Built in 1925 in the thick of the Florida boom, Old City Hall was the first historic building restored in downtown Fort Pierce.

    Built in 1925 in the thick of the Florida boom, Old City Hall was the first historic building restored in downtown Fort Pierce.

    Photo by Peter W. Cross

    Quaint Downtowns on the Treasure Coast

    By: Terry Gibson 

    The quaint and lively downtown areas, where locals and visitors alike enjoy excellent dining, shopping and nightlife, are prime reasons why my family lives on the Treasure Coast. 

    Fort Pierce, Jensen BeachStuart and Port Salerno all offer warm, hospitable small-town downtown settings.  

    Much of the fun is found waterfront -- Fort Pierce and Port Salerno are located near to the Treasure Coast’s most vibrant fishing fleets; downtown Stuart shines at the confluence of the North and South Forks of the St. Lucie River. 

    Fort Pierce 

    Downtown Fort Pierce has undergone a complete revitalization. It’s a great place to while away the day and indulge a cool, breezy evening. 

    Boaters and landlubbers alike love to belly up at the Original Tiki Bar & Restaurant at the Fort Pierce City Marina, right on the gorgeous Indian River Lagoon. Folks flock to the City Marina Square and amphitheater for concerts, fairs and farmers’ markets. Check out the Main Street Events Calendar

    Artists and collectors should know that Fort Pierce is home to Florida’s most famous painters, Beanie Backus and the Highwaymen. Check out the A.E. Backus Museum & Gallery. Named after the famed landscape artist and humanitarian, the museum boasts the largest selection of Backus original paintings as well as originals by the Indian River School and Highwaymen painters. The latter were a group of African-American landscape painters who were inspired and in various ways mentored by A.E. Backus. 

    Theater lovers enjoy drama, dance and musical performances at the Sunrise Theatre.

    Shoppers find high-fashion, local art and jewelry in this burg. 

    A great many great dining options await. First try a pint or two at the Sailfish Brewing Company. Fort Pierce is a major commercial fishing center, and local restaurants serve up fresh catches year round. Many restaurants serve “cracker-style” dishes with generations of Florida tradition. But Fort Pierce is a melting pot where you can find great Thai, Korean and Mexican dishes, as well as Bistro-style cuisine.

    Afternoons at the Fort Pierce City Marina often find people enjoying live music and festivals.

    Afternoons at the Fort Pierce City Marina often find people enjoying live music and festivals.

    Photo by Peter W. Cross

    The Sunrise Theatre was built as a vaudeville theatre in 1923. It features a full-size stage, orchestra pit and balcony.

    The Sunrise Theatre was built as a vaudeville theatre in 1923. It features a full-size stage, orchestra pit and balcony.

    Photo by Peter W. Cross

    Jensen Beach 

    At the east end of Jensen Beach Boulevard, the road funnels into the quaintest waterfront downtown in the region. Downtown Jensen Beach is a gem. Folks love to walk from store to store and restaurant to restaurant. 

    Jammin’ Jensen takes place every Thursday night, where local bands and artists put their talents on display. Lures Riverfront Restaurant and Mulligan’s Beach House, as well as the surfy Kona Beach Café and spicy Crawdaddy’s restaurants offer indoor and outdoor bars and seating. They’re great places to wet your whistle, take in a game, and enjoy great food. 

    Jan’s Place rules for breakfast, ice cream and confections. 

    Dine in rustic elegance at 11 Maple Street Café

    You can stay right downtown at the Tilton Bed, Breakfast & Events, or right on Jensen Beach Blvd., at the Jensen Beach Inn, which boasts the Pineapple Jack’s Bistro. 

    Many locals and winter residents keep their boats at the Sundance Marina, which is across the street from cold drinks and great food. 

    The nearby Dolphin Bar and Conchy Joe’s have docks, and boaters love to idle in for lunch. 

    Downtown Stuart 

    During the pioneer days, the railroad used to stop in Stuart, so folks could load and unload crops, seafood and supplies on the waterfront. Historic downtown Stuart has retained its early 20th Century charm. It boasts more than 50 shops, restaurants and boutiques, plus antique and art galleries. 

    Concerts and other musical events take place regularly. The Stuart Green Market offers locally harvested delicacies, plus handmade clothing, jewelry and art, each Sunday between 9 a.m. and 1 p.m. 

    The elegant Lyric Theater, on the national register of historic places, presents performing art, concerts and films. 

    For those who enjoy live music -- seven nights a week -- plus icy pints of hand-selected and rotating craft beers, check out Terra Fermata

    The Pelican Café under the towering Roosevelt Bridge offers 100-percent open-air dining right on the water, where you can watch the yachts idle by. Pets are welcome. 

    Enjoy great coffee, wine and delicacies breakfast, lunch and dinner, at the Osceola Street Café.

    The Black Marlin is an icon that operates in the original space of the town’s oldest tavern. With brick walls, wooden booths and gorgeous bar, it retains the feel of an old-time tavern, one that serves up incredible seafood specials.

    For sophisticated southern, seafood and steak, cuisine, check out The Gafford

    Great Italian options include the venerable Luna and LouRónzos Italian Fusion.

    Nautical types love Sailor’s Return, located on the southwest side of the Roosevelt Bridge at Sunset Bay Harbour & Marina. Courtesy docking is available for those arriving by boat. Other waterfront gems include the Stuart Boathouse.

    Shops and cafes like the Blue Door Coffee Bar add to the contemporary charm in old downtown Stuart.

    Shops and cafes like the Blue Door Coffee Bar add to the contemporary charm in old downtown Stuart.

    Peter W. Cross

    A mural in Stuart welcomes visitors to a downtown filled with eclectic shops, galleries and eateries – many with sidewalk seating.

    A mural in Stuart welcomes visitors to a downtown filled with eclectic shops, galleries and eateries – many with sidewalk seating.

    Peter W. Cross

    Manatee Pocket 

    “The Pocket” is a bonus, a sheltered waterway lined with hotels and marinas, plus rollicking bars and restaurants, plus the historic Port Salerno commercial fishing docks that supply them with fresh seafood. Most businesses along Manatee Pocket are equally accessible by land and water. 

    Speaking of seafood, don’t miss out on the legendary Port Salerno Seafood Festival, where you can try an incredible variety of local delicacies. 

    Enjoy live music and great food, on any given night of the week, at great restaurants including the Twisted TunaShrimpers Raw Bar & Grille, or Manatee Island Grille Bar & Grille

    Manatee Pocket is a great place to relax and spend a few days. Pirate’s Cove Resort & Marina offers comfortable rooms, a lovely pool and on-site bar restaurant. 

    The Pocket is also favorite docking area for sport fishing vessels that spend the winter here in the Sailfish Capital of the World. The St. Lucie Inlet is a stone’s through away. If you’re looking for a charter-fishing trip, just ask around on any of the docks. 

    Manatee Pocket is a great place to relax and spend a few days. Pirate’s Cove Resort & Marina offers comfortable rooms, a lovely pool and on-site bar restaurant.

    The Pocket is also favorite docking area for sport fishing vessels that spend the winter here in the Sailfish Capital of the World. The St. Lucie Inlet is a stone’s through away. If you’re looking for a charter-fishing trip, just ask around on any of the docks.

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