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Fort Pierce, Florida
A charming, historic city situated on the Indian River Lagoon.
Fort Pierce, Florida is located directly on US Highway 1 and is the County Seat of Saint Lucie County. It is a dynamic area of economics in the south central Florida locale known as the Treasure Coast. Fort Pierce and Saint Lucie County continue to lead the State of Florida in grapefruit production. Several large juice companies are based here, including Tropicana, with its large juice production storage facility. The “treasures” of the Fort Pierce area of the Treasure Coast are the oranges and grapefruits produced there.
Fort Pierce is one of only a handful of Florida cities that remain with beach area in the city limits. The larger portion of Fort Pierce, Florida lies on the mainland, bound on the east by the Intracoastal Waterway, channeled in the Indian River at this location. A smaller portion of Fort Pierce and several of the area’s large parks are located on Hutchinson Island, the barrier island portion of Fort Pierce. From US 1, Highway A1A will provide access to the north side of this Atlantic Ocean barrier island and Seaway Drive provides access to the southern portion of the island.
Fishing, boating and other water sports are some of the main attractions in the Fort Pierce area. Skiing, snorkeling, skim boarding and surfing are also water activities enjoyed by many. Charter boats depart from the port daily for deep sea excursions. Fishing in the area is very good with yellow and blue fin tuna, grouper, and dauphin (mahi-mahi) being common catches of the day.
Museums are numerous in Fort Pierce and most points of interest can be accessed by parking near the Avenue A roundabout downtown and walking from place to place. The A.E. Backus (“Beanie”) Art Gallery, the downtown city park and the City Marina are great stops along the way. The Manatee Center and the P. P. Cobb Trading Post nearby are also unique spots to visit in town.
The Manatee Observation and Education Center is located downtown near the Beanie Backus gallery. The center features Indian River Lagoon Boat Tours six days a week on a pontoon boat. Learning about the life in the lagoon may allow you to spot some of the wildlife inhabitants of the area. There's a variety of birds, fishes, and other wildlife native to the region that are very interesting. The Manatee Center's Vanishing Mermaid Gift shop sells tickets to the center and for the Indian River Tour, either in person or by telephone.
Walking along the waterfront of the west bank of the Indian River, you’ll see boats on the water, both large and small. Restaurants along the waterfront provide places to stop and rest as you explore the area. The park provides great vistas of the Indian River Lagoon.
Another stop you’ll enjoy is the Heathcote Botanical Gardens, a living museum including many species of plants and featuring a Japanese garden. Located on Savannah Avenue, this garden is a peaceful pleasure.
Other spots of interest include The Energy Encounter in Florida Power and Light Company’s educational center located on Hutchinson Island; Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute featuring tours by boat and land; and the Saint Lucie Marine Center featuring the Smithsonian Marine Eco Exhibit which shows six living marine ecosystems. Visit the Smithsonian Marine Exhibit or the other town sites for excellent information on the Indian River Lagoon. There is quite a lot to do in Fort Pierce!
Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, located on the northern side of the inlet, offers ½ mile of beach front where snorkeling, scuba diving, swimming, surfing and beach fishing are major attractions. Dynamite Point, once used for World War II Navy frogmen training, is now a great spot for bird watching. Primitive group camping can be scheduled, but is by reservation only. The UDT Navy Seal Museum showcases the history of the Navy Seals and allows you to see first-hand the training areas for one of the most elite teams of the U.S. Navy.
One mile north of Fort Pierce Inlet is Jack Island Preserve which provides hiking trails, bicycling pathways, nature trails and an observation tower that visitors can climb and see the city of Fort Pierce as well as far out into the Atlantic Ocean.
The Fort Pierce Inlet, first excavated in 1920, is a totally man-made opening. In 1993, the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers assumed responsibility for maintaining the channel jetties and enlarging the channel as well as enlarging the basin to its present dimensions. The configuration of the inlet and easy accessibility to the docks combine to make it quite effective for the Port of Fort Pierce to be utilized by both commercial shippers and sport boaters. Some examples of cargo transported through the Port of Fort Pierce are: citrus, tomato, cement, aragonite, fertilizer, insecticide and general cargo, export and import.
Arriving via the Interstate 95 corridor, access to Fort Pierce is by way of the Route 68 East exit which will take you right into downtown Fort Pierce. If you are traveling Florida’s Turnpike, access to Fort Pierce will be a bit further south of downtown, by exiting Route 70, noted as the exit to Okeechobee Road, and heading northeast to Fort Pierce. US Highway 1 is the main north-south thoroughfare through the mainland section of downtown Fort Piece, along with 13t Street and Martin Luther King Blvd.
Air travel access to Fort Pierce is provided by St. Lucie County International Airport. If you wish to fly into a larger airport with more selection of flights, you can travel about an hour south to Palm Beach International Airport. Private planes, even the small four to six passenger aircraft are allowed to use Fort Pierce Airport which can also act as a gateway to the Caribbean Islands for those including out of country trips in their private aircraft.
Water access via the Atlantic Ocean is especially easy, since Fort Pierce boasts a wonderful inlet and port area. Much of the citrus shipped overseas leaves the Port of Fort Pierce. You simply enter the Inter-Coastal Waterway using the inlet at Fort Piece and in the Indian River you will be able to locate full-service marina dockage as well as small, cozy marinas for short-term dockage. Any size craft can easily locate a berth in Fort Pierce.
Seeing the orange industry in full swing is a testament to the agriculture that is so important to the area. It is well know that Florida oranges and other citrus was the sweetest available anywhere. The citrus industry suffered much damage during the 2004 hurricane season, as did other areas of Fort Pierce, but the area has recovered wonderfully from the three-storm impact of the unheard of 2004 record storms.
The Chamber of Commerce serving Fort Pierce and St. Lucie County, Florida.
Nearby cities to check for activities and attractions: Orlando, Kennedy Space Center, Port St. Lucie and Vero Beach.
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