Downtown Diversions

Dining, shopping, galleries, live entertainment – find all this and more in newly renovated downtown Fort Pierce.

Perched on a seawall in Fort Pierce overlooking the pristine Indian River Lagoon, I munch on mini-donuts still warm from the fryer and savor freshly squeezed orange juice as the local band Coffee Beans plays a jazzy tune. The sweet and salty smell of kettle corn wafts through the air as I think about my next indulgence.

Is it too early for popcorn?

It’s a sunny Saturday morning, and I am happily enjoying the downtown Fort Pierce Farmers’ Market, one of many special events and activities that keeps this ultra-laidback city humming with activity. The historic downtown area, which has undergone a comprehensive revitalization, is also home to an array of unique restaurants, shops and galleries.

Arts & Culture

At 10 a.m., I arrive at the Farmers’ Market, which is a Saturday morning tradition that dates back more than a decade.

Every Saturday, vendors sell everything from red peppers and grapefruits to orchids and lavender-scented lotions. I sample award-winning hot sauces, freshly made guacamole and boiled peanuts. There’s something inviting about watching cooks prepare my food in the open air and shaking hands with the artist whose watercolor painting will adorn my walls for years. Find original artwork for sale at the Fort Pierce Jazz & Blues Society's Arts & Crafts Show and Sale, also on Saturdays.

On the first Friday of every month, the city hosts Friday Fest, the Treasure Coast’s most popular street party. At the evening festival, live music fills the air and dancers fill the streets. The festival also features children’s activities, food and arts and crafts.

Fort Pierce has a vibrant arts and music scene. There are jazz and blues festivals held throughout the year and Art Walk, a monthly sidewalk art show where artists, sculptors and craftsmen discuss history, themes and technique.

Shopping, Dining and Entertainment

As the farmers’ market winds down, I continue my exploration of the charmingly restored downtown area.

I admire unique gifts at Coke’s Stationers – in particular, hand-painted wine glasses and a miniature, metallic pink notebook. At the Manatee Zone, I browse racks of bathing suits and at Beads & Baubles Gallery I try on one-of-a-kind rings and necklaces. I pop into Bangz, a family-owned salon where the owner greets me at the door.

I stroll the brick-lined streets of Fort Pierce past the historic Sunrise Theatre, which opened its doors in 1923 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The renovated 1,200-seat theatre hosts musical acts, touring Broadway shows, dance troupes and orchestras. Upcoming performances include “In the Mood,” a 1940s musical revue, and a concert by Juan De Marcos Gonzalez and the Afro-Cuban All Stars.

If you’re into dinner and a show, settle into a cozy booth at Bangkok downtown, a hip Thai and Japanese restaurant where chefs serve up a la carte sashimi and curry dishes. Sample specialty rolls like the Indian River Roll, made of soft-shell crab, eel and cream cheese and topped with a "volcano" sauce.

Or, reserve a table at Café la Ronde, a fine-dining eatery that was voted “Best European Restaurant on the Treasure Coast” for three straight years. Don’t miss the fried Florida lobster.

Outdoor Activities

Whether diving a shipwreck off the Treasure Coast or kayaking mangrove-lined estuaries, an array of extraordinary outdoor adventures await here as well. Last summer, I took a fishing charter, strapped on a fighting belt and hooked king mackerel, bonita and jack crevalle.

Known for its flats fishing, the Indian River Lagoon is teeming with more than 4,000 plants and animal species, including 50 endangered species. If you’d rather stay on solid ground, cast a line off the fishing pier at South Jetty Park, which has the longest fishing jetty in the state.

You can catch a ball game in nearby Port St. Lucie, the Spring Training home of the New York Mets and the Minor League’s St. Lucie Mets. As you watch the bat-cracking, ball-hurling fun, grab a tropical drink at Tradition Field’s own tiki bar.

Or, bring a blanket and picnic on one of Fort Pierce’s white, sandy beaches. It’s easy to find a spot all to yourself.

On my recent trip to Fort Pierce, I pull up a chair at the original Tiki Bar & Restaurant, a waterfront eatery with a thatched roof. Tropical artwork decorates the walls, and island music plays in the background. Here, Jimmy Buffett would feel at home. I order up freshly fried oysters, piping hot sweet potato fries and creamy coleslaw. In the distance, boats cruise the river.

The sun is setting, and it’s time to return home. My Saturday adventure to the laidback city of Fort Pierce was entertaining and relaxing – a perfect daytrip.

This article is brought to you by the St. Lucie County Tourist Development Council. To play your own getaway to St. Lucie County, call 800-344-TGIF or visit

Sponsored listings by VISIT FLORIDA Partners


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