Downtown Stuart Florida

Downtown Stuart remains the city’s — and county’s — focal point. Aside from the shopping, dining and entertainment, it’s simply a great place to stroll. Not only are there historic buildings aplenty — the Lyric dates from 1926 — but downtown streets lead to a promenade along the St. Lucie River. Community events like jazz concerts and arts and crafts shows are often held along the streets or on the promenade.

At the same time, a more cosmopolitan element comes into play downtown, where a New Urbanist-style redevelopment plan was put in place two decades ago that encouraged pedestrian-friendly design and welcomed merchants of all kinds: a sandal shop, a pottery studio, an ice cream parlor and fudge emporium. The result is both homey and upscale — think Opie gone yuppie — that’s vaguely reminiscent of the Greenwich Village of decades ago.

a New York real estate developer who bought property in downtown Stuart a few years ago. He still has an apartment in New York, but for all intents and purposes, Stuart is home. “It’s my own mini-Manhattan,” he said.

But there’s also an emphasis on all things aquatic in Stuart, because Martin County not only fronts the Atlantic, but also incorporates parts of the St. Lucie and Indian Rivers and extends all the way west to Lake Okeechobee, the largest freshwater lake in the South.

“We offer world-class fishing in all three genres — freshwater, inshore saltwater and offshore saltwater,” said Mike Holliday, a local charter-boat captain. But Martin also has outdoor adventures of other kinds, from horseback riding to hiking, particularly at local preserves and state parks, like Jonathan Dickinson State Park.