As a boy growing up in sunny Los Angeles, I could never understand why the Dodgers felt they had to disappear to distant Florida to get in shape during spring training. I knew the weather couldn’t be so much better there (after all, didn’t LA have the heavenly climate?), and I never quite figured out what the big attraction of Vero Beach, the Dodgers’ historic off-season home, could be. But when I discovered that the Dodgers had started playing here way back in 1948—back when they still called Brooklyn home—it all began to make sense. But all that is in the past—after 60 years, the Dodgers moved west to Arizona in 2008, and the facility, called Historic Dodgertown, is used as training grounds for sports teams of all kinds.
With or without baseball, Vero Beach is a really nice place, with an excellent beach in South Beach Park at the end of the Palmetto Causeway. This South Beach is family-friendly and about as far as you can get from Miami’s South Beach and still be in Florida: The sands here are clean, grainy, and golden, the waves are a good size, and there are showers and free parking. Vero Beach also has a nice place to stay and eat: the Driftwood Resort (3150 Ocean Dr., 772/231-0550), which has beachcomber-vibe motel rooms and villas, and the fun and good-value Waldo’s, a poolside café and bar overlooking the ocean.