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Melbourne, Florida

The small town of Eau Gallie is an example. It was incorporated into Melbourne years ago, although street signs, business names and local customs keep its concept alive and well. It, too, has a restored area, referred to as Historic Eau Gallie, within a few blocks of Eau Gallie Boatworks. Many of the buildings have signs describing their historical significance, and establishments such as Nosh & Ganache Wine and Chocolate, The Old Pineapple Inn B&B, and E.G. Banks (a restaurant in an old bank building) await your enjoyment.

As you come into the Eau Gallie River, you’ll notice Ballard Park on your left, across from the historic homes, including the original Eau Gallie Yacht Club built in 1907. We were told that many years ago there used to be an old salt pond in that area. The river water today is fresh but in times past, as the state of the inlets changed with storms and currents, the estuary has been much saltier. Also in the Eau Gallie River is the Waterlilne Marina — (321) 254-0452, www.waterlinemarina.com.

To many, Eau Gallie also extends to the eastern side of the Indian River, around the mouth of the Banana River, where you’ll find the Anchorage Yacht Basin — (321) 773-3620 — the Eau Gallie Yacht Club — www.egyachtclub.com — and Telemar Bay Marina — (321) 773-2468.

But when you cross the Eau Gallie Causeway to reach the land to the east of the ICW, you actually enter the tiny municipality of Indialantic, with grocery shopping and a Wal-Mart, just across the street from the ocean. Just to the north is Indian Harbour Beach, and to the south is Melbourne Beach. The famed A1A ocean highway is the backbone of this barrier strip, and traveling along it you probably won’t notice where these towns begin and end as you pass the hotels, restaurants, stores and homes.

On this east side of the ICW are places such as the 5th Avenue Galaxy Grill, the Island Fish Grill, City Tropics Bistro and other unique spots. We visited one that’s hard to describe except to say you don’t want to miss it. It’s easy to find. Just follow the Eau Gallie Causeway to the end, where you’ll reach A1A. It’s on the east side of A1A — the ocean side — and it’s called Lou’s Blues. Whether you’re on the first floor with the band or on the encircling balcony of the second floor, you’ll find yourself surrounded by decorations ranging from the bizarre to hip to just plain crazy — or are some of the decorations your fellow revelers? This also is a well-known biker spot, and it’s “hot hot hot.”

But if you’re into more gentrified surroundings, there are quiet homes nearby and upscale restaurants. (It’s not that Lou’s Blues isn’t upscale; it’s so up it’s off the scales.) There are two West Marine stores in Melbourne — (321) 723-1878 and (321) 242-9600. One is a few blocks’ walk from Eau Gallie Boatworks, and the other is farther south down Route 1. You’ll need transportation to get to much of what the area has to offer, and it would be a shame to miss it. There are two Enterprise car rental locations, and they’ll pick you up.

The Kennedy Space Center and Astronaut Hall of Fame are around an hour’s drive northward. It’s a fascinating place to visit. There are IMAX films, a full-size replica of the space shuttle Explorer, the International Space Station Center, all surrounded by a beautiful natural preserve. When there’s a launch, you can see it from the river and much of the rest of the area — (321) 452-2121, www.kennedyspacecenter.com.

When you stop in the Melbourne area and spend a few days, you’ll experience a very different Florida from what you might have always expected. You’ll be glad for the experience. It would be a shame to miss such a unique part of the state.

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