Whether or not you’re up to wandering around the country or the world, the best place for an affordable vacation is still right here. Here are 10 reasons why.
Some of the world’s greatest artists live in or visit Fort Pierce. The Backus Gallery, 500 N. Indian River Drive, has exhibited everything from the works of pop artist Andy Warhol to architectural genius Frank Lloyd Wright. The gallery is the “home” of legendary Fort Pierce landscape artist A.E. “Bean” Backus, whose works are known worldwide. You can find some of his paintings displayed here or check out the latest exhibits. “Through the Eye of the Camera: A Juried Photography Competition” runs through July 11. Enjoy the visual wonders of the best amateur and professional photographers.
The Manatee Observation and Education Center, 406 N. Indian River Drive, is here for the summer, as well as year-round, for exhibits and observing manatees frolicking in Moore’s Creek. Although they are more plentiful in the cooler months, you still might catch a clear glimpse of these happy creatures.
Heathcote Botanical Gardens, 210 Savannah Road, features a variety of themed gardens: Japanese Garden, Herb Garden, Rainforest Display, Native Plants Garden and a Palm & Cycad Walk. You’ll be graced with the surrounding flowering shrubs, trees, vines and other plants from Mediterranean to tropical climates.
Staycations are a wonderful time for museum visits. Learn about the history of your area at the St. Lucie County Regional History Center, 414 Seaway Drive, along the Indian River Lagoon. It includes silver and gold from Spanish ships sunk during a 1715 hurricane as well as great displays on the history of Florida’s pineapple, citrus, cattle and fishing industries.
Nearby is the Smithsonian Marine Station, 701 Seaway Drive, which houses a research center for marine biodiversity and ecosystems of Florida. The station is part of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. The St. Lucie County Aquarium, 420 Seaway Drive, includes tours in which you can watch animals in their own ecosystems.
4. Military History in Your Backyard
Move from South Hutchinson Island to North Hutchinson Island for a visit to the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, 3300 N. Highway A1A. World War II soldiers trained on these beaches of Fort Pierce for the D-Day invasion. Get a first-hand look at U.S. Navy special warfare and explore the history of America’s special ops warriors. You can also get hands-on experience with specialized equipment. As the museum’s motto states, “If you got any closer, you would have to enlist.”
The North and South beaches of Fort Pierce are major attractions for residents and tourists. While you’re on the North Beach for a visit to the UDT-SEAL museum, you can’t avoid a vacation at the 340-acre Fort Pierce Inlet State Park with its wide choices of swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving and just plain old beachcombing. Surfers have been enjoying the waves off the North Jetty for decades. The area is considered one of the best surfing areas along the East Coast of the U.S. The North and South sides of the Fort Pierce Inlet are havens for fishing enthusiasts and birdwatchers.
6. Water Tours
Why not also take advantage of the many boating tours available along the coast and through the Indian River Lagoon. Motorized Kayak Adventures allows you to glide across waterways in battery-powered motorized kayaks. Enjoy the sights and sounds of ospreys, herons or just the wonderful noise of the water and air. Experienced guides are available for a relaxing and educational tour.
7. Downtown Day and Night
As you probably know, Downtown Fort Pierce has become an exciting area for daytime activities and nightlife. You’re right on the waterway, near the Fort Pierce Marina and finest restaurants, for special events. The Original Tiki Bar and Cobb’s Landing will be having a two-day celebration on July 4-5 to complement the fireworks and musical entertainment.
Or check out the 2nd Street Bistro, 122 N. Second Street, for special evening entertainment, including its popular Vegas Night at the Bistro every Tuesday at 7 p.m. with black jack and Texas holdem contests, prizes and drink specials. There’s live music every Friday and Saturday night on the deck, along with televised sporting events on the weekends.
The Inlet Beach Bar & Grille, 110 South Ocean Drive, located adjacent to the South Beach Jetty, has outdoor recreational activities, concert events and, best of all, a superb menu. Of course, you have plenty of restaurants to choose from along the waterways and throughout Fort Pierce.
9. Sunrise Fun and Movies
The Sunrise Theatre has put Downtown Fort Pierce back on the entertainment map with shows, music, comedy and the Missoula Children’s Summer Camp to help kids enjoy entertainment and programming. The theater also features widescreen showings of its Free Summer Time Movies on Sundays at 3 p.m.: Gran Torino, directed by and starring Clint Eastwood, June 22; Saving Private Ryan, July 6; E.T., July 20; The Bucket List, Aug. 3; and Cocoon, Aug. 17.
10. Spas and Salons
You want to rest, relax and look wonderful during your staycation? Fort Pierce has more than its fair share of stylists and beauty care experts. It’s a certified organic salon. Beautify your skin with a visit to the Posh Salon & Welness . Get away from it all with experienced estheticians and massage therapists with a variety of treatments that include Swedish and hot stone massage.