A Natural Beauty

Stash your laptop and turn off your cell phone. You will not want to miss a moment when you visit the Treasure Coast of Florida, a destination that truly lives up to its name.

In the morning saddle up and ride horses on a pristine beach. In the afternoon hop aboard a swamp buggy and take photos of alligators tortoises and eagles. And at night during certain months embark on a guided tour of sea turtles laying eggs.

The Treasure Coast is full of outdoor activities and it is a natural paradise that is conveniently located off Interstate 95 and the Florida Turnpike halfway between Miami and Orlando.

Indian River County

Home to two national wildlife refuges Indian River County is an eco-tourist's dream.

Birds are the main attraction at Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge (www.fws.gov/pelicanisland). Hike trails climb an observation tower or take a boat tour to see more than 130 species of birds. Pelican Island was declared the first National Wildlife Refuge in the United States by President Theodore Roosevelt. Pelican Island is nestled in the Indian River Lagoon which is considered the most biologically diverse estuary in North America. At Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge (www.fws.gov/archiecarr) take a guided walk along the beach and witness turtles laying eggs at night. Tours are usually held during June and July; reservations are required.

Next visit McKee Botanical Garden in Vero Beach (www.mckeegarden.org). This historic Florida landmark houses a significant collection of water lilies and restored architectural pieces.

Also in Vero Beach is the Environmental Learning Center (www.discoverelc.org). Board a pontoon boat to view dolphins alligators and pelicans.

Afterward bask on three miles of beaches at Sebastian Inlet State Park (www.floridastateparks.org/sebastianinlet) or go canoeing kayaking or surfing.

St. Lucie County

Start the day with a beautiful horseback ride along the secluded beaches of Hutchinson Island (http://www.visitstluciefla.com/horseback_riding.htm) one of the few places in Florida that allows horses on the beach. Rides begin at Frederick Douglass Memorial Park; reservations are required.

In Fort Pierce take a unique motorized kayak tour on the Indian River Lagoon (www.motorizedkayakadventures.com) and effortlessly navigate your kayak under the direction of an experienced guide into an eco-system that few have witnessed. Kayaking through a densely canopied mangrove jungle is like stepping back in time.

Beauty and serenity can be found at Heathcote Botanical Gardens (www.heathcotebotanicalgardens.org). Explore the Japanese Garden which features the largest garden display of tropical bonsai trees in the nation.

Get a glimpse into ocean science research at Ocean Discovery Center (www.fau.edu/hboi/OceanDiscoveryCenter.php) which is part of Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute (www.fau.edu/hboi/OceanDiscoveryCenter.php) at Florida Atlantic University. Check out interactive exhibits and marine displays including a life-sized reconstruction of the jaws of the extinct prehistoric Megalodon shark.

Martin County

Experience Florida the way it used to be at Jonathan Dickinson State Park (www.floridastateparks.org/jonathandickinson). Paddle the Loxahatchee River (www.loxahatcheeriver.org) the first federally designated Wild and Scenic River in Florida and inspect the cabin of an old alligator trapper. Pitch a tent and camp under the stars.

Experience the most diverse estuary in North America with Sunshine Wildlife Tours (www.sunshinewildlifetours.com). You can see bottlenose dolphin manatee sea turtles and more. Or visit an island that is home to 14 different species of birds.

Learning comes to life at Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center (www.floridaocean.org). See stingrays tarpon and snook in the outdoor lagoon or get hands-on with sea stars and conch in “touch tanks.”

At high tide head to Blowing Rocks Preserve (www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/florida/preserves/art5522.html) a magnificent barrier island sanctuary. Do not forget your camera – when the seas break against the rocks saltwater shoots up to 50 feet into the air creating a natural phenomenon.

US Customs opening in 2013 at Stuart Airport.

This article was brought to you by the
Indian River County Chamber of Commerce the St. Lucie County Tourist Development Council and the Martin County Convention and Visitors Bureau. To plan your trip to the Treasure Coast visit www.indianriverchamber.com www.visitstluciefla.com and www.DiscoverMartin.com. {autohide_off}

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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