My favourite thing about travel blogging is being able to embark on new adventures and discover destinations I might never see otherwise. I learn something new every time I visit a new city or island and that keeps me young. Last month I had all sorts of new experiences in marvellous Martin County, Florida.
Martin County is easy to reach from Palm Beach International Airport, Fort Lauderdale Airport or Orlando International Airport. It is a county that is known for its bio-diverse ecosystem with 22 miles of coastline and many family friendly activities for all to enjoy. From quaint downtown Stuart, to Hobe Sound Beach, and Jensen Beach, there are numerous beautiful beaches and parks and one of a kind museums. All of that makes for a memorable vacation in Martin County.
Here are 17 Things to Do in Marvellous Martin County, Florida:
- See Stuart – No, it’s not a person. Stuart is the first town in Florida to be awarded Coastal Living’s Happiest Seaside Town in America Award. It’s quaint and clean and really lovely to explore. The shops and restaurants are worth seeing. There are free musical events and you can stroll the Riverwalk pretty much any time. I wished I had more time to visit. I spent one morning browsing and taking pictures here. Stuart is a treasure and a picturesque spot for any tourist to visit. No skyscrapers here, just unobstructed views of the coast and tiny lizards scampering along the riverwalk.
- Take the Solar-Powered Trolley Ride in Stuart – the best way to get around and a fun FREE ride that runs daily by the way. I decided to hop on. It was a quiet day and the trolley driver gave me the grand tour with commentary as we drove around. He pointed out all the hot spots I should see. What an asset he is! In fact I learned all of the trolley drivers are trained by the Stuart Heritage Museum. Passenger pickup at Sailfish Circle, Kiwanis, Flagler and Osceola Parks. In fact people who work in that area will drop their car off and park in the morning and take the solar powered (yes that’s right and frankly I loved that feature) trolley to work and back to the lot when they are done. Here city hall is right on the water and there are Sunday markets too.
- Stuart Heritage Museum – I barely had a moment to stop and take a photo. My itinerary was jam-packed. Admission is free. Uncover a few facts about Martin County’s history here.
- Do the Sea Turtle Nesting Walk – Here’s what to expect if you do the Hobe Sound Sea Turtle Nesting Walk. (Take Bug Spray) Extremely educational. This is a must do for anyone over the age of five. This was one of my favourite experiences in Martin County and it was miraculous really to watch huge sea turtles dig an egg chamber and release over 100 eggs into the sand before covering them over and disappearing back into the sea. AMAZING.
- Take a surfing lesson or attend surfing school. I wrote more about that here – That Time I Attended Ohana Surfing School Summer Camp. What a marvellous experience and a formidable physical challenge. I would LOVE to take a week one summer and schedule my kids into surfing camp while we rented a condo in the area or stayed at the Hutchinson Island Marriott. Such a great opportunity for any child. So unique too.
- Visit The Elliott Museum – art, technology and history. Foucault’s Pendulum greets you in the lobby. So hypnotic! This is a gorgeous museum with an antique automobile collection that is astounding. It alone will knock your socks off. When I was there there was also a cool collection of American Baseball cards and a surfing display that was a bit eclectic but fun and a great insight into the culture of Martin County too. If you are an automobile collector or car aficionado you need to visit. I am not car crazy at all but I was amazed at the setup and the exhibit itself. Imagine one of those high end parking structures that is automated you’ve seen on James Bond movies and maybe in Fast and Furious as well. That’s the kind of amazing see through structure these one of a kind autos are kept in. Press a button and the one you are interested in seeing will appear before you in real life. Kids under 6 are free. UNBELIEVABLE!
- Visit The Florida Oceanographic Centre – The Florida Oceanographic Centre is a 57 acre nature centre located on Hutchinson Island in Stuart, between the Indian River and the Atlantic Ocean. Excellent for families and not expensive either. There are a few rescued sea turtles here that you will want to learn more about I am sure. Zak Jud, PHD, shown above, is the director of education and exhibits, and is extremely intelligent and informed. He often runs educational sessions for school groups and is also often skyped into classrooms when they are learning about a particular ocean unit. What’s different about this is that the Florida Oceanographic Institute is a state and nationally recognized environmental organization offering educational programs to people of all ages. You will leave knowing more about the ocean environment. You will also be able to better protect that environment as a result.
- Feed the Stingrays at Florida Oceanographic Centre – daily at a certain time the Florida Oceanographic Institute offers Feeding the Stingrays sessions. They will tell you how to do this safely for all involved.
- Go paddle boarding at any of the amazing beaches here. I recommend Stuart Beach. Stuart Beach is one of the prettiest and cleanest beaches I have ever been to.
- I ran out of time to visit Sailfish Splash but wish that I could have done so. Sailfish Splash is a waterpark in Martin County. If you have kids they will love it here.
- Visit The Children’s Museum of The Treasure Coast in Jensen Beach. Also very affordable. By the way The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast, The Florida Oceanographic Centre and the Elliott Museum have a discount arrangement so if you buy admission to one of the three save your receipt and you could get a discount at one of the other participating attractions if you attend within thirty days of the original visit.
- Visit the House of Refuge – what’s a House of Refuge, you ask? Well, a house of refuge used to be a place for shipwrecked sailors and travellers to stay when they were shipwrecked. The House of Refuge located at 301 MacArthur BLVD, Stuart, Florida, is the last of nearly a dozen shipwreck life-saving stations on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Built in 1876 to help stranded sailors.
- Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge – Take a day or an afternoon at least and wander around Hobe Sound. Take your camera and spy some of the various species of birds and wildlife living here. The Nature Centre alone features 20 different species including snakes and crocodiles. There are two trails in the refuge. One opens up to the Indian River Lagoon where you can go kayaking or simply relax and enjoy the natural surroundings.
- Go fishing – There are some great spots to catch fish in Martin County. Stuart is known as the sailfish capital of the world and there’s also an annual lion fish
- Jupiter Island Beach – Take a drive through the area where ex president’s families have property, as do celebrities and sports personalities. It’s a picturesque area to drive through and the beach is public. There’s a beautiful entry way lined with Banyan Trees that makes this spot feel very southern indeed.
- Stay at the Hutchinson Island Marriott Beach Resort and Marina. Amazing service here and such a gorgeous location. There’s a marina attached and beach access and it’s walking distance to Stuart Beach, The Florida Oceanographic Centre and the Elliott Museum. GREAT location, Great Food, Family Friendly. LOVED it here.
- Port Salerno – Go for the seafood and take photos too. We stopped here only long enough to have dinner one night but the pictures I got were some of my favourites. Port Salerno is a small community that was once the hub for the south Florida fishing industry. Now it’s a working waterfront. There are many local restaurants and markets nearby.
There are so many more things to do in Martin County. These are some of the things I enjoyed most while visiting.
I was a guest of Martin County and Indian River County and Visit Florida. I received flights, accommodations and excursions as well as compensation for my time. My opinion is all my own.