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Spring Training Fan Guide Part 2: Viera

Feb 8, 2012, 12:00 PM EDT

Photo courtesy Viera.com
Viera has grown considerably since the Nationals began playing there in 2005.

If you read yesterday's post, you now know everything there is to know about the baseball side of spring training. But there's so much more to spring training than bullpen sessions, pitchers fielding practice and long bus trips.

Like, what are you going to do the rest of the day and evening in Viera?

You are again in luck, because I've got your definitive guide to Viera and the surrounding Space Coast, a megalopolis that includes the towns of Melbourne, Cocoa Beach, Cocoa, Satellite Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, Titusville, Merritt Island … and some other towns I'm forgetting at the moment.

It is, however, important to know about the surrounding area, because Viera has only so much to offer. Honestly, it doesn't have much at all to offer, unless you're really into shopping centers, chain restaurants andRead more »

  1. MicheleS - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:09 PM

    Just a tidbit to some of the STH's (or at least the partial STH's). I got my Teddy XMAS ornament yesterday in the mail… only 7 weeks too late.. sigh.. One day we won't complain about the Nats Marketing department.

  2. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 12:50 PM

    Uhhhmm, appreciate the travel tips and all, I guess — but like 5% of readers of this blog might be headed to Viera. Please stop the Travel Channel madness. I'd like to hear more about the several noteworthy Spring Training invitees and less about the several noteworthy non-chain restaurants of Space Coast. You just lost me reading this thread for the rest of the day.

  3. Andrew L. - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:03 PM

    I like the dives we can't find here like Waffle House and Steak & Shake.

  4. Positively Half St. - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Anonymous 7:50 (who probably isn't reading the thread, like he said)-Although ST is only 11 days away, it is a long slog, especially before the games start on March 1. There will be plenty of time to go through all of the players in camp, one by one.I share your impatience, but I think that the updates on Viera itself are always a nice part of the tradition as we suffer through the final stretch of waiting. Just think, too – perhaps before long it can be a discussion of Fort Myers, instead.+1/2St.

  5. Unanon - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Woo-hoo! Anonymous is gone for the day!

  6. Section220 - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:13 PM

    Anon @ 7:50 – we're all really sorry to see you go. I guess two whole posts on Spring Training tips for fans was just too much for you to bear. I hope you recover.

  7. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    Just a tidbit to some of the STH's (or at least the partial STH's). I got my Teddy XMAS ornament yesterday in the mail… only 7 weeks too late..George, Tom and Abe ornaments all arrived on time. They really need to end this "Teddy is a loveable loser" schtick.

  8. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:15 PM

    See you in a later thread, Anon (waves). For those who are interested in ST sights, here's my re-purposed trip report, sightseeing/food category, part 1. (Apologies for the length, non-ST-goers. Maybe y'all can just scroll past it. :-))We did a fair amount of sightseeing and birding in addition to the baseball. Our first stop was the Lone Cabbage Fish Camp, which Nats Insider commenter NatsJack had recommended. The menu features alligator tail and frog's legs, among other things, but it was the airboat rides that got my attention. (What part of "airboat ride" do you not understand?) After we found it, with an assist from the GPS we'd brought along, it did not disappoint.The location is right on the St. Johns River, in Cocoa. It's possible to dine outside on the deck, but we opted to sit inside, as it was quite a windy afternoon. I had a burger, which was on a delicious homemade bun, some fries, and a delicious iced tea (brewed, not that yucky instant stuff). My only regret is that I didn't have a piece of the Key Lime Pie. (I was kinda full at that point, and we were riding the airboat later. Nuff said.) After lunch, we bought our tickets and got on the next airboat out of camp. Each seat had a noise-blocking headset hung on the rail in front of it – like you see guys wearing on the tarmac at the airport – and most of us put them on before the boat started up. The couple in front of me didn't. Not sure whether maybe they were already hard-of-hearing or what, but it was *really* loud and I don't know how they stood it. Once the boat started, we pretty much rode around looking for alligators. I actually saw more of them near the dock before we got on board. Luckily I didn't fall in while boarding. Hehe. The first time the boat cornered it was a little vertiginous, but after that I got used to it. We saw some baby alligators and lots of wading birds and cattle (the river ran through ranch land at that point). After we got back to the dock, we had the opportunity to pose at the helm. Of course, I did partake of the photo opp. (What part of driving an airboat do you not understand?)

  9. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:16 PM

    (Re-purposed trip report, part 2. apologies, scroll past, yada yada yada).After this brief adventure, we continued on to our hotel to get settled. After checking and resting a bit, we went out to eat and get the lay of the land. We'd intended to visit the Viera (Rich Grissom Memorial) wetlands for some birding while we were there, but hadn't realized how close it was to our hotel probably less than a mile. Hats off to section 109, who posted about the locale some years ago on Nats Journal. It was very birdy, and we went there just about every morning and some evenings as well. Saw some wildlife as well as birds, with one highlight being a nine-banded armadillo (I believe the first non-roadkill one I've ever seen). An avian highlight for me was the sandhill cranes (and, of course, I thought of the Blogfather). Our first evening there, we observed a pair of cranes doing their elaborate mating dance. That was quite a sight. On another visit, we observed a pair with their young chick. I hadn't realized that they bred there. We saw perhaps 60 species of birds during our time there, with several being new for me.Another adventure was a visit to Kennedy Space Center. We'd visited once before, in pre-Nat days, but there was a lot of new stuff there this trip. We took one of the up-close tours and spent the whole day there. My hubby's fave was the Saturn Rocket building. We both also liked the wildlife that we saw while en route (among them were manatees, dolphins, and a family of wild boars). After the center closed, we drove back by way of Cocoa Beach and visited the famous Ron Jon Surf Shop (I think there's a law or something, and also, I had a coupon). That is some store there, my friends, particularly if you're a surfer, which I am not. I did pick up a nice Hawaiian shirt and some tacky souvenirs, though.Well, I think that about covers the high points (thank goodness, you must be thinking). On our last night there, we had a superb dinner at Pineda Crossing, which I'd read about before the trip. The chef is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and I'd wanted to check it out. It did not disappoint. I had mushroom-filled ravioli in a port wine sauce, and the hubster had grouper prepared with shrimp and crabmeat (one of the catches of the day). All of it was delicious, and the service was good, although they were quite busy. Oh, and I finally got my Key Lime Pie. mmm….in Viera, even better…

  10. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Addendum (also re-purposed): pretrip reading list category.Just before we left, I finished reading "Spring Training," by William Zinsser. I'd picked up a (used) copy at a SABR program. Zinsser (evidently a fan as well as a writer) focused on the 1988 Pirates of GM Syd Thrift and skipper Jim Leyland. A teacher as well, Zinsser was interested in the teaching aspect of spring training, which was a focus for the rebuilding Pirates. He also touches on Thrift's theories of team-building. I really enjoyed the book and it whetted my appetite for the trip.

  11. Positively Half St. - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:29 PM

    natsfan1a-I will imagine wild boars and armadillos walking past my cubicle as I try to make my "snowy" day more exotic. Of course, some folks who wander through an office environment do resemble wild boars pretty well.+1/2St.

  12. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:35 PM

    Woah, I think Anon 7:50 is right. This is some boring as can be non-baseball stuff. 11 posts plus mine in 1.5 hrs of heavy traffic hour? Zukckerman is playing to a small subset of fans with this AAA Trip-tick post — and nothing esle — he lost me too (waving back at the Priceline Negotiators still in here).

  13. MicheleS - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    1A.. makes me want to go down there now…MMMM.. Key lime pie….and an air boat ride (how cool!)

  14. SCNatsFan - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    MArk – please continue to post topics like this until all the anon posters have left the building.I know it is difficult to see a topic you don't want to read on a FREE blog and skip past it.

  15. NatsJack in Florida - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:53 PM

    SCNatsfan……probably why the only IDENTIFIABLE ANONS that posted that they were heading to Viera were Anonymos8 and Anonymous Hero, both of whom I look forward to meeting as members of the NI family.

  16. Richard - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:55 PM

    Mark, thanks for the ST stuff. I needed that. It's February and I'm ready for lots of ST thoughts, beginning with Viera tourism, and soon hearing about how the team is doing, especially the rookies, with an eye on Rendon. Anyway, the posts here help. I can almost smell the fresh grass and hear the baseballs hitting the mitts. Re Viera, Natsfan1a has provided a lot of great notes. I'll just add the following pretty good restaurants — Roberto's Little Havana and The Fat Snook, in Cocoa; Lea's Bistro in Cocoa Village; the City Tropics Bistro, in Indialantic; and, for a down scale breakfast, Lily's Beachside Restaurant, in Satellite Beach; all of which have Web sites. The long stretches of beach and the Indian River in the Viera-Melbourne area are worth a trip.

