Sebastian, Florida, is still somewhat of a hidden gem on the Atlantic Coast. Nestled directly north of Vero Beach and a little south of Melbourne, Sebastian has amazing outdoor adventures along the Intracoastal Waterway and is minutes from the Wabasso bridge that takes you directly to the beach. It also has some unique attractions and offerings at a much lower price than some neighboring towns. Here is how to spend an amazing day in Sebastian, a growing city with oodles of charm and fun.
Note: I was hosted by Island View Cottages. All opinions are my own.
Roadside cafes and mom and pop restaurants are popular in Sebastian and deliver a hearty, tasty breakfast you can depend on for consistency and affordability. My favorites are Sebastian’s Roadside Restaurant, Hen House Eatery, and Country Ham N Egg Restaurant. Hen House Eatery has an impressive list of Eggs Benedict dishes, crepes, and a satisfying Monte Cristo sandwich.
You’ll also find great fresh seafood eateries in Sebastian, with Crab Stop and Mo-Bay Grill being popular choices. Crab Stop has a delectable sharable Snow Deluxe Table Combo with snow crab legs, lobster, jumbo shrimp, potatoes, and corn. It also has an attractive waterfront patio. The seafood dishes are really good at Mo-Bay Grill, but I always go with the Jamaican-inspired pasta route with jerk chicken, mushrooms, and spinach.
Another neat little place tucked into an almost hidden shopping village is named The Village Tavern of Sebastian. You’ll feel like family in this quaint eatery with delicious pinwheel sandwich bites and potato skins.
Mulligans Beach House, Squid Lips Overwater Grill, and Earl’s Hideaway, one of Florida’s best East Coast biker bars, are all perfect for a good cold beer or cocktail paired with yummy appetizers. At Mulligan’s, go for the spinach artichoke dip (also used on the early morning Spinach Benedict) and try the best Bloody Mary in town, and at Squid Lips, definitely try the bacon-wrapped plantains with orange chipotle glaze.
I live in Vero Beach but find myself driving up to Sebastian often when we want to go out to eat. How about you? Will you travel to another city for a delicious meal?
LaPorte Farms is a petting zoo on steroids, found on a street a few minutes from Sebastian’s main drag. Admission is free, while donations are strongly encouraged, to explore this 5-acre handicap-accessible property with quite a menagerie. You’ll find zebras, goats, donkeys, a llama, tortoises, and more. My favorite part is the many different birds and chickens that are in a coop and individual birdcages around the easy-to-walk-around property.
LaPorte Farms offers critter food for sale to share with the animals and miniature horse rides if you are bringing your grandkids.
Pro Tip: Beat the crowds by coming early. LaPorte Farms opens at 8 a.m. Bring a book to share or exchange at its enormous Little Free Library. Bring or wear bug spray.
Parks are abundant in Sebastian, with Riverview and the Historic Jungle Trail being the most popular.
Riverview has a playground, splash pad, picnic pavilions, restrooms, and plenty of space to roam around, but it is also the primary event space in Sebastian. Events at Riverview include craft shows, art shows, Easter egg hunts, Earth Day celebrations, and more. One unique thing about the park is that they have sand volleyball courts. You will also want to take note of the Veteran’s War Memorial and panoramic views of the Indian River.
You will find some excellent hiking trails at the Jungle trail, an almost 8-mile Old Florida hammock habitat, and a sand-covered public road between the National Refuge and local housing. We like to take our bikes up to the off-the-beaten-path Jungle Trail and ride them among the picturesque landscape. My husband also trained for his first 5K here. Be sure to stay well hydrated.
Kayaking and boating are popular in Sebastian, too, with easy river access and beautiful natural surroundings. If you like to fish, you will want to add this destination to your Sebastian itinerary. You’ll find world-class bass fishing to deep-sea adventures that include fishing for Spanish mackerel, pompano, snook, flounder, and sheepshead.
If golf is on your agenda, Sandridge Golf Club is a fun place to play a public course, and it’s always in pristine condition. With two Ron Garl 18-hole championship layouts (Dunes and Lakes courses), the club is actually in Vero Beach, but only minutes from downtown Sebastian. I’m not a golfer, but my husband tells me the par-four 14th is wicked. Golf Digest has given Sandridge a 4.5-star rating.
While I haven’t been skydiving in Sebastian, it is extremely popular. Skydive Sebastian is where to go for tandem or AFF (accelerated freefall) jumps for beginners or experienced skydivers.
Pro Tip: Skydivers must be 18 years of age and weigh less than 230 pounds.
Birding is another big deal on our Atlantic Coast, with Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge being a top-billed activity not only in Sebastian but on Florida’s Treasure Coast. The refuge, the first in the nation, was formed to protect the birds killed off by hunters for hat plumes. One hundred eighteen years later, there are 567 national refuges around the country.
Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge is home to dozens of birds so you will enjoy a brush with nature on your visit, as well as a cool Centennial Trail Boardwalk, listing every national refuge listed in chronological order. The brown pelican rookery is what the sanctuary is most famous for, but you may also see wood storks, ibises, oystercatchers, egrets, and cormorants.
Fun Fact: President Teddy Roosevelt established Pelican Island in the Indian River Lagoon as the first-ever federal bird reservation, thus giving birth to the National Wildlife Refuge system in 1903.
Sebastian, Florida, has several festivals that draw decent-sized crowds. In November, the annual Clambake is one of our favorites with crafts, craft beer, music, and, of course, clams. The Music in the Park Concert Series, a family-friendly event, features live music on the first Friday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Bring a fold-out chair and blanket for your comfort.
The Sebastian Fine Arts & Music Festival is a January event with an incredible group of artists and musicians. You’ll find photography, drawing, sculpture, glass, leather, fiber, pottery, and more categories in this show. Sebastian also has a great July 4 celebration, and Craft Brew Hullabaloo has me very intrigued.
The Drinking Scene
Earl’s Hideaway Lounge is easily one of Florida’s best biker bars, but it is much more than that. Featuring live music, raved-about New York pizza, and a tiki bar setting. I’ve met people from all over the world who visited Florida and went to Earl’s. It’s that distinct.
Two breweries come to mind when I visit Sebastian: Mash Monkeys and Pareidolia. Mash Monkeys has about 20+ tap beers and cider, and two specially made for its third anniversary: BBA Keel Haul and Existence is Punishment, an Imperial Stout aged in bourbon barrels with notes of oak and chocolate.
Pareidolia is as favored for its food as its beer, which it has been brewing since 2014. Come experience live music in this pet-friendly space with fantastic river views as you drink great beer and munch on some pub grub, such as a spicy Italian panini, craft beer cheese dip (with pretzels), or rustic flatbread pizzas.
Mel Fisher’s Treasures is a terrific stop for a museum-like setting with displays of the 1715 Spanish treasure fleet, that carried priceless gold and silver, and the 1622 Atocha. The fleet left Havana, Cuba, and was en route to Spain before violent storms caused them to wreck and sink off the Treasure Coast. Mel Fisher’s museum has a working lab, and you can see artifacts brought up from dives by the world-famous treasure hunter being preserved in real time.
FYI: There is a second Mel Fisher Museum in Key West.
Island View Cottages
One of Florida’s best-kept secrets is the professionally decorated Island View Cottages along the Sebastian River, where I was hosted about a year ago. I was literally in awe when I stepped onto the property, which sits back from the road keeping all the treasures somewhat hidden for my stay. Because the units are so beautiful and desirable, you may want to consider an overnight stay in Sebastian.
Island View Cottages has a dozen units to choose from, each uniquely and professionally decorated, with modern amenities and all the comforts of home. Besides premium accommodations, there are also complimentary bikes and kayaks, a marina to fish from or drive your boat up to, grills and picnic tables, and the most relaxing hammocks that entice you to take a nap in. The fire pit totally rocks!
You can read more about my stay at Island View Cottages in this TravelAwaits post.
Pro Tip: Sebastian would be great as a home base for a week-long Florida Treasure Coast vacation. It will allow you to make day trips to Melbourne, Vero Beach, Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie, Titusville, and Jensen Beach.
All along Florida’s east coast, small beach towns and small cities beg to be discovered: