Introduction to Melbourne, Florida
The city of Melbourne, located in Florida's Brevard County, is situated along the stretch of Atlantic coastline known as the Space Coast about 70 miles southeast of Orlando and 90 miles south of Daytona Beach. Nearby communities include Palm Bay, Viera, West Melbourne, Melbourne Beach, Satellite Beach and Indian Harbour Beach. U.S. Route 192 runs through the city, which is also accessible to Interstate I-95 and the Beeline Expressway. Although most of Melbourne is located on the Florida mainland, a small portion is located on a barrier island separated from the mainland by the Indian River Lagoon.
Founded in the mid-19th century, Melbourne existed as a small village until its incorporation in 1888. The village's first postmaster, Cornthwaite John Hector, was an Englishman who spent much of his life in Melbourne, Australia. It is believed, however, that the city derived its name based on a drawing of straws, where each straw represented a possible name and the name "Melbourne" was chosen. The development of the Melbourne community paralleled the development of a similar community located a little to the north (Eau Gallie). In 1969, the two cities were consolidated into what is now present-day Melbourne, although the "Eau Gallie" district of Melbourne retains its own character and distinction. As one of the largest population centers on the Space Coast, the Melbourne area is home to many high-tech companies.
Melbourne Area Attractions
In terms of outdoor recreation, arts and culture, the Melbourne area has plenty to offer. Fishing is abundant; both in the freshwater variety offered by area lakes and in the saltwater species found in the waters of the Atlantic. Other water sports (swimming, sailing, surfing, diving, etc.) abound in the area's lakes and beaches. Those who prefer golf can take advantage of the city's twelve courses and tennis enthusiasts have their choice of eight tennis courts. Lovers of the performing arts can enjoy the Brevard Symphony Orchestra as well as Broadway shows and celebrity performances at the Henegar Center of the Performing Arts and the Maxwell King Center. The area has many galleries showcasing the works of local artists as well as museums such as the Museum of Art and Science, which offers dozens of hands-on exhibits for kids.
The Brevard Zoo, open seven days a week, is a popular local attraction, and so is Forever Florida, a nature preserve and cattle ranch which offers tours and close-proximity animal viewing. Annual events in Melbourne include February's Grant Seafood Festival and April's Melbourne Art Festival. Located less than an hour's drive north on Merritt Island is the Kennedy Space Center and Astronaut Hall of Fame. This popular attraction features IMAX films simulating space flight and a life-size replica of the Space Shuttle Explorer, as well as actual Space Shuttle launches when they happen. Within a 90-minute drive from Melbourne is Orlando's Walt Disney World as well as other first class Central Florida attractions such as Sea World and Universal Studios.
Baseball fans in the Melbourne area can enjoy Minor League Baseball played by the Brevard County Manatees. The Manatees are the Triple-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers and they play their games at Space Coast Stadium in nearby Viera (just outside of Melbourne). During the month of March, Space Coast Stadium is used instead by Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals as the team's Spring Training Site. Fans of other sports can take the drive to Orlando to see basketball's Orlando Magic (NBA) or the Orlando Predators of the Arena Football League (AFL). Orlando is also the Spring Training site of Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves.