Forget the childhood chant that says boys go to Jupiter to get stupider. The truth is we should all go to Jupiter — Florida, that is — to get relaxed and refreshed.

Jupiter holds a special place in my heart as the sleepy beach town my mother and I would escape to for girls’ weekends, just the two of us. An hour north of Broward County, Jupiter offered an escape from the hustle and bustle of South Florida traffic and the beaches flooded with tourists. Years later I finally returned to Jupiter and found that while it’s still beautiful, it has since grown up and become a bit more hip. There have always been outdoor excursions to feed your adventurous side, but now there are culinary gems, too.

Grab your bags and don’t forget your sunscreen. We’re headed to Jupiter!

A quiet South Florida escape awaits in the breathtaking town of Jupiter, Florida.

A quiet South Florida escape awaits in the breathtaking town of Jupiter, Florida.

Friday

Fly into West Palm Beach International and rent a car. The drive to Jupiter shouldn’t take you more than 30 minutes. If you’d like a more secluded hotel, you can stay at the Jupiter Beach Resort, but I recommend staying at the Wyndham Grand in Harbourside Place. The mixed-use development is on the water with plenty of restaurants within the vicinity.

After checking in, head over to the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. It sits on the northern part of the inlet and offers sweeping views of the harbor and ocean. But, you have to earn it by climbing up 105 narrow steps. While you’re up there, peek at the lighthouse’s lens. It’s the original lens that’s been in use since 1822.

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse offers sweeping views of this gorgeous South Florida town.

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse offers sweeping views of this gorgeous South Florida town.

When you’re ready to unwind for the evening head back to Harbourside Place for dinner at Calaveras Cantina. “Calavera” means “skull” in Spanish, and you’ll immediately recognize the motif used throughout the restaurant. Besides the skulls, Calaveras has a cheery atmosphere, and you’ll easily want to stay the whole night. The owner, Curtis Peery, is a fifth-generation Floridian who has a deep appreciation for Mexican culture. After working in the corporate restaurant world in various cities around the country, he brought his talents back home to open up his own place.

Cool off with a watermelon margarita, concocted with Maestro Dobel Diamonte, fresh watermelon, cointreau, muddled jalapeño and lime juice. The jalapeño and watermelon play off each other balancing the sweet and spicy flavors. I also love the infused tequilas, like the Case Noble Silver infused with pineapple and vanilla, served on the rocks. It’s a great way to enjoy a drink that’s a bit lighter than the cocktails.

As far as food goes, you can’t go wrong with the classics, like the nachos matador with brisket, black beans and lime crema; but, also try one of the more creative dishes like the duck confit empanadas. Save room for dessert: the Calaveras churros are made fresh to order and served with a goat’s milk caramel sauce that is to die for.

How delicious does a watermelon margarita sound right about now?

How delicious does a watermelon margarita sound right about now?

The nachos at Calaveras are, in a word, AMAZING!

The nachos at Calaveras are, in a word, AMAZING!

And don't forget to try the house-made churros ...

And don’t forget to try the house-made churros …

If you’re in the dancing mood, mosey on over to Harbourside Place’s amphitheater where there’s live music nearly every Friday night. What better way to begin the weekend than grooving by the water?

Saturday

Start your day with the breakfast of champions: doughnuts from the Jupiter Donut Factory. Get there early! The shop is crazy popular with the locals, and they will sell out if you’re not quick enough. They make classic doughnuts like chocolate cake and Boston cream, but the real gems are the creative flavors like carrot cake and key lime pie, or whatever they’ve dreamed up that day. They even make their own special coffee blend to pair with your doughnuts.

A Jupiter Donut factory treat is a must while in town.

A Jupiter Donut Factory treat is a must while in town.

I’ve found that one of the best ways to explore coastal towns is through their waterways, specifically in a kayak. You can do this any time of day but it’s especially ideal in the morning when the heat is only simmering and the waterways are less crowded. Kayaking in an unfamiliar area can be daunting, which is why we loved our tour with Ricardo of Blueline Surf & Paddle Company.

Enjoy a little kayak-style exploration with the help of Blueline Surf

Enjoy a little kayak-style exploration with the help of Blueline Surf & Paddle Company. Image: Instagram

A surf shop perfectly situated on one of the canals off the harbor, Blueline also offers hourly kayak rentals (or stand-up paddleboards, if you have the core strength) and tour guides for an additional fee. We lucked out with Ricardo, a Jupiter native who is passionate about his city’s natural habitat and knows it like the back of his hand. We weaved through the canals, managing to avoid the mangroves jutting out along the way. Eventually we made it to a sand bar where we were able to take a break from paddling and splash around for a bit before heading back.

