Growing Up in Vero Beach


Growing Up in Vero Beach

By Chandler MacWilliam – writer for Shotguns & Seashells

What’s it like growing up in Vero Beach, FL?

You have to find your niche or you’re going to hate it. I personally think that’s why a lot of kids my age don’t come back…especially straight out of college.

My “niche” growing up was riding and showing horses, and is still my lifelong passion. I continue to ride for pleasure and remain active at the barn where I board my horse, Scout. I’m hoping to start back showing again in a few years. Aside from school, if I wasn’t traveling to horse shows or at the barn I was working at Polished and Quail Valley Fitness & Spa. Learning at a young age how to balance school, work, showing horses and my social life has helped me tremendously growing up. I’ve always been a busy bee; if I wasn’t I would have been bored out of my mind.

Because all of that it made me have a really good relationship with people in Vero Beach and even in Fort Pierce, where I also spent a lot of time in high school when my horses were boarded down there with my horse trainer. Without that I think part of me wouldn’t have been so drawn to coming back. It’s the people that make you want to come back. Or at least it is for me.

For school, I attended St. Edward’s School, where everyone knows everyone. My graduating class had less than 70 students. From Pre-K until my senior year of high school I had the privilege of building lifelong friendships and having teachers who were like family. I can’t begin to explain how grateful I am for the opportunities St. Edward’s provided me. Between private school and keeping a small social circle I’d say I lived a pretty sheltered life though. It didn’t occur to me until later on how blessed I was to have never experienced threatening circumstances that several American high schools deal with regularly.

It wasn’t until I moved away to college that I really realized how much I truly loved this town. I attended The University of Alabama for 4 years and am currently living in New York City finishing up a fashion internship with Tibi and I’ll be graduating this December. Neither of these places offers what Vero Beach can but they both sure did teach me a lot and helped me grow.

I take pride along with many others Vero Beach residents in this town for it’s deep-rooted history and family traditions. The beautiful Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon, as well as some of the finest agriculture, hunting and outdoor sporting surround us in Vero Beach. There is nothing better than having the luxury of being able to sunbathe at the beach or the pool in your backyard, take a boat cruise on the river and then walk down Ocean Drive to my favorite boutiques, salons, local eateries and bars. Or even go out horseback riding on a trail ride or better yet go on a cattle drive or deer hunting. I did all of this growing up and the best thing was that I never had to go more than 45 minutes to get to what I wanted to do. I never had to drive on large highways or be stuck in traffic (unless it’s A1A during season) to get to my destination.

My family has done a lot of great things for our affluential hometown and I’m looking forward to contributing with them in a few short months. My father, Alex “Buzz” MacWilliam III runs a Real Estate Company that has been around for 66 years that my grandfather Alex MacWilliam Jr started, and now my older brother, Alex MacWilliam IV has joined him. My great grandfather, Alex MacWilliam Sr also held the position as mayor for over 20 years. I know, it’s a lot of Alex’s to keep up with. Experiencing what my family has accomplished makes me proud of my last name and motivates me to work hard and be on my best behavior. So for me, growing up and continuing I always had to make sure I maintained a good reputation for my family and myself. My parents always made sure that I was polite and said my ‘hellos’ to people I knew and their friends. But I’m not going to lie and tell you I was always on my best behavior because there were times I wasn’t but that’s all a part of being young and growing up.

As I’ve gotten older it is important to establish reputable connections and relationships, as well as maintain an upright reputation. Like most small towns, it’s all about who you know! During my younger years it would bother me that I couldn’t go anywhere without running into someone I knew. Today, I love being greeted with hugs when I visit my favorite Ocean Drive spots and that people care about how I’m doing. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t like the kind gestures and special treatment perks. Plus, people are so supportive. I also run a fashion blog called Shotguns & Seashells and I’m constantly getting positive feedback on it from locals.

I had the best time of my life growing up in Vero Beach. Now that I’m an adult (that feels really weird to say) it’s my turn to build a legacy pursuing my professional goals and raising a family. Life may have been simpler when I was younger, but I personally believe living in Vero Beach only gets better with age.

So if you don’t love growing up and living here now give it time and find your niche! The quality of life in Vero Beach is one of the many reasons I’m proud to call it my home!

My favorite part about coming home after being gone for so long is driving over the 17th Street Bridge and on to the island. Growing up though I absolutely HATED having to drive over the 17th Street or Barber Bridge more than once a day back and forth I would get so annoyed. But getting to drive over the river and look out at the beach…now that’s living in paradise.

Like my father always said… “I was born lucky”!

Chandler MacWilliam is a lifelong Vero Beach resident, a Retail Fashion Major at the University of Alabama, and the writer and operator of Shotguns & Seashells (, a fashion blog.

Built by an Irresponsible Screw-Ball in a Classy Beach Town: The Driftwood Resort, Vero Beach Florida

The Driftwood Resort, Vero Beach, Florida

Built by an Irresponsible Screw-Ball in a Classy Beach Town: The Driftwood Resort, Vero Beach Florida

By Marybeth Scott – Owner, Beaches, Bars and Bungalows 

Right in the beautiful, chronicled downtown of Vero Beach sits a historical oddity that may make the blue-haired residents cringe. Waldo Sexton built The Driftwood in 1935 mostly just from – yes, driftwood! And a ton of weird and anomalous objects he found on his travels all over the world. He’d visit a place, see a really cool something, haul it back and helter-skelter cement it onto a wall.

Screw-ball perhaps in some people’s minds, but we prefer to think of him as imaginative. The fact that he’s also been called “one of the most colorful persons that Florida has ever known” makes us wish he was still around to hang out with. And with all that he accomplished, whoever called him a screw-ball was probably just jealous anyway.

Could those name-callers have:

  • Become independent citrus farmers in 1917 setting out 10,000 orange trees in their first year
  • Developed three varieties of avocados
  • Established the first dairy in Indian River County
  • Cross bred two kinds of cows producing an animal that required less feed and withstood Florida’s heat
  • Belonged to an organization that made short-term loans to farmers during the Depression
  • Partnered in and served as the ‘idea man’ for McKee’s Jungle Garden” an early 1930’s tourist attraction
  • And lots more

All the while fathering four children and traveling all over the world to bring back stuff?? I think not.


The Driftwood Resort began as Waldo’s family residence, called “The Breezeway” because of the structure with an open air hallway down the middle. Mrs. Sexton started operating a small resort hotel, cooking breakfast for her guests in her own kitchen. Her breakfast success led to Waldo’s restaurant being built in 1947. Can you imagine turning your home into a resort, cooking meals in your kitchen for strangers? Or more to the point, your husband being okay with that??
Over time when Waldo would return from his world travels, antiques, cannons, mosaics, paintings, furniture, and especially bells (he was very fond of bells, and would ring them when a guest would arrive, and depart; not sure the hubbie would love that, either) were incorporated into the ever-expanding, not quite ramshackle but sort of, Driftwood Resort. Not only did he ferry in tchotchkes, truck in remains of barns blown down by hurricanes, he also transported old fishing shacks that became guest cottages.

Today The Driftwood Resort has 100 guest rooms, 87 are timeshares and 13 are available for rent. They range from standard hotel rooms to one bedroom suites with full kitchens, some with Jacuzzi tubs. Parking is somewhat challenging, hence their saying “Lousy parking since 1937.” But believe us when we say it’s worth it!

For travelers who wish to just “park it” and swim, play and stay without needing the car until it’s time to leave, the Driftood Resort is perfect. And Vero Beach is a beautiful, walkable old-Florida town with shops and restaurants to explore when you’re not lazing, lounging, or just soaking up the gorgeous view.

Visit The Driftwood Resort’s site at for more info and reservations.

This is an excerpt from the full story on Beaches, Bars and Bungalows. Please go here to read the full article.

Marybeth Scott is the owner of Beaches, Bars and Bungalows, a blog dedicated to exploring the many great and lesser known places all over coastal Florida. Visit her blog at:, or e-mail at:

Discovering La Tabla


La Tabla Coffee Shop + Juicery in Vero Beach

Discovering La Tabla

By Chris Woodruff – Owner, Paddles By The Sea, LLC

While driving through Royal Palm Point in Vero Beach, my eye was drawn to a sign I hadn’t noticed before. The sign was a surf board with the words “La Tabla” on it. I then noticed the window saying this place had local farmed food, juices and organic fare. I had to stop.

I knew as soon as I walked in the door; this was my kind of place. With photos of ocean scenes, surf board hanging from the ceiling, and surf movies on the TV and a huge communal table in the center of the room, it feels like great place for meeting new people. I haven’t seen a place like this since I left Southern California. The menu is a wall made into a chalk board. Also, really like how you can actually see inside the kitchen, they’re not hiding anything here. I’m not even hungry, but I find myself looking over the menu.

Stepping up to the counter I’m greeted by Santiago. I order the ceviche; this is a great dish to test a chef with. Ceviche is raw fish marinated with citrus juices, and in this case also seasoned with vegetables and seasonings. If the food here is really local and fresh, I’ll know with this dish. I’d had had a chef friend of mine make ceviche for me recently, so I’ll have a good base line. The meal came in a large bowl sitting on a tray with a mason jar of freshly brewed tea. Not only was it better then my friends version, it blew it away (don’t tell my friend). It was definitely fresh and made that day and so delicious. I finished my meal by licking the bowl, because I have no shame when the food is this good.

Santiago’s the owner, and the cook of this particular dish. I suspect he’s also the chef, and inspiration for most of the dishes at La Tabla. You can tell he has a passion for good food that’s healthy. You won’t find a dish that’s fried on his menu. He’s very friendly and is always getting to know his patrons. In fact everyone I’ve met while eating here has been great, not only the employees.  

Mahi ceviche over organic grains and kale

Being eco friendly is important to Santiago and La Tabla. When purchasing cups and takeout boxes, he thinks about the impact it will have on the environment. Santiago has also set up a program that allows people to bring in a reusable glass they offer; what a wonderful way to encourage others to be eco friendly. It’s fantastic to see business actually think about this kind of thing, and taking some responsibility.

La Tabla specializes in breakfast, lunch, coffee and juices. You can always expect friendly service , expertly prepared healthy food, and a great atmosphere. If you are health and environmentally conscious and like fresh and local food this is the place for you. It isn’t just a restaurant, it represents a lifestyle and you are sure to become part of this community. If the ceviche is on the menu, get it!

Chris Woodruff is the owner of Paddles By The Sea located on the dock at Riverside Cafe in Vero Beach. For paddle board rentals, lessons and tours go to or

A Brief “About Vero Beach”


Entrance to Downtown Vero Beach

A Brief “About Vero Beach”

By Hannah Johnson – Moderator, Roam Florida

Vero Beach, Florida!
This is part of our Treasure Coast area on the East Coast of Florida, and is a city inside of Indian River County, which formed in 1925. In 1919 Vero Beach became an official town.

The Florida East Coast Railway (FEC) has a mainline that bisects in this town; which is an active community in lumber and building products. The FEC was a project done by Henry Morrison Flagler in 1893.

This area has 26 miles of beaches! The three main beaches are South Beach, Humiston Park, and Jaycee Park. There are also a hand full of other beach access areas along the coast as well. The Indian River Lagoon makes up a substantial portion of the Intracoastal Waterway.

If you happen to be in the area, you should stop by and roam around this town! Miles of beaches and some rich history, and shopping, there is definitely something for everyone!

Hannah Johnson is the moderator for Roam Florida (Instagram: @roamflorida,, a social media platform committed to displaying the beauty and history of Florida

What I Love About Vero Beach

By Holly Goodman-Grundel – Owner, Sablewood Paper Company

Downtown Vero Beach

What I love most about Vero Beach is the strong sense of community, which seems to have grown exponentially in the last few years. People and businesses are lifting each other up and embracing “community over competition” – which is very exciting to witness and be part of as a local business owner!

I love shopping local and stepping into a business owned by a Vero Beach resident. I feel a sense of pride knowing that such interesting places exist in our town…dreamed into existence by locals, no less! My favorite place to grab lunch or dinner is definitely Saigon Sushi on 14th Avenue in downtown. I go at least once a week – their sushi is consistently amazing and my husband really enjoys their curry. Not only is their food amazing, but the staff is incredibly friendly! I’ve been greeted by name since my second visit to the restaurant.

Saigon Sushi on 14th Avenue

Vero has so many more incredible locally-owned restaurants to choose from, entertainment for any age (hanging out at the mall isn’t the only option anymore!), and some really unique shops opening and making their mark. I’m blessed to call Vero Beach home and can’t wait to see what the future holds for our beautiful city!

Holly Goodman-Grundel is the owner of Sablewood Paper Company in Vero Beach. (, Instagram: @sablewoodpaper,

Vero Crush to Feature the Work of Brandee Anthony Photography

Used with permission of Brandee Anthony Photography,

Used with permission of Brandee Anthony Photography,

Vero Crush is excited to announce that it will be featuring the work of Brandee Anthony Photography on our website and social media platforms!

Brandee Anthony Photography ( is based out of Vero Beach and is always combing the beaches and streets to capture all the beauty Vero has to offer. Just the other evening this beautiful crab was hunting on Jaycee Beach.

We look forward to showing you more of the amazing images that Brandee Anthony Photography has captured in our great city and the surrounding areas in the future!

Welcome to Vero Crush!


Welcome to Vero Crush!

Vero Crush is an online community dedicated to promoting tourism in the great city of Vero Beach.

Through articles, photography and video we hope to promote tourism and support the local businesses in the community. Vero Crush is completely free to viewers and contributors and the businesses highlighted on the site. It is not funded by, or affiliated with, any government or business entity in the city. Our only agenda is to raise awareness of Vero Beach by presenting all of the places to eat, stay, play and shop in the area through compelling media.

Please follow us on our journey and feel free to provide any feedback or suggestions to