Located along south-central Florida’s Atlantic coast, Fort Pierce is often referred to as Sunrise City for the amazing morning spectacle of the sun rising over the distant horizon.
At the time of the last census, Fort Pierce had a population of slightly more than 45,000 residents. It’s bordered by Melbourne to the north and West Palm Beach to the south.
In an area known for its astronomical real estate prices and relatively high cost of living, Fort Pierce is a standout in that it’s noticeably cheaper than many of its counterparts.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Fort Pierce, Florida.
1. Fort Pierce Inlet State Park
Situated on nearly 350 acres of scenic coastline, Fort Pierce Inlet State Park is a popular regional recreation destination for those looking to get their fill of Florida’s abundant, natural beauty and great weather.
The park is a favorite of surf-fishermen and offers anglers a chance at tangling with a wide array of fish. From September until February, it’s one of the state’s hottest surfing spots and even holds tournaments, which are a blast to watch.
Canoeing, kayaking, and bird-watching are popular activities as well, and there are a number of trails that lead through varied natural habitats.
2. Gator Trace Golf & Country Club
Located on Gator Trace Drive in Fort Pierce, Gator Trace Golf and Country Club features a moderately challenging 18-hole, par 70 course that’s considered to be one of the Treasure Coast’s best values.
With a variety of tee boxes from which to choose, the course is appropriate for players of all levels and is more beginner-friendly than many other courses in the area.
Keep in mind that if you hit your ball in the water and decide to retrieve it, you may have to contend with a gator or two, so it’s best to use a long retrieval pole or just chalk it up as a loss and keep all your limbs.
3. The Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers Market
Farmers markets are perfect places to explore when visiting an area which you aren’t familiar with.
They’re always packed with fresh, seasonal fruits and vegetables, and a variety of other products like arts and crafts, wellness and health products, and prepared food items too.
The Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers Market includes more than 70 vendors and is held along the city’s scenic waterfront area.
The market takes place on Saturdays from 8 AM until noon and is particularly well-known for the trendy food trucks offering visitors a variety of internationally influenced treats, so swing by for an hour or two and support the local economy.
4. A. E. Backus Museum & Gallery
Founded in 1950, the A. E. Backus Museum and Gallery houses the world’s premier collection of the works created by Fort Pierce’s most lauded artist, a man named A.E. Backus who specialized in painting Florida’s natural beauty for most of his creative life.
The museum and gallery are located on North Indian River Drive and have an extensive collection of works by noted state, regional, and nationally known artists as well.
In addition to its impressive works, the museum offers visitors a wealth of historical insight that’ll give them a unique overview of the area’s history and development as seen through the eyes of a prolific and accomplished artist.
5. The Highwaymen Trail
The Highwaymen were a group of more than two dozen African American artists who lived and worked around Fort Pierce.
Many of the men were landscape painters like the aforementioned A. E. Backus, and though some claim they were students of his, others claim that they weren’t, and that they just tried to emulate his style.
The Highwayman Legacy Trail in Fort Pierce is a perfect destination for lovers of art who’d like to learn a thing or two about the area’s history, especially as it pertains to African Americans.
The trail includes historical exhibits, original works of art, and fascinating first-hand accounts and photographs.
6. Manatee Observation & Education Center
Though the American alligator is probably more recognizable, the venerable Florida manatee is also a unique natural icon, and populations that were once in decline are now becoming more healthy and self-sustaining.
Located on North Indian River Drive in Fort Pierce, the Manatee Observation and Education Center is open six days a week and includes indoor exhibits as well as outdoor trails that lead guests to a few vantage points from which it’s pretty common to see manatees year-round.
The center is an especially big hit with little ones, and it’s more likely that they’ll get to see a sea cow or two during the winter months.
7. St. Lucie County Aquarium
With admission that’s cheaper than a burger and fries, the St. Lucie County Aquarium is one of those rare and unique attractions that not only engages and entertains visitors, but educates them at the same time.
Most guests choose to join the regularly scheduled tours offered twice daily, which include animal feedings and other behind the scenes action that you may miss otherwise.
The aquarium’s distinct areas house a huge variety of local fish, crustaceans, and mollusks, and some from far corners of the world too.
Students, children, and seniors get admission discounts, so make sure you bring an ID if you qualify.
