Enjoying the Space Coast’s open spaces may be just the refresher you need

In this era of less time off and more difficulty in getting away, the “staycation” has become the thing to do . . . so much so that last year, Merriam-Webster added the term to the long list of definitions in its collegiate dictionary. It is a “blend of stay and vacation . . . a vacation spent at home or nearby.” That suits local hoteliers like Wendell Mazelow, owner of Seashell Suites, a new resort in Melbourne Beach, just fine. He says, “There’s so much to do here.” Seashell Suites defines itself as an “eco-resort,” a boutique hotel that not only offers amenities of the highest quality — granite countertops, king-sized, pillow-topped beds, stainless steel appliances, high-definition televisions, saunas, etc. – but is an environmentalist’s delight. Suites were constructed using sustainable materials, only natural cleaning products are used and smoking is not permitted. Activity-wise, the emphasis again is on the natural: exploring the oceanfront and Indian River Lagoon; surfing; fishing; enjoying the sunshine and water. “Here, parents can take a few days to get away to what we think is the best boutique hotel in the state to the best area for ecotourism in the state,” Mazelow says. “It’s really back to family basics: You show your kids about nature by letting them see a sea turtle first-hand; you let them play in the sand; they can explore the local habitat.” Mazelow says the combination of eco-tourism and staycation does work. “We’ve had some people from Orlando come back four or five times. It’s a great place to get away. You just get in the car and drive. We provide everything…and you go home relaxed.”

Places to visit when considering an environment-centric staycation on and near the Space Coast:

Canaveral National Seashore (Titusville) – Pristine beaches with dunes and the lagoon, with a wide variety of plants and animals, plus fishing, boating, canoeing, surfing, sunbathing, swimming, hiking, camping, nature and historical trails. — Enchanted Forest Sanctuary (Titusville) – 470 acres of forest with five types of habitat and dozens of species of plants and animals. — Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (Kennedy Space Center) — 140,000 acres of coastal dunes, saltwater estuaries and marshes, freshwater impoundments, scrub, pine flatwoods and hardwood hammocks and a habitat for more than 1,500 species of plants and animals. — Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (Orchid Island, just south of Vero Beach) – The country’s first national wildlife refuge, with hundreds of species of animals — Sebastian Inlet State Park (Sebastian) – Swimming, hiking and biking trails, fishing (with marina), surfing, canoeing.