Located on Florida’s central east coast, Martin County, which includes the cities of Stuart and Jensen Beach, is a rare find for seekers of a true beach vacation. Whether you come to enjoy world-class fishing in the self-proclaimed Sailfish Capital of the World, browse quaint shops in historic downtown Stuart or just soak in a sunrise along 35 kilometers of uncrowded shoreline, you’ll discover a preserved piece of Old Florida coastal living. Add in the beachy arts vibe, distinct local history and seafood-centric dining scene, and you’ll soon understand why the area was once named Coastal Living magazine’s Happiest Seaside Town in America.

Beaches and Beyond

For water lovers, Stuart and Jensen Beach offer a little bit of everything – true Atlantic beaches, calm Intracoastal Waterway shores and even lakeside views along Lake Okeechobee just 40 minutes away. Don’t miss a visit to Blowing Rocks Preserve, one of Florida’s rarest and most unusual coastlines. When the tide is up, geysers of ocean water spray through limestone rock along the shore up to 15 meters high. Enjoy front-row seats to an oceanside sunrise followed by boating, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking or fishing among 800 fish species. Divers and snorkelers can suit up to explore the shipwreck of the Georges Valentine, an iron-hulled ship originally built in 1869 and wrecked in 1904. It’s conveniently located just 100 yards from the shoreline and is one of only 12 underwater archaeological preserves in Florida.

Nature, Preserved

Nature is passionately preserved in Martin County (complete with a building restriction that limits structures to just four stories high) making this a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. The largest state park in Southeast Florida, Jonathan Dickinson State Park offers primitive and cabin camping, mountain biking and guided horseback riding tours (seasonal). Go boating and cast a line for snapper and largemouth bass in the Loxahatchee River, or lace your hiking boots and trek the trails, including a portion of the 101-kilometer Ocean to Lake Hiking Trail that stretches from Hobe Sound to Lake Okeechobee. If you love a lazy, scenic drive (who doesn’t?), cruise under the canopy of trees on Bridge Road in Hobe Sound or the banyan tree tunnel at Old St. Lucie Boulevard Road.

A Relaxed Arts and Culture Scene

Downtown Stuart is alive with activity, from local shops to casual dining to free concerts every Sunday afternoon on the St. Lucie River. A free shuttle makes it easy to enjoy the fun. Discover local history lessons at the Stuart Heritage Museum and the Elliot Museum, which showcases a collection of rare and classic cars (including a 2009 Rolls-Royce Phantom). During the 19th and early 20th centuries, Houses of Refuge offered safe havens for sailors along the East Coast. Gilbert’s Bar House of Refuge, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, is not only the oldest building in Martin County but also the only remaining House of Refuge. Don’t miss a visit to this one-of-a-kind landmark. Traveling with kids? Indian RiverSide Park offers plenty of places to play and explore, including the Children’s Museum of the Treasure Coast and the U.S. Sailing Center.