Posted January 26, 2018 – Narrated by Carmen
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*see our 5-Bambi rating legend at the end of this review.
And, they were right – because once we’d had our fill of spectacular water in every shade of turquoise in The Keys …
… our thoughts turned north toward Melbourne Beach, just across the bridge from historic Melbourne City, on the Space Coast Beach trail, and the warm and luxurious Outdoor Resorts of America (ORA) where we camped for two weeks in November and did a whole lot of nothing … zip … nada.
Just before Thanksgiving, as we settled in at ORA, I asked Jim, “So, how did you find this place?”
We both do campground research but Jim is mastering the art – developing a third-eye – flying by instinct.
From the posts in RV Park Reviews, I’d have overlooked this dreamy tropical beach resort. But Jim had a gut feeling, made a phone call or two and, shazam, we had a perfectly lovely two-week vacation on a world-class beach.
And, even though the RV buzz warns against going to Florida without reservations, we’ve been doing this since early November with success.
And, so far, Outdoor Resorts Of America/Melbourne Beach is the finest resort campground I’ve ever seen – and Jim made the reservation from a bar stool … just one day before our arrival … in a Winter Garden’s pub while under the influence of IPA … and, he’s mine, mine, all mine!!!
Even with hurricane repairs still in progress, this resort is a knockout.
In fact, Outdoor Resorts of America/Melbourne Beach would have the first 5-Bambi rating from LIB (see the legend below) if they had WiFi.
Without our new cell booster, we wouldn’t have considered this park. But, in early November, Jim performed a DIY installation at Daddy’s new home (on the site of the old house that burned down exactly one year ago this week).
Now, we’re more connected to family and friends and bidding farewell to our cafe-surfing days.
Other than the absence of WiFi and maybe a dog wash station, Outdoor Resorts of America, Melbourne has it all.
Fifteen minutes after we settled in, there was no incentive to leave because of … the luminous water and gorgeous beach,
… the pools,
… the hiking,
… the short bike ride to a sweet beach town,
… kayaking on the Indian River,
… sunsets at the pier where we viewed dolphin and manatees,
… and the beautiful grounds with clubhouses, laundries – and courts for tennis, pickleball, shuffleboard – recreation room, and a fitness center. Some structures were a bit old but all were upgraded, groomed and painted.
All 576 sites have a 40′ motorhome limit and are paved with wide, level concrete pads and full hook-ups with water, sewer, and 30/50 amp, and some have green screens for privacy.
Some sites are shaded by palms but most have full sun exposure.
Now, this is not a normal campground. Most sites are permanently occupied by park models, but 67 RV sites (some waterfront for $10 more) are available in the summer and 37 are currently available for the winter months. Mid-to-late November is early in the season, so we had several sites to choose from.
Cost per night was $50.40, including taxes. We stayed for two weeks and the office invited us to stay for another month without moving!
There are a few pull-through sites but most are back-in and all are first-come-first-serve. Reservations are encouraged but sites are only assigned upon arrival.
Pets must be on a leash.
Propane fire pits must be elevated above ground level so nothing touches the pad.
The community atmosphere is relaxed, congenial and family oriented. Residents don’t keep to themselves. They stroll about, make friendly conversation, fuss over their gardens and ride golf carts or bicycles along the well-maintained lanes.
In the evening, dogs and their dog-lovers meet on benches by the pier to watch the sunset together.
The grounds extend across the highway to the beachside where a gated facility with key access provides bathrooms, showers, pool and lounging areas with umbrellas and a covered terrace.
Kayakers can put-in at the boat launch or from a step-down we found beside the pier.
The pool on Indian River is kept cool for lap swimmers, like me. Near the center of the park is a warmer therapeutic pool with a fabulous hot tub.
Across the highway, beside the ocean is another pool with a bathhouse and a covered beach observation deck where we enjoyed a picnic brunch and watched a storm blow in from sea.
All the comforts and something for everyone…
We arrived hoping to explore the area more, maybe take a coastal drive … but with a Publix nearby and dozens of independent restaurants within ten miles, there was really no need to venture far.
We scrapped plans to stay at the Airstream park in Melbourne, due to their no-dogs policy.
So, with nothing better to do, and with so few distractions to tempt us away, we just shamelessly sat around and relaxed for two weeks.
But that’s what resorts are for, right?
Okay, one evening we forced ourselves to get dressed and go out and pay respects to Hell ‘n Blazes – an exquisite brewery – and taste their top-notch IPAs and Porters.
I know it’s not for everybody (and someday it may not be for me) but wintering in Florida without reservations is the LIB way to go. Not knowing precisely where we’ll be staying from one week to the next is exciting, and adventure is what Florida is all about.
Sure, it would be cheaper to secure reservations early and lock into one, two or three places at discount prices (fifty to seventy bucks a night doesn’t fall from palm trees) but, boondocking throughout much of 2018 will settle the bill.
With only one month of winter left, we’re in no rush to leave – and Jim just surprised me by scoring four nights at Fort Wilderness! So, come late-February, we’ll wrap up our final days in Florida with a first-time visit to The Magic Kingdom! That’s right, Beauty and The Beast are going to Disneyworld!
|Our “BAMBI” rating system for Public and Private campgrounds and resorts explained:
– One Bambi: Should’a boondocked.
– Two Bambi’s: Better than a Cracker Barrel or Walmart.
– Three Bambi’s: Adequate for a short stay.
– Four Bambi’s: Great place! Met our expectations for an extended stay. Needs minor improvements or is not ideally situated for all our preferred recreation (walking, cycling, swimming, kayaking) without driving.
– Five Bambi’s: Destination Camping at it’s best! Critical as we are, there’s nothing we’d improve, and you can bet your sweet Bambi we’re going back!