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Trees and Water Meet High-Tech in the Coastal City of Melbourne

By Elizabeth R. Elstien

Located on what's known as the Space Coast for its proximity to Kennedy Space Center, Melbourne strategically sits halfway between Jacksonville to the north and Miami to the south. It's only 60 miles southeast of Disney World's home in Orlando.

The Melbourne International Airport makes it easy to come and go. So does the fact that City is is conveniently located on Interstate 95. Access the beaches through US 1 (Harbor City Boulevard,) which runs parallel to Indian River on the east side of the City, and Kissimmee/Orlando area by way of US Route 192.

Known for its defense and technology industries, several large companies have headquarters or local bases in Melbourne. Companies such as General Electric, DRS Technologies, Harris Corporation, LiveTV, and Rockwell Collins are all found here. Consequently, high-tech workers are in abundance. The City of Melbourne Public Information Officer Cheryl Mall says, "I believe it is because the city is located so close to Kennedy Space Center and the Florida Institute of Technology is here."

Historic structures are plentiful and in 2006, the City created the Historic Preservation Board to oversee preservation of its historic properties and resources, such as the Winchester Symphony House or the Bone Bed at Crane Creek. Local, family-owned Hell 'N Blazes Brewing Company will soon make its home in one of the area's oldest structures dating to 1890. Formerly housing Christmas Cottage, plans are in full swing to renovate the building to create a classic Florida tasting room for those who like to drink in-house crafted ales, lagers and barley wines. Dogs are welcome, too.

A few art and history museums provide inside entertainment. Outdoor events are varied and include September's General Aviation Day held at the Melbourne International Airport and hosted by Melbourne Area Pilots Association. October events are the two-day Main Street Fall Festival and the ever-popular Oktoberfest. The Art Festival in April draws over 50,000 people.

The City of Melbourne's park system is extensive, encompassing over 230 acres. The City owns two public golf courses. Urban forestation is lovingly practiced and it shows. Each year for over 20 years, Melbourne has qualified as a Tree City USA.

What's the perfect time to be in Melbourne? "I love summer - the heat, the storms, the warm ocean water," exclaims Mall. But fall and spring are great because there are so many festivals and fun outdoor gatherings when the weather is cooler."

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