.

Subsequently the building was used as a municipal building. The City Council meetings were held in the large interior room that is now the main dining room and the police department occupied the north end of the building where the kitchen and office are now located. The concrete vault previously in that area was originally built to hold important documents for the corporation but while it was the police department, it reportedly held prisoners awaiting morning transportation to jail.

After a variety of other uses the building was sold and boarded up. After many code enforcement actions the City received the building back in the late 1980’s. In October 1995, Fran Adams bought the building at public auction for historic restoration purposes.

The building has elegance unmatched by modern buildings. The wood windows and door frames are the original cypress frames made from trees that were logged locally and cut in nearby lumber camps. The wainscot around the interior walls is the original tongue and groove ceiling. The wainscot was covered in years of old paint that was planed off then varnished to reveal the rich golden hues of the original wood. Most of the doors are original. Every effort was made to refurbish the building similar to the early days. The banquet room at the south end of the building was sectioned off the main room just as it is now and the two private dining rooms mimic the early executive offices of the sugar company.

We bring to you the early Florida boom and bust times when folks lived off the land and were still settling the wild yonder. We hope you enjoy your step back in time.

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The Patio Seafood Tavern

The Patio Restaurant on 21st Street close to the downtown area of Vero Beach was built in the 1930s by Waldo Sexton and was leased as one of the original Howard Johnson’s ice cream parlors. Later it was used as a gift shop/fruit stand and as the location of Waldo’s real estate office.

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Laura Riding Jackson’s Home

Laura (Riding) Jackson’s home was constructed of locally milled Florida pine in about 1910, when Indian River County was a wilderness. A good example of  Florida’s historic “cracker” style of vernacular architecture, it is two stories, approximately 1,400 square feet, and is furnished with her own belongings. The house is an example of a disappearing architectural style and a symbol of a past, more environmentally sensitive, way of life. The foundation moved the home in 1994 to its current place on the grounds of the Environmental Learning Center.

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Nikki Kalin
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