  17. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 1:56 PM

    SCNatsFan said …^^what he said.I think the armchair GM stuff is dudley dill/diddley dell/deadly dull, but there you are. I like these annual one-off spring posts; they whet the appetite, regardless of whether I go or not. Which I don't get to do, alas.Used to go to Melbourne, back in the last century, when Spirit Airlines had a $49 nonstop from DCA. It was a nice little place before the hurricane tore it up. You could have breakfast in downtown Melbourne and lunch in downtown DC. One newer place I like: the more upscale linen-napkins, waiters-in-tuxes French-ish Continental Flambé (Google indicates it's still there, but not if it's still good).

  18. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    The hurricane mention jogged something loose in my memory bank (hold on…processing…ah, there it is…re-purposing)We'd noticed that the Merritt Island citrus groves we remembered from a pre-Nats trip in the 1990s were all dead. We asked about it when we stopped at a roadside citrus stand (Harvey's Groves) located relatively close to our hotel. Evidently many trees were lost due to hurricanes and ice storms in recent years. The staff there also noted that a lot of growers had closed down. btw, the citrus there was delicious, though at this point in the season they had only one variety. They do mail order business as well.

  19. 320R2S15 - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:02 PM

    Never been all that into spring traning, but I could see planning a fishin trip to the area and perhaps going to a few games at night. anybody know about the fishin scene down there in Feb/March? Salt water that is, I feel the same about bass as I do about spring training.

  20. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    You know what's the bad thing about all these travelogue posts and comments? Ian Desmond could still be sucking, and no one is telling us.

  21. Grooper - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    Headed down in late March for the first time…thanks very much for this overview, Mark.

  22. Major Nelson - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:19 PM

    Don't forget that you can visit "I Dream of Jeannie Lane" in Cocoa Beach!

  23. skidge - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:21 PM

    Many thanks to Mark and to all the posters who have BTDT; it's a tremendous help to those of us going for the first time! (And really, Anons, it's all of two posts a year…)

  24. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:23 PM

    Ian Desmond might be looking for work as a bell hop back in Flordia soon. Worst. Shortstop. Ever. Happy now?

  25. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:27 PM

    Although a frequent reader, I don't post too often. However, I will be down at spring training for the Nats/Yankees game. I'd love to meet a few people and talk about how the Nats are going to get to the WS this year/next year/the next 10 years.Mark, these posts have been great. I've never been to the area, so the information is definitely a big help.-Evan

  26. Muddy Ruel - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:29 PM

    I think Steve Lombardozzi may be posting stuff about Ian D. this morning, anonymously …

  27. SCNatsFan - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Thinking of heading down as I'm in more need of a vacation then usual… are tickets difficult to get?

  28. Rhett Butler - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:36 PM

    First rule of "Goodbye! (slams door)": don't come back in with "And ANOTHER thing…".

  29. Gonat - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:43 PM

    http://mlb.mlb.com/video/play.jsp?content_id=20086639&topic_id=7417714&c_id=mlb&v=3&tcid=tw_video_20086639Video from MLB Network on Bryce Harper, Werth, and the opening is on the Phillies

  30. Drew - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:44 PM

    I've stayed in Melbourne, about 10 minutes from the beach and maybe 20 minutes from Viera. It's convenient to a movie theater and restaurants, too. A couple of years ago I ran into a tall, friendly guest in the lobby — Michael Morse. Mark, thanks for running off the Anons. See what you can do with BoldAnon.BoldAnon, now with the power of Defenestration! (TM) Take its measure and throw it out the window.

  31. LoveDaNats - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:46 PM

    Went to a spring training game 2 years ago at Disney. Disney was the compromise for my family. This year hubby gave me "real" spring training.Will be there for the three Viera games on the 12th, 13th and 15th and staying in Melbourne Beach. I'll be on the lookout for my fellow Insiders. Just. Can't. Wait.

  32. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:47 PM

    @SCNatsFan – You're in luck, there's a blog that discusses that very topic. ; )(Unless you mean airline tickets. Game tickets, easy, yes, with a few exceptions.)

