By  Mike Miller  Updated August 16, 2023

Stuart, Florida Things To Do, Lodging, Dining, & Real Estate At End Of Article

Stuart is an attractive and bustling town of about 16,000 people located on what in recent years has been designated as the "Treasure Coast"

It is located on the east coast of Florida about halfway between north Palm Beach and Vero Beach.

Stuart Sailfish FountainStuart Sailfish Fountain
Flickr/Mitch Kloorfain


Native American tribes occupied the area for thousands of years before the first pioneer settlers arrived.

In the 1700s many Spanish galleons were lost in storms off the coast of this area, and millions of dollars in gold and silver went down with the ships.

Aerial View Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge in 1955Aerial View Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge in 1955
Florida Memory, State Archives

In 1875 a United States Lifesaving Station, Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge, was established on Hutchinson Island, the barrier island across the Indian River from Stuart.

The name referred to a shallow sandbar in the Atlantic ocean where many ships ran aground during storms.  It was reportedly named for an early pirate named Pedro Gilbert.

Gilbert lured ships into the the bar, and when they ran aground he looted the ship and in one case attempted to kill the crew.  He was eventually captured and executed in 1835.

As more settlers moved in, the community became known as Potsdam after the German home town of an early settler.

Downtown Stuart in the 1940sDowntown Stuart in the 1940s

The Florida East Coast Railway came to town in 1892, and the town was renamed Stuart in 1895.

According to Allen Morris's "Florida Place Names," the name was chosen to honor Samuel C. Stuart, the first telegraph operator and railroad station agent. 


Treasure has been discovered on the beaches near Stuart over the years since the Spanish ships sank, and people are still having fun looking for more.

Modern treasure for Stuart and Martin County comes from the many new upscale waterfront and golf course developments.

The town has a wonderful location where Hobe Sound and the Indian River Lagoon come together at St. Lucie Inlet and the Atlantic Ocean.

The town is surrounded by water: the St. Lucie River has a north fork and south fork.

Manatee Pocket is a natural hurricane harbor located just south of St. Lucie Inlet with the small fishing village of Port Salerno.

Sewell's Point is an elegant older Stuart neighborhood with the Indian River Lagoon on its east and the St. Lucie River to its west.

Marina on St Lucie River in StuartMarina on St Lucie River in Stuart

As one drives around Stuart, it is hard not to be near beautiful water. This abundance of waterfront has made Stuart a marine service center.

There are several first class marinas and boatyards in the area, and a charter fishing fleet that specializes in taking sport fishing enthusiasts out to battle and catch sailfish in the ocean.

The beautiful beaches of the Atlantic Ocean on Hutchinson Island are accessible from the causeway at nearby Jensen Beach.

Gilbert's Bar House of RefugeGilbert's Bar House of Refuge

The original House of Refuge has been preserved and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also listed now and then as one of the most haunted places in Florida.

It is open to the public and is home to an interesting museum. 

Port Salerno Fishman's CottagePort Salerno Fishman's Cottage

Manatee Pocket is well known by boaters as a natural "hurricane hole", as good a place to take shelter in a bad storm as any harbor along the east coast of Florida.

Boatyards and Marinas on Manatee PocketBoatyards and Marinas on Manatee Pocket

The shoreline of Manatee Pocket is busy with fishing related enterprises like charter boats, commercial fishing boats, marinas, boatyards, and seafood restaurants.

Port Salerno Mullet FishermanPort Salerno Mullet Fisherman
State Archives of Florida

Manatee Pocket is the location of the old working waterfront town of Port Salerno.


Bathtub Reef Beach, 1585 SE MacArthur Blvd - A popular spot for snorkeling and swimming with its shallow waters, the beach also features a natural reef system that's home to a variety of marine life.

The Elliott Museum, 825 NE Ocean Blvd - This museum showcases the rich history of Martin County, with exhibits on local art, classic cars, and Americana, along with interactive displays.

The House of Refuge Museum, 301 SE MacArthur Blvd - A historic landmark that was once a haven for shipwrecked sailors, this museum offers tours of its restored facilities and exhibits on local maritime history.

Stuart Green Market, 121 SW Flagler Ave - Held every Sunday morning, this farmers market features locally-grown produce, artisanal crafts, and live music.

Shepard Park, 600 SW Ocean Blvd - A scenic waterfront park that offers fishing, boating, and picnic areas, as well as a playground and splash pad for kids.

Sailfish Splash Waterpark, 931 SE Ruhnke St - A family-friendly water park with slides, lazy rivers, and a wave pool, along with a kiddie area and concessions.

The Riverwalk Boardwalk, 49 SW Seminole St - A scenic walkway that runs along the St. Lucie River, with benches, shade trees, and views of the local wildlife.

The Lyric Theatre, 59 SW Flagler Ave - A beautifully restored theater that hosts a variety of live performances, including concerts, plays, and comedy shows.

The Treasure Coast Square Mall, 3174 NW Federal Hwy - A large shopping center with over 100 stores, including major retailers, restaurants, and a movie theater.

The Florida Oceanographic Coastal Center, 890 NE Ocean Blvd - A nature center that features interactive exhibits on local marine life, along with a butterfly garden, nature trails, and a gift shop.


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