Fort Pierce, FL

Overview

Historic Fort Pierce, the county seat of St. Lucie County, lies on Florida’s “Treasure Coast,” about 15 miles northeast of Port St. Lucie. This Atlantic seaboard community boasts a revitalized, walkable downtown that has retained much of the old-Florida architectural style. The city's ethnic diversity promotes a melding of cultures, and the area attracts a good mix of singles, couples and families with children. Housing options range from budget-friendly mobile homes to condos to single-family homes, with prices rising in relation to proximity to the waterfront.

Restaurants & Nightlife

As you might expect from a coastal community, seafood aficionados are in luck due to the plentiful choices of seafood restaurants in the area, but there are plenty of other choices as well. For those eating establishments with a waterfront location, an added bonus is often a view of the lagoon or beach, along with a cool ocean breeze. For a true beachside dining experience with a funky surfer vibe, locals and tourists alike head to Bluewater Beach Grill, located across the South Causeway Bridge on South Hutchinson Island. Score a table on the patio to experience the sights and sounds of the beach while you peruse the menu, which offers beach baskets, soft tacos and platters. Crowd favorites include the oyster shooters and the house specialty conch chowder. Non-seafood lovers can opt for a burger with its signature fries or slaw, a choice of sandwiches or one of the surf shack salads. Head inland along Okeechobee Road for what many locals say is the best Mexican food along the entire Treasure Coast. Here you will find a small, unassuming place at the end of a strip mall called Costa Azul. The plain exterior belies what's inside – a cozy, casual atmosphere, offering quick and friendly service with a full bar. Locals rave about the fresh and natural ingredients and love that everything down to the tortillas is handmade. The guacamole appetizer never disappoints, and some of the main courses, like the signature cochinita pibil, provide a nice respite from the usual everyday Mexican fare. Back to the waterfront on Fisherman's Wharf, 12A Buoy offers locals some of the best seafood in town at a fun but unassuming place where the food is the highlight. This spot is wildly popular, and it doesn't accept reservations, so you can expect a bit of a wait. Locals and visitors rave about the lobster mac and cheese and often order the Miami Vice, a mix of conch and clam chowder. Be sure to end your evening with the Mile High key lime pie. 12A Buoy is closed on Tuesdays, so plan accordingly. The neighborhood's nightlife consists of a decent variety of casual bars, sports bars and a microbrewery. The Original Tiki Bar, situated at the Fort Pierce marina, features an outdoor setting overlooking the Indian River. Live music is offered on Friday and Saturday nights. Head a few miles south on U.S. Route 1 to The Gin Mill, a popular local dive bar that features craft beers along with a pool table, darts, karaoke and even a weeknight poker tournament. The Sailfish Brewing Company can be found in the downtown area on North 2nd Street. A rotating selection of brews are crafted on the premises and can be enjoyed in the small intimate taproom or outside in the expansive patio area. Sailfish does not serve food, but you are welcome to bring your own or order takeout from nearby restaurants. Musicians often perform here on the weekends.

History & Culture

The city of Fort Pierce incorporated in 1901 and gets its name from the original Fort Pierce, built in 1837 by the U.S. Army and serving as a supply depot during the Second Seminole War. This waterfront hub now centers on nautical-related activities for many residents to make a living and for visitors to enjoy. The Navy SEAL Museum, located northeast of the downtown area, rates as a must-see for the military-history buff. For a look at the history of Fort Pierce and the surrounding area, check out the St. Lucie Regional History Center in Museum Pointe Park. Art lovers enjoy the A.E. Backus Museum and Gallery, which showcases the Florida artist’s works as well as featuring rotating exhibitions of local Florida artists. The historic Sunrise Theatre on South Second Street remains a cultural gem, featuring nationally known entertainers, touring Broadway shows, ballet, opera and more.

Transportation

The downtown area of Fort Pierce provides a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere, and the waterfront area’s scenic beauty serves as an added bonus while strolling the area streets. Locals and visitors can enjoy free parking every day in the downtown area behind city hall, and parking is generally free at nearby parks and attractions as well. Most residents drive their own vehicles to get to the ocean beach areas and other outlying attractions. Bus service, provided by the Treasure Coast Connector, runs only on weekdays between 7 a.m. and 6 p.m. There are a couple of taxi companies in the area, but hailing a cab isn’t an option. Uber doesn’t service the region, so those in need of a ride have to call ahead to one of the local cab companies. Fