INTRODUCING FORT PIERCE
Fort Pierce, a city in St. Lucie County, is situated on the Treasure Coast (This was named after a Spanish ship carrying valuables that sunk in 1715) of south Florida. Located just south of Vero Beach and north of Palm Beach, Fort Pierce is known as the Sunrise City due to its breathtaking sunrises over both the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic Ocean.
The name traces its origins back to the Fort Pierce Army post that was constructed in the 1800s (The post was named after officer Benjamin Kendrick Pierce). Fort Pierce used to be the biggest city on the Atlantic coast of Florida between Daytona Beach and West Palm Beach until Brevard County’s Melbourne claimed that title. USA Today included Fort Pierce in its 2015 list of the Most Idyllic and Historic Main Streets in America. If you want to go in further depth, Top Value Reviews included Fort Pierce in their 2015 list, “50 Best Small Town Main Streets” in America, beating places such as Massauchsett’s Nantucket and Colorado’s Steamboat Springs.
Fort Pierce is an ideal Floridian destination for those who are looking to just get away from it all and relax. If you’re going to Florida for nightlife and want to go clubbing, stick to the major Florida cities. If you want to go to the Sunshine State to lay on the beach all day like an iguana laying on a rock and want to avoid large crowds, try Fort Pierce.
This place is the epitome of chill. The only stressful thing about a trip to the paradisal Fort Pierce is deciding what you want to eat for dinner each night.
BEACHES TO VISIT
You see all of the beautiful, blue Florida water on Instagram posts and Pinterest feeds- Yes, Florida beaches are one of a kind! I love the Jersey shore beaches with all my heart and I have no doubt in my mind that other destinations in the American northeast like Cape Cod are amazing, but I did note an evident difference between Floridian beaches and those up north. I swear, there were even differences between south Florida and South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach (No hate on Mrytle Beach. I love that place and the coastline is wonderful. It’s just that Florida spoils you and sets the bar high).
It’s a must to have a beach day in the Sunshine State! If you didn’t swim in the ocean on your trip, did you even go to Florida?
- Fort Pierce Inlet State Park: This is such an incredible park that’s open all year round from 8 a.m. until sundown. There’s a $16 vehicle fee, and visitors can go bicycling, birding, fishing, hiking on the Coastal Hammock Trail, and canoeing or kayaking on the Indian River Lagoon. The beach definitely has some big waves (But you enter the water and there’s sufficient space to swim right before the incoming waves) and surfers love this place. The golden brown sand and the pleasant water meant a trip to this state park was my favorite day in Fort Pierce.
- Fort Pierce Inlet: This is a place where the Indian River Lagoon meets the Atlantic Ocean. The water is very mellow and there are no waves, which is a surprise to a New Yorker like me because high waves on our beaches can become borderline rough and turbulent, making it nearly impossible to swim. But here, oh here, you can swim to your heart’s content because of the calm water and it’s so nice!
- Jaycee Park: This is a smaller park by the beach with pretty mellow water and basketball courts, playgrounds, a tennis court, and a volleyball court.
- Jensen Beach (Martin County): This place is another winner. The water is amazing and the waves are perfect, not too high to make swimming frightening. The thing about all of these beaches is that compared to NYC, there’s barely anyone there! You’re not going to have neighbors whose beach towel is within six feet of you and I’ve never seen a beach here close because the parking lot was full. I remember being at Jensen Beach at 1 PM and thinking to myself, Where are all the people? A successful beach day in NYC requires so much thought and precision: A nearly 7:30 AM wake-up call, getting to the beach before 10 as traffic continues to build up, and the beach closes at noon due to full parking lots. The beach experience in FL is more relaxed and enhances the overall experience.
PLACES TO GO
- Salty’s Water Sports & Boat Rental: You can rent jet skis and pontoon boats here! There are also banana boat rentals and water sports rentals. There are scenic water views from the boat cruises and you can choose how many hours you want to rent your boat. The owner is from the UK and is super friendly!
- Paradise Emporium: This is a cute, nautical-themed store that sells an endless variety of gifts, including beach jewelry, home decor, and clothing. There’s an ice cream shop on the same plaza that has amazing sundaes and shakes.
- A.E. Backus Gallery & Museum: Albert Ernest Backus, known as “A.E.” Backus, was a Fort Pierce native that is renowned for his Florida paintings that depict stunning sunsets, the mighty Atlantic waters, and lush palm trees. The ocean-themed paintings feel very 3-D and are inspiring.
- Port St. Lucie Botanical Garden (Port St. Lucie): This is a free (!!) garden in another St. Lucie County city with orchids and fruit trees. It’s on 20 acres of property.
- Heathcote Botanical Gardens: This is a Fort Pierce-based botanical garden that holds the title of having the largest collection of bonsai in the US.
- Manatee Observation and Education Center: There’s a butterfly garden, an aquarium a touch tank, and a wildlife viewing center with manatees.
- St. Lucie County Aquarium: An informative glimpse into marine life, should take between an hour to 90 minutes or so.
RESTAURANTS TO TRY
- The Island Beach Bar and Restaurant: This is located in the gated community Ocean Village and has lovely views of the ocean. They have great tacos and burgers and their selection of drinks is pretty awesome.
- Manatee Island Bar & Grill: This restaurant overlooks the Fort Pierce Inlet on Hutchinson Island. It’s a cute place offering paella, scallops, fish and chips, sandwiches, and salads.
- Conchy Joe’s (Jensen Beach): A Martin St. County staple. This is a waterfront restaurant with Bahamian-style seafood. If you’re a literal five-year-old like me, you’ll love the sweet potato fries sides too.
- Goodfellas: This is a great place to order takeout from (The sizes are so huge you can have an at-home meal more than once). They have great calzones, stromboli, and wings.
WHERE TO STAY
We stayed at such a cute and memorable pink exterior loft condo in the gated community Ocean Village. It was peaceful and vibrant, plus there was a community garden right behind the condo. There are two bedrooms, so you can fit a bigger party. I loved taking the stairs to the loft and reading on the couch in the loft. I highly recommend searching up Fort Pierce’s Ocean Village on Airbnb and seeing the available accomodations that come up!
The most amazing thing about staying in Ocean Village is that the gated community has its own private beach and pool for residents. It’s such a short walk to the beach and pool from this condo. I’m in awe again that I didn’t see a crowded beach-The only people I saw on this beach seemed to be miles away.
- Fort Pierce’s Location: The nearest airport is the Fort-Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport, it’s two hours south of Fort Pierce. It’s more laidback compared to JFK or LaGuardia.
- Hurricane Season: Hurricane season runs from June 1 to November 30, with the peak occurring between mid-August to late October.
- A rainy day activity….Raining all day? Vero Beach Outlets has nice shopping options.
- Another bullet point about the weather: Afternoon thunderstorms and sunshowers can be daily occurrences in the summer. Not the biggest fan of the weather? Wait five minutes and it will most likely change.
Serenity and a slower pace of life await you in the Sunrise City! ❤