City Profile: Fort Pierce

By: VISIT FLORIDA staff

ADD TO FAVORITES
At the beach or on land, Fort Pierce invites visitors to discover its beautiful beaches and military history.

Known as the "Treasure Coast",  the area got its name after a fleet of Spanish treasure ships that sank off the coast of Hutchinson Island in 1715. These and other shipwrecks, combined with natural and artificial reefs, make Fort Pierce an excellent fishing and diving vacation. With access to the Atlantic Ocean through the Fort Pierce Inlet and reefs in waters from 15 to 120 feet deep, divers and fishermen can take advantage of the plentiful marine life including spiny lobsters, marlin, snook, flounder and grouper.

Environmental education is also a prominent part of Fort Pierce. The Indian River Lagoon Estuary, which runs through the city, is home to more than 4,000 species of plants and animals, many of which are endangered or threatened. Located along this important watershed are Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution, part of Florida Atlantic University, and the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit at St Lucie County Aquarium. The Smithsonian exhibit offers tours and displays open to the general public. Harbor Branch itself is not open to the public, but its Ocean Discovery Center is. The Manatee Observation and Education Center gives visitors a chance to see the endangered Florida manatee in its natural habitat.

Fort Pierce's rich military history, which dates back to the Seminole Indian War up through World War II, can be explored at the St. Lucie County Regional History Museum, and, for exhibitions from World War II to current day, the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum.

Those looking for the artistic side of life will enjoy Heathcote Botanical Gardens and the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery, home to the largest permanent collection of A.E. Backus paintings on view and other noted Indian River School artists, including the Highwaymen.

With 22 miles of sandy, unspoiled beaches along Hutchinson Island, visitors may just find themselves soaking up the sun, surfing the break or baiting their hooks on more than two dozen public parks and beach accesses.

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