Florida’s Cultured Pearl: Martin County

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White sandy beaches, crystal clear water, nature preserves and near-perfect year-round temps are all to be expected when visiting Martin County. 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 – public art, regular cultural events, galleries, museums and more are unexpected gems that make this must-see (again and again!) destination shine.

Comprised of the communities of Port Salerno, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Indiantown, Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound and Hutchinson Island, Martin County offers numerous Atlantic beaches spanning nearly 22 miles along the coast and including individual access strips that allow 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.  There are also numerous beaches along the Indian River Lagoon such as the beach at Indian RiverSide Park, in addition to  75+ parks throughout the communities, as well as a plethora of public art, including sculptures and murals donated by artists.

Browse Martin County’s more than 20 galleries in the historic downtowns of Stuart, Jensen Beach, Port Salerno and Hobe Sound and find local jewels and gifts for a souvenir worthy of the visit. Hunt for treasure at Treasure Coast Square, where more than 120 shops mean there’s something in the bag for everyone. For a one-of-a-kind experience, head to B&A Flea Market, the Treasure Coast’s oldest and largest flea market with a 35-year history and over 400 vendors.

Nearby, the Elliott Museum, named after prolific inventor Sterling Elliott, hosts a dynamic and interactive collection of antique automobiles, vintage boats, an extensive baseball collection and a deep trove of Treasure Coast histories and stories. For an interactive experience involving all ages, head to The Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast, located in the heart of Indian RiverSide Park in Jensen Beach. Add in a visit to The Stuart Heritage Museum, located in the oldest commercial building in Stuart and Martin County, and step back in time to learn about the unusual, the sometimes overlooked people, events and places from Martin County’s history.

History buffs meet their match in Martin County. The House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar is the only remaining House of Refuge on the East Coast of the United States. Built as one of 10 along the east coast of Florida, it is the oldest structure in Martin County and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Want to delve deeper?  Learn about the Georges Valentine Shipwreck at the House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar and then suit up to explore the dive site off the coast of Hutchinson Island.

For the music lover, the historic Lyric Theatre offers a wide-array of first class talent nearly 300 days a year. This acoustically amazing theatre features concerts from classical to rock and roll, and theatrical performances by local and national talent. Looking for more? Martin County’s The Barn is a 169-seat community theatre presenting five main stage productions September through June, and a Showcase Series of one-act plays held between main stage productions. Book a Friday or Saturday show and stay the weekend to savor all Martin County has to offer.

Plan to visit during the annual Port Salerno Seafood Festival, Bookmania, ArtsFest, Pineapple Festival or one of the many other cultural events throughout the year. Add to the Martin County experience with a cruise aboard the 25-passenger Loxahatchee Queen II and travel up the Loxahatchee River to the pioneer home site of Trapper Nelson in Jonathan Dickinson State Park.

Need 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.

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 one-of-a-kind boutique properties such as the Old Colorado Inn, the Seminole 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.