Set Sail for Eco-adventure in Martin County, Florida

Fish, dive, sail and more all within driving distance of four international airports

Encompassing the communities of Port Salerno, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Indiantown, Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound and Hutchinson Island, Martin County serves up 13 beaches and 70+ parks – not to mention the most bio-diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere, the St. Lucie Inlet, all within two hours or less driving time of four international airports: Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando. Florida’s hidden gem, this is a place for unwinding and reconnecting. Building restrictions have limited structures to four stories, preserving breathtaking views throughout the county, yielding Old Florida charm accented by Key West style at every corner.

Eco-adventure

Conservation is king here, evident through individual community efforts like Stuart’s large oyster preserve and the St. Lucie Inlet, where the ecosystem provides habitat for over 4,300 species of plants and animals, including more than 30 threatened and endangered species such as manatees, wood storks, sand hill cranes and peregrine falcons. On Hutchinson Island, visit Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center for a family-friendly day of fun and learning – with aquariums, nature trails, a butterfly garden, children’s pavilion, visitor center, gift shop and more. Whether you’re 2 or 92, there’s something extraordinary about touching a stingray, seeing a sea turtle up close, or witnessing a feeding frenzy in a 750,000-gallon game fish tank. At Blowing Rock Preserve, named for its rocky Anastasia limestone shoreline – the largest on the U.S. Atlantic coast, get a glimpse of at what South Florida barrier islands looked like a century ago. Visitors can see one of the state’s rarest surviving landscapes – an intact Florida dune habitat with beach sunflower, bay cedar, sea grape and sea oats.

For a one-of-a-kind adventure, Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge, a coastal refuge bisected by the Indian River Lagoon into two separate tracts of land totaling over 1,000 acres on Jupiter Island, offers the onsite Hobe Sound Nature Center with both on and off-site native wildlife presentations and field experiences to local natural areas. Nature trails allow for hikes through estuaries, barrier islands and the sand pine scrub. A highly popular event, the sea turtle walk program, is held on warm, summer nights from the end of May through mid-July. The Center is one of only a few organizations in the state specially permitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to conduct these nighttime walks. Reservations are required and the Center begins taking them as early as April 1 each year.

Hobe Sound is also home to Jonathan Dickinson State Park where the Loxahatchee River, Florida’s first federally designated Wild and Scenic River, runs through the park. Ranger-guided tours of the 1930’s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson are available year-round. Enjoy paved and off-road biking, equestrian and hiking trails. Boating, canoeing and kayaking along the river are all highlights. TIP: Gear up with paddleboards, kayaks and more at Treasure Coast Paddle or South River Outfitters.

Cast a line

There’s a reason Martin County reigns supreme for sport fishing and holds the distinctive title of “Sailfish Capital of the World.Boasting more than 20 marinas, a dozen fishing and sightseeing charters, plus a variety of bait and tackle shops, Martin County offers an abundance of boating and fishing excursions and the opportunity to pursue 800 species of fish within a 10-mile radius of the St. Lucie Inlet, which connects the Intracoastal Waterway to the Atlantic Ocean.

Dive in

With numerous thriving natural and artificial reefs along Martin County’s shores, the area truly lives up to its reputation as the “Treasure Coast.” Each reef offers a bounty of rich aquatic life, creating ideal locales for saltwater anglers and recreational divers. Offshore, the prevailing north current allows boaters to begin at the southern end of a one-mile long series of 14 artificial reefs that provide excellent fishing opportunities. Martin County’s Artificial Reef Program offers over ninety-five outstanding sites for fishing and dive exploration – and the number continues to grow. There is no better way to appreciate the area’s natural treasures than to fish and explore these waters.

For water play that’s a little less rugged, Sailfish Splash Waterpark features two four-story water slides, a gentle and relaxing 1,000-foot lazy river, an interactive water playground and an Olympic-class competitive swim venue.

Sail away

Numerous charter boats are located throughout Martin County and can provide full, half-day or custom charters. From novice to experienced, the professional captains and mates provide for an angler’s every need and offer advice to insure a memorable off-shore fishing experience. The months of November through mid-March are prime months for sailfish – spring and summer months see the return of dolphin, wahoo and kingfish, as well as marlin. Not into fishing? Take a sailing lesson at the U.S. Sailing Center of Martin County where options are available for beginners and pros. Or, catch one of the many regattas held here throughout the year, notably the Junior Olympic Festival, Laser Masters, 420 Midwinter Championships and OptiFest.

Get outdoors

With more than 70 parks, outdoor expeditions in Martin County are limitless. From October to May, “tromp the swamp” – free of charge – to observe the exclusive, natural beauty of the Barley Barber Swamp. All groups are accompanied by a tour guide along the 5,800-foot closed loop boardwalk.

Snorkel at Bathtub Reef Beach where a manmade a reef extends into the ocean allowing visitors to venture out while remaining in a protective area.

Kayak, hike, bike and go birding at Halpatiokee Regional Park or discover the pristine, and often deserted, beach at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park.

If you go

Travel around Martin County in style and rent an environmentally-friendly electric Duffy boat or opt for a scooter or bicycle. Ready to refuel? The word fresh takes on new meaning with most Martin County restaurants utilizing locally-sourced produce and fresh caught fish, served alongside ingredients from local and organic farms within the county to please even the pickiest of palates. At day’s end, rest easy at brand name chains like Courtyard by Marriott, Best Western, and Hampton Inn – even the Hutchinson Island Marriott offering a resort-style setting. Or, choose from unique one-of-a-kind family-owned and -operated boutique properties such as the Old Colorado Inn and Pirates Cove Resort and Marina. Smaller bed and breakfast properties and independently rented villages and cottages set the scene for romance while RV and camping facilities – even timeshares – spell family fun.

Sidebar

Plan to visit during the annual Lionfish Derby

Come to Martin County and make plans to remove as many lionfish from the water as possible in a one-day tournament. Fish are measured and weighed and prizes are awarded. The non-native Indo-Pacific lionfish has no predators in the Atlantic ocean and is wreaking havoc on reefs by explosively reproducing and eating dangerously high numbers of important, native species such as juvenile grouper, snapper, parrotfish, grunts and crustaceans.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stuart listed in Smithsonian’s Fourth Annual Best Small Towns to Visit in 2015

MARTIN COUNTY, FLORIDA – MAY 2015 – The Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing is pleased to announce the release of the Smithsonian’s Fourth Annual Best Small Towns to Visit in 2015. The Office of Tourism worked with Bess Lovejoy, Contributing Editor on this article that features Stuart as the #3 destination. Located on Florida’s Treasure Coast, just 45 minutes from Palm Beach International Airport, an hour from Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, 90 minutes from Miami International Airport and two hours from Orlando International Airport, Martin County encompasses the towns of Stuart/Sewall’s Point, Jensen Beach, Hobe Sound, Hutchinson Island, Jupiter, Palm City, Port Salerno and Indiantown.

“It is a great honor to be recognized in such a prominent publication. This recognition is sure to help us attract even more visitors to enjoy the accommodations, restaurants and attractions Martin County has to offer,” said Nerissa Okiye with the Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing.

“Our annual list highlights some of the most special small communities in America. We were impressed by Martin County and Stuart’s great mix of opportunities for exploring nature, culture, and history, all in a charming setting,” said Bess Lovejoy, Contributing Editor for www.Smithsonian.com.

 

Land of the Cowboy

By Kelly Jadon

Florida is the origin of the American cowboy. Horses in the Americas came first to Florida, introduced by the Spanish in the 1500s. From this stock came Cracker horses which herded longhorn cattle, another first in the United States.

This is the heritage of Martin County: The Land of the Cowboy

Martin County, Florida is scenic and beautiful—but the best views can only be had on its hidden horse trails. Many of these historic trails have been preserved on state park lands:

Savannas Preserve State Park (8.5 miles) through the Savannas marsh system. There is a designated equestrian area for trailers. Call ahead for equestrian gate combinations: (772) 398-2779 or the Park Office at (772) 340-7530.

https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/savannas

Allapattah Flats (5.5 miles) through slash pine flatwoods leading to an open marsh with wading birds, including further equestrian trails and a 150-acre riding area.

http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/cooperative/allapattah-flats/

DuPuis Reserve has an equestrian center at Gate 3 with horse barns, paddocks, campsites, restrooms with showers, a dump station, and a trailhead marking the beginning of 40 miles of equestrian trails. This land is two-thirds pinelands and one-third cypress swamp/freshwater marsh and is home to alligators, river otters, feral hogs, coyotes, deer, and even bald eagles.

http://myfwc.com/viewing/recreation/wmas/cooperative/dupuis/#Horseback

(Horse riders are required to have proof of negative Coggins on their person or in their saddlebag when on State of Florida lands. Children under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet when riding on State lands.) http://laws.flrules.org/files/Ch_2009-105.pdf

Palm City Farms is the western branch of historical Martin County between the Florida Turnpike and I-95—its 70 miles of trails predate the 1920s land boom and are excellent for horseback riding.

http://www.palmcityfarmstrails.com/page04.html

Martin County boasts more than 400 horses. Martin County hosts equestrian activities for both visitors with their horses and those wishing to rent a horse for an old Florida trail ride.

Take Lessons!

Sunny Time Stables in Palm City offers individualized lessons for ages 4 to 83. In the summer they run a camp. Sunny Time Stables also offers affordable trail rides. sunnytimestables@hotmail.com 772-621-0067

http://sunnytimestables.com/rates.html

Greenridge Stables, owned by Kathy McLaughlin is a unique ride experience, offering fox hunts, hunter-jumper and trail rides. Every morning she trailers her horses to a state park to take out riders. At Allapattah Flats riders will enter a canopied area known as “Costa Rica,” and on the low lands they can view coffee bean plants and ancient pecan trees. These rides may go up to two hours. Kathy also has boarding for up to 50 horses and 40 acres of turnout. She offers English and Western lessons in dressage and hunting.

Marasco Ranch hosts lessons, adult trail rides and summer camps. They also provide parties, field trips, a Family Day, a Mommy and Me event and have a Petting Zoo!

Jmar61@comcast.net   (772) 708-1879 or (772) 708-1861

http://www.marascoranch.com/

For parents with special needs children, contact Full Circle Therapeutic Riding. Executive Director, Linda McLendon focuses on “liberation rather than limitation; she welcomes children with traumatic brain injury, spinal cord injury, stroke, cerebral palsy, mental retardation, emotional disturbances, impaired vision or hearing, learning disabilities, Down syndrome and spina bifida.” Linda McLendon has received the Jefferson Award for her work with therapy horses.

http://www.fullcircletherapeuticriding.com/

http://www.wptv.com/news/region-martin-county/palm-city/linda-mclendon-jefferson-award-winner-helps-others-with-her-therapy-horses

Martin County hosts various types of horse training: obstacles, cow sorting, team penning, trail riders, hunter-jumpers and dressage.

