Melbourne and the surrounding beach areas on the barrier islands have an easygoing vibe and an abundance of natural resources that make it a magnet for those looking for a relaxed, yet fulfilling, vacation. Located in the south on Florida’s Space Coast, these towns of swaying palms and ecologically-varied aquatic landmarks make for a gentle adventure just off the beaten path of more well-known hotspots. From fishing to golf to even a small water park the whole family will enjoy, Melbourne is becoming an ideal place to spend a few tranquil days.

One of the things that Florida’s Space Coast is known for is its fishing, but Melbourne offers a wide assortment of locales and old pastimes in an extensive area. Castaway Point Park on the mainland is a good start; facing the Indian River Lagoon, its shallow saltwater is home to popular game fish such as snook and trout. It is also one of the only true sand beaches on the lagoon.

For those who want to get more engulfed with the native Florida’s Space Coast environment, there are few finer places in Melbourne than the Turkey Creek Sanctuary. Free to enter, this 130-acre preserve is home to Florida wildlife in the same form as they’ve been living for millennia. The 1.85-mile elevated boardwalk makes for a cool, shaded stroll in the summer heat with magnificent views of ancient hammocks and pine scrub environments. For the adventurous, try fishing the brackish waters of the creek, which are best accessible with kayaks or canoes.

Fun by the poolAnd for those with children in tow while touring Melbourne & the Beaches, a stop at the Palm Bay Aquatic Center to let loose a little youthful energy is probably a good idea. Featuring lifeguards, a snack bar, restrooms with showers, a swimming pool with 25-yard laps, as well as a large twisting blue slide, it’s a perfect place to play in the water. The center is located in a town a little south of Melbourne on the mainland. For more information and hours, call (321) 952-2232.

Finally, when you’re done playing in the water, try your hand at attempting to keep your golf ball from going into that same H2O at some terrific golf courses surrounding the Melbourne & the Beaches area. One on the beachside stands out in particular: Spessard Holland Golf Course in Melbourne Beach, which spans from the ocean to the lagoon and features holes with stunning lagoon-edge views of the mainland. Designed by Arnold Palmer, this 18-hole course is both challenging and soothing, with the cool sea-breeze air filtering in from the nearby Atlantic.

And for a new twist on an old sport, try Smash Golf at Duran Golf Course in Viera. Combining tennis and golf, this fascinating concept will thrill the whole family. Located a bit north of Melbourne, just off I-95 in Viera, Duran is a gorgeously manicured course and well-renowned locally. All the gear you will need to play is available to rent at the course.

Golf, fishing, hiking, nature, and water: these are some of the ingredients that make up Melbourne & The Beaches on Florida’s Space Coast.