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Florida Fan-Fare - Ladue News: Travel

Florida Fan-Fare

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Posted: Thursday, November 10, 2011 3:25 pm | Updated: 10:52 am, Fri Nov 11, 2011.

With the Cardinals’ exhilarating World Series win, excitement already is brewing for next season. The Redbirds are set to make their migration to Jupiter for spring training beginning in late February. And if you belong to Cardinal Nation and have never been, a pilgrimage to Jupiter is an experience not to be missed.

When we visited Jupiter in late March, little did we know what a nerve-wracking roller coaster ride it would be for the team and its fans. The Cards’ home base, Roger Dean Stadium, is only a 10-minute drive from anywhere in the Jupiter area. The ballpark itself is exceptionally clean and wellmaintained, but the best part is how close and intimate fans can get to the players. We sat along the first base side, just a few yards away from Albert Pujols, who’d smile and wave every time he ran back to the dugout. The staff at Roger Dean was a delight. In fact, the vendors seemed to be having more fun than the fans!

Outside of baseball, what else is there to do around town? A more fitting question is what isn’t there to do? The first thing we noticed about Jupiter (in posh Palm Beach County) is how laid-back it is, so we immediately felt at ease as first-time visitors. Upscale shopping, fine dining and a vibrant nightlife abound, and a number of lush, world-class courses makes Jupiter a golfer’s paradise. The beaches are sandy and welcoming, and boating enthusiasts will love the extensive waterways. One can almost get around town by boat faster than by car!

Our host hotel, Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa, sits on the Atlantic Ocean along 1,000 feet of secluded soft-sand beach. Upon arrival, we immediately understood why the hotel calls itself an ‘enclave of barefoot elegance.’ The property’s stately rich mahogany woodwork intermingles with wicker, palm fronds and tropical flowers to create the easy, breezy vibe of a Caribbean plantation. Our eighth-floor guest room, wellappointed with island-style décor, Egyptian cotton linens and feather pillows and a marble bath, had a private balcony overlooking the ocean.

The hotel’s on-site restaurant, Sinclair’s Ocean Grill, is one of the many reasons hotel guests don’t wander far from the property. Sinclair’s is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and also hosts an exceptional weekend brunch that is as elegant as it is family-friendly. Not-to-be-missed menu items include the signature Sinclair’s Quiche (a sweet potato shell filled with scrambled eggs, veggies and smoked salmon), Lobster Crab Cakes and Island Calamari.

Some of our favorite ways to unwind at the resort included quiet time on the private, pristine beach and utter relaxation at The Spa, where they offer everything from a Damask Rose Facial and a combination Swedish-Thai massage guaranteed to transport you into sheer bliss.

Just a stone’s throw away from the hotel is the town’s most recognizable landmark: the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse. Built in 1860 along the Loxahatchee River, the bright red brick structure towers 108 feet (146 feet above sea level) and can be seen 25 miles at sea. The lighthouse went dark during the Civil War but was relit in 1866 and has not missed a night since. Give yourself a couple of hours to visit, as there also is a waterfront museum, as well as outdoor exhibits along the way. The guided tours ($9 for adults, $5 for children) include a climb to the top— highly recommended, but not for everyone. After 35 concrete steps to get to the base of the lighthouse, be prepared to tackle 105 steep iron steps to the lantern room. But the reward when you get there is glorious: a panoramic view of the town and the water as far as the eye could see.

During our stay, we also chose to get off the beaten path. We headed to Riverbend Park, located on the edge of Jupiter. The Loxahatchee runs through here, and is accessible by kayak or canoe rental ($25 to $40) through Canoe Outfitters of Florida. Just let the staff launch you into the water, and start exploring. Guided by the gentle current, we found this to be a fun and relaxing way to spend an afternoon. The cypress canopy and moss hanging from trees provided a hauntingly beautiful, movie-like backdrop. We spotted turtles on logs and tropical birds swooping overhead. Disappointingly, there were no gator sightings, although there were plenty of signs warning us to be on the lookout.

But the highlight of our trip, of course, was Cardinal baseball; and before you know it, it’ll be time root, root, root for the Cardinals once again. Spring Training season tickets are now available through Roger Dean Stadium by calling (561) 799-1345. Individual game tickets go on sale in late January. In addition, Jupiter Beach Resort & Spa has made available exclusive Spring Training packages, including a Diamond Spring Training package for four (from $539/night) that features a ‘Day at the Stadium’ MVP experience, field box tickets and accommodations in an ocean-view suite. Visit jupiterbeachresort.com/packages for more information.

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