Dressage and Lippizan-style training at the legendary Sons of the Wind Farm in Palm City. 978-423-9619

http://sonsofthewindfarm.com/swhome.html

Former Marine water survival instructor Mark Updike specializes in behavior modification of horses when they are acting out and the owner is afraid. He acts as a bridge between the horse and rider. An illusionist, his tricks are performed at clinics which teach riders how to respond in a difficult situation. Nationally recognized, Mark has complete obstacle training with a course set up at all times. Contact Mark Updike directly: 772-940-1714, markupdike@gmail.com

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local/palm-city-trainer-has-a-way-with-horses/ngdZy/

http://www.markupdike.com/

Olympian Tina Konyot operates a Florida farm for dressage in Palm City during the winter. She trains young horses through the Grand Prix and the rider “in all aspects of training, riding, and competing.”

http://tinakonyotdressage.com/index.htm

http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/local/palm-city-olympian-competing-now-individual-dressa/nP9cG/

Boarding options:

McNally Show Horses: offers certified training, extensive turnout for boarding horses and ample trail access. Michelle McNally is also a licensed judge. Contact: (772.285.4875) michelle@mcnallyshowhorses.com

http://www.mcnallyshowhorses.com/

Martin Downs Equestrian Center—contact: (772) 486-1038 MartinDownsEC@gmail.com

http://martindownsequestriancenter.com/horse-boarding-palm-city-fl/

Special Olympics of Martin County begins Equestrian Training in October, 2015 in preparation for their first show in February, 2016 with Martin County Area Games to be held at Captain Quarters Equestrian Center in Palm City. Last year 16 athletes participated; seven went to the State competition and placed. The program is open to children and adults with special needs. Contact: Director Betty Marshall, bettymarshall@specialolympicsmartin.org or Jacque Lewis, jacqueathotels@gmail.com

https://specialolympicsflorida.org/martin/

Payson Park is a licensed and accredited 400 acre training center for thoroughbred race horses in Indiantown. Owned by Virginia Payson, the facility’s slogan is “happy horses win,” and their track is one of the best in the nation. In season, families may come out and eat breakfast on site. Contact: 772-597-3555

http://www.happyhorseswin.com/

Since 1947 the Indiantown Rodeo has welcomed thousands of fans from dozens of states. Today the rodeo continues at Timer Powers Park under the sponsorship of the Martin County Sheriff’s Office each October. You’ll enjoy the excitement of steer wrestling, bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, roping events, barrel racing and bull riding.

http://indiantownrodeo.com/

Would you like to adopt a horse? Florida TRAC (Thoroughbred Retirement and Adoptive Care Program)—the only thoroughbred rescue in the State of Florida. Over 400 horses have entered the program and almost half of these retired racers have been placed in adoptive homes. Many continue as show horses, in the arena, or as therapeutic horses. Contact: 772-485-3799, barbi@fltrac.org

http://fltrac.org/

At The Equine Rescue and Adoption Foundation (ERAF) in Palm City abandoned, abused, neglected and slaughter-bound horses are cared for here after rescue by county officials. They also take in horses prior to hurricanes for temporary relocation. Since 2000, more than 120 horses have been placed in new homes. For more information: eraf2000@gmail.com

http://www.eraf.org/home.html

Martin County Horse Council is a local equine related advocacy group which links the horse community together. For all horse-related needs, please do not hesitate to contact Kathy Brown, Founder at kathy4mchorsecouncil@gmail.com or 772.260.4790

Offshore, Inshore, Nearshore – The Choice is Yours

By: James Hall

“Almost nowhere else in the world can you draw a circle on a map with a 10-mile radius and find within it 800 species of fish,” said Dr. Grant Gilmore, a renowned marine scientist. “That’s what happens within 10 miles of the St. Lucie Inlet.”

Fishermen come to Martin County because of its mixture of diverse game fish and all the places they can cast a line. But don’t just take our word for it; listen to what the local anglers have to say.

Ed Killer is a reporter for Treasure Coast Newspapers and an avid fisherman who writes about the outdoors.

“We’re in the perfect spot,” said Killer, whose family has been in Martin County for generations. “I would put our fishing up against anywhere in the country.”

We have fish ranging from the coast of South Carolina to Key West all in one area. This is because we are on the climate border of the temperate and sub-tropical zones, and the Gulf Stream also pulls fish to the area. The various waterways include the Indian River Lagoon, St. Lucie River, Lake Okeechobee, and Atlantic Ocean.

The county’s reef systems are also a draw to fish. Florida’s natural reef system’s northern end is in Martin County. We also have a thriving artificial reef program that adds to the two mile reef system.

“The artificial reefs provide a source of food for fish as barnacles grow on it,” said John Burke, the President of the Martin County Artificial Reef Fund. “When you put artificial next to natural you get the best of both worlds.”

The combination of Martin County’s climate, waterways, and environment make the area a mecca for fishermen. Among the many fish that can be caught, sailfish can be sought out in the winter, sea trout in the fall and spring, Mahi in the summer, and pompano all year round. Killer said you can’t beat a mangrove snapper, which can also be caught the whole year.

“If you want to catch 5 species of a fish, you can do that here,” Killer said.

When it comes to South Florida’s fishing, Burke has had to remind himself he’s not dreaming.

“The condition 10 miles offshore was the same as a two and a half hour trip I used to make,” said Burke, who grew up in Pennsylvania. “I had to pinch myself because I could still see the beach while catching all these fish.”

Martin County has a rich fishing history, and offshore fishing is what made it famous as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” in 1957. Offshore fishermen are in for a challenge almost every time they hit the water. Sailfish are the fastest marine predators, and in winter months, it’s not uncommon to hook multiple sailfish at one time. Great fishing stories are true for the past and present.

