Incorporated in 1925, the city of Jupiter is in northern Palm Beach County and is part of the Miami metropolitan area, which is the state’s largest population center, home to more than six million residents.
Jupiter is between Lake Okeechobee to the west and The Bahamas, which lie off the Atlantic coast to the east.
Ranked as one of the country’s most pleasant and livable coastal towns by a well-known travel magazine, it’s full of beautiful beaches, cultural and natural attractions.
In many ways, Jupiter is the quaint and rural yin to Miami’s stylish and exclusive yang.
Below are my 15 best things to do in and around Jupiter, Florida.
1. Jupiter Lighthouse Park
Managed by the Loxahatchee River Historical Society, Jupiter Lighthouse and Park has been open to the public since 1973 and sits on a 120-acre site that affords some of the coast’s most magnificent views.
Guided and unguided tours of the facility are available; I was able to use my phone as an audio guide, so I got the same great info but could go at my own pace.
It’s possible to climb to the top of the lighthouse, though it’s an activity best left to the fit and fearless.
Children must be at least four feet tall to trek to the top of the lighthouse.
2. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Nature is a recurring theme in my article, and I have to begin with this non-profit organization, helping to protect and conserve Florida’s natural resources since 1983.
The Busch Wildlife Sanctuary provides medical care and rehab for up to 6,000 animals at any time, with the goal of returning them to the natural habitats once they’ve recovered.
The sanctuary does important work, but visitors are still welcome. There’s an interactive discovery center, as well as a trail through cypress wetlands, oak hammocks and pine flatwoods.
On your walk you’ll get to see black bears, gators, crocodiles, river otters, a host of native birds, and more.
3. Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Open seven days a week and located in Hobe Sound just a few minutes from Jupiter, Jonathan Dickinson State Park is the largest park in southeast Florida and offers visitors a wide array of activity options.
For those who want to burn some calories and see the park at the same time, canoe, kayak, and bicycle rentals are available. Guided tour options by boat, canoe, horseback, and buggy are available as well.
Something right up my street here is Palmettos on the Loxahatchee, the trendy food and beverage area featuring wine, beer, and a full menu consisting mainly of items made with locally grown and produced ingredients.
4. Dupuis Nature Center
Providing a wide range of recreational activities on its more than 20,000 acres, the Dupuis Nature Center contains a variety of natural environments, including pine forests, marshes, and cypress swamps.
The nature center is primarily a community-based education center that targets nearly every segment of the local population with hands-on, interactive, and educational programs and events that are fun and entertaining.
Some of the most popular events are their guided evening stargazing tours that are led by center staff.
For a complete schedule of their events and programs, click on the ‘Community Events’ section of their website.
5. Carlin Park
With nearly 3,000 feet of white sandy beach that slopes gently into the aquamarine ocean, Carlin Park is located on State Route A1A in Jupiter and is open daily from sunrise to sunset. It offers six lighted tennis courts that are open until 9:00 PM.
The park’s beach is my idea of perfect, and has defined swimming areas staffed by lifeguards, complemented by nearby picnic tables, pavilions, and several age-specific playgrounds.
After a long day of exerting activities like swimming, volleyball, and tennis, visitors appreciate the outdoor showers and relaxing café; it’s my perfect place to unwind with a cold beverage.
6. Riverbend Park
Tropical nature and history are entwined at this public space on the Loxahatchee River, designated a National and Scenic River.
The landscape is dotted with Native American middens, and right next door, the Loxahatchee River Battlefield Park preserves the site of a battle from the Seminole War (1816-1858).
You can make your way through the fern-bedded woods on hiking, bicycling and horseback riding trails. In fact, there’s a bike rental service at the Jupiter Outdoor Center, right in the park.
In my view, the best way to enjoy Riverbend Park is by renting a kayak and taking an easy paddle downriver through the cypress swamp.
You’ll see wildlife like turkeys and deer on the banks, as well as a lot of gators.
7. The Loxahatchee River Center
A minor attraction with major appeal, the Loxahatchee River Center is at Burt Reynolds Park, close to where the river meets the Atlantic.
In a hut-style setting, the beautifully presented aquariums and interactive exhibits here give you a complete overview of the wildlife of the river, from its headwaters in Palm Beach County to the coral reefs in Jupiter Inlet.
If you’re visiting with kids, I put the center up there with the best places to spend an hour or two in Jupiter.
As well as a kaleidoscopic array of fish, you can check out turtles and alligators up close, while the kids can get hands-on at the touch tank with harmless animals like sea urchins.
8. Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium
Florida has a special place in the baseball world, as the Spring Training venue for 15 MLB franchises.
Jupiter gets in on the action too: The Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium (1998) serves as the spring home of the St. Louis Cardinals and the Miami Marlins.
There’s an extended baseball season at this 6,871-seat stadium, because the Jupiter Hammerheads and the Palm Beach Cardinals of the Florida State League also play their home games here.
Independence Day weekend is always a blast, with a Mega Kids Area, live music, a golf cart parade, block party and post-game fireworks.
When I wrote this list the stadium was going through some long-awaited upgrades, improving both the fan and team facilities.
9. Maltz Jupiter Theatre
One man with a strong connection to Jupiter was the actor Burt Reynolds (1936-2018).
He moved to Riviera Beach as a child with his family, and lived in a mansion in Jupiter that had previously been owned by Al Capone.
In the late 1970s he opened the Burt Reynolds Dinner Theater here, helping to nurture young talent like Sarah Jessica Parker, while stars like Liza Minelli gave classes.
Since 2004 this venue has been known as the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, a 554-seat professional playhouse staging an eclectic array of productions over the last 20+ years.
On the menu are dramatic works, Broadway-standard musicals, concerts, and family shows, attracting audiences of 100,000+ each season.
I watched a performance of Jersey Boys here not long ago, and was blown away by the show, and impressed with the standard of the facilities.
10. Norton Museum of Art
Located on South Olive Avenue in West Palm Beach, the Norton Museum of Art has been around since the early ’40s and includes thousands of pieces of art from around the globe.
Though many of the museum’s pieces are centuries old, they’ve got an impressive collection of contemporary art as well, and feature some examples from noted masters like Picasso and Monet.
I could spend hours looking at the European collections, running the gamut from Rubens to Gauguin.
In addition to their permanent exhibits, the museum often hosts temporary ones, which many visitors find just as unique and alluring.
Don’t forget to take advantage of their gardens, gift shop, restaurant, and stylish coffee bar before hitting the road.
11. Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
Operating under the philosophy that the best way to ensure the preservation of the natural environment for tomorrow is by providing education today, the Oxbow Eco-Center is more than 200 acres of land that’s part classroom, part field laboratory, and part wildlife sanctuary.
Oxbow Eco-Center isn’t just another look-but-don’t-touch facility, as there’s a calendar of guided nature experiences; I came for a late-season guided hike that was engaging, educational, and entertaining all at once.
For those unfamiliar with the area’s ecology and plant and animal life, there’s no better place to see it all up-close.
The center is located in Port St. Lucie, an easy drive from Jupiter.
12. The Wick Theatre and Costume Museum
For those looking to experience a little bit of the Big Apple in the heart of Boca, taking in a show, a tour, or both at the Wick Theatre and Costume Museum would be a great way to do so.
The museum began in 2013 when an underused auditorium with more than 300 seats was purchased to house the one-of-a-kind costume collection, and the community theatre wasn’t far behind.
Since then, the venue has been providing high-quality performing arts for a fraction of what you’d pay in larger metropolitan areas.
Tour, show, and dinner packages are available for those who’d like to experience the whole shebang.
13. The Town Center at Boca Raton
Though there are plenty of modest and reasonably priced shopping areas in Florida, the state has a rep for upmarket destinations that are often the exclusive haunts of the fabulously wealthy.
The Town Center at Boca Raton is my idea of exclusive, full of premium fashion brands like Saks Fifth Avenue, Cartier, and Neiman Marcus, to name a few.
In addition to retail facilities, there are a variety of dining options. There’s even valet parking service perfect for those who’d rather let the hired help park their Bentley.
The town center is conveniently located just off Interstate 95.
14. Peanut Island
If you’ve never heard of Peanut Island, that’s OK because neither had I until recently. This 79-acre islet is a local gem that’s off the beaten path and only accessible by boat.
It’s small as islands go, but offers visitors a variety of recreation options, including camping, fishing, swimming, and snorkeling.
The boat ride takes about 15 minutes and runs at a variety of times throughout the day, every day of the week. There’s plenty of room onboard for those lugging their beach gear.
Camping carries an additional charge to the island’s regular entrance fee, and the facilities are relatively rustic.
15. Manatee Lagoon
Other than the alligator, no animal represents Florida more than the slow-moving and adorable Manatee.
Located near the warm water outlet of the Florida Power and Light Company’s Riviera Beach Plant, Manatee Lagoon is the best chance that most guests will ever have to see the amazing sea cows in their natural environment.
From November until March is when visitors will have the highest likelihood of seeing these massive aquatic herbivores; they’re occasionally accompanied by newborn calves that seek out the warm water when ocean temperatures are at their coldest.
I really enjoyed the visitor center, filled with informative exhibits about this gentle but threatened species.
Located on North Flagler in West Palm Beach, it is free to visit.