  33. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:50 PM

    Here you go, Gonat.

  34. The Retired Journalist - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:51 PM

    Along with their barbecue, one highlight of Charlie and Jake's that Mark can't take advantage of because he gets into Space Coast Stadium with his press pass is (assuming they do it again as they have for past spring trainings) FREE BEER! That's the ability after the game to trade your ticket stub at Charlie and Jake's for a free mug of the beer they brew on-site.Along with the other establishments Mark's highlighted I'll add a plug for the Pineda Inn tiki bar and seafood restaurant, on U.S. Rt. 1 near the ballpark and the Olympia Cafe on Rt. 1 in Melbourne for huge portions of excellent Greek food at surprisingly low prices.And come to what we locals call "beachside". As Mark noted, there are some fine places to eat, drink and splash in the surf. Try the ones Mark mentioned, along with the Pompano Inn in Cocoa Beach and the divey-but-fun Bunky's on Hwy A1A in Indialantic. If you like craft beers I'd also suggest a visit to the Cocoa Beach Brewing Company after a game. It's a tiny brewery in a converted garage with a tasting room in the house alongside, making really delicious beer across the street from the ocean. They don't serve any food but owners Chris and Tracy welcome people who show up bringing something to eat, or who want to check out the binder of menus for nearby restaurants — most of whom will deliver to the brewery — that you can call and place an order.

  35. The Retired Journalist - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:58 PM

    One more observation about why you should include a visit to Cocoa Beach while you're at Spring Training: they sell a bumper sticker down here that reads, "Cocoa Beach. It's like Mayberry on Acid."Now, admit it — doesn't that sound fun?

  36. The Retired Journalist - Feb 8, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    One more observation about why you should include a visit to Cocoa Beach while you're at Spring Training: they sell a bumper sticker down here that reads, "Cocoa Beach. It's like Mayberry on Acid."Now, admit it — doesn't that sound fun?

  37. Positively Half St. - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:00 PM

    I offer another bit of local info that helps those of us who do not make it to Viera. During this time of year, we can supplement the stories Mark provides with daily stories on the Nats at http://www.floridatoday.com. The Florida Today story might often be similar to other ones being run – today it is about the Nats possibly moving thier ST site- but those wanting stories on individual players might get a different interview on Florida Today than is available from one of the other reporters.+1/2St.

  38. The Retired Journalist - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:02 PM

    Sorry for the double post, folks. The Web bot told me the first one hadn't passed the "type in the mystery word" test and asked me to try again.

  39. SCNatsFan - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:11 PM

    Thanks sec 3

  40. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:37 PM

    Thanks for the reminder re. the Florida Today site, PHS. Interesting piece. A number of the locals to whom we spoke, including fans at Space Coast Stadium and folks at various locations we visited, voiced their concerns to us re. the team moving. I can see the team's point as far as distances between opponents, but I'm also tipping my virtual cap to the locals who support and root for our guys during ST. Here's to you, NatsJack and others!

  41. PAY TO PLAY - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:38 PM

    "A little farther down on Route 1 are several higher-quality restaurants: Pineda Crossing"Interesting names. Sounds like the nickname for that new Yankees pitcher. I know where he's eating after the game!

  42. MicheleS - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:39 PM

    Did anyone watch the end of Hot Stove Last night? Got to love Dan Plesac. He is on our bandwagon! They were doing a count down of the suprising teams that won the world series. Then they all picked who they thought would be the suprising team that cold win the 2012 WS. Plesac picked us (he has got to be on our payroll). He did put a condition on it though… TEDDY MUST WIN!

  43. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Didn't catch that program, MicheleS, but saw him cohosting Intentional Talk the other day. That footage of him doing the frug or whatever it was…wow :-) I like his Teddy stance, though.

  44. Steve M. - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:48 PM

    http://www.masnsports.com/byron_kerr/2012/02/rendon-poised-for-first-nationals-spring-training.htmlNice read on Anthony Rendon as well as some decent comments.BTW, when is Zim's extension going to be completed?

  45. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:51 PM

    Best 25 go North!I'll be watching spring training coverage from the comfort of my locally located couch — I am both happy (it never rains in my living room and Florida is full of Floridians, foreclosed homes, snakes, huge bugs and tomatoes that taste like wet rice cakes) and sad (must be such a cool fan experience) to not be going. Someday.dfh21

  46. Clark Blaise - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:55 PM

    Be careful parking your rented car in public parking in Cocoa Beach. We did it five years ago and came back from a brief dip to find our rear vent smashed, the trunk popped, and my wallet missing from my jeans. Poice mentioned the condos are used by gangs who watch for tourists stripping down to their beachwear; one set of binoculars on the beach-goers, the other on the car. I grew up in Florida; it's always been nasty, always will be.

  47. Tcostant - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:57 PM

    Another option for getting there is to take the train and bring your car with you.http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/ContentServer/AM_Route_C/1241245666320/1237405732511

  48. waddu eye no - Feb 8, 2012 at 3:58 PM

    and if you get the roadhouse blues down there:http://www.flickr.com/photos/ajmexico/2289455978/jim morrison's birthplace in melbourne. keep your eyes on the road

  49. Anonymous - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    Longtime reader, first time poster here. Add one more "way to get there." Last year, our first at ST, we took the Auto Train. What a fantastic way to get to Florida. No way we were driving a Smart Car convertible down I-95 so we let AMTRAK haul it for us. Boarded the train an hour early to enjoy the complimentary wine and cheese party, set off on our journey past some beautiful views of the Potomac, enjoyed a home-cooked dinner, was rocked to sleep (recommend a roomette), then awoke in sunny warm Fla. Train leaves from Lorton VA at 4 pm (non-stop train) and arrives at Samford Fla at 8:30, about an hour and a half drive (on back roads)to Cocoa Beach. While at ST did many of the things referred to above (and thanks for some tips on other things to do), and also enjoyed a great lunch of Rock Shrimp on the half shell at Jack Baker's Lobster Shanty in Cocoa Beach. BTW I tried to post with a user id but the site kept telling me it could not id my credentials (whatever that means) so had to go as Anon.Natsfly

  50. Steve M. - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:00 PM

    MicheleS said… Did anyone watch the end of Hot Stove Last night? Got to love Dan Plesac. He is on our bandwagon! They were doing a count down of the suprising teams that won the world series. Then they all picked who they thought would be the suprising team that cold win the 2012 WS. Plesac picked us (he has got to be on our payroll). He did put a condition on it though… TEDDY MUST WIN! February 08, 2012 10:39 AM I would say Mitch Williams, Greg Amsinger and Larry Bowa have been on the Bandwagon for about 7 months now. Plesac is newer to the bandwagon. Its *(^%#ng Billy Ripken who gives no love to the Nats. He was the only one last week on Hot Stove who didn't pick the Nats for the Wild Card in 2012.On the Racing Presidents, please end the misery. Opening Day would be a perfect time to stop the losing streak for Teddy Roosevelt and his Bull Moose party where the slogan was "A square deal all around".Is it a coincidence that when you turn a square with a perimeter of 360 feet on to a corner it becomes a baseball diamond! Was that Teddy's hidden message?

  51. Clark Blaise - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:01 PM

    be careful where you park your rented car in Cocoa Beach. About five years ago we lost all our valuables; went to the beach for a brief dip, came back to the public parking lot to find the rear vent smashed, and the trunk popped, wallet taken. Police told us the condos overlooking the parking lots are rented by gangs; they can tell rented cars by the license numbers, they watch the drivers peeling down to beachwear, they keep an eye on the beach and on the car. I grew up in central Florida; a nasty place.

  52. Feel Wood - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:06 PM

    BTW, when is Zim's extension going to be completed?The day after Boswell writes a column saying all is lost and he is as good as gone. Recall the circumstances of Zim's current contract. The two sides nearly went to an arbitration hearing in 2009 but came to agreement on a one year deal the night before. Zimmerman himself was adamant that there would be no discussion of an extension once the season started. By mid-April there was no extension announced, so Boswell wrote his panic button column. Next thing you know, an extension was announced, the terms of which had been agreed to just prior to the start of the season.Zimmerman's agent, Brodie van Wagenen of CAA, seems to take a long time between reaching agreement in principle and finalizing the deal. Yet the deal always seems to happen. Is he holding out until Rizzo caves on some fine point, or is it the other way around? Who knows? But the point is that both Zimmerman and Rizzo want this extension to happen, so it almost certainly will.

