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Spotlight: St. Lucie County

Make three stops in this enchanting coastal region

Visitors to St. Lucie County will find themselves drawn to its gorgeous coastline, where they’ll discover eclectic culture, outdoor escapism and pristine beachfronts. The three cities of the region—Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Hutchinson Island—gems on the Florida stretch known as the Treasure Coast.

Fort Pierce Embraces the Past

Fort Pierce is the county seat. American settlement in the area began in 1838 with the construction of a supply depot named for Lt. Col. Benjamin K. Pierce. Today, the town’s efforts to preserve its Spanish-flavored Main Street architecture have been nationally recognized. Local street treasures include the Sunrise Theatre, which opened its doors in 1923. Also notable is the Spanish Colonial-style Arcade Building that was once the town’s largest commercial structure.

St. Lucie County Media Relations and St. Lucie County Tourism Offices

St. Lucie County Media Relations and St. Lucie County Tourism Offices

At the P.P. Cobb General Store & Delicatessen in downtown Fort Pierce, you can shop for old-time candy and regional favorites, much like local farmers and fishermen did when the store was built in 1882. Although the original Fort Pierce burned to the ground in 1843, the site is preserved in a park by the Indian River. Nearby lies a preserved burial mound built by the Ais Indians, who were the first inhabitants of the Treasure Coast.

In 1943, the Naval Combat Demolition Unit training school was created at Fort Pierce to teach maritime commandos who participated in World War II missions. Those first “frogmen” would evolve into the elite U.S. Navy SEAL (Sea, Air, Land) teams. Their amazing story, which features NASA astronaut ocean retrievals and top-secret special operations, is told in the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum on North Hutchinson Island.

Port of Pleasure

While Fort Pierce embodies the spirit of Old Florida, St. Lucie County’s other city, Port St. Lucie, represents boomtown Florida. Port St. Lucie was a fishing camp and farmland in the 1950s; by the 1970s, it was an incorporated town with a few hundred residents; by the 2000s, the population was sprinting toward 200,000. Baseball fans flock to the city when the New York Mets hold spring training in town.

All the modern development has not crowded out nature. Savannas Preserve State Park in Port St. Lucie is the largest and most intact slice of Florida’s east coast savanna ecosystem, waiting to be explored across eight miles of trails. The Oxbow Eco-Center offers guided hikes and an environmental learning center and is one of the many places in St. Lucie County to launch a canoe to explore mangrove forests and native plants.

The Heathcote Botanical Gardens began life in the 1980s in a commercial landscape nursery and is now home to more than 100 tropical bonsai trees—more than anywhere else in Florida. The Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens is an oasis of rose gardens and orchid displays in the heart of the city, where you can often enjoy free jazz concerts.

Manatee Portrait

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Hit Hutchinson Island

Hutchinson Island, the barrier island that guards St. Lucie County, has more than 21 miles of Atlantic Ocean beaches and more public access points per square mile than any coastal community in Florida. Not only are the county- and city-owned beaches free to use, but Walton Rocks Beach is one of the few Florida Atlantic Ocean beaches that welcomes your dog.

Golf has become entrenched in St. Lucie County, and the Professional Golfers Association of America has established PGA Village here with courses by top architects like Tom Fazio and Pete Dye. Even nongolfers can appreciate the “good walk spoiled” at the PGA Museum of Golf, where admission is always complimentary.

For More Information

St. Lucie County
800-344-8443
www.visitstluciefla.com
Florida Department of Tourism
888-735-2872
www.visitflorida.com