Tucked behind a lake with a fountain spraying water high into the air and a wall of lush green plants is the entrance to Tim Hooper Family Park. I was surrounded by nature as I strolled along the wooden plank path. It winds through arches of oak and palm trees. Finally, the opening leads to the beautiful St. Lucie River. Gazing out, I can see the reflection of the sun which appears to be painted on the rippling water. What a spectacular scene–ospreys, otters, and water access!

This riverwalk attracts a wide range of people, from families with children taking selfies, chatting teen friends, and couples fishing. I observed a husband and wife spending their evening casting lines into the river. They caught a blue grab. It was their first visit here. A baby sting ray and alligator were spotted earlier in the evening. Another couple just got their bait nibbled on. This a great place to relax, people watch, fish, or just soak in the beautiful sherbet colors of the sun setting over the palm trees. It reminds me of a Highwaymen painting. Off to the next stop, I headed back along the well-lit trail to the parking lot.
Just a short drive (or walk) away is the Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens. Jazz Jams performances are held here every other Wednesday. A small admission fee of six dollars is the price for nonmembers of the botanical gardens. I thought this was really inexpensive for a three hour live concert. As sweet soulful music filled the night air, feet started tapping, heads bobbing, and bodies were swaying to and fro. The crowd was softly singing along to familiar tunes. The band is composed of members of the Fort Pierce Jazz and Blues Society. One gentleman belted out tunes on an antique tenor saxophone. The rest of the talented ensemble played bass, keyboard, and drums. Scat Man served as singer, master of ceremony, and stand-up comedian.

Intermission offers time to mingle with the artists, snack on cookies, or wander through the garden of flowering plants and bamboo trees. It’s a perfect playground for butterflies and bees. After intermission, guests were invited to participate with the band. A local woman sang several love songs. Some children were dancing to the rumba while an audience member played the maracas. A mix of generations gathered for this jamming event and it was a pleasure to watch so many folks come together through the joy of music & art.

Tip: Bring some extra cash for the donation basket for music student scholarships.

Enjoying nature on the riverwalk boardwalk and listening to melodic music…what a wonderful evening it was in Port St. Lucie.

Betsy Delano is a visual communications and advertising professional. She graduated with honors fromĀ Florida State University. In 1979, she relocated from Pennsylvania and became a St. Lucie County resident. Her passions include Pittsburgh sports, photography, raising two daughters, and Girl Scouts.