“Capt. Curt Whiticar ran out of bait Thursday and turned his charter fishing craft back after boating 19 ‘sails,’” according to a December 1949 Palm Beach Times article. “Honeymooning Mr. and Mrs. Robert Tinsley of Brevard, NC, got so tired when they caught nine sailfish on their first ocean fishing trip that they returned to shore at noon when they had chartered a boat for the full day.”

In more recent times, while fishing off shore, Burke got a little more than what he was casting for. He said that at first, he caught a Mahi and was reeling it in.

“Then a marlin came up and ate it,” Burke said.

After an hour and a half long fight, he landed a 350 pound blue marlin with a fishing line designed for Mahi.

Martin County’s fishermen are making new history and memories every year. During the MCAC Artificial Reef Fund’s annual tournament two years ago, Burke went fishing with a junior angler named Will Charles. The twelve year old Charles won with the top fish, a 24 pound Cobi.

“He was hooked,” Burke said. “The ability to implant young people with the love for fishing is really rewarding.”

Ever since then, Charles has competed in the tournament, namely against Killer’s son, Pierce. Last year, Killer beat Charles by landing a 24 pound Cobi that was within one pound of Charles’ catch. Expect to see the two at this year’s tournament on July 11.

Different tournaments happen year round and this year, they are helping causes like the artificial reef fund and Advocates for the Rights of the Challenged of Martin County.

If you are looking for a new place to fish, Martin County should be at the top of your list. To get the most out of your Martin County fishing experience, read the sidebar or follow the links below.

Sidebar (Any or all of this info could be in the sidebar)

Where To Fish Productive Offshore Areas

  • King Fish Hole-off shore. 5 miles south St. Lucie Inlet offshore of Pecks Lake
  • Artificial Tire-Reef-Edgar Ernst Reef, 4 1/2 miles due east of lighted buoy from St. Lucie Inlet.
  • Artificial Reef-Bill Donaldson Reef 3 1/4 miles due east of House of Refuge.
  • Artificial Reef-the Rankin, 66 miles due east of St. Lucie Inlet, 130′ water.
  • Major Reef-6 Mile Reef Just south of Inlet and 6 miles due east, 75′ deep.
  • 8 Mile Reef just east of Inlet and 8 miles out north and south, 125′ deep.
  • Gulfstream 5-8 miles offshore due east of Inlet, it varies a little.

Type Of Fish Caught During:

  • Winter Sailfish abundant, King Fish, Dolphin, Blue Fish, Sea trout, Whiting, Pompano, Grouper
  • Spring Snook, Pompano, Sea trout, Sailfish, Dolphin, King Fish, Summer, Snook, Tarpon, Dolphin, Bonito, Barracuda, Sea Trout, Red Fish, Red Snapper, Mutton snapper, Grouper, Tilefish, Some Sailfish, Wahoo, Scatter King Fish
  • Fall Blue Fish, Flounder, Red Fish, Sea Trout, Snook
  • All Year Round Fresh Water Bass, Sea Trout, Croaker, Mangrove Snapper, Whiting, Sand Perch, Grafftop Sail, Catfish, Drum & Sheephead, Margate & Moonfish

Productive Lakes, Rivers and Bays

  • Lake Okeechobee – Bass fish. Indian River-Sea trout
  • St. Lucie River both north & south forks of the river, snook and bass
  • Savannahs – Jensen Beach area, bass.
  • Fresh water – reaches-C-23, C-24, and St. Lucie Canal.
  • Indian River – also for wading in grass beds for fish.

Fishable Bridges And Piers

  • Jensen Beach Causeway – Indian River
  • Stuart Bridges on A1A.
  • Evans Crary Bridge
  • St. Lucie River/Ernie Lyons Bridge
  • Roosevelt Bridge – US 1 north of Stuart
  • Palm City Bridge – St. Lucie River on Martin Downs Blvd.

Surf Casting Hutchinson Island – A1A, whole island

Important links and tournament information:

Dr. Grant Gilmore quote: http://floridasportfishing.com/sweet-poison/

1949 Palm Beach Times article: http://www.stuartsailfishclub.com/about_history.php

Tournament info:

Sidebar info: http://www.stuartmartinchamber.org/fishing_and_hunting.asp

License and Regulations information: http://myfwc.com/Fishing/Index.htm.

The latest fishing report: http://www.stuartmartinchamber.org/fishing_report

Martin County, FLA Top Ten List #1

Blowing Rocks Preserve

Named for its rocky Anastasia limestone shoreline, the largest on the U.S. Atlantic coast, this magnificently restored sanctuary offers a rare window into Florida’s natural history. The restored preserve reflects what South Florida barrier islands looked like a century ago. Visitors can get a glimpse one of our state’s rarest surviving landscapes – an intact Florida dune habitat with beach sunflower, bay cedar, sea grape and sea oats.

Visitors may enjoy a restful, native plant demonstration garden. Interpretative signs are featured along three hiking trails and boardwalks, each up to 1/3 mile long. A photo-worthy sea grape path winds from hardwood hammock, through coastal strands, and into the beach dune before arriving at the “Blowing Rocks.” Swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving are allowed from the beach during listed hours. The Hawley Education Center provides tourists and the local community an opportunity to learn about The Nature Conservancy’s efforts to protect native habitats, plants and animals in Florida and around the world. It also hosts exhibits and a winter lecture series. The Nature Conservancy considers Blowing Rocks Preserve a top success story.

Blowing Rocks Preserve

574 South Beach Road

Hobe Sound, FL 33455-2804

561- 744-6668

Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast

The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast (TCM) is located in the heart of Indian RiverSide Park in Jensen Beach. Their mission is to offer children and families a place to explore and learn through hands-on, interactive activities. Special program days are offered by the Museum and are extremely popular with the adults and children who visit the Museum. Admission is free for members, $6 for ages 3+ and $2 for ages 12 months to 2 years.

1707 N.E. Indian River Drive

Jensen Beach FL 34957

772-225-7575

http://www.childrensmuseumtc.org

 

Dive and Explore our Amazing Natural or Artificial Reef system

With numerous thriving natural and artificial reefs along Martin County’s shores, the area truly lives up to its reputation as the “Treasure Coast.” Each reef offers a bounty of rich aquatic life, creating ideal locales for saltwater anglers and recreational divers. Offshore, the prevailing north current allows boaters to begin at the southern end of a 1-mile long series of 14 artificial reefs that provide excellent fishing opportunities.

Martin County’s Artificial Reef Program offers over ninety-five outstanding sites for fishing and dive exploration – and the number continues to grow. There is no better way to appreciate our area’s natural treasures than to fish and explore these waters. We invite you to dive in!

http://www.martinreefs.com/

 

Eat on the Beach at the Sand Dune Café

Located in Jensen Beach on Hutchinson Island , this public access beach is officially called Jensen Sea Turtle Beach but locals simply refer to it is as Jensen Beach. It is a beautiful, wide sandy stretch of beach on the Atlantic Ocean. The Sand Dune Café is open 7 Days a Week serving breakfast, lunch and snacks from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm (weather permitting).

Martin County’s numerous Atlantic beaches span nearly 22 miles along the coast. The variety of beach includes both individual access strips for more private spots to enjoy the surf and sand or larger, guard-protected areas like Stuart Beach, Hobe Sound Beach and Sea Turtle / Jensen Beach.

4191 N.E. Ocean Boulevard

Jensen Beach, FL 34957

Elliott Museum

The Elliott Museum’s mission is to inspire creativity through exhibitions and programs about art, history, and technology for the people who live in and visit the Treasure Coast of Florida. Named after prolific inventor Sterling Elliott, it hosts a dynamic and interactive collection of antique automobiles, vintage boats, and an impressive baseball collection. . The Elliott Museum is open year-round, Monday through Sunday, 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and is closed on five holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, Easter and July 4th. This treasure coast gem includes a deep trove of Treasure Coast histories and stories sure to delight all ages Located on the southernmost point of Hutchinson Island in Stuart Florida at the entrance to Stuart Beach. Admission is free for members, $12 for adults, $6 for children 6-12 and $10 for seniors.

825 N.E. Ocean Boulevard

Stuart, Florida 34996

772- 225-1961

http://www.elliottmuseumfl.org/

 

Florida Oceanographic Society

Whether you’re 2 or 92, there’s something extraordinary about touching a stingray, seeing a sea turtle up close, or witnessing a feeding frenzy in a 750,000-gallon Game Fish Lagoon. Visit Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center for a family-friendly day of fun and learning – with aquariums, nature trails, butterfly garden, children’s pavilion, visitor center, gift shop and more! Open daily: Mon-Sat 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and Sun from noon to 4:00 pm. Admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children between 3-12 years.

890 N.E. Ocean Boulevard

Stuart, Florida 34996

772-225-0505

http://www.floridaocean.org/

 

Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge

Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge is a coastal refuge bisected by the Indian River Lagoon into two separate tracts of land totaling over 1000 acres. The 735- acre Jupiter Island portion provides some of the most productive sea turtle nesting habitat in the United States.

Hobe Sound Nature Center is on-site and offers both on and off-site native wildlife presentations and field experiences to local natural areas. Nature trails on-site allow for hikes on estuaries, barrier islands, and sand pine scrub. A highly popular event is the sea turtle walk program, held on warm, summer nights from the end of May through mid-July. The center is one of only a few organizations in the state specially permitted by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to conduct these nighttime walks. Reservations are required, and the Center begins taking them as early as April 1 each year.

13640 U.S. Highway One

Hobe Sound, Florida 33455

772-546-2067

http://hobesoundnaturecenter.com

 

House of Refuge

Step back in time to the turn of the century with a visit to the House of Refuge Museum at Gilbert’s Bar. The House of Refuge, Martin County’s oldest building, has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1974. The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is the only remaining House of Refuge. Built as one of ten along the east coast of Florida, it is the oldest structure in Martin County and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Admission is free for members, adults are $8, seniors/group rates are $6 and children 2-12 are $3. Combination tickets the House of Refuge and Elliot Museum are available.

301 Southeast MacArthur Boulevard,

Stuart, FL 34996

772- 225-1875

http://www.houseofrefugefl.org/

 

Shopping

You are sure to have unique and full-filled shopping experience when you visit. With something for everyone: delightful shops, charming antique stores, art galleries, quaint sidewalk cafes and restaurants, plus major brand name stores. Martin County boasts everything from trendy shops at the Treasure Coast Square Mall and upscale boutiques at Harbour Bay Plaza, to the eclectic shops of the historic downtowns of Stuart and Jensen Beach. Shopping in Martin County is sure to delight you with a mix of unpretentious charm and sophistication.

Bonus: A must do experience! Take the time to shop in Historic Downtown Stuart home to over 50 locally- owned shops, all in a charming old Florida atmosphere.

 

Experience the culture and indulge your creative side

The legacy of old Florida lives on in Martin County, where the arts and cultural attractions embody the natural beauty of original Florida. Dance, music, theater, visual arts and historical preservation are an integral part of the community with exciting, dynamic arts, and cultural events held year-round. A great place to start is by catching a show at downtown Stuart’s historic Lyric Theatre, once a silent movie house in the 1920s.

Admire the creativity of local artists at one of the many galleries or arts festivals throughout the county. Don’t forget to visit one of the various historical landmarks which make Martin County a truly one of a kind destination!

 

Bonus: Beat the Summer Heat at Sailfish Splash Waterpark

Imagine floating down a lazy river or launching yourself down two four-story water slides. Children of all ages will enjoy the interactive water playground, where little ones can splash around in sprays and slides. For those with athletic interests, the competitive pool is host to numerous swimming and diving meets, as well as water polo competitions.

931 SE Ruhnke Street

Stuart, FL 34994

772-320-3100

www.sailfishsplash.com

Discover Martin County, FL newsletter #1

Whether you are planning a getaway for just a few days or planning on escaping to paradise for a few weeks, Martin County offers an endless array of activities and events for everyone.

About US

Martin County enjoys an international reputation for its natural beauty and environmental stewardship. Here you will find miles of white sand beaches, breathtaking outdoor venues, world-class fishing, water sports, unlimited golf and eco-adventures. There are also one-of-a-kind museums, parks and unique shops and restaurants. Accommodations range from oceanfront resorts to unique boutique lodging to vacation condo rentals.

Did You Know?

Martin County is home to the most bio-diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere? The St. Lucie Inlet provides a conduit between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, and is the most bio-diverse estuary in North America.

This ecosystem provides habitat for over 4,300 species of plants and animals, including more than 30 threatened and endangered species such as manatees, wood storks, sand hill cranes and peregrine falcon.

Ongoing Weekly Events:

Every Thursday Night – Journey to downtown Jensen Beach for “ Jammin Jensen” from 6:00pm – 9:30pm more information call772-334-3444.

Every Sunday- Find yourself in downtown Stuart for the Stuart GREEN MARKET and enjoy everything from delectable baked goods to organic products to unique artist creations. This Green Market is a MUST!

Stay for the afternoon and enjoy Rock’n Riverwalk, a FREE concert series on the waterfront in Downtown Stuart on the Riverwalk Stage, November-May from 1:00-4:00pm

Make Plans Now!

9th Annual Jensen Beach Fine Art & Craft Show – January 10th-11th, 2015

This show is considered to be one of the most authentic fine art & craft shows in the region.

Only 125 artists are selected to participate in this unique show. All items for sale are original works of fine art and craft and attributed solely to the displaying artist.

For more information visit http://jensenbeach.biz

41st Annual Stuart Boat Show – Friday, January 9th -11th, 2015

The Stuart Boat Show is the largest on the Treasure Coast and features a huge selection of hundreds of boats of all shapes and sizes including power boats, cruisers and yachts just to name a few on display in-water and on land.

The show spans over four locations including HMY’s Waterway Marina, Apex Marine, Stuart Harbor and Half Mile of State Road 707 Old Dixie Highway which connects all locations by road. Look for the signs for free parking and free shuttle bus service.

For more information visit www.allsportsproductions.net/stuart-boat-show-2015

The 9th Annual Port Salerno Seafood Festival- January 24th, 2015

Join us and nearly 40,000 of our closest friends for an exciting day of Live Music, Arts & Crafts Vendors, a Kid’s Fun Zone, Mermaids, Pirates and the Very Best Seafood on the Treasure Coast.

What makes our seafood festival so unique? They serve the freshest seafood and locally caught fish when possible and the majority of it is prepared by Port Salerno’s fishermen and their families, friends and many dedicated volunteers

For more information visit www.portsalernoseafoodfestival.org

 

Special Exhibit at the Elliott Museum- until 01/25/2015

Genome: The Secret of How Life Works – This 5,000-square-foot exhibit explores the human genome and how a person’s entire set of genes explains what makes us who we are. “GENOME” uses interactive displays, visually rich environments and family friendly activities to reveal the mysteries of our genes, delineate the last two centuries of discovery and unravel the implications of gene therapy for the future of medical science and healthcare.

For more information visit www.elliottmuseum.org

More to Explore!

Discover Martin County, and take a journey through the Florida you didn’t know existed!

Discover Martin County, FLA!

 

About Martin County – Conveniently located on Florida’s East Coast, Martin County is part of an area known as the Treasure Coast…a real Florida gem that celebrates small town life and that hard-to-find old Florida feel. Martin County boasts a beautiful natural landscape from ocean, to river, to lake and everything in between! Martin County operates 74 park facilities throughout the county including Sailfish Splash Waterpark, Indian RiverSide Park and the Mansion at Tuckahoe.

LOCATION & SIZE

  • 100 miles north of Miami
  • 129 miles south of Orlando
  • 250 miles south of Jacksonville
  • 330 miles south of Tallahassee
  • 12-85 feet above sea level
  • Land Area – 556 square miles
  • Water Area – 209 square miles

CLIMATE

Mean Average Temperature ……………..74°F

Average Summer Temperature …………82°F

Average Amount of Sunshine ……………70%

Average Ocean Temperature …………74.3°F

There are several distinct areas within the county, each having a special draw and offering unique, authentic experiences. Learn a bit more about those areas below:

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STUART/ SEWALL’S POINT

Stuart, the county seat, also known as the “Sailfish Capital of the World” because of the many sailfish found off the coast of Martin County, is located along the banks of the St. Lucie River and west of the Indian River near the inlet to the Atlantic Ocean. Stuart is also located on the eastern point of the Okeechobee Waterway, a 54-mile long waterway and Florida’s only cross-state canal, which extends from the Atlantic Ocean in Stuart to the Gulf of Mexico in Ft. Myers, giving Stuart the nickname of “The Panama Canal of Florida.” Sewall’s Point is located on a peninsula with the Indian River (Intracoastal Waterway) to the east and the St. Lucie River to the west. This area offers a wide array of activities, including waterfront and sidewalk cafes, Zagat-rated restaurants and one-of-a-kind boutiques. Stuart’s pristine landscaped streets and astonishing skyscraper-free views helped it to be named “The Most Beautiful City” by America in Bloom in 2008 and more recently in 2014, Stuart was listed as one of the “Top Ten Beach Towns in Florida” by the Huffington Post. Here you will find working studios and art galleries, antique shops and museums that add to the small town charm. Residents and visitors alike are invited to come feel the local flavor at the weekly Green Market, monthly waterfront jazz concerts, antique car shows and art festivals providing color and fun throughout the year. The landmark Lyric Theatre, listed on the National Historic Registry and built in 1926 as a silent movie house, brings a full slate of concerts, shows and cultural events to the area.

Adventurers wanting to get back to nature will find an array of outdoor options in the area, including kayaking, hiking, biking and birding options or discovering the pristine and often deserted beach at St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park.

A natural gem in this area is Halpatiokee Regional Park: The 180-acre park is situated along the banks of the South Fork of the St. Lucie River and features numerous sporting fields, tennis courts, a playground, covered skating rink and miles of trails. The park is also the home of South River Outfitters Canoe and Kayak Livery Service.

Also located in Stuart is the NEW Sailfish Splash Waterpark a great activity for the whole family! This state-of-the-art complex is open seasonally to the public from March –September and includes:

  • 1,000-foot lazy river.
  • Two, four-story water slides, one a 253-foot, closed flume “Speed Slide”
  • Zero-depth entry, 7,326-square foot water playground with jets, sprays, slides and a 300-gallon “Dump Bucket”
  • Shaded picnic area
  • Plenty of deck space
  • 700 lounge and deck chairs
  • Private cabanas
  • A gift and sundries shop

Finally, take a romantic stroll along Stuart’s Riverwalk and enjoy the scenery or gaze upon the Roosevelt Bridge, voted one of the most “Spectacular Bridges Around the World” by Travel and Leisure Magazine.

 

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PALM CITY

Palm City is just west of the ocean and Stuart, surrounded by lots of waterways yet near the Turnpike and I-95. Popular with families, Palm City offers several breathtaking parks including:

Leighton Park: Located at the base of the Palm City Bridge on the St. Lucie River, it offers a playground, picnic tables, fishing pier, boat ramps, grills, scenic walking path and parking.

Jock Leighton Park: Has a full skate park, playground and several pavilions.

Lance Corporal Justin Wilson Memorial Park: Located at 2050 SW Mapp Road, the park has sidewalk access, restrooms, four playgrounds, picnic tables, shelters, an observation tower, nature trail, numerous sporting fields, tennis courts, racquetball courts, a basketball court and area to play a classic game of horseshoes.

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PORT SALERNO

The historic small-town fishing village of Port Salerno blends local color with art galleries, working artist studios and waterfront dining, featuring locally-caught seafood, as well as land lover fare. Port Salerno is defined by the Manatee Pocket, a picturesque bay which extends from Port Salerno to the St. Lucie Inlet and is fed by several creeks including Salerno and Manatee. This small community was originally the hub for the South Florida commercial fishing industry. Now a working waterfront and fishing fleet provides fresh seafood to local restaurants and markets, as well as the Port Salerno Seafood Festival, which is held on the public docks and neighborhood streets the early part of every year. Port Salerno also welcomes “captains of industry” from around the world, who come to the area every year for world-class sport fishing tournaments that are based out of marinas and parks located on the Manatee Pocket. Launch your boat or paddleboard from Sandsprit Park to take in the stunning waterways. Sandsprit Park’s amenities include bike path access, boat ramp, fishing access, fishing pier, picnic sites, playground and restrooms.

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INDIANTOWN

Originally established by the Seminole people as a trading post, Indiantown is a small, quiet town about 15 miles west of Stuart and 8 miles north of the Palm Beach County line. Indiantown is surrounded by citrus groves and cattle ranches. Unique to the rest of Martin County, Indiantown is situated in the heart of Florida’s cattle and citrus country. Here the charmingly restored Seminole Inn captures the twilight grandeur of “Old Florida.” Nature lovers can enjoy the great outdoors at Dupuis Reserve State Forest, J & R Outfitters or Allapattah Flats. Indiantown is a short drive to the shores of Port Mayaca where you can see a waterfront sunset while still on the East Coast. Indiantown is also home to Payson Park, one of the top Thoroughbred horse racing facilities in the United States.

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JUPITER ISLAND/TEQUESTA

On the southern border of Martin County sits Jupiter and Tequesta. Jupiter is rich in history and Florida lore, with the earliest known records of the Jupiter Inlet dating back to 1565. Jupiter Island is a unique barrier island bordered on the east by the Atlantic Ocean, the west by the Intracoastal Waterway, the Jupiter Inlet to the south and the St. Lucie Inlet to the north. In the 1800’s Jupiter’s most identifiable landmark, the Jupiter Lighthouse, was erected. The lighthouse stands 105 feet tall atop a 46-foot hill on the north shore of the Jupiter Inlet. The land that is now Lighthouse Park was once a part of Fort Jupiter, a military installation that was formed during the Seminole Indian Wars.

