By Mike Miller Updated February 21, 2022
The Indian River Lagoon System is a 156 mile long body of brackish water that forms part of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway along Florida's east coast.
It begins at Ponce Inlet north of New Smyrna Beach and extends south to Jupiter Inlet.
This historic estuary provided transportation to the pioneers in the days before highways and railroads.
In it's modern incarnation it is known as the "Indian River Lagoon" to more accurately describe it as a salt water estuary rather than a free flowing river.
History and local people still call it the Indian River, but it is actually a combination of four separate bodies of water:
You will enjoy the drive through these old Florida towns on your journey down the length of the river.
PONCE INLET is a village on the north side of the inlet that officially begins the Indian River Lagoon waterway. Click on photo for about Ponce Inlet.
NEW SMYRNA BEACH was an early plantation settlement but is now noted for its fine white sand beaches. Click on photo for more about New Smyrna Beach.
EDGEWATER is a small community that has been surrounded by the Florida Shores lot sales program. Other lot sales communities along the route include Port St. John, Port Malabar, and Port St. Lucie. Click on photo for more info about Edgewater.
OAK HILL is a fishing village and citrus town on the Mosquito Lagoon portion of the Indian River Lagoon. Click on photo for more about Oak Hill.
MIMS was a thriving citrus service town and the scene of a tragic Christmas day explosion. Click on photo for more about Mims.
LA GRANGE was one of the earliest communities established along the Indian River Lagoon. Click on photo for more about La Grange.
TITUSVILLE was a boom town during the early days of NASA's space program. Now it is redeveloping. Click on photo for more about Titusville.
PORT ST. JOHN is a community that began as a lot sales program on the Indian River between Titusville and Cocoa. Other lot sales communities along the route include Florida Shores, Port Malabar, and Port St. Lucie. Click on photo for more info about lot sales towns.
COCOA has a quaint downtown area known as Cocoa Village and is close to Orlando and Port Canaveral. Click on photo for more about Cocoa.
CAPE CANAVERAL is on the barrier island with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and the Banana River on the other. It is a town that grew up with the space program and was founded in 1963. Click on photo for more about Cape Canaveral.
COCOA BEACH is on the barrier island between the Banana River and the Atlantic Ocean. It is a resort town that has grown to 11,000 people since Gus Edwards began developing it in the 1920s. The town has a beach vibe and Ron Jon Surf Shop is a tourist magnet. Click on photo for more about Cocoa Beach.
ROCKLEDGE is adjacent to and just south of Cocoa. It has a beautiful two lane road along the Indian River that hasn't changed too much since the postcard below. It is a pleasant reminder of Old Florida. Click on the photo for more about Rockledge.
MERRITT ISLAND is between the Indian River and the Banana River. It his home to Kennedy Space Center and was once a thriving citrus center. Click on photo for more about Merritt Island.
SATELLITE BEACH was founded in 1957 on the barrier island between the Indian River Lagoon and ocean. Click on photo for more about Satellite Beach.
INDIAN HARBOUR BEACH is a modern town on the barrier island between the Banana River and the Atlantic Ocean. It was founded in 1955 by W. Lansing Gleason and others. It was a professionally planned city, and is primarily residential. It is connected to South Merritt Island by the Mathers Bridge. Click on photo for more about Indian Harbour Beach.
INDIALANTIC is a small village on the barrier island between the Indian River and Atlantic Ocean. It was founded in the 1920s by Ernest Kouven-Hoven, who connected his town to Melbourne by building a wooden bridge across the Indian River. Click on photo for more about Indialantic.
MELBOURNE is one of the largest towns on the Indian River Lagoon. Home to Florida Institute of Technology and several high tech businesses. Has a neat redeveloped downtown area. Click on photo for more about Melbourne.
MELBOURNE BEACH is a historic town on the barrier island between the Indian River Lagoon and Atlantic Ocean. Click on photo for more about Melbourne Beach.
PALM BAY is a small town that became large due to the PORT MALABAR lot sales program. Other lot sales communities along the route include Florida Shores, Port St. John and Port St. Lucie. Click on photo for more info about lot sales communities.
SEBASTIAN and its famous inlet are known for great fishing and surfing. Click on photo for more about Sebastian.
WABASSO is a village on US-1 connected to A1A across the Indian River by a high rise bridge to the barrier island Disney's oceanfront resort. The old bridge was salvaged by Disney, renovated, and is in use on the Magic Kingdom railroad. Click on photo to read more about the old Wabasso Bridge.
VERO BEACH is where the tropics officially begin. Well, maybe not officially but the vegetation is certainly more tropical than it is only a few miles north. It has some beautiful beaches too. Click on photo for more about Vero Beach.
FORT PIERCE has redeveloped its downtown and waterfront, including a new marina. Click on photo for more about Fort Pierce.
PORT ST. LUCIE is a large community that began as a lot sales program between Fort Pierce and Stuart. Other lot sales communities along the route include Florida Shores, Port St. John, and Port Malabar. Click on photo for more info about Port St. Lucie.
JENSEN BEACH is a historic town dating back to 1881 when John L. Jensen started a pineapple plantation. One of the most popular places in Jensen Beach until recent years was Frances Langford's Outrigger Resort. Click on the photo to learn more about the Outrigger Resort.
STUART and nearby St. Lucie Inlet offer some of the best sail fishing in the world. Click on photo for more about Stuart.
PORT SALERNO is a fishing village and is part of the Stuart area. It has its own distinct personality and waterfront. Click on photo for more about Port Salerno.
JUPITER and Jupiter Inlet are at the southern end of the Indian River Lagoon. It's home to a historic lighthouse. Click on photo for more about Jupiter.
You can see individual scenic routes with maps on this website at Central East Florida Day Trips.
Our Facebook page has more than 127,538 followers who love off the beaten path Florida: towns, tourist attractions, maps, lodging, food, festivals, scenic road trips, day trips, history, culture, nostalgia, and more. We post articles every day. Please check it out and if you like it, we would appreciate a "like" from you.
By Mike Miller, Copyright 2009-2023
Florida Back Roads Travel is not affiliated with or endorsed by Backroads, a California-based tour operator which arranges and conducts travel programs throughout the world.