The white sand beaches of Miami, the crazy theme parks of Orlando... when it comes to attractions, Florida has an overwhelming abundance of them. It is after all, one of the most traveled-to destinations of the US, hosting a whopping 80 million tourists every year.
However, beyond the beaten touristy path is some of the most breathtaking, picturesque towns and rural communitiesto explore. One of these is Jupiter, Florida, which has been named by Coastal Living in 2012 as the Ninth Happiest Seaside Town in America.
Thinking of taking a family vacation? Here are the top 10 reasons to make Jupiter, Florida a must stop on your trip to South Florida:
Also called the "Jupiter Inlet Light", this local landmark is a must-see for history buffs. For thousands of years, the land where the lighthouse stands was used by ancient Indian tribesmen as a meeting place. This is understandable since the site, located at the intersection of Jupiter Inlet and the Indian River, was strategic, military-wise. The US Army took note of this fact, and preparations were then made in 1854 to construct a lighthouse on a 6.5 acre site on Fort Jupiter. The tower was finally completed on 1860.
Today, families can take climbing tours on the lighthouse as well as visit exhibits in the museum located on-site. Beautiful breezy vistas are your reward for the climb. Be sure to wear proper foot wear for the climb.
Kid-friendly trails galore! For outdoorsy families with small kids who love to go trekking and hiking, the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is the place-to-be. Not only can kids get their fill of fresh air and the great outdoors, they also get to learn more about Florida's native flora and fauna. The sanctuary is both a nature center and wildlife hospital after all. Along the nature trails are pine flatwoods and cypress wetlands. There are also wildlife habitats of bears, eagles, panthers, snakes and all other kinds of interesting animals. A trip to this place is a sure treat for both kids and adults alike. Everything is manageable even for visitors with shorter legs. Donations are appreciated but otherwise no admission charged.
Burt Reynolds Park is where all the boating enthusiasts in Jupiter congregate. The park, which has a land area of 35.5 acres, is located alongside the Intracoastal Waterway. There are six available ramps for boat launching that the public can use freely (though a Boat Trailer Parking Permit is required for those who want to launch boats on the Waterway). For those who prefer to boat-watch instead, there are picnic areas with grills at the park, as well as a playground and a volleyball court. Burt Reynolds also houses the popular River Center, which plays host to educational aquarium exhibits and special programming year-round. The River Center is an excellent place to go to learn about Florida’s First National Wild and Scenic River.
For those who want a bit more action in their family vacation, they can go head out to the Palm Beach International Raceway, located west of Jupiter. While not exactly a well-known tourist destination, the Raceway is a great fun to visit. Both professional racers and spectators alike can go and race their vehicles on the quarter mile race trip, no matter how slow or how fast their car is. However, only those who are aged 18 and above can enter the hot pit. For those who prefer to watch the races instead, they can easily get hold of tickets online or on their website.
As the location of the final great battle of the Second Seminole War, the Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park is a destination that is steeped in rich history. Though the park was originally part of the larger Riverbend Park in Jupiter Farms, the non-profit organization Loxahatchee Battlefield Preservationists moved to separate 64 acres of the battlefield and turn it into a park of its own. And thus, in 2010, the Loxahatchee River Battlefield was born. The Battlefield Preservationists are still in charge of its restoration and upkeep; there are picnic spots, and kayak rentals, as well as bike and walking trails. Best of all, admission to the park is FREE. Try to schedule a visit for when you can take one of their docent-led history tours. Fall Muster and their reenactment of the 2nd Seminole War Battle in January are also wonderful ways to bring Florida history to life,