We thought a quick weekend press trip to Jupiter Beach from our home base in Miami would be an idyllic weekend to sit back and relax on a sandy beach and do lots of “nothing at all,” and yes, there was some of that. But there were a few other fun surprises that turned what was to be a laid-back weekend, into one of the most fun getaways this editor and her family, including two girls ages 6 and 11, has had in a while.
This was a whirlwind trip that included climbing 105 steps to dizzying (at least for this vertigo-suffering editor) heights, coming up-close (about a foot away!) to alligators and strolling along a craggy shoreline “discovering” a mini-Grand Canyon right on the Atlantic Ocean’s doorsteps.
We arrived at the beachfront Jupiter Beach Resort and plunked down our suitcases in our south-facing jr. suite accommodations, an ideal space with two FULL bathrooms—great when three of the family members are girls—and views of the ocean, the neighboring park and city. We headed down almost immediately to explore the shoreline before the sun set, thinking we’d come upon a classic sandy beach, like the type you find in Miami Beach. But we were more than delighted to find a rocky shoreline with tiny cliffs, ideal for sitting down and looking out to the horizon, mini-waterfalls, hidden “coves” and a full-on playground that turned out to be such a kid favorite that my girls wanted to hang out there more than at the pool. Now that’s a first for them!
Another hit was hanging out come nighttime at the hammocks (the resort has four). Kids love this, of course, and we adults love it with drink in hand (the indoor or outdoor bar is more than happy to serve up your favorite drink). Kids—due to their height—have an especially fun time trying to get on and off the hammocks. Unfortunately, the glow from the resort’s firepit wasn’t giving off enough light to catch our little one swinging desperately from the side of the hammock.
The next day we took an early-morning stroll along the shoreline—anyone who sleeps in late while in an Atlantic Ocean beachfront hotel is missing one of nature’s most spectacular spectacles: the sunrise. It really doesn’t get any better than that, especially when you experience it with a dewy-eyed 6-year-old. Add to that the cool morning breeze on one’s cheek, breathing in the fresh ocean air and looking for colorful seashells before the Sunday beach crowd gets there.
After an early-morning stroll with our 6-year-old, I spent the late-afternoon with the 11-year-old touring the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. My husband had to stay with the little one as there are height restrictions for entering the lighthouse. I couldn’t understand why there would be such restrictions in place until I started climbing the 105 steps to the top and with only one handrail and perforated metal stairs that give you a clear picture all the way to the bottom, this is no easy task for someone with a fear of heights—that would be me—or someone teeny-tiny. But I must say, that as much as I don’t love heights, the views from the top are truly gorgeous—the river, the ocean (just keep your back up against the structure and your knees might not give way). Suffice it to say, I was more than happy when we were allowed to start making our way back down, but even if you do have a fear of heights, I highly recommend touring the lighthouse.
And then there was the star of our quick getaway: the gator. Yes, we might be Miami locals, but it’s not like we hang with gators all the time (maybe UF gators, but that’s the extent of it). It all started pretty innocently enough—our press trip itinerary stated, “Canoe paddle ride in Riverbend Park.” “Well, doesn’t that sound nice,” I thought, picturing a nature guide cruising us along the waterways viewing birds and the like. But when we arrived at the park’s visitor’s center to get ourselves organized, we discovered that we were going to be canoeing along the waterways on our own. Well, that’s not too bad, canoeing isn’t that tough, especially for people who are used to being around the water and who’ve kayaked and the like. Then the visitor’s center attendant said one thing that took just a bit of breath out of me: “Once you pass the dam, you’ll get into the real scenic area, with lots of birds, beautiful nature and gators.” Did he just say gators? “You’re kidding, right?” I asked. “Oh no, I’ll be surprised if you don’t see at least one gator.” Well, that started my 11-year-old on a 10-minute conversation with the attendant about gators and how close would we be to them, etc., etc.