  53. Mark'd - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:07 PM

    SteveM, is that a square or a polymetric rhombus. Could be both if all right angles. Never really looked at it that way. Time to read my geometry books.Bigger picture, let Teddy win!

  54. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:10 PM

    Natsfly, don't know how the accounts work but fyi you can select the name/URL option and type your moniker in the "name" box. Leave the URL box blank. Your moniker will show up on top of your post.

  55. Steve M. - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:20 PM

    Feel Wood, ole Boz has kind of slithered away with egg on his face. He would like to think he is a catalyst as a journalist when I think he is actually a whiney guy who believes he is the all powerful Oz in DC sports.Boswell doesn't tend to complain in a foresight mentality where he can be accountable rather he likes to mostly complain in hindsight and when the wheels are in motion.Sure, he could say that now that the dust has settled, where is Zim's extension? I wouldn't mind a further discussion on it as I still think it is a priority. I also believe that if Morse starts off "hot" in 2012 the team should reward him with a mid-year contract extension to buy out a couple of years of Free Agency.

  56. #4 - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    This post brings back lots of good memories. I went to college in Central Florida @ Rollins in Winter Park. FWIW, my favorite beach was New Smyrna although this was almost 30 years ago so things may have changed. I also loved Sonny's BBQ for chain eating. The best BBQ was at Bubbalou's Bodacious BBQ on Lee Road in Winter Park. It's right off the I-4 exit. I wish I could get down there this spring… hopefully next year. One other note is that I liked the name "Bee Line Expressway" better for Route 528. I wonder why they changed it?Can't wait for things to crank up.

  57. raleighnat - Feb 8, 2012 at 4:24 PM

    My wife and I went to some Spring Training games in Viera two years ago. The stadium and general atmosphere are as great as everyone says. We also did a couple things no one has mentioned yet.We stopped at the Old Florida Grill and Oyster House, on Route 1 between Kennedy Space Center and Viera. It's a great biker-oriented seafood and sandwich place with outdoor tables, on Indian River Lagoon.We stayed on the ocean in Melbourne Beach at Sea View Resort. It's an old motel on a lonely stretch of beach—such things still exist in Florida!—lovingly renovated by the owner, Casey, with help from her father, who was visiting from New Hampshire when we were there. One night we went to dinner with Casey, her father, and their significant others at the excellent German restaurant across the street, Cafe Coconut Cove. I know "lonely stretch of beach" and "excellent German restaurant" usually don't go together, and German restaurants are usually not named "Cafe Coconut Cove," but look this place up on TripAdvisor. Sea View Resort is a 40-minute drive from the stadium.Another excellent restaurant is Scott's on 5th in Indialantic. We wanted to see manatees, but they were hard to find because the water was cold. We got a tip that they liked to hang out near a certain power plant that released warm water, and this turned out to be true! It's the Vero Beach City Power Plant, you can look for it on Google Maps. Just north of the power plant is a one-block street, Robelo Drive. Park on Robelo Drive, walk between the houses to the edge of the lagoon between Robelo Drive and the highway. You probably won't be alone. There were lots of manatees, including an old scarred one that came right up and talked to us (sort of).

  58. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:01 PM

    We saw manatees and dolphins while we were driving on the causeway to Merritt Island and the space center. Will file away Raleighnat's sighting info for future reference.

  59. Steve M. - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:03 PM

    I just want to know if they have built a Chipotle there so Bryce Harper can "crush some Chipotle burritos! Hah!"This guy is a great advertisement for Chipotle and I think he closest fix is going to Chili's on Wickham Road.

  60. Gonat - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:16 PM

    Sec3, thanks for that easy link!

  61. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:40 PM

    Gonat, you're welcome; and thanks to Retired Journalist for the clarification–I thought it was the acid for a minute.

  62. Section 3, immature but not NSFW - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:50 PM

    natsfan1a said…Natsfly, don't know how the accounts work but fyi you can select the name/URL option and type your moniker in the "name" box. Leave the URL box blank. Your moniker will show up on top of your post.Awww, go ahead a put a link. Surprise us.

  63. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 5:53 PM

    but do make sure the link works, first.sigh.captcha: "houto"Sure, rub it in.

