Prevue asked Allison McNeal, Director of Tourism, Indian River County Chamber of Commerce, her thoughts on Eco/Adventure Trends.
Q: How is your destination/venue designed to offer programs in touch with nature?
A: Natural resources have been so carefully protected in Indian River County. We boost 26 miles of unspoiled beaches, waterscapes of the Sebastian and Indian Rivers, and miles of woodlands and fields that provide an endless array of eco friendly activities. The Indian River Lagoon is one of the most environmentally diverse estuaries in the nation. It has been proclaimed “an estuary of international importance.” The lagoon is also home to Pelican Island named by President Theodore Roosevelt as the first National Wildlife Refuge in the United States. The western part of our county also boasts pristine wilderness in the Stick Marsh and in the untouched grasslands and marshes.
Q: What are some popular outdoor/eco group activities in your destination?
A: Outdoor and eco group activities are endless in Indian River County. Swimming, surfing, paddle boarding, boating, sailing, airboat tours, deep sea fishing, and scuba diving are just a few of the wide range of outdoor activities available. Kayaking, canoeing and airboat tours are available through protected preserves and offer a serene eco-adventure experience. The Environmental Learning Center offers hands-on experiences and fascinating natural hammocks and displays.
Q: Are there any fun cultural venues that promote eco-awareness in the destination with group space?
A: Capt Hiram’s Resort, located on Sebastian’s riverfront, offers a wide variety of eco-tours including river cruises and fishing. Hiram’s has an onsite hotel, restaurant, sandbar, marina and meeting rooms are able to accommodate up to 150 people. Disney’s Vero Beach Resort, located on Vero’s beach, offers numerous excursions for their guests. Take a Pelican Island Bike Hike along the Indian River Lagoon while the resort’s Naturalist guide you along Jungle Trail to the Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge. During the summer, observe the nesting of sea turtles just out from the resort. The Resort offers numerous meeting spaces and can accommodate up to 150 people.
Q: What are some popular farm-to-fork options for groups?
A: Citrus Grillhouse, winners of Florida Monthly’s best new restaurant in 2010 and DinersChoice.com 1st place winner in 2011 & 2012, offer menu selections that rotate on a daily basis, depending on what’s fresh, seasonal, and available. Cobalt, located inside Costa d’ Este on Vero’s oceanfront, has a menu directly sourced from local farmers, fishermen and artisanal purveyors. Osceola Bistro has a beautiful garden patio dining area and they also strive to purchase as many ingredients from local farmers and fisherman as possible. The Tides, named one of the Exceptional Restaurants of Florida by Gourmet Magazine in 2003, uses only locally grown, organically raised vegetables.