8. Sunrise Theatre for the Performing Arts
Located on South Second Street in Fort Pierce, historic Sunrise Theatre is a city-owned venue that seats more than 1,000.
The theatre hosts a variety of live entertainment events throughout the year and includes both locally produced and national music, comedy, dance presentations, and even opera and ballet for those looking for an extra-classy blend of art and culture.
If those last two seem a bit highbrow, fear not; many of their performances fall into the country-western, rock, and pop categories too.
Previous guests have noted that there’s not a bad seat in the house. To avoid a sold-out situation, it’s best to buy tickets well in advance.
9. UDT – SEAL Museum
Located on Route A1A in Fort Pierce, the UDT-SEAL Museum is dedicated to preserving the rich tradition of some of the country’s most elite armed units.
The UDT portion of the museum’s name refers to the underwater demolition team, which were the precursor to what we know today as the Navy SEALS.
Fort Pierce is home to the Navy program that created these two decorated and covert units; it’s a unique bit of natural history with an international twist that most guests find downright fascinating.
Consider saving your visit to the museum for when the Florida weather isn’t cooperating.
10. St. Lucie County Regional History Center
Commonly referred to as the St. Lucie County Historical Museum, the St. Lucie County Regional History Center has been open to the public for more than five decades and contains one of the area’s most impressive collections of items related to Florida history.
Though the items on display are from a variety of eras dating back centuries, many guests are especially drawn to the Native American exhibits, and those highlighting the state’s original discovery and exploration by Spanish explorers.
The center includes historical, economic, cultural and even art elements, so check it out for a reasonably priced and well-rounded insight into the area.
11. Main Street Fort Pierce
Downtown Fort Pierce is a historic gem that’s undergone a renaissance of sorts in recent years. Now, in addition to its quaint charm, it’s known as a hotspot for art, culture, and food-minded travelers.
Featuring restored and architecturally unique homes and businesses, and a number of restaurants, coffee shops, and cafes, the Main Street area is also home to a few great live entertainment venues. If you’d rather not rush into anything specific, it’s a great place for a casual stroll or an afternoon cappuccino with a good book.
It can get crowded during peak times when there’s a live entertainment event happening, so plan accordingly.
12. Heathcote Botanical Gardens
Florida has more botanical gardens per capita than most states, and the Heathcote Botanical Gardens in Fort Pierce is one of the area’s most beautiful.
The gardens were the brainchild of a local couple, who purchased the land from the city with the idea of turning it into a unique natural oasis, which is exactly what they’ve done.
Though they’ve only been around since the mid-‘80s, they’ve acquired quite a following, and many visitors come for the bonsai garden – the largest of its kind in the country.
Other areas of interest include a herb garden, Japanese garden, and rainforest.
13. Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery
Since 2012, Summer Crush Vineyard and Winery has been a popular attraction for traveling wine aficionados. Though most people don’t associate the Sunshine State with wines like they do California, most guests are pleasantly surprised with what they see and taste.
The vineyard and winery are on ten acres and grow an impressive array of grapes used to produce a variety of wines with different flavor profiles.
Many of the winery’s most popular wines are those made with fruit like berries and mango; they’re especially tasty and refreshing after a long day on your feet.
Other amenities include guided tours, food trucks, and lots of live entertainment on the weekends.
14. Savannas Preserve State Park
Located on East Midway Road in Fort Pierce, Savannas Preserve State Park is known for its outdoor activity options that include canoeing, kayaking, hiking, and strolling along the park’s scenic stretch of Atlantic coastline.
For those who’d rather see it all as part of a group, regularly scheduled guided tours are available and include unique and insightful narration that gives participants an in-depth look into the area’s history and ecology.
It’s pretty common to say a variety of local animals too, like gators, wading and predatory birds, turtles, and snakes.
Don’t forget a good hat, plenty of water, and sunblock.
15. Al’s Family Farms
Al’s Family Farms has been family owned and operated since the ‘80s and is still run by enthusiastic and knowledgeable members of the family.
The Indian River farming community is noted for its citrus, and the farm’s store is full of freshly picked oranges, grapefruits, and lemons, that are natural, vibrant, and chockfull of vitamin C.
Guided facility tours are available and include stops at the company’s packing operations and the facility where they turn oranges into orange juice.
They offer a variety of fun and educational events and programs throughout the year too, so check their website before making a special trip.