  64. The Retired Journalist - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:09 PM

    Steve M; if you want amazingly good burritos try DaKine Diego's on Highway A1A in Satellite Beach. Actually everybody, add that to my overall list of suggestions. It's a converted miniature golf course that a former chef at California's Hotel del Coronado turned into a place that reminded him of the seaside burrito shacks he would visit when he went surfing in Baja California.

  65. Steve M. - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:28 PM

    The Retired Journalist said… Steve M; if you want amazingly good burritos try DaKine Diego's on Highway A1A in Satellite Beach. Actually everybody, add that to my overall list of suggestions. It's a converted miniature golf course that a former chef at California's Hotel del Coronado turned into a place that reminded him of the seaside burrito shacks he would visit when he went surfing in Baja California. February 08, 2012 1:09 PM Sounds great! I think you should Twitter a message to young Mr. Harper that you have the cure to his Chipotle craving!

  66. baseballswami - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:30 PM

    I just realized that the counter is almost in single digits – I am all a-quiver! After we all improve the nats pr department, and get rid of the filthy fans – can we please address 106.7 – The Fan ( the NFL-Fan, I mean). I sometimes switch to it in the car, hoping for some mention of the caps – last week one day they were talking about Bryce Harper and just ripping him to shreds for not being a Deadskins fan. Then today they talked to the COO of the Nats and barely listened to him through all of their antics – totally obvious that they don't know anything about the team at all. They were talking about how not signing Fielder just killed us.And I thought we had generally moved on . They are baseball morons, each and every one – they don't know and they don't care and it totally shows. I would love some intelligent radio shows that are not Charlie and Dave or Phil Wood after a game. That's my rant of the day, folks.

  67. here's your daggone link - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:52 PM

    Link? You want a link?

  68. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:53 PM

    LOL, how awesome was that? I learned something new. Thanks, sec3. :-)

  69. Gonat - Feb 8, 2012 at 6:58 PM

    baseballswami, Last year in June the guys at 106.7 were talking Nats when the PR department was giving them Presidents Club seats to watch the games. Basically you have to bribe them with freebies to talk about baseball. The only reason they talk Caps/Wizards is because Leonsis requires his articulate players and coaches to do radio interviews. When Feffer was on today he should have said Prince Fielder would have been icing on the cake. When the Nats didn't get him they paid $11 million for Edwin Jackson on top of the trade the Nats already did for All Star Gio Gonzalez. Feffer just isn't a great interview. StanK was a better interview. Davey Johnson is a good interview.

  70. Oldguy - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:13 PM

    I'll be going in mid March, as I have for the past few years. Travel: I live near the Auto Train terminal in Lorton and have taken it several times, at least one way. I enjoy it, and although it's a bit pricey, it saves you miles and you have your own car down there. Probably cheaper than flying and renting a car. Drops you in Sanford, maybe 90 minutes from Viera.Fort Myers is beautiful, and the Twins and Sox are there. The other teams within an hour or so are Rays and O's. But Fort Myers is very expensive, and Sox games are probably all sold out by now. (I had to get my second choice for the one game I'm going to.)

  71. natsfan1a - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    Bowden was a good interview, fwiw. That's not a criterion that's tops on my job requirements list for FO types, but perhaps that's just me. I'm just saying.

  72. MicheleS - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:19 PM

    DFH21..BEST 25 GO NORTH! (Slammming drink right now)!Sorry I just needed one – really LONG day and I can't go to Spring Training.I think Nats PR should do a sweepstakes and send a fan to Viera (namely me)

  73. Unkyd - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:33 PM

    gulp…BANG'mm

  74. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:38 PM

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  75. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:42 PM

    Hey, they take motorcycles, too! I'm going to have to keep this in mind. That's too far and cold to ride in February, but with the train, it might be do-able. Thanks!Boy, am I glad Mark gave us this topic today! Best in a long time.LOL. The captcha is "twitarsh". That's all I'm sayin.

  76. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:48 PM

    natsfly (posting as Anonymous) said …… was rocked to sleep (recommend a roomette)Oh, and roomette means a small room, not a room-mate-ette. The things you learn on google…

  77. Scooter - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:51 PM

    grumbles and closes Amtrak tabDammit.

  78. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:54 PM

    Wow, me *and the bike* roundtrip, less than $600. It only gets me to Sanford, but still. I am SO doing this next year! Thanks, natsfly and oldguy! I owe you each a beer!

