Treasure Coast Insider

Helping you understand the real estate market, as well as how to best navigate it are our top priority. We'll share tips on every aspect of successful buying, selling, and investing. Learn what's happening on the Treasure Coast. You'll find everything from local real estate market statistics and home values, to community events, restaurants, beaches, golf, and much more. That’s because we care about our communities and want to help you find your place in it. As your Treasure Coast Insider blogger, and local resident for over 30 years, you'll find an abundance of information for all age groups and interests. 

If you want to know where the best local dog-friendly parks are found, or the only-known-to-locals beaches hide, you'll find them here. The best golf courses, marinas, festivals, rodeos, playhouses, senior living activities and dancing are all shared here. If state and local parks interest you, learn what each offers in amenities and uniqueness to our beautiful area. Even restaurant discounts can be found on Treasure Coast Insider.

If you're thinking of selling your home, your first step should be obtaining the current market value of your property. For an instant valuation, complete your address below...

Instant Home Valuation


For a free, customized, in-depth, Comparative Market Analysis, call us at 772-530-6131.

Mona Leonard is your Treasure Coast Insider Blogger. 

Dec. 16, 2022

Choosing The Best Lender

Choosing The Best Lender

Choosing The Best Lender When Buying A Home

Spending a little time up front will payoff when choosing the best lender. Loan terms, rates and products can vary significantly from one lender to another. Doing your homework ahead of shopping for a property is a wise decision. Here's a list of important questions to ask that will help you when choosing the best lender. 

Important Questions To Screen Potential Lenders

1. What are the most popular mortgages you offer? Why are they so popular?

2. Are your rates, terms, fees and closing costs negotiable?

3. Do you offer discounts for automatic payments, home ownership classes or inspections. 

4. Do I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so, how much will it cost and how long will it be required?

5. What escrow requirements do you have?

6. What kind of bill-pay options do you offer?

7. Are remote closings available?

Choosing The Best Lender 2

Loan-Specific Questions To Ask Before You Sign

1. What would be included in my mortgage payment (homeowner's insurance, property taxes, etc.)?

2. Which type of mortgage plan would you recommend for my situation?

3. Who will service this loan, your bank or another company?

4. How long will the rate on this loan be locked-in? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if the market rate drops during the lock-in period?

5. How long will the loan approval process take?

6. How long will it take to close the loan?

7. Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying this loan?

8. What's the total payout from me over the life of the loan?


Be sure to ask your Realtor who they recommend when choosing the best lender. They'll often know which lenders have the best loan programs, experience and customer service. There can be many hidden fees that you may not be aware of until closing. Your Realtor has attended many closings and will know which lenders deliver on their promises. 

Some Realtors have in-house lenders they work with that offer discounts to buyers when you apply for a mortgage through their affiliate mortgage representatives. Most Realtors will give you the names of three lenders that customers have recommended to them. Be sure to ask your Realtor for advice on lenders. 


For more info, on choosing the best lender, contact Treasure Coast Insider Blogger, Mona Leonard at 772-530-6131


Posted in Buying Tools
Dec. 16, 2022

Stuart Area Dog-Friendly Parks

Stuart Area Dog Friendly Parks

Stuart Area Dog-Friendly Parks

Stuart area dog-friendly parks are all around if you know where to look. With lots of space to enjoy our beautiful area, these parks are close by with easy access. Whether you want to head to the beach, or stroll through our beautiful savannas, these Stuart area dog-friendly parks are enjoyable for the entire family.

Shepard Park, Stuart

Enjoy this family pet friendly park in downtown Stuart on the south fork of the St. Lucie River. With a boat launch, grills and fun for the whole family, it's an easy, convenient location for a few minutes of peace, or an afternoon on the water. Just a few blocks south of the Roosevelt Bridge on Federal Hwy, it's a favorite. Park typically closes at 10 pm.

Flagler Park, Stuart

Dog parks in Stuart, FL, include nearby Flagler Park. It's just a two minute walk from downtown Stuart, watering holes, marinas, great food and entertainment. This pretty green space expanse has a full schedule of activities and can accommodate hundreds of people (and dogs). Right at the north and south forks of the St. Lucie River, it's a beautiful downtown waterside park.

Flager Park

Haney Creek Dog Park, Stuart

Want a park you can get some exercise in while walking your best friend? To keep you both in shape, Haney Creek Dog Park is a great place to stretch it out. A beautiful green space with room to roam, the park is conveniently located just north of the Roosevelt Bridge along Green River Parkway and Baker Rd. This park is for all dogs that like to run.

Haney Creek Dog Park

Walton Rocks Beach Dog Park, Jensen Beach

Another Stuart area dog-friendly park is this off-leash dog park, on the Atlantic in Jensen Beach. It has 24 unspoiled acres of fun. With picnic tables, pavilions and bathrooms, it's a great getaway from the bustle of in town parks. For the Lab lover in all of us, it's a perfect spot for retrievers that love the water. Bring the family for a day of sunshine, swimming and lots of fun. Hours are subject to change. Closes at 6 pm.

Walton Rocks Beach Dog Park

Savannas Preserve State Park-Hawk's Bluff Trail, Jensen Beach

Just north of the Jensen Beach Causeway, this dog-friendly park is perfect for picnicking, fishing, trails, canoeing and lots more. The trail itself is a loop that's just under a mile and the scenery is unbeatable as you wander through the "old Florida" savannas. Where wildlife and water birds abound, Savannas Preserve State Park is another favorite. 

Savannas Preserve State Park

Peck Lake Park, Hobe Sound

Peck Lake Park is a little known secret nestled in Hobe Sound just off Gomez Ave. With a spectacular boardwalk to the Intracoastal Waterway, it's sure to appeal to the most curious of our canine buddies. For a more quiet approach to taking your dog to the park, this gem is peaceful and the views of the Intracoastal Waterway are beautiful. 

Peck Lake Park

Jupiter Off-Leash Dog Beach, Jupiter

Just north of Juno Beach, Jupiter Off-Leash Dog Beach is a great place to spend the day, or for some quick exercise. With beautiful blue-green Atlantic Ocean water, it's a place to unwind and let your pet have a blast. This dog beach is one of the prettiest beaches around. In northern Palm Beach County, there's lots to enjoy afterwards at some of the dog-friendly waterfront restaurants in the area. 

Lyngate Park and Dog Park, Port St. Lucie

For the best variety of dog areas, Lyngate Park and Dog Park offers three great choices, with mazes, water stations, and waste bags. Just off US1 in Port St. Lucie, there's plenty of places to sit while your dog explores. You'll leave smiling when your "best friend" is exhausted and ready to go home.

Lyngate Park And Dog park

For more information about Stuart area dog-friendly parks, contact Mona Leonard, your Treasure Coast Insider blogger at






Dec. 16, 2022

Why Hire A Realtor?


Why Hire A Realtor?

Some people think "why hire a Realtor" when selling their home. It takes a lot of hard work, and to save money, some homeowners go about it all on their own. There are pros and cons to selling a home without a professional real estate agent, and ultimately only you can weigh those options and decide which is best for you, your family, and your circumstances. Take a look at the top ten reasons that answers the question "why hire a Realtor" and explain why choosing a real estate agent is so important.

1. We have Exclusive Access to the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), along with actual property valuation data tools for building comparable properties, a comprehensive market outreach network, and customized Search Criteria engines that you won't find on Zillow, Trulia, or 

2. For Sale By Owner (FSBO) pitfalls begin with assumptions. Did you know when buyers see a FSBO sign, they assume they'll be able to get a great deal? Many buyers believe a property not listed with a Realtor, to be inferior, distressed, and a bargain. A seller lacks the ability to confirm a buyer's ability to purchase too. So, anyone and everyone gets to traipse through your home, even people unable to purchase. It's stressful, time consuming, and typically results in a poor negotiating position. 

3. A Proven Track Record of dedicated specialists who get maximum exposure for your property, 3D Video Walk-throughs, Drone Photography, and Social Media Marketing Integration set us apart.

4. You hire a Network of Professionals when you seek the advice of the Mona Leonard Group at Keller Williams Treasure Coast. KW is the fastest growing and highest grossing Brokerage in the country. Our outreach extends worldwide with over 180,000 agents and over 1,000 offices! Just along the eastern seaboard of Florida, there are over 40,000 agents plugged into the MLS. Let us go to work for you! 

Realtors Work For You Stuart Houses For Sale

5. Peace of Mind comes with having a professional that knows the market and how to negotiate the best value for you. Every aspect from the contract to the closing table is under control. We manage all file preparation, ensure your complete understanding of the process and oversee all legal and compliance matters within the transaction.

6. Expect High-Touch and Constant Communication between not only the agents associated with the transaction but the title company, escrow, attorneys, inspectors, vendors, lenders, HOA Communities, and state, county, and local governments.

7. The Power of Negotiation is critical to getting you the best financial outcome whether you're buying or selling. We know the ins-and-outs of the market and the property's market value when negotiating on your behalf. This strengthens your position and results.

8. We Have Top-Notch Marketing and Advertising to maximize your exposure through targeted marketing. contains a massive database, of buyers and sellers. Our website has a vast reach, with the ability to reach more than 5,000 buyers on any given day. Professionally designed ads that make your property stand out from the local competition.

9. Inspired By Our Community Outreach Efforts, we take part in a program called "Paint the Town Red," which advertises your property to multiple communities across the Treasure Coast. It encourages individuals to get involved in Keller Williams' open houses, bringing a massive flow of possible buyers to your property. We network from all avenues, and our priority is always to bring additional traffic to your property.

10. Progress Reports are how we keep you informed. We bring a new state of the art portal, providing an up to the minute on-line "Snapshot" illustrating what we're doing to sell your property — instant information on potential buyers, feedback on the property, upcoming showings, advertisements, and open houses.

Now you know why hiring a Realtor is the smartest move you can make to sell your home for the highest price and the least amount of headache, heartache and liability. 

Schedule an appointment so we can show you why choosing our team makes sense. 772-530-6131

Posted in Selling Tips
Dec. 9, 2022

Stuart Area Theatres and Playhouses

Mona Leonard Realtor Reviews Stuart Area Theatres and Playhouses

Stuart Area Theatres and Playhouses

Many Stuart area theatres and playhouses have a long and interesting history. Each one is unique in its feel, intimacy, acoustics, and services. Below are several Stuart area theatres and playhouses.

The Lyric Theatre

Stuart offers plenty of plays and entertainment at the Lyric Theatre located downtown. Drawing top performers and musicians, this historic theatre is loved by many Martin County residents. The theatre also offers free movies in the summer. 

Mona Leonard Realtor Reviews The Lyric Theatre 

Sunrise Theatre

The oldest of the Stuart area theatres and playhouses is the historic Sunrise Theatre at 117 S Second St in Ft. Pierce, this Mediterranean Revival Style theatre was built in 1923 and as the largest theater on Florida's East Coast between Miami and Jacksonville. The first movie shown was Charlie Chaplin's silent 1923 hit "Vagabond." After renovations made by the St. Lucie Preservation Association in 1997, the theater hosts outstanding performers and musicians. 

Mona Leonard Reviews The Sunrise Theatre

Barn Theatre

Similarly, the Barn Theatre on East Ocean in Stuart is smaller than the Lyric Theatre and the Sunrise Theatre in Ft. Pierce. It's intimate theater of just 169 seats make it cozy and more interactive. You'll see lots of local talent and some cleverly chosen plays. 

Pineapple Playhouse

The Pineapple Playhouse is nestled in an unsuspecting location on Weatherbee Rd in Ft. Pierce. The Pineapple Playhouse has ample parking, great plays and a more intimate experience (100 seats) than larger playhouses. A playhouse tradition, meeting the cast after the show is a true delight. You may get hooked on a more interactive experience at the Pineapple Playhouse than other playhouses.

Riverside Theatre, Vero Beach


Riverside Theatre

Maltz Jupiter Theatre

The Maltz Jupiter Theatre, once owned by Burt Reynolds, draws talent from around the world. Famous for their mysteries, this dinner theatre is well-loved by many local patrons. Located in the hustling entertainment district of Jupiter, it's sure to wow you.

Kravis Center

Located in West Palm Beach, the Kravis Center is a more regional theatre experience. This beautiful venue draws performers from across the globe. This theatre attracts the best in music, comedy, plays, and other performances. It can also be reserved for graduations and other activities. You won't want to miss The Nutcracker during the holidays. It's a delight for all fortunate enough to attend this annual tradition. 

Mona Leonard Realtor Reviews The Kravis Center

Area Movie Theaters

The Regency 8 Theater in Stuart has a great selection of recently released movies. With lots of restaurants close by, it gives a whole new meaning to date night. Located in the Treasure Coast Mall, the Regal Treasure Coast Mall boasts 16 theaters and amazing recliners so you can kick back and watch the show. 

For more information about Stuart area theatres and playhouses, contact Mona Leonard, your trusted Treasure Coast Insider blogger.

Sept. 22, 2022

Stuart Area Festivals And Art Shows

Mona Leonard Realtor Reviews the Downtown Stuart Art Festival

Stuart Area Festivals and Art Shows

Stuart area festivals and art shows are in full swing during "season." All along the Treasure Coast, there's something for every attendee. Whether it's jewelry, paintings, wood-working, sculpture or clothing, the beautiful surroundings and weather make for an extraordinary day. Check out these Stuart area festivals and art shows. 

Downtown Stuart Art Festival 

As a personal favorite, the Annual Downtown Stuart Art Festival offers a large variety of art and attracts artists from all over the country. This February event on East Ocean Blvd typically benefits from beautiful temperatures, with lots of sunshine. With Memorial Park and it's lovely grounds as a backdrop, and free admission, it's a great opportunity to see (and perhaps buy) some amazing art and jewelry. This February event has free admission.

Hobe Sound Art Festival 

When I first moved to Martin County at the age of 20, Hobe Sound was my first choice. It's quieter than Stuart or other cities and towns to the north. It's much less traveled than south of Hobe Sound on the Treasure Coast too.

The first home I built was in the Soundings in Hobe Sound. The "wet side" was not yet completely built out, so I was fortunate to buy a canal-front lot on Hawksbill Way. We built the house in 1987. 

Hobe Sound Art Festival is a top quality show and runs a quarter mile near the tracks on A1A. Beautiful Jupiter Island is just east of the famous Banyan trees on Bridge Rd, a stone's throw from the festival. After the festival, enjoy a relaxing day at Hobe Sound Beach, or a drive along the famous coastline. Home to golfers Tiger Woods and Greg Norman, Jupiter Island's secluded drive along A1A is breathtaking. Blowing Rocks Preserve is toward the south end and is a great place for photos or a walk. It's easy to make a day of it with the festival and a drive. This February event has free admission.

Under The Oaks, Vero Beach

Under the Oaks vero Beach

A personal favorite is Under The Oaks in Vero Beach. World-class artists with amazing, high quality pieces among huge live oak trees in Riverside Park on Vero's barrier island (Orchid Island). This March event is a stage set for success. Advance tickets, $10, $15 at the door. Children under ten enter free.

Sunfest Music Festival, West Palm Beach


Held rain or shine, Sunfest Music Festival along the intracoastal waterway in West Palm Beach, draws 150,000+ people annually. This family-friendly four day event has tickets available beginning at $152 for a single day. Previous performers have included Keith Urban, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Tears For Fears to name a few. The schedule is packed with back-to-back performances for hours... and days! 

Sunfest is typically held in late April. Along Flagler, between Banyan Blvd and Lakeview Ave., you'll enjoy food and wine pairing events, floating bars, the battle of the bands, a 5k event, and plenty of shopping. Fireworks are on the agenda too. 

Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival 

Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival

The Jensen Beach Pineapple Festival has become a local tradition with live entertainment, art and scheduled events. Named for the pineapple plantations that covered the landscape 100 years ago, there's fun for everyone. This 30+ year old November event has concerts, arts, crafts, street performers, bands and a midway. A delegation from the island of Eleuthra, Bahamas brings the heart-pounding sounds of Junkanoo to the festival.

Several other Stuart area festivals and art shows take place in this idyllic location including ArtsFest. Located in Memorial Park, this festival boasts culinary delights, beautiful fine art. This well-attended event began in 1988 and has grown each year.  Art in the Park, a November event is another great fine art show. Admission for either is $10.

Okeechobee Events

Okeechobee Speckled Perch Festival and Parade

Okeechobee Speckled Perch Festival

The Speckled Perch Festival and Parade is one of my favorites. If you Southern cooking, this is a fun and delicious way to spend a day. There's lots to see at this March event, including beautiful beading, leatherworks and more. The speckled perch is outstanding, and you better get there early because they've been known to run out.  

This event dates back to 1965 and is in honor of the fishing industry for the livelihoods they provided. It's in Flagler Park and you can almost feel the history. Check it out... easy day trip from anywhere on the Treasure Coast.

Top of the Lake Art Fest

Top of the Lake Art Fest hosts some amazing artisans. The quality of the works will keep you craning into each booth. This juried event has some real talent. Usually, this is a February art festival. 

To learn more about Stuart area festivals and art shows, contact Mona Leonard, your Treasure Coast Insider blogger. She can be reached at 772.53.6131

Sept. 20, 2022

Stuart Area Public Golf Courses

Mona Leonard Reviews Trump National Doral Golf Club


Stuart Area Public Golf Courses

These Stuart area public golf courses are pen year round and each have unique qualities, challenges and benefits. No matter what your skill level, you'll enjoy playing golf in the beautiful surroundings of any and all of these Stuart area public golf courses.

Eagle Marsh Golf Course

The first of the 5 Stuart area public golf courses is Eagle Marsh. Considered one of the most challenging courses in the area. Located in beautiful Jensen Beach, and with a signature 18th hole that has two separate greens to choose from, Eagle Marsh is nestled directly next to the breathtaking Savannahs. Enjoy the full-service bar and restaurant after your game. Priced competitively. The rest of the five Stuart area public golf courses I'm reviewing are below. 

Mona Leonard Reviews Eagle Marsh Golf Club

Palm Cove Golf Course

Beginners and seasoned players alike can improve their game at Palm Cove, in the heart of Palm City. The greens are typically reachable in regulation and the narrow fairways discipline even scratch golfers. Palm Cove is affordable with a pleasant staff that’s attentive to your needs.

Heritage Ridge Golf Course

Heritage Ridge in Hobe Sound is our third pick of five Stuart area public golf courses. With a more forgiving course,  wider fairways and fewer obstacles, Heritage Ridge is reasonably priced and favored by many seniors. If you love playing golf year round, enjoy the great summer rates.

Martin Downs Golf Course

Martin Downs Country Club is in beautiful Palm City. Near Florida’s Turnpike entrance on SR 714, this gated community has a forgiving course. The open fairways are relatively obstacle-free for your next time out. Opening at 11 am, the full service restaurant and bar will hit the spot! Good summer rates too.

Champion Turf Club at St. James Golf Course

Champion Turf Club (at St. James) sports a full-service bar, snacks and limited pro shop. With lightning fast greens and open fairways, this north Port St Lucie course has long par 4’s and is considered challenging. Competitively priced. 

Mona Leonard Realtor Reviews Champion at St James


As a Treasure Coast Insider (that includes you) feel free to contact Mona Leonard for additional information on these and other Stuart area public golf courses. Mona is always happy to share Treasure Coast Insider information. 772-530-6131


Sept. 20, 2022

Stuart FL Area Parks

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

Stuart FL Area Parks

There are so many great Stuart FL area parks to choose from all along the Treasure Coast. This shortlist is based on a lifetime of living here and enjoying all that Stuart FL area parks can offer. With each unique property, comes a variety of amenities to enjoy. The abundant wildlife along the Treasure Coast calls many of these parks home. These beautiful Stuart FL area parks include state parks, preserves and wildlife areas. 

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

This personal favorite for a large park comes from years of enjoying the amenities... and the thrilling unexpected encounters. On a hike in the late eighties, in the mangroves in the park, I saw the largest diamondback rattler I've ever seen, before or since. It was as big around as a tin can. On another occasion, I got to watch a little four foot alligator mosey across the park road. He was in no hurry.

Deer, wild hog, racoons, an occasional bobcat and all sorts of birds including Bald Eagles, are within site, if you're lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Plenty of areas in the park are not visited by the wildlife due to the quantity of humans in those concentrated areas. So, if you're faint of heart, take heart, it's safe if you don't wander too far.

With habitats including sand pine scrub, pine flatwoods, mangroves and river swamps, this one's straight out of a 1940's movie of a tropical jungle and plenty of scrub area to view from the observation tower. There's canoes to rent to take down the Loxahatchee River and the park is well known for its Camp Murphy Mountain Bike Trails.

In the 1930's, Trapper Nelson homesteaded on the banks of the Loxahatchee River. He trapped and sold furs and became known as The Wildman of the Loxahatchee. After his death in 1968, the land was acquired by the state and in 1942, the park became a radar training camp during WWII.

Like many Stuart FL area parks, enjoy cabins, fishing, kayaking, horse trails, swimming and camping. With picnic tables and bathrooms, the park is a terrific stop for the day, a nice weekend getaway or to stay as long as you wish. Entry is $6 per vehicle.

Jonathan Dickinson State Park

St. Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park

At the mouth of the St. Lucie Inlet lies one of Martin County's most beautiful places to enjoy riverfront views and nature. The park is accessible by boat and is situated at the northern end of spectacular Jupiter Island, home to the rich and famous. You'd never know it from the park. The lush flora includes hammocks of live oaks, cabbage palms, mangrove forests and even wild lime. 

This Florida state preserve has a pristine beach on the Atlantic Ocean and a boardwalk from the docks to take you there. Summertime brings egg-laden loggerhead, green and leatherback turtles to lay their eggs and await the miracle just a few weeks later. Some environmental groups have expeditions to safely watch this miraculous event occur. 

Stuart Fl Area Parks Baby Turtle

Visitors come to swim, sunbathe, or picnic at the pavilion on the quiet beach. Others make the trip for the great surf fishing. snorkeling and scuba diving. The unmolested park is a favorite for students because of the native fauna and flora typical for a Florida barrier island. 

Hours 8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year. Fees $3 per boat. Please use the honor box to pay fees. Correct change is required. For more info, call 772-219-1880


St Lucie Inlet Preserve State Park

Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park

The quiet and seclusion of this scenic area attracts locals and visitors alike. These sloping wetlands offer a peaceful retreat from the world yet it's minutes from Stuart's city center. There's an abundance of sabal palms (our state tree), live oak hammocks, and wild coffee (easy to grow native flora). The 4,886-acre preserve is located between U.S. 1 (Federal Highway) and the South Fork of the St. Lucie River.

The preserve gently slopes toward the St. Lucie River changing from a hydric hammock to wet flatwood and wet prairie

The land changes from hydric hammock to wet flatwoods and wet prairie as it slopes toward the river, away from U.S. Other native flora includes saw palmetto and wax myrtle. The species of birds are numerous and you'll often see Great Blue herons, various egrets, Sandhill cranes, wood storks, red-shouldered hawks and bald eagles.  .

Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park has limited access. Contact Jonathan Dickinson State Park at 772-546-2771 for the gate code. The Florida Park Service is working to allow more visitors and programming in the future. Atlantic Ridge Preserve is at the terminus of Southeast Paulson Avenue in Stuart, Martin County.