Today Jupiter is still famous for its beautiful beaches, the Loxahatchee River and Intracoastal Waterway. The town enjoys a vibrant cultural life and rich history, is home of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum and hosts several annual arts and entertainment festivals. Town and County parks also provide recreational facilities for team sports like baseball, basketball and soccer, tennis courts, an aquatic center and boat ramps to access the Intracoastal Waterway.

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HUTCHINSON ISLAND

Hutchinson Island is home to miles of pristine and uncrowded beaches. The perfect getaway for the beach lover and water enthusiast where you can surf, boat, sail, kite-surf, dive and snorkel. Beaches in Martin County offer free parking. Due to the County ordinance on building height, you are offered an unencumbered skyline with breathtaking views of the ocean. South Hutchinson Island extends from the Fort Pierce Inlet in St. Lucie County to the St. Lucie Inlet in Martin County, with three causeways providing access to and from the island.

History and culture are abundant at the newly-renovated Elliott Museum. The mission of the Elliott Museum is to inspire creativity through exhibitions and programs about art, history and technology for the people who live in and visit the Treasure Coast. Named after prolific inventor Sterling Elliott, the museum hosts a dynamic and interactive collection of antique automobiles, vintage boats, an impressive baseball collection and a deep trove of Treasure Coast histories and stories sure to delight all ages. In addition, the museum is proud to display an array of traveling exhibits designed to challenge and inspire families and children.

The Elliott Museum also operates the House of Refuge on Hutchinson Island, Martin County’s oldest building and the only life-saving station of its kind still in existence. Travel back in time as you imagine how difficult life was on this outpost and learn about the many dramatic sea rescues that have taken place over its 120-year history. For those wanting to experience a one-of-a kind underwater experience, make plans to dive the Wreck of Georges Valentine, Martin County’s only underwater archaeological preserve and an underwater site listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Another must-see attraction is the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center, located on Hutchinson Island. Situated between the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian River Lagoon, the 57-acre property houses the Florida Oceanographic Society’s headquarters, nature trails, 750,000-gallon Game Fish Lagoon, Sea Turtle Pavilion, Children’s Activity Pavilion, Sea Star Touch Tank Pavilion, Rays on the Reef Ray Pavilion, and the Frances Langford Visitors Center. With its coastal hardwood hammocks and mangrove swamp communities, the site provides excellent opportunities for education and research aimed at increasing visitors’ knowledge of these unique environments.

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HOBE SOUND

Unique in so many ways, Hobe Sound sits in the most environmentally sensitive area of southeastern Martin County. Here you can discover an understated elegance. With its collection of antique shops, funky eateries art galleries and nature parks, Hobe Sound embodies the definition of small beach town charm. Enjoy a relaxing day at Hobe Sound Beach or explore the gem known as Jonathan Dickinson State Park. This park teems with wildlife in 13 natural communities including sand pine, scrub pine, flatwoods, mangroves and river swamps. Winding through the expansive park, the Loxahatchee River is Florida’s first federally-designated Wild and Scenic River. Ranger-guided tours of the 1930’s pioneer homestead of Trapper Nelson are available year-round. The park also offers both paved and off-road biking, equestrian and hiking trails, boating, canoeing and kayaking along the river. Not often thought of when it comes to coastal counties, you can also try your hand at freshwater fishing along the riverbank or from a boat. This park offers two full-facility campgrounds and a primitive campground for your enjoyment.

The Hobe Sound Nature Center, Inc. is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to promoting an environmental awareness in people of all ages. The Hobe Sound Nature Center has been located in the Hobe Sound Wildlife Refuge for over 40 years and offers both on and off-site native wildlife presentations and field experiences to local natural areas. There are two trails on the refuge including one opening up to the Indian River Lagoon where one can grab some sun or go for a kayak ride. The Nature Center exhibit features over 20 native, live animals including snakes, crocodile and a skunk.

Another must-see hidden gem is Blowing Rocks Preserve. Owned by The Nature Conservancy, it contains the largest Anastasia limestone outcropping on the state’s east coast. Breaking waves spray plumes of water through erosion holes, making for spectacular pictures. The spray can reach heights of 50 feet; it is this distinctive spectacle that earned the limestone outcropping’s name. The limestone outcropping also encompasses coquina shells, crustaceans and sand. The preserve also features several coastal ecotones, including maritime hammocks, mangrove wetlands and beach dunes. Common native species include sea grapes, gumbo limbo and Sabal palms. The preserve includes an educational center, native plant nursery, boardwalk, oceanside path and a butterfly garden. The Hawley Education Center features rotating natural history and art exhibits, and offers environmental education classes and workshops. A boardwalk along the Indian River Lagoon features interpretive signs about the plants, wildlife and area environment.

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JENSEN BEACH

Jensen Beach is a quiet ocean and riverfront town with beautiful beaches, great fishing and a quaint downtown with a small town pace. Historic downtown Jensen Beach offers charming cottages where local artisans display and sell original artwork. From the moment you enter the historic downtown area of Jensen Beach, the town’s “Pineapple Capital of the World” heritage becomes strongly evident. Charming Florida cottages lined with picket fences and carved pineapples showcase local artists and their works. Surrounded by historic porch-fronted homes, Jensen Beach offers five-star dining and family eateries sporting Caribbean colors and motifs which exude a Key West style. The variety of small, locally owned shops provide a wide array of charming shopping experiences. Every Thursday, locals and visitors alike head downtown for Jammin’ Jensen — a streetside affair full of live entertainment, food and fun.