From surfing and sailing camps to me-time for mom and dad, the whole family will make memories that last with a summer getaway to this South Florida jewel
This summer, turn up the heat on summer fun and plan a vacation the whole family will enjoy with options for both kids and adults in Martin County, Florida. This easy-to-get-to-area, encompassing the communities of Port Salerno, Stuart, Palm City, Jensen Beach, Indiantown, Jupiter Island, Hobe Sound and Hutchinson Island, offers beautiful beaches and 77 parks–not to mention the most bio-diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern Hemisphere–all within two hours or less driving time of four international airports: Palm Beach, Ft. Lauderdale, Miami and Orlando. Explore opportunities for summer camps engaging in surfing, fishing and unique educational adventures to keep the kids entertained while mom and dad relax seaside in a town known for its beaches, shopping and culinary offerings.
Surf’s up in Martin County! There are several surf camps taking place this summer in Martin County at beautiful Jensen and Stuart beaches. Martin County offers the first consistent surf as you travel north along Florida’s coast. Plan a trip here during the summer, sign the kids up for camp and relax seaside while your children are engaged in a memory-making activity, learning about the ocean and beach safety while surfing the summer away.
Below are a few of the surf camps taking place in Martin County: most accept ages 5-17 and operate May-August:
Ohana Surf Shop, www.OhanaSurfShop.com/surfcamp.html
Surf Central, www.StuartFla.com/biz/spotlight/surf-central/
Aloha Surfing School, www.AlohaSurfingSchool.com/site/camp.php?camp=surf
Cowabunga Surf and Sport Camp, www.CowabungaSurfandSport.com/camp
The US Sailing Center Sailing Camp is a great fit for sea-loving children. The US Sailing Center of Martin County is one of only three Community Sailing Centers in the United States sanctioned by the US Sailing Association–the national governing body of the sport of sailing. A variety of programs each week range from beginner to advanced skill lessons and training on sailing. The camp is available to children ages 5-17.
Calling all future anglers
Fishing camps in Martin County offer young fishermen and fisher-women the opportunity to learn all about fishing, conservation and proper techniques to help them cast-a-line. All equipment is provided but anglers may also bring their own equipment. Numerous prizes are awarded and it is a good time for all fishing enthusiasts ages 6-17.
Sign up for Summer Fishing Camp with Capt. Giles Murphy. The camp includes a variety of activities like learning fishing knots, rigging lessons, learning about local fish species and their habitats, fly fishing lessons (casting fly rods and making flies), throwing cast nets, looking at charts of local fishing spots, learning about tides and seasonal changes and catching lots of fish. Bring a fishing pole or one will be provided at no cost.
For ages 10-15, dive into scuba camp with Kirk’s Dive and Surf where kids are educated on diving skills during three one-week sessions offered throughout the summer. The camp includes mask, snorkel, fins and complete PADI Open Water certification for each participant.
Connect with Mother Nature
If you have a nature bug on your hands, the Hobe Sound Nature Center Summer Camp is a natural choice. The camp is designed to enlighten little ones about the natural world around them. Kids will participate in a variety of activities including nature crafts, games and wildlife presentations. The camp is designed for children ages 6-12.
Bring kids to a camp at the Environmental Studies Center where learning is hands-on and engaging. A variety of topics are covered throughout the June and July sessions which include activities like boat trips, snorkeling, fishing, arts and crafts and special Friday activities.
Martin County’s Florida Oceanographic Society offers many choices for aquatic camps. At the Coastal Discovery Summer Camp kids learn about the aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems while conducting relevant science experiments and interacting with the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center’s wide array of live marine animals. Programs run throughout the months of June and August for ages 5-16.
The Specialty Immersions Summer program takes place on Hutchinson Island located between the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean. This camp is offered to ages 12-16 during July and August. Activities include exciting exploration of the fascinating Florida ecosystems. Little ones are able to explore and learn more about the plants and animals that live under the sea.
Many more camps are offered, including equestrian, arts, performing arts and drama-themed adventures. For a full list of options, visit Martin County Office of Tourism and Marketing’s blog, http://www.DiscoverMartin.com/ever-experienced-camp-cation/.
Adult time out
While the kids are having the time of their lives, indulge in pure R&R. 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. Wind down with a glass of wine and spend the afternoon perusing galleries. The Fish House Art Center and Gallery, located on the waterfront of Manatee Pocket in the Village of Port Salerno, five miles south of downtown Stuart, offers 3,000-square-feet of American fine art and crafts as well as 10 resident artists’ studios, including painters, glass artists and ceramic sculptors, who work in their studios year-round. Its art with a story–watch as pieces come to life and then carry home your treasure.
Explore the Elliott Museum, named after prolific inventor Sterling Elliott, which 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.
Step back in time to learn about the unusual, the sometimes overlooked people, events and places from Martin County’s history at the Stuart Heritage Museum, located in the oldest commercial building in Stuart and Martin County. The countless relics housed by the museum define the history of the people, businesses, agriculture and community spirit of the City of Stuart and Martin County. A plus? Admission to the museum is always free.
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. The Houses of Refuge were designated as havens for shipwrecked sailors and travelers along Florida’s sparsely-populated Atlantic coastline. Run by the United States Lifesaving Service, the Houses played a critical role in a time when sailing ships dominated world commerce. The historic structure has weathered many storms and provided needed shelter for shipwreck survivors, including those of the Georges Valentine, an Italian brigantine whose wreckage remains just 100 yards off the rocky shoreline. The House of Refuge continues to withstand the test of time, while offering a fascinating look at a bygone lifestyle along the sea. Want to delve deeper? Dive for treasure at the Georges Valentine Shipwreck Site off the coast of Hutchinson Island. On July 19, 2006, the Georges Valentine Shipwreck Site was added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. On October 16, 2006, it became the eleventh Florida Underwater Archaeological Preserve.
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.
Trails at the Hobe Sound Nature Center allow for hikes through estuaries, barrier islands and the sand pine scrub. 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 1930s 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.
In the evening, reconnect as a family and share tales of the day’s adventures around the table at one of Martin County’s restaurants, most 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 unique one-of-a-kind family-owned and -operated boutique properties such as the Old Colorado Inn, the Seminole Inn and Pirates Cove Resort and Marina. RV and camping facilities–even timeshares–spell family fun.
Did you know?
Set the scene for memory-making in Martin County where building restrictions have limited structures to four stories, preserving breathtaking views throughout the county, yielding Old Florida charm accented with Key West style. Stuart, the county seat, was recently named one of the “Happiest Seaside Towns” by Coastal Living and ranked #3 in the “2015 Annual Best Small Towns to Visit” guide by Smithsonian Magazine. Only in Your State ranked Stuart as one of the “8 Most Beautiful, Charming Small Towns In Florida” and the area was also ranked #9 by House Beautiful on its “The 50 Most Beautiful Small Towns in America” list.