8 a.m. until 5 p.m., 365 days a year. Call Jonathan Dickinson State Park at 772-546-2771 for the gate code. Fees $6 per vehicle (2 to 8 people), $4 for single-occupant, $2 for pedestrians and bicyclists. Please use the honor box to pay fees. Correct change is required.



Atlantic Ridge Preserve State Park

Fort Pierce Inlet State Park

Parks near Stuart FL include this spectacular half-mile beach. It's great for swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and surfing. For every beachgoer, it's the perfect spot to catch some rays, relax, picnic or walk the beach

The Navy Frogmen trained at Dynamite Point during WWII. Now, it's an amazing bird sanctuary and will awe any bird-watcher. The south end of the park is ideal for anglers looking to bring dinner home. With delicious salt water fish in abundance, it's a favorite pastime on the Treasure Coast. 

Jack Island Preserve, just a mile north of the park, has bike and walking trails for hiking for nature study. At the west end of the Marsh Rabbit Run Trail, visitors can climb an observation tower for a bird's-eye-view of the Indian River and the Hutchinson Island. 

8 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year
$6 per vehicle

Ft Pierce Inlet State Park Beach

Savannas Preserve State Park 

One of my favorite Stuart Fl area parks is The Savannas as we call it. The park's scenic landscapes represent what the first pioneers would have seen in the area. Prior to growth in the area, this basin marsh extended throughout South Florida.

Pavilions and picnic tables are available near the center and at trail heads throughout the park. Canoeing, kayaking and fishing in the wetlands are popular recreational activities. Photographers and wildlife enthusiasts enjoy the habitat diversity this undisturbed area affords. 

The park boasts over 15 miles of multi-use trails that provide ample opportunities for hiking, bicycling and horseback riding. Canoe trips and scheduled guided walks are available by reservation. 

8 a.m. to sundown, 365 days a year.. 
$3 per vehicle. Use the honor box; correct change is required. 
Location2541 S.E .Walton Road Port St. Lucie FL 34952

Savannas Preserve State Park


Blowing Rocks Preserve

With over 60,000 annual visitors, this pristine preserve is the most visited site of the Nature Conservancy's 400 preserves here in the United States. The main attraction is the mile-long rock formation separating the sand from the sea. During high tide and a choppy sea, plumes of water shoot 50 feet in the air through the rocks. At low tide, comb the shoreline for shells, fossils and great photos.

Much of Florida was formed on limestone. This preserve is part of the Anastasia Formation of limestone and it's unusual because of the exposure of the formation here. The rock was formed over 2.5 million years ago when Florida's sea levels were much higher. As coral reefs break down over millennia, carbonate rock (limestone) forms. This is the foundation for much of Florida. 

In fact, these limestone formations are made from quartz and carbonate rock called coquina. It's actually shell upon shells compressed together over time. This type of rock is only found on Florida's east coast and Blowing Rocks is one of the few places it's visible for us to enjoy. 

An Ecological Treasure

The preserve extends from the Atlantic Ocean to the Indian River with over 250 native plant species including hardwoods, sea oats, gumbo limbo and a mangrove swamp. A 20-year period of removing invasive plants has yielded a flourishing, biodiverse habitat. In addition to wildlife, four sea turtle species come back year after year creating over 600 turtle clutches with an average of 100 eggs per clutch. Fact: Female turtles visit the shore several times a season to lay more eggs.

Adult and baby turtles can get trapped in the craggy rock formations during the season. The Nature Conservancy manages the Florida Sea Turtle Rescue Program and every morning during nesting season, volunteers and staff search for turtles trapped in the rock formations to release them into the ocean. 

Blowing Rocks Preserve

Avalon State Park

Avalon has more than a mile of increasingly rare undeveloped beachfront. Dune crossovers protect the fragile ecosystem and the park is ideal for swimmers, snorkelers, fishermen and sunbathers. Swimmers and snorkelers are advised to be cautious of underwater obstacles left behind by amphibious warfare exercises during World War II. Visitors can enjoy a meal at sheltered picnic tables overlooking the beach. Launch a canoe of kayak No lifeguards on duty. 

Fishing here proves abundant with Snook, Red/Black Drum, Bluefish, Pompano and Whiting. Fishing license may be required. All fishing within the park must conform to regulations concerning size, number, method of capture and season. 

This Stuart FL area park offers four medium-sized pavilions with barbecue grills located off the main parking area. They are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Electric and water are not available. Two public showers are located in front of the restroom to rinse off at the end of the day and hop in your car.

Snorkeling is a popular recreational activity, weather permitting. Snorkelers can enjoy the beautiful sea life and most of the time, the water is as crystal clear as the Bahamas. There are no lifeguards on duty, so be careful, especially around the concrete and steel structures created for WWII training purposes. 

8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.

2.00 per vehicle. Please use the honor box to pay fees. Correct change is required.

Limit 8 people per vehicle.

(772) 468-3985

Avalon State Park Beach


DuPuis Wildlife and Environmental Area

John G. and Susan H. DuPuis, Jr. Wildlife and Environmental Area (WEA) consists of nearly 22,000 acres in Palm Beach and Martin counties and adjoins the J.W. Corbett Wildlife Management Area to the east. Originally, the White Belt Ranch, a working livestock ranch, the area was once part of the Everglades ecosystem. Drainage changed the hydrology of the area and the South Florida Water Management District has restored portions by rehydrating the interior wetlands. 

With a Cyprus swamp, pinelands and a freshwater marsh, there's something for every explorer. Only hunting is permitted during the season to quota hunt permit holders and through-hikers on the Ocean to Lake Trail. an official side trail of the Florida Scenic Trail. Turkey, hog and deer are plentiful. There are 35 miles of hiking trails and parking for hikers is at Gate 2.

An equestrian center at Gate 3 has horse barns, paddocks, campsites, restrooms with showers, a dump station, and a trailhead marking the beginning of 40 miles of equestrian trails. Children under the age of 16 are required to wear a helmet when horseback riding on public lands. All horseback riders must have proof of current negative Coggins Test results for their horses when on state lands.

Designated campgrounds as well as primitive campsites are available along the Ocean to Lake Trail. River otters, feral hogs, coyotes, bald eagles, alligators and white-tailed deer call this expansive preserve home.

Anyone camping on DuPuis (except hunters during the quota permit hunts) must obtain a Special Use License from the SFWMD in advance. Dogs must be leashed in this Stuart Fl area park.

Dupuis Wildlife and Environmental Area


John D MacArthur Beach State Park

Nestled on an Atlantic Ocean barrier island, John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is the only state park in Palm Beach County.  It is an environmental treasure which has been preserved for present and future generations to experience.

With 1.6 miles of pristine beach, swimming, snorkeling, and much more to discover, the possibilities of exploration and fun are endless! Visit the Nature Center and the Beach Outfitters Gift Shop.  Discover the amazing plants and animals in the estuary by standup paddle board or kayak. Hiking trails and picnic pavilions are available. 

Take advantage of the many offerings throughout the year: daily nature walk, recreational skills lessons, MacArthur Under Moonlight concerts, school programs, summer camp, and much more. Open daily.

John D MacArthur State Park

For more information about Stuart FL area parks, contact Treasure Coast Insider Blogger Mona Leonard at 772-530-6131

Sept. 20, 2022

How Is A Credit Score Determined?

Credit Score



Almost anyone knows how important it is to have a good credit score. A good credit score helps borrowers  get access to loans and more favorable interest rates when borrowing money. A good credit score is the beginning of financial health today.

But do you know how a credit score is determined? Understanding what’s used to determine the score is half the battle towards achieving a higher credit score. Here are some of the top factors:


Good creditworthiness means paying bills on time. This is the percentage of payments made on time for the duration of the credit history. It plays a big role in determining creditworthiness. Just a couple of late payments could significantly impact the score… for the worse. The best way to avoid late payments is to set up automatic bill paying. Another helpful way is to place a reminder on the calendar.  


The percent of the total credit card balances divided by the total credit card limits provides creditors with the total available credit used. The lower the credit card utilization, the higher the credit score.


More is better… To a point. Consumers that have more “lines of credit” can have higher scores because it shows lenders are willing to give credit. It’s best to have a good mix of different types of credit for good credit health. The caveat… Only apply for credit you need.


Credit Cards


When applying for a mortgage or auto loan, a “hard” credit inquiry is initiated on the credit report. One inquiry has little impact on a credit score. Multiple inquiries begin to erode the score and can have a bigger impact. A “soft” inquiry occurs when you check the rate to see what you qualify for. If uncertain, check with the potential creditor or lender before applying to see if they’ll be doing a hard or soft pull on your credit.


The longer the line of credit, the stronger the credit rating. Keep older cards open and active. Start applying for credit early in life.


Negative terms on a credit report include collections, tax liens or bankruptcy. Derogatory remarks can remain on your credit report for 7-10 years. It shows a lender mismanagement of credit may have occurred. Start rebuilding healthy credit again. It will improve the credit rating and gradually weigh in your favor.


For more information, contact Treasure Coast Insider Blogger, Mona Leonard at 772-530-6131 or

Sept. 6, 2022

Home Safety Tips

Home Safety Tips

Home Safety Tips

These home safety tips can make a big difference. Sometimes it's the little things that matter, especially when it comes to safety. With many Americans spending more time at home, these home safety tips may save a life. At minimum, they'll save you time and money. 

Kitchen - Increase the life of your dishwasher by cleaning its filter. Make sure the smoke detector works and change batteries when needed. Check for leaks under the sink. These are more common than you think. Replace old pipes or tubing when needed, 

Bathroom - Manually check for leaks or add a smart sensor to monitor them in real time. Receive alerts on a smart phone app. If anyone in the home is elderly or disabled, grab bars in the bath are a must. 

Bedroom/Home Office - With more time being spent in home offices, consider replacing hot, energy-sucking bulbs with LED. Did you know they use 80% less energy? Plus, they're much cooler than incandescent bulbs, saving you on monthly cooling costs.

Laundry Room - Free your laundry sink of any clogging. Inspect the washer and dryer for cracked or brittle hoses and be sure to clean the dryer vent and keep the filter free of lint. If you have very small children, placing cleaning supplies overhead keeps them safe from harm. 

Yard/Exterior - Drainage away from your home prevents all sorts of issues. Clear and repair any drains removing water from your home. Flush them out with a hose. Keep the gutters clean and properly draining. Make sure the yard is free of poisonous plants like poison oak and poison ivy. Remove any dangerous debris, broken equipment, dilapidated sheds and other unsafe items. Ben Franklin said "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. 

A/C - Change or clean A/C filters once a month during the summer. Routine maintenance for A/C units is a must. Without proper care, an A/C can cause water damage and destroy walls, floors and ceilings. Maintain pans and drains to prevent water damage and expensive repairs. Water damage also invites mold and in Florida, this can be difficult to eradicate without proper maintenance and remediation. Proper maintenance also increases the life expectancy of these expensive necessities. 

Home Safety Tips Air Conditioning

Windows - Maintaining windows can extend their life for many years. Neglect them and this expensive necessity can mean thousands of dollars in replacement costs. Keeping windows caulked and repaired also increases energy efficiency saving you money. 

Pool - Keep the filter clean, and chemicals and salt at proper levels. Brush the surface of the pool to loosen algae and debris. Keep the deck area clean and algae/mold free to prevent falls. Algae is slippery!

For more home safety tips, call Mona Leonard, Treasure Coast Insider Blogger at 772-530-6131


Posted in Selling Tips
Sept. 6, 2022

6 Ways Homebuyers Prepare Financially

Home Loans Mona Leonard


6 Ways Homebuyers Prepare Financially

Many homebuyers are financially unprepared to purchase a home. According to a recent survey by the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, about half of respondents report being “least prepared” to buy a home. It's a clear sign that education is needed, especially for first-time home buyers.

Here's how to prepare finances well in advance of searching for a home. 

1.    Make a Financial Plan – Knowing where to start means conducting a complete review of how your household budget is managed. Comparing income and expenses, reviewing debt, and tracking savings are just a few of the ways to measure readiness for homeownership.

2.    Review Your Credit Report and Score – A mortgage is typically the largest debt a person is likely to carry in their lifetime. Credit history plays a huge part in obtaining a loan, as well as getting a satisfactory interest rate from a lender. A credit report may be obtained without a score for free once every 12 months from each of the three bureaus by visiting

Review the credit report for discrepancies and dispute any differences. This should be done at least six months in advance of applying for a loan, allowing time for inaccuracies to be corrected.

Along with the free credit report, a score can be purchased for a small fee. This score is critical to mortgage approval and for a competitive interest rate. It's worth taking a look at the score before submitting an application for a loan. Lender guidelines vary, but a FICO score of 760 is typically the threshold for the most favorable interest rates. 

3.    Start Saving – A down payment is typically no less than 20 percent of the purchase price of a home, especially to avoid having to pat private mortgage insurance. Any down payment (with a mortgage) of less than 20% down will require private mortgage insurance (PMI). This alone can disqualify many borrowers. If 20% or more will be paid by the borrower at closing, it will also increase the chance of having more favorable mortgage terms.

4.    Decide the Type of Loan – After you’ve selected a lender, decide whether to take on a fixed-rate or adjustable-rate loan. For those planning to remain in the home for a long time, a fixed-rate mortgage helps add stability by keeping the payment the same for the life of the loan. Those expecting to stay in the home no longer than five to seven years may be better off getting an adjustable rate loan, where typically, they could benefit from lower rates in the short term.

5.    Get Pre-Approved for a Loan – Applying for a mortgage typically involves a cost and is done by supplying detailed financial documentation to the lender. The lender will use this information in conjunction with information obtained by pulling a credit report to determine the amount and terms available to the borrower. This is not a final approval for a loan but is a significant step toward that outcome.

6.    Lock In the Rate – If you like the interest rate being offered when pre-approved, lock it in by getting the commitment in writing. It can take time to find a home, negotiate a price and secure funding. Locking a rate for a reasonable period helps make room to complete the process without risking a less favorable interest rate.


For more information, contact Treasure Coast Insider Blogger, Mona Leonard at 772-530-6131 or


Posted in Buying Tools