  79. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    Now, Scooter, you know you and I both already have room-ettes. Not that I'd live through calling her that.

  80. Los Doce Ocho - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:45 PM

    This will be viera year 8 for me – I'll recommend the four points Sheraton in cocoa beach. Walk to the beach, starbucks and a small restaurant (the shark pit!) @ ground level & newer rooms. I'd also recommend amici's and Sonny's BBQ to eat.

  81. Another_Sam - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:47 PM

    This my kind of thread.I'm often in the Space Coast on business. A colleague has taken his sickle down there on business, on the auto train. It worked fine for him. As I yapped on about last year, I've been to spring trainng many times — perhaps 20 out of the last 30 springs. [My first trip was when the Orioles -- then the de facto local team -- trained in bobby maduro stadium just outside Miami.] My view is once you go, you're hooked.I'm ditto on the recommendations here. I've not tried the Italian place Mark mentions, but I'll try it this year. I again scouted Charlie and Jakes a couple of weeks ago. It's as good as ever. For tap beer selection, I suggest Coasters at the intersection of Eau Galle and A1A. Don't go to Coasters on Monday nights — the trivia contest jams the place.My feeling is that if you're going for baseball, you're going for baseball. So proximity to golf, attractions, and so on don't matter much to me. I hope to see you guys there.

  82. Another_Sam - Feb 8, 2012 at 8:53 PM

    Forgot: I like Woody's BBQ, in addition to the other places mentioned, and I occasionally get takeout from one of 'em. The down side of Woody is the beer taps. Any kind you want, as long as it's Bud Light. Stick with the take out. LOL

  83. N. Cognito - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:24 PM

    ***INTERNET WARNING***INTERNET WARNING***DO NOT OPEN THE INTERNET. THERE MIGHT BE SOMETHING THERE YOU DON'T WANT TO READ.Two Anonyclowns left for the day – the hidden value in today's post.

  84. Jim Webster - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:28 PM

    I really appreciate the tips from Mark and The Retired Journalist, especially the Charlie & Jake's Brewery that I'd not been aware of.This will be our fifth trip to Spring Training. We flew directly to Melbourne when there was a non-stop the first time and rented a car. We next took the Auto Train, which ended up pricey. Last time we drove and will do so again.We will be renting a condo in Satellite Beach again for two weeks, with family joining us part of the time. We've found some good, inexpensive eats nearby — Goombay's for seafood, Dakine Diegos for burritos (both on A1A) and Longdoggers for good fat food splurges.It would be a pleasure to meet other NI posters.

  85. Sec 3, My Sofa - Feb 8, 2012 at 9:57 PM

    Two Anonyclowns left for the day – the hidden value in today's post.We should congratulate them on their excellent discretion and wisdom. Reward behavior you want to encourage.

  86. Natsfly - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:13 PM

    Sec 3–Absolutely saw them load a bike, so you can do that. When we got to Sanford, we opened the Smart Car's rag top, set the gps for "no interstates" and took a leisurely 90 minute drive to the coast just soakin up the rays. Would be awesome on a bike (used to have one, still miss it). As for the roomette, yes, a little room. Up to you to find a roomette roommate–don't think Amtrak can help you there.

  87. DaveB - Feb 8, 2012 at 10:34 PM

    Completely left out of Mark's write-up of what else there is to do in the afternoon in Viera, especially between the start of camp and before the Grapefruit League games begin, is what several of the players do on any given day, drive about a half mile down Stadium Parkway and play golf at the Duran course. They get to play there for free (of course fans don't). Two years ago I had Livan and Adam Dunn two groups behind me. I know Livan is almost a scratch-golfer, but I really would like to have seen how far Dunn could hit a golf ball…

  88. Anonymous - Feb 9, 2012 at 12:14 AM

    Still on the fence about going — solo- first time visit- & an old-er-ish gal. The ST tips make it seem so much easier. Tnx everyone.

  89. Sam D. Mann - Feb 9, 2012 at 2:31 AM

    Four restaurants that are not to be missed:Squid Lips – in MelbourneMustard's Last Stand – in MelbourneMoo's Soft Serve – Again in MelbourneDixie Crossroads – in TitusvilleThis will be my 4th year attending ST in Viera and I'm not sure what I enjoy more the baseball or the food.Go Nats!

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