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Stuart Family Vacation Ideas - Sunshine, Blowing Rocks and a Bathtub at the Beach. 346FLStuartBeachThe southernmost section of Florida’s Treasure Coast is easy-paced and naturally beautiful. Dubbed one of North America’s top ten best family beach locations by Trip Advisor, Martin County rocks!
The area spans several communities including Jensen Beach, Stuart and Jupiter Island and Hobe Sound each offering a unique vacation base for a family adventure. From the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway to the eastern shore of Lake Okeechobee family vacation treasures abound, no long lines, no timed entries.

Location, location, location. The South Treasure Coast (defined as Martin County on the Florida map) is located at the southern tip of the Indian River Lagoon, a 156-mile long estuary that stretches from Ponce de Leon Inlet to Jupiter Inlet. The area includes dramatic beauty, quiet places and best of all the luxury of time, the real treasure in today’s fast-paced world. For families the area is a secret bonus. What could be better, a rich menu of interesting activities and the luxury of time to enjoy them with the kids. Our treasure list is diverse and includes one-of-a-kind experiences unique to the area. Read on.

Snorkel in a bathtub. Located just east of Stuart, and a half-hour north of Palm Beach is beautifully preserved Hutchinson Island, a narrow barrier island bordered by the Intracoastal Waterway and the Atlantic Ocean. At the southernmost tip of the enchanting island is “Bathtub Beach,” named for the shallow, clear lagoon created at low tide by a natural coral reef located just offshore. Patrolled by pelicans and inspected by seagulls, it offers a rendezvous point for beach lovers seeking to enjoy an early morning walk or a lingering sunset. It is a perfect setting for children’s enjoyment or snorkeling. The park is bordered by protected undulating sand dunes. It is free to the public and features lifeguards, free parking, restrooms and showers. Bonus points: For the curious, an environmental exhibit explains how Bathtub Reef was formed. Need to know: Bathtub Beach features a shallow ocean lagoon formed by an offshore reef that creates a magnificent safe haven for children and a perfect environment for snorkeling. Located on the southern end of Hutchinson Island, Bathtub Beach has lifeguards, picnic areas, free parking and other family friendly amenities. (Bathtub Beach 1585 S.E. MacArthur Blvd., Stuart 34996. 1(772) 221-1418)

Watch the rocks blowing. On Jupiter Island, at the edge of the sea, “blowing rocks,” provide a daily show. In addition to the natural Anastasia limestone rocks, Blowing Rocks Preserve is also an island sanctuary. It provides an ever-changing window on a variety of natural habitats. Explore a boardwalk with interpretive signs along the Indian River Lagoon, whisper in the butterfly garden, stroll the beachside nature trail. Bonus points: For an escape from the heat of the day, The Hawley Education Center has displays and rotating exhibits that explain the value of area. Bonus points: ach Sunday a guided walk is conducted through Blowing Rocks Preserve. It is a chance to explore the geology, wildlife and native plant communities with a trained naturalist. (Blowing Rocks 574 South Beach Road, Hobe Sound 33455. 1 (561) 744-6668 or Blowing Rocks Preserve)

Feed friendly stingrays. A dreamland for the curious, Florida Oceanographic Coastal Science Center on Hutchinson Island near Stuart showcases the sea and shares insider information about marine life. 346FLStuartStingRaysEven before heading to the stingray pool kids (and adults as well) will be surprised at the numerous interactive learning stations and the oodles of sea specimens to touch and examine. Most thrilling is the chance to feed and pet stingrays in the aquaculture pavilion. Beyond that there is a boardwalk and nature trail with plenty of wildlife to be observed. Discovery: Innovative summer programs include turtle walks, seining clinics and snorkeling adventures. (89C NE Ocean Blvd, Stuart. 1(772) 225-0505 or
Sail with “Sunshine.” Sunshine Wildlife Eco-Boat Tour of the Indian River Lagoon departs from Finz Waterfront Grill in Stuart. Explore the most diverse estuary in North America with Captain Nancy Beaver on the “Sunshine Lady”, a 35 ft. pontoon boat. The boat’s shallow water design lets you get up close to the wildlife. On the trip your family will have an opportunity to see a wide range of wildlife. They also provide discovery scopes to examine microscopic plankton and examples of common lagoon animals. Passengers receive first-hand information while searching for manatees, spotting dolphins and counting varieties of sea grass. This is an interactive version “Wild Kingdom” with narration. (4290 SE Salerno Road, Stuart 34997. 1-800-517-7207 or 1(772) 219-0148 or

Go where the wild things are. Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge & Nature Center is a 1000-acre plus, wild place that includes three-and-a-half miles of barrier island beach plus mainland pine scrub forest habitat and a Nature Center. Remarkable for its natural beauty year round, the refuge offers quiet spaces where time almost stands still. Sand crabs scurry, scrub jays call and manatees bask in the lagoon. Discovery: Night action is the real story during the summer months as the prehistoric sea turtle nesting ritual commences. To witness the egg-laying is awesome. Volunteer “turtle scouts” watch the breaking wave s for incoming female turtles. Once a female turtle has been spotted turtle walk participants move quietly to a safe observation spot. (Located in Martin County, the refuge headquarters is located 2 miles south of SR 708 (Bridge Road) on U.S. 1. The refuge beach is located 1.5 miles north of Bridge Road on North Beach Road, Jupiter Island. 1(772) 546-6141 or

Discover American spirit. It’s all about: remember when? The Elliott Museum showcases American creativity and includes area history as a bonus. Displays feature an apothecary, a barbershop, blacksmith forge and ice cream parlor. Visitors may examine collections of dolls, clocks and watches, pipes and tobacco, baseball memorabilia and vintage cars. A show piece at the museum is an authentic hand-carved miniature circus. Discovery: Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, The House of Refuge Museum, built in 1875, is Martin County’s oldest building and was once a refuge for shipwreck victims. Small but really cool inside the stories are very intriguing. The breathtaking ocean view from the museum alone makes the trip worthwhile. Bonus Points: During the summer months they offer summer camps activities. (The Elliott Museum 825 NE Ocean Blvd. Stuart, 34996. 1(772) 225-1961 or

Cruise the Loxahatchee. Jonathan Dickinson State Park is a natural treasure. Covering almost 11,500 acres of land including the Loxahatchee River (named "lowchow" turtle, "hatchee" river by the Seminole Indians); the park offers campsites and cabins, kayaking and canoeing, hiking and bicycling, as well as fresh and saltwater fishing. Guided tours of the Loxahatchee River, Florida’s first “National Wild & Scenic River,” provide rare opportunities to view endangered and threaten species. Discovery: There area is rich with legends from the shipwreck of the Dickinson family to stories about the "Wildman of the Loxahatchee." The 44-passenger Loxahatchee Queen II cruises to the pioneer home site of Trapper Nelson, the famous “wild man.” (Jonathan Dickinson State Park 16450 S.E. Federal Highway, Hobe Sound, 33455. 1(772) 546-2771 or

Fish the big one. Lake Okeechobee, the 730-square mile "liquid heart" of Florida, is awesome just because of its size. For freshwater fishing enthusiasts it is one of Florida’s crown jewels where pickerel, largemouth bass, bluegill, or crappies await. A trip to the shore is worth it even if angling is not on the day’s schedule and Indiantown, an ice cream stop along the way, is only 10 miles from the edge of the lake. Discovery: It is the second-largest freshwater lake in the continental United States, second only to Lake Michigan.(

Information compiled from destination interviews and onsite visit. Images from Martin County Tourism and FTF staff. Copyright updated 2017.
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