by Katie Hendrick | March 1, 2018

A Tale of Two Cities (And A Heavenly Barrier Island)

Beat the crowds and explore the wonders of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Hutchinson Island

Avalon State Park beach on North Hutchinson Island in Fort Pierce. Photography Visit St. Lucie

Nestled halfway between Orlando and Miami, St. Lucie welcomes those in search of the elusive “Old Florida” experience. The quiet county, anchored by two cities, Fort Pierce to the north and Port St. Lucie to the south, teem with history, outdoor activities, arts and culture and natural beauty every Floridian needs to soak in this spring.

Established in 1901, Fort Pierce retains much of its original character. Period architecture (predominately Mission Revival and Colonial Revival) dots the city’s six historic districts, which feature more than a dozen sites on the National Register of Historic Places, including the home of distinguished author Zora Neale Hurston.

Sunrise Theatre, a 1,200 seat historic theatre in downtown Fort Pierce is the city’s epicenter for performing arts. Photography Visit St. Lucie

Fort Pierce’s downtown bustles with boutiques, art galleries and sidewalk cafes. Its cultural centerpiece, the Sunrise Theatre, has delighted audiences since 1923 and today brings in national touring Broadway shows and artists such as Tony Bennett, Willie Nelson and Ziggy Marley. A few blocks away, the A. E. Backus Museum and Gallery celebrates the hometown painter famous for his vivid Florida landscapes who inspired The Highwaymen.

A local angler reels in a nice size jack crevalle fishing on the Indian River Lagoon. Photography by Ed Killer

The city’s crown jewel, however, is its coastline. Fort Pierce abuts the Indian River Lagoon, the nation’s most biologically diverse estuary—a treasure trove with more than 4,000 species of plants and animals. This connects to the Fort Pierce Inlet and onto the Atlantic Ocean, where world-class deep-sea fishing awaits. The city hosts national fishing competitions, such as the Pelican Yacht Club Billfish Tournament, and bustles with numerous charter companies. The area also has nearly a dozen public boat ramps where boaters and anglers can launch their own vessels.

The Japanese Garden at Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce. Photography by Visit St. Lucie

To the south, Port St. Lucie strikes a more urbane note with several lavish destinations including 20 acres of botanical gardensClub Med Sandpiper Bay, an all-inclusive resort, and PGA Village, where professionals and the public alike can hone their swing on three championship courses. And every spring, the New York Mets arrive at First Data Field, bringing the excitement of Major League Baseball to this active community.

Tim Tebow at bat at a St. Lucie Mets game at First Data Field in Port St. Lucie. Tebow is currently training with the New York Mets in Port St. Lucie through March. Photography Visit St. Lucie

The city also offers a dynamic nightlife, with a variety of dining options, ranging from posh bistros and family-owned ethnic restaurants to popular chains, as well as watering holes—including several stops on the Treasure Coast Wine and Ale Trail.

Friends enjoy a stop at a local brewery along the area’s Treasure Coast Wine & Ale Trail that features 8 craft breweries and one winery. Photography by Visit St. Lucie

Flanking St. Lucie’s eastern coast is Hutchinson Island, 21 miles of pristine shoreline free of overdevelopment and rowdy crowds. Here, visitors can sunbathe, picnic, kayak, surf, beachcomb, horseback ride or simply luxuriate in their solitude.

The Dye Course, one of three courses open to the public at PGA Village in Port St. Lucie. Photography by PGA Golf Club

For more information or to request a free Travel Guide, see VisitStLucie.com.