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Place: Indian River Lagoon - Florida
Shipwrecked Treasures and 1,000 Sea Turtle Nests
The Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway winds through the Indian River Lagoon, the most biodiverse estuary in North America. It links three national wildlife refuges, a national park, and a state park – homes to more than 75 rare species of wildlife – with eclectic beach towns.
Length: 150 miles
America’s Byway.: Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway
Driving time: 10 hours for a quick tour; two days for a more in-depth tour
AMERICAN STORIES ALONG THE WAY
By the late 1800s, plume hunters, egg collectors, and vandals had nearly exterminated the egrets, herons and spoonbills from this island east of Sebastian. Thanks to President Theodore Roosevelt – whose 1903 executive order created the country’s first National Wildlife Refuge here – the remaining brown pelicans received protection that continues today. More than 30 species of birds use the 5,375-acre island to roost and feed. For an on-site look, join a boat excursion.
Tip For Kids
Bring your bait: The Sebastian Inlet is known for outstanding fishing with gator trout, redfish, snook, jack, sheepshead, mangrove snapper and even small tarpon.
McLarty Treasure Museum
In the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the Spanish loaded vast quantities of Mexican silver and gold onto wooden ships and set off for home. Passing north along Florida’s Atlantic coast, they encountered pirates (who’d usually win) and hurricanes (often they didn’t). So when a 1715 storm wrecked an 11-ship fleet just off the coast, survivors came ashore right here, the site of the museum. Remnants of these ships are still being found from Cape Canaveral southward to St. Lucie Inlet. The well-known museum tells the story of the disaster – and the 1,500 survivors – and displays much of the cache that archeologists and neighborhood treasure hunters have discovered.
COOL THINGS FOR KIDS
Sea Turtle Eggs and Other Sightings
Flanked by the lagoon on one side and the ocean on the other, the Byway passes through the Sebastian Inlet Tidal Basin. Bring a camera: dolphins, sea horses, and all seven varieties of Florida sea grass are visible from the Byway. At the shallow basin, walkway rails allow kids to hunt for shells and venture toward the surf. Sea turtle mothers lay their eggs here in June and July. (Long stretches of quiet, undisturbed sandy beaches, with little or no artificial light, are essential to their reproductive success and survival.) In a typical year, more than 1,000 nests are left on the 3-mile beach.
Also on the Byway: the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, a 20-mile stretch of beach that attracts more sea turtles than any other place in the Western Hemisphere.
SUMMER EVENTS ON THE INDIAN RIVER LAGOON NATIONAL SCENIC BYWAY
May - Summer Twilight Craft Fair
More than 200 craft vendors compete for cash prizes.
For more information: (321) 631-9075
May - The Art of Harleys
Brevard Cultural Alliance's annual event featuring a bike show and rodeo, music, vendors, and a chance to win a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
For more information: (321) 690-6817
August - Fais Das-Dos Cajun Festival and Craft Show
Family event featuring Cajun bands, dances, a "kid's cove" and an arts and crafts show.
For more information: (321) 632-7445
America's Byways. are a collection of distinct and diverse roads, designated by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Find out more about the Indian River Lagoon National Scenic Byway and 95 other designated America’s Byways. at www.byways.org or by calling 1-800-4-BYWAYS (1-800-429-9297). For more information about itineraries, visit www.byways.org or www.seeamerica.org.
© National Scenic Byways