Best Road Trips For Orlando Residents: Jupiter Island
165 Miles | 2 hours: 45 minutes Drive Time
Bridge Road is the grand entrance to Jupiter Island. Motorists are often surprised by the beauty of this two-lane road, cocooned by ancient banyan trees. Aerial prop roots wrap around the trunks of these huge trees in layers, resulting in a design only Mother Nature could create. Above, branches form a tunnel-like canopy, making the drive almost mystical. In fact, folks have been known to drive Bridge Road, just to make a U-turn at the Hobe Sound Beach parking lot, and repeat the experience, snapping photos the second time around.
Jupiter Island, a piece of paradise north of Palm Beach, boasts some of Florida’s most expensive real estate: it’s been called home by Tiger Woods and Celine Dion. When you arrive, you’ll find cozy Hobe Sound Beach Park, with lifeguards and dog-friendly stretches. Its wide shoreline, edged with Florida scrub and golden beach sunflowers, is ideal for a stroll or dip in the Atlantic. From here, Beach Road cuts through the barrier island’s discreet, sophisticated neighborhood. Drive south and white tile roofs of multimillion-dollar oceanfront estates can be spied behind walls of shapely sea grape trees and manicured ficus hedges with splashes of pink petunias. Bicyclists love this road. If you find yourself also wanting to navigate Jupiter Island on two wheels, visit Village Bike in downtown Hobe Sound, where you can rent a beach cruiser or electric bike and join the regulars.
Continuing down Beach Road, you’ll reach Blowing Rocks Preserve. This lesser-known natural treasure is home to the largest outcropping of Anastasia limestone found on the Atlantic coast. Composed of fossils, sand, and shell and coral fragments, the limestone extends from Boca Raton north to St. Augustine, but is commonly found underground or underwater. However, on Jupiter Island, the jagged rock is exposed. Wind and waves have carved burrows, chimneys, shelves and blowholes into the now craggy shore. For a spectacular show, visit at high tide when the sea is rough and waves break against the rocks, forcing plumes of saltwater up to 50 feet skyward in a dramatic display of nature’s power. Walk the beach to the outcropping and then hike the Beach Dune Trail under a shady tangle of sea grape branches. On the park’s Indian River Lagoon side, you can explore mangroves.
For shopping, dining and art, head to downtown Hobe Sound. A self-guided tour—driving, walking or bicycling—of the town’s murals is a fun way to discover this relaxed neighborhood. Area artists painted 23 exterior walls with beach scenes, Old Florida landscapes, local birds and more. Maps to guide your exploration are available at the chamber of commerce.
As you meander you’ll come upon indie boutiques such as Lavish Pineapple, chock-full of home décor items inspired by the sea, and Juno Shoe Girl Boutique, where bling-studded flip-flops and colorful resort wear fill the racks. Among the newest restaurants to open their doors is Hobe Sound Social & Coffee, a friendly hangout opened by Orlandoan Jenny Doria. On Main Street, Taylor Beach House Café serves up cocktails around a fire pit, and guests enjoy Chef Christopher Taylor’s coconut-crusted snapper to the sounds of live music.
Up the coast, right smack on the Atlantic, sits Hutchinson Shores Resort & Spa. Flanked by undeveloped stretches of beach, the upscale property offers amazing watery views. Open the door to an oceanfront room on the 5th floor and you’re greeted by sky, waves and water creating an illusion that you could walk right into the sea. The Atlantic roars 24/7, and like gentle background music soothes you into a vacation mood. Sit on the balcony, soak it all in, and watch surfers ride waves.
Indulging in seafood is a must when visiting a coastal town. In the fishing village of Port Salerno, diners find casual restaurants on the water’s edge at Manatee Pocket. The Twisted Tuna, with an outdoor bar steps from fishing vessels and dockside cornhole games, is a fun place to quaff a cold beer. Seafood staples, from fish dip to conch fritters, are on the menu, and the signature Twisted Grouper Sub, a generous piece of fried fish topped with cheese and Calypso sauce, is big enough to share.
At the Fish House Art Center, Gail Kosowski works her potter’s wheel and kiln turning out custom pottery in all shapes and sizes. In another studio, Elizabeth Kelly is busy on a loom, creating original hand-woven “Salerno Shoulder Wraps” from vibrant colored yarns. Nestled between the two, Jennifer Schilling displays her artistic take on kids clothing embellished with paint and sparkle. Once a working fish house, the old building tucked in Port Salerno, now houses studios and art galleries where local creativity thrives.