Once the hunger pangs set in, your best bet is to head to one of the restaurants on the water for lunch with a view, like Square Grouper. It smacks a bit of “tourist,” but you really can’t beat the view or fresh seafood. Plus they’re within walking distance of Blueline.

Enjoy a harbor-side lunch at the Square Grouper.

Enjoy a harbor-side lunch at the Square Grouper.

After lunch, get a sugar pick-me-up at Coral Cones, just down the street. The cool shop beckons you with promises of creamy, delicious ice cream scoops. The ice cream is made with all-natural milk, and the waffle cones are made fresh in-house.

One of the coolest attractions in Jupiter is the Loggerhead Marinelife Center, a sea turtle rehabilitation facility. Technically it’s in Juno Beach, but it’s just over the border and you’d be otherwise unaware. The 30-year-old organization rescues injured sea turtles and nurses them back to health before releasing them back into the ocean (when possible). While in the center’s care, the turtles live in huge open-air tanks that are off limits to the hands of visitors but plenty visible. The tanks list the turtles’ names and explain their ailments as well as their updates. It’s actually a very eye-opening experience to learn about the effects our actions have on sea creatures, given that many of them come in because they were entangled in netting or snagged by fishing hooks.

An enthusiastic crowd applauds as Lilly the turtle makes her way back the sea, completely rehabbed thanks to the brilliant teams at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Image: Facebook

An enthusiastic crowd applauds as Lilly the turtle makes her way back the sea, completely rehabbed thanks to the brilliant teams at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. Image: Facebook

On top of good feelings and an educational experience, Loggerhead also offers a really affordable excursion as admission is donation-based. They suggest a $5 donation per person, but you may find it hard to resist the souvenirs in the gift shop (and all proceeds go back the center).

After leaving the center, head back up to Carlin Park in Jupiter for some Vitamin Sea. The park has free parking and plenty of beach access.

If you like your Saturday nights to be a bit on the fancier side (like I do), then make a reservation at Sinclair’s Ocean Grill, an upscale restaurant in the Jupiter Beach Resort. Their service is on point and the seafood dishes are fabulous. I especially enjoyed the seared diver scallops with an aromatic vanilla bean beurre blanc.

The seared diver scallops with an aromatic vanilla bean beurre blanc at Sinclair's is a divine dish.

The seared diver scallops with an aromatic vanilla bean beurre blanc at Sinclair’s is a divine dish.

On the other hand, if dressing up on a beach vacation isn’t for you (I get it), then I would head to Schooners for a relaxed environment and delicious fried seafood. There’s even a patio if you want to soak in those ocean breezes. Don’t forget to end the evening with a slice of their homemade key lime pie!

Pink sky at night? Sailor's delight! Get some rest as there's still one more half-day of Jupiter to enjoy.

Pink sky at night? Sailor’s delight! Get some rest as there’s still one more half-day of Jupiter to enjoy.

Sunday

Before indulging in a boozy brunch, steal away for a few moments of serenity at Blowing Rocks Preserve. Just a few miles north of the hotel, you’ll find this destination down an unpaved path. At first it may look like an ordinary beach, but look again and you’ll notice waves crashing against huge rocks creating breathtaking splashes. The rocks are actually Anastasia limestone, which makes up most of Florida’s eastern coastline (it’s just most exposed in Jupiter). Grab the camera as you’ll want to snap pics of the impressive water displays, which can sometimes reach 50 feet in the air.

The water can get as high as 50 feet in the air at Blowing Rocks.

The water can get as high as 50 feet in the air at Blowing Rocks Preserve.

The calm before the waves come crashing in and spewing water ...

The calm before the waves come crashing in and spewing water …

With the morning’s activity done and an appetite worked up, head southwest to Aaron’s Table and Wine Bar. It opened this year and delights guests with creative takes on American cuisine. Brunch is classic, with dishes like salmon bagels and avocado fried egg sandwiches. They also have a bottomless mimosa bar, perfect for filling your belly and easing your nerves before you head back home.

Until next time, Jupiter!

All photos by Lia Picard unless otherwise noted.

Plan your Jupiter getaway with the help of The Palm Beaches website. Click here to start exploring.

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