Located on Florida's Treasure Coast, the small city of Stuart might be less well known than some of its famous neighbors, but the "The Sailfish Capital of the World" promises a ton of fun for those in the know. With gorgeous beaches on its doorstep, a score of family-friendly museums and world-class galleries, and no end of great places to indulge in some of Florida's finest seafood, it's a magical place to spend a weekend, a week, or even longer. If you're planning a visit, here are some of the best things to do in Stuart, FL.
20. Take a hike at Halpatiokee Regional Park
Halpatiokee Regional Park is the perfect place to enjoy some family-friendly fun. Occupying over five hundred acres, the largest park in Martin County is packed with activities and attractions. Expect to find an outdoor roller rink, tennis courts, a baseball field, soccer fields, and a network of hiking, paddling, and biking trails to explore. If you're in the mood for a night under the stars, there are several primitive campsites with fire pits and picnic tables to make use of, along with several large pavilions and covered seating areas for alfresco dining.
19. Visit Savannas Preserve State Park
According to floridastateparks.org, Savannas Preserve State Park's scenic landscapes represent what the first pioneers would have seen in the area. Free of development and remarkably pristine, the park is a great place to discover the diversity of Florida's ecosystems. Just some of the activities to enjoy include kayaking, paddle boarding, and hiking the ten miles of trails. It's also a great place for wildlife spotting, so be sure to keep your camera on standby.
18. Join in the fun at Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival
If you're in town in November, don't miss making the short hop, skip, and a jump over to Jensen Beach to check out the festivities at the Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival. A three-day extravaganza that pays tribute to the area's history as one of the biggest pineapple growing regions in the US, it's a riot of live entertainment, music, crafts, food, and fun activities that the whole family can enjoy. Best of all, admission won't cost you a dime.
17. Stock up on treats at the Stuart Green Market
If you're looking for a new way to fill your Sunday mornings, don't miss the Stuart Green Market. A local institution since the early 1990s, it promises live music, entertainment, and a huge selection of vendors selling artisan goods, fresh flowers, baked treats, fruit and veggies, and more besides. There's also a great selection of food vendors if you want to grab a bite to eat. Visit every Sunday from 9 am to 1 pm.
16. Enjoy a round of golf at Palm Cove Golf & Yacht Club
If you can't resist a round of golf during a vacation, be sure to make time for a trip to Palm Cove Golf & Yacht Club, one of the few exclusive yacht and golf clubs in the area that doesn't mind admitting the general public. Designed by legendary golfer Chi Chi Rodriguez, the par-71, 18-hole course is challenging enough to suit scratch golfers, but has enough shorter tees to make it a fun day out for kids and newbies too.
15. Tuck into some good eats at Berry Fresh Cafe
If hunger strikes, take the advice of vacationidea.com and head for Berry Fresh Cafe. This family-owned and operated restaurant first opened in 2009 in nearby Port St. Lucie. After proving a huge hit, it opened new locations in Stuart and Jupiter. Expect comfort food with a healthy twist, seasonal dishes, an excellent selection of gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan dishes, a welcoming ambiance, and service with a smile.
14. Admire the art at Gallery 36
If you've got a passion for art, don't miss Gallery 36 during our visit to Stuart. Dedicated to fine art photography, it's a treasure trove of exquisite photographs that aim to capture "the local feel of the surrounding Treasure Coast and the beautiful state of Florida." Open from 10:00 am until 5:30 pm, Tuesday to Saturday, or by pre-arranged appointment, it's a charming place to while away an afternoon.
13. Smell the roses at Tropical Ranch Botanical Gardens, Stuart, Florida
Small but perfectly formed, the Tropical Ranch Botanical Gardens, Stuart, Florida is the only botanical garden in Martin County, and well worth a visit. The gardens were opened in May 2006 by Diane and Jim Haines after they decided it would be a great way of educating the public about the benefits of "placing the right plant in the right place." Today, it's a wonderful spot to spend a few hours, with several themed gardens to explore and a huge variety of butterflies and wildlife to admire.
12. Enjoy some seafood at Stuart Boathouse
Most visitors to the Sunshine State make it a point to indulge in at least one seafood extravaganza during their stay. In Stuart, there's no better place to indulge in some fresh Florida seafood than Stuart Boathouse. With its breathtaking views over St Lucie's River, creative culinary dishes, and stylish decor, it's a must-visit. Don't miss the jumbo lump crab cake served with house remoulade and the Pei mussels (fresh mussels sauteed in garlic & fresh thyme with sherry and fresh orange, served with grilled crostini's). By all accounts, the craft cocktails are pretty unmissable too.
11. Take the family to Stuart Airshow
If you happen to be in town in November, and check out the Stuart Airshow, an incredible three-day live show that showcases some of the best aircraft and military vehicles in the country. Expect high altitude maneuvers, screeching engines, smoke trails, and more fun than you can shake a stick at. Food vendors will be on hand to keep you in tasty snacks, and there's also plenty of live entertainment, family-friendly activities, arts and crafts, and even a fireworks display to get involved with.
10. Check out the exhibits at the Stuart Heritage Museum
Perfect for rainy days, the Stuart Heritage MuseumStuart Heritage Museum, Stuart, Florida offers a fun, free, family-friendly way to learn more about Stuart's rich history and culture through an exciting mix of artifacts and exhibits. Learn more about how the entire city moved to its current location after the railroad was built, about its history as a pineapple farming community, its status as the sailfish capital of the world, and much, much more besides. The museum is open seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with the exception of major holidays. A team of friendly volunteers is on hand to answer any questions you have.
9. Enjoy a show at The Barn Theatre, Stuart, Florida
If you want to take in a show during your time in Stuart, don't miss a visit to The Barn Theatre. This small, 169 seat community theater has been running for over fifty years, making it the oldest non-profit community theater in Martin County, and the only community theatre venue for miles around. With a great lineup of productions like Rent, Mamma Mia, and The Rocky Horror Picture Show, it's a great way to enjoy a show, soak up some local flavor, and support the local community at the same time.
8. Splash around at Sailfish Splash Waterpark
If you've already checked out all the beaches and want to find a new way of getting wet and wild in the water, don't miss Sailfish Splash Waterpark. Spread over two acres, this family-friendly water park promises a ton of aquatic adventure with its smorgasbord of pools, slides, and attractions. Along with a 1000-foot lazy river, there's a zero-depth entry, 7,326-square-foot water playground with jets, sprays, slides and a 300-gallon dump bucket, as well as two four-story tall water slides (including the exhilarating 253 foot closed flume "Speed Slide"). There are also private cabanas available for rent and plenty of shaded picnic areas to enjoy some alfresco dining.
7. Browse the bronze at The Geoffrey C. Smith Galleries
Recommended as one of the best things to do in Stuart by thingstodopost.org, The Geoffrey C. Smith Galleries serve as a showcase for the wildlife sculptor, photographer, painter, and naturalist Geoffrey Smith. Over a career spanning over 40 years, Smith has created hundreds of award-winning pieces, many of which can be viewed at this fascinating gallery. To check out more of his work, take a walk over to Colorado Ave to admire the beautiful bronzes of "The Birds on Colorado" before heading to the Sailfish Circle to admire the 19' tall Stuart Sailfish.
6. Entertain the kids at the Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast
If you're looking for something fun to do with the kids, don't miss the Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast. Designed to encourage children to learn more about history, the natural world, and technology through hands-on activities, educational programs, and cultural experiences, it combines an educational experience with enough fun to keep the whole family entertained for hours on end.
5. Check out the wildlife at Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center
Wildlife and nature lovers shouldn't miss a visit to the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center. Set on nearby Hutchinson Island and comprising of almost 60 acres of diverse marine and coastal habitats, it's the ideal place to check out some of the diverse flora and fauna that make this little corner of Florida so unique. The center organizes numerous staff-led programs and activities like hatchery tours, nature walks, and sea turtle breeding tours throughout the year on a seasonal basis, so be sure to check out their website before your trip to find out what's on.
4. Take a Riding The Waves Catamaran Tour
Named as one of the best things to do in Stuart by 365atlantatraveler.com, a Riding The Waves Catamaran Tour is a great way to discover more about the flora and fauna of the region. Various options are available, including a budget-friendly 60-minute tour, a 90 minute or 2.5 eco-tour, and a 3.5 hr twilight coastal tour. The boats are easy to drive, incredibly maneuverable, and come with the added advantage of a naturalist who'll fill you in on all the wildlife and ecosystems you pass along the way. Life jackets are provided, and the catamaran comes with a cooler with water and a small storage facility to keep your phone, keys, wallet, and other essentials safe and dry.
3. Take a stroll along the Riverwalk
Ranked among the best things to do in Stuart by Trip Advisor reviewers, the Riverwalk is a great place to take a pleasant stroll and get a taste of local life. Located just a block from the downtown, it's littered with shops, cafes, and riverfront restaurants to enjoy. There's also plenty of benches along the way if you want to stop and admire the boats, plus a few parks to enjoy a picnic or a couple of hours in the sunshine. If you're in town on Sunday, be sure to check out the Rock’n Riverwalk live music celebration.
2. Take a tour of Elliott Museum
Stuart has some great museums, not least Elliott Museum. Designed to serve as a showcase for the economy and history of the local area, it offers a little something for everyone, with a huge range of exhibits that cover everything from aviation to art, sports to maritime history. Expect to see vintage baseball cards, early 20th century Americana, classic toys, sculptures, paintings, classic cars, and even circus memorabilia. Along with the permanent exhibits, the museum also hosts regular special events that shouldn't be missed. Visit anytime between 10 am and 5 pm, Monday - Sunday.
1. Visit The House of Refuge Museum
Up next is another unmissable museum to visit while you're in town, The House of Refuge Museum. In 1876, the United States Treasury Department commissioned ten houses of refuge on the east coast of Florida to serve as safe havens for shipwrecked passengers and sailors. Today, the house in Stuart is the last of the ten still standing, and now serves as the oldest structure in Martin County. Take a tour to learn more about the area's rich maritime history. Interpretive signage is available for those who prefer to take a self-guided tour, but it's worth booking a place on a guided tour to get the inside scoop from the extremely knowledgeable and entertaining docents.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn