Florida is an extremely long, waterbound state. Unlike our New England friends, who can easily travel from Maine, to Massachusetts, to New Hampshire, to Rhode Island, and on and on, we Floridians (especially South Floridians) are generally stuck road tripping in-state… unless you’re looking for a day-long drive to Georgia. Of course, if you love Florida as much as I do, being “Florida-locked” can be as exciting as driving across the country.
P and I had a lovely time road tripping to Melbourne, Florida last summer for a beautiful wedding. Neither of us had been to the city in Brevard County before and we were excited to hear that the historic downtown experienced a revival over the last few years. Although a almost a year has passed since our stay in Melbourne (I took a year off from blogging to prepare for the birth of our JUP Baby), we still talk about our brunch at Backwater, our brewery date night at Hell n Blazes, and P’s first visit to Ron Jon Surf Shop.
First stop, brunch at Backwater:
This “mom and pop” restaurant is owned and operated by fellow Florida natives who source local ingredients for their Southern cuisine.
The building features artwork designed for the Melbourne Mural Project, part of the city’s plan to revitalize Historic Downtown Melbourne and rebrand the area as a destination for art and culture.
The menu is something to drool over. We sampled the Deep Fried French Toast, Southern Breakfast, and C.H. Clark’s Pulled Pork Eggs Benedict. Can you guess who ordered what?
Next, we headed to Ron Jon Surf Shop in Cocoa Beach:
Did you know the Cocoa Beach location is open 24 hours a day? (In case you need a bathing suit at 2 a.m.) It is also the company’s largest store at 52,000 square feet.
P had never been to Ron Jon’s before, so we spent a couple of hours playing tourist.
Finally, we ended our day trip with a date at Hell n Blazes Brewing Co. near the downtown Melbourne waterfront.
The brewery is located in the oldest commercial building in Melbourne, built in 1893. The owner, Don DiFrisco (who happened to live in Jupiter for a period of time!), used old photographs of the building to redesign and rebuild the structure. After a year of renovations, in which Don kept the original floors and tin ceilings, the microbrewery and wine bar opened to much fanfare in the community. In fact, nearly everyone we met while in Melbourne encouraged us to stop by Hell n Blazes for a drink.
Hell n Blazes is equipped with a ten barrel brew house and an eight head draft-based wine system. P taste-tested a flight of five beers, with names such as “Don’t Leave Me Amber,” “Malt Wit-Man,” and “Not-My-Gumdrop Buttons Gingerbread Stout.”
Employees claim that the building is haunted, but Don doesn’t believe in ghosts. In 1947, while the building was being used as a mortuary, a planed crashed outside of Melbourne. The bodies of 25 women and children were processed here. Strange occurrences were reported during the renovation and employees still say they hear someone whistling every morning when they arrive to check on the brew house.
Interestingly enough, it was on this trip that I had the sneaking suspicion that I may be pregnant (Ooops, I did drink some Hell n Blazes wine) and shortly afterward we confirmed the pending arrival of our JUP Baby! More on that later…
So, if you are feeling “Florida-locked” this summer and are looking for a fun day trip, why not check out Melbourne’s renewed downtown? Or head on over to what I am certain is Florida’s only 24-hour surf shop? Say hello to the crew at Hell n Blazes for us!