Naturally quaint Martin County spans nearly 22 miles and many beaches across the Atlantic ocean. They boast the most bi-diverse lagoon ecosystem in the Northern hemisphere and have building restrictions limited to four stories to ensure the picturesque views are maintained throughout the county. I spent a few days with Nerissa Okiye, Martin’s Tourism and Marketing Manager, learning about and experiencing this beautiful county.
Nerissa made a lasting impression with her vast knowledge of the area. Between plenty of laughs and in depth conversations about Martin, I’ll happily come back for a visit or few.
Historic Downtown Stuart
When you’re awarded Coastal Living’s “Happiest Seaside Town in America” and the #3 Small Town To Visit in 2015” by Smithsonian magazine, it’s not by accident. Nerissa and I walked this quaint area and she put the experience in perfect words: “Embrace the history and soak up the charm!”
Shopping, dining, theatre and music all contribute to this experience, which is wonderfully framed by the gorgeous Roosevelt Bridge - recently voted one of the most “spectacular bridges around the world” by Travel + Leisure magazine!
Barley Barber Swamp
This 400-acre freshwater wetland is home to one of the largest bald cypress trees in the USA and you could easily drain your smartphone battery taking pictures of this historic, preserved area.
With over a mile of boardwalk to experience the swamp in, Executive Director Charles Barrowclough provided a wealth of information (he also drove the bus that got us there!) about its history and importance to the region.
The Historic Seminole Inn
There’s a distinct “old Florida” feel you get simply by looking at the front of the Seminole Inn, from the rocking chairs and “Sit Long Talk Much” sign on the porch to the rustic interior and charming feel you get from walking in the grand double French doors.
With gorgeous rooms to pick from and legendary home cooked fried chicken framing the lunch menu, owner Jonnie Wall-Flewelling has recreated an “old South” feel in modern day Florida that needs to be experienced.
Spoto's Oyster House
Overlooking the water, a few other Canadian journalists along with Nerissa and I had some world-class oysters at Spoto’s. Tucked away in a corner table (with a view of everything) I learned how Spoto’s gives the Florida Oceanographic Coastal Centre the shells that are recycled and tuned into living oyster reefs. So they serve up delicious food, give you great service and give back to the environment.
Florida Oceanographic Centre
Executive Director Mark Perry is passionate about the 57 acre nature centre that’s nationally recognized. There are educational programs, a really cool “feed the stingrays” experience and about a one-mile walking tour to get a great feel for all that they have to offer. What’s even better is that they conduct research and restoration programs that result in healthy coastal ecosystems!
The Elliot Museum & House of Refuge
In a surprise to no one, I love the auto world, especially the historic side of it. The Elliott Museum boasts a large collection of antique automobiles and boats and an automatic storage facility that shifts their nearly 60 different cars around the front and centre display area.
There are plenty of Treasure Coast historical items here, from medicine to baseball cards and plenty in between!
Keeping with the history motif, The House of Refuge is one of the last remaining shipwreck life-saving stations on Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Nearly 150 years old, take a walk through history and learn how this relic of a building saved the lives of those at sea.
Kona Beach Cafe
Located on Jensen beach, avid surfer and owner Frank Wacha Jr. joined us for dinner at this popular and lively café. Featuring two Tiki bars, some of the best tasting fresh fish I’ve ever had, and great live music, Kona is a place I could spend hours at enjoying the atmosphere, music and of course, the delicious food.
Oh, and every Thursday from 6 pm to 10 pm, Jensen Beach Boulevard hosts local artists, musicians and vendors to showcase their talents, which makes for an exciting and lively atmosphere.
Hampton Inn & Suites Stuart-North
The good folks over at the Hampton Inn & Suites Stuart-North sure do know how to provide stellar customer service. General Manager Kristy Byrick could/should write a book on customer service as she, along with her wonderful team, treated me incredibly well. They're full of that good ol' Florida hospitality and the rooms and facilities were stellar.
Whether you take the few hour flight or make it a road trip adventure, Martin County has so much to offer travelers and vacationers who seek a combination of rest, relaxation, adventure and excitement.
Check out their Facebook page, Instagram account and Twitter feed for great pictures.
Enjoy the full gallery below: