Every year for the past decade or so I visit my family in Stuart, FL, for the winter holidays. After many years of exploring, I’ve learned to love the area, and think it’s a hidden gem in terms of vacation spots in Florida, especially if you’re looking for a relaxing family vacation. From great fishing to charming restaurants and relaxing beaches, there is a little bit of everything.
Here are my favorite spots to visit:
The Ocean (off-shore fishing)
There is great fishing just a couple miles off-shore, where you can catch sailfish, tuna, dolphin (Mahi-Mahi, not flipper), and more. There are tons of charter boats you can hire, and rates are typically cheaper than you’d find in more touristy areas of Florida. The fishing is also better since the area isn’t as popular (and thus over-fished) as Palm Beach or Miami would be.
Bathtub beach is a great place to relax. It is typically not very crowded and is very family friendly. It is also protected by a natural reef so the waves break long before hitting the beach, so the water is as calm as a bathtub (hence the name). You can also snorkel and check out the reef, which is nice, or you can go slightly north of the beach and go surfing if that’s more your cup of tea. I took the picture above on my iPhone on an overcast day and you can see the “bathtub” area that is really calm and the waves breaking further away from shore.
Downtown Stuart (shopping)
Downtown (Historic) Stuart is a really cute area with lots of nice boutique-style shops. You’ll find lots of great souvenirs & gifts such as nautical themed clothing & home decor, fantastic artwork, and unique accessories. I got the shirt above which I absolutely loved, and I think it’s a pretty representative item of the kind of items you’d find while shopping in downtown Stuart. There are also tons of great restaurants if you get hungry :)
Finz Waterfront Grille
Ever year we go to Finz by boat. They have great seafood, a huge menu (even if you don’t like seafood), and it’s right on the water so you can watch boats go in and out of the marina while you eat. They also have a vending machine (pictured above) where you can try to win a lobster which is pretty funny, and if you’re good at claw style games, could be a cheap way to get a lobster dinner!
Conchy Joe’s (happy hour)
We go to Conchy Joe’s every year for happy hour, and for one primary reason: $6 for a dozen raw oysters. You can’t buy them at the store and shuck them yourself for that cheap. They’re great too! The also have a nice variety of other seafood and non-seafood options, and as you might imagine their conch fritters are really good :) It’s definitely more of a locals hang out, which makes it even more fun in my opinion.
Stuart Marriott Resort (golf, tennis, etc)
The Marriott that is nearby is a great place to visit (or stay at) and is pretty much an all inclusive resort with pools, tennis, golf, a beach, and everything in between. They also have a tiki bar which was a lot of fun. Our guests this year stayed there and we had a lot of fun visiting.
Other notable places to wine & dine:
- Gusto’s – very high end and delicious Italian restaurant in downtown Stuart
- Gigi’s – we get carry out from here all of the time. Their portions are huge and the food is delcious.
- Duffy’s – it is fun to do happy hour here and sit outside and watch people shop & walk by as it’s right in the middle of downtown Stuart.
- Black Marlin – another great seafood restaurant in downtown Stuart.
- Sailor’s Return – a nice restaurant overlooking a marina with some great food.
I’m sure I’m missing a few other great places to check out, but the above should be more than enough recommendations to get you started once you’re in Stuart, whether on vacation, a business trip, or anything in between!
All photos taken by me.