Fort Pierce is on Florida’s Treasure Coast, south of Vero Beach and north of West Palm Beach. Known as Sunrise City, this historic waterfront town offers world-class fishing, shopping, a historic theatre, and fantastic dining options. Fort Pierce’s Farmers’ Markets recognized as one of the best in the state, while the town’s murals and art scene are certainly getting recognized.
Beaches and Parks
You’ll find beautiful uncrowded and underdeveloped beaches with stunning blue water at Avalon State Park on North Hutchinson Island, A1A. Parking is $2 per car. There are restrooms, a shower station, nature trail, sheltered picnic tables, and sea turtle nests aplenty, which should not be disturbed. The state park is safe for swimming, snorkeling, fishing, and sunbathing.
A second state park, Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, is a beautiful park with half-mile beach access, surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, and wildlife viewing over 340 acres. Red Drum, Snook, Flounder, and Trout are the most coveted fish to catch. You may see tortoises, shorebirds, bobcats, or alligators, so always be on the lookout. The fee is $6 per vehicle to enter the park. Once a training site for WWII Navy Frogmen, Dynamite Point is a great place to see native and migrating birds.
Frederick Douglass Beach and Memorial Park is great for kids and horseback riding on the beach. This is one of the only parts of The Sunshine State where you can ride horses along the coast. Frederick Douglass Beach is a wonderful place to fish and has picnic facilities and pavilions to make your family day extra special.
At Fort Pierce, Jetty Park is nestled at the end of a gorgeous drive with a pier to fish or snap pictures from, benches along the waterfront, and restroom/changing facilities. There are shrines and monuments amongst the shore’s rocks dedicated to those who have lost loved ones, a touching display of sentiment.
Downtown Fort Pierce
Situated on the waterfront of the Indian River Lagoon is the charming main artery of downtown Fort Pierce. The Fort Pierce Marina is a great place to admire the spectacular boats and yachts in the harbor or charter one for yourself. There is a playground for kids, an onsite restaurant, a gift shop, and exciting photo opportunities.
Downtown Fort Pierce is an easy part of town to walk around and window-shop, enjoy a cold beer, a tasty meal, sweet treat, or admire the historic buildings and stunning Spanish architecture. I love to shop at Rosslow’s, a rare independent department store remaining open for business. The Art Market is another unique place to visit with individual artists, all working under one roof to showcase their artwork and goods.
Fort Pierce Farmers’ Market and Farms
While I live in Vero Beach, I still travel to Fort Pierce once or twice a month to attend their Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers’ Market, a Saturday tradition. From 8 AM until noon, you’ll find local vendors selling produce, gourmet items, and freshly prepared drinks and food. You’ll also have a great selection of arts and crafts at Marina Square, adjacent to the market. There is usually live music or a radio station broadcasting to make the mood festive.
Nelson Family Farms is an open-air market that sells produce, fresh-squeezed citrus juice, plants, garden supplies, etc. You’ll find a vast selection of exotic produce, jarred and cannot gourmet products, and packaged foods. Bring a cooler to take home the frozen pasta, cheeses, and huge choices of dairy products. Nelson Family Farms’ ornamental gardening items are my favorite! Al’s Family Farms is another treasure, with fresh squeezed orange juice, ice cream, and incredible produce.
Where to Eat
Restaurants we love dining at include:
- Original Tiki Bar & Restaurant
- Cobb’s Landing
- 12A Buoy
- Harbor Cove Bar and Grill
- Taco Dive
- Archie’s Seabreeze
- Rooster in the Garden
- Square Grouper Tiki Bar
- Manatee Island
You can find something for every taste, but Fort Pierce excels in fresh seafood and tiki-style eateries. Several places offer signature cocktails and extensive beer and wine lists, and many have waterfront dining and seating arrangements. Live music is popular at Fort Pierce.
Fort Pierce’s Art and Flower Scene
Colorful murals add flair to downtown Fort Pierce, along with the painted utility boxes scattered throughout. Don’t miss the Greetings from Fort Pierce mussel on Orange Avenue toward downtown. You can dive more into the art world with a visit to A. E. Backus Gallery & Museum. The gallery also has a treasure trove of original works by the Florida Highwaymen. These world-famous African American artists painted landscape scenes and made their living selling out of their cars. A. E. Backus is one of Florida’s most famous landscape painters.
Besides paint and street art, Fort Pierce also has several sculptures and murals worth noting. The Sailfish Sculpture sits in a roundabout near the Fort Pierce City Marina and Florida: The Sunrise City murals a few blocks back from it. Just walking around downtown Fort Pierce will offer glimpses of talent artisans’ work.
One of the gems on Florida’s Atlantic Coast is Heathcote Botanical Gardens, the country’s most extensive tropical bonsai garden. It is one of the biggest and best offerings in Fort Pierce, but unfortunately, I haven’t been there myself. As a member of the Indian River Garden Club for several years, I heard nothing but rave reviews about Heathcote.
The historic Sunrise Theatre is the jewel in downtown Fort Pierce. With a packed schedule of talented musicians, traveling shows, comedians, and nationally known names, there is literally something for everyone. I’ve seen Kenny Rogers, Olivia Newton John, and a few other performers there and it is well worth the cost.
Manatee Observation and Education Center is a newer attraction in downtown Fort Pierce where for $1 admission, you can learn fun and essential facts about manatees, our gentle giants, also called sea cows. They have an informative movie that you should make time to understand manatees. Manatee Observation Center also has touch tank demonstrations and aquariums. You can purchase Indian River Lagoon & Swampland wildlife boat tickets here, or just browse the well-stocked Vanishing Mermaid Gift Shop. You might even catch a glimpse of a manatee or two.
West of US 1 is the most unusual place to visit in Fort Pierce. Known as the Peacock Arts District, this is around Orange Avenue has dozens of vibrant peacocks strutting their stuff day in, day out. They are fun to watch in the wild, and great to photograph. You can hear them blocks away.
Learn about the secret world of Naval Special Warfare through the exhibits and memorabilia at the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum. This small but mighty museum ($15 admission for adults) is dedicated to the Navy SEAL team. You can try your hand at the original WWII-era obstacle course used for D-Day training exercises. There are old military boats, SDVs, and “the Shark Tooth Boat” in the museum lawn.
Ever tried a wine slushie? It is worth driving to Fort Pierce to have one at Summer Crush Vineyard & Winery, especially on a hot day, which sums up half of the year for Floridians. Or, you can have a great craft beer from Sailfish Brewing Company. Another delicious choice would be a craft cider from Pierced Ciderworks, or a non-alcoholic orange beverage (or even soft-serve ice cream) from Al’s Family Farms, a Florida institution.
Fort Pierce: A Town Worth Exploring
It’s hardly a wonder why Fort Pierce makes so many lists of great places to visit, historical cities to check out, the best place to retire, live, and fish, and much more. There’s a little bit of everything right here on Florida’s spectacular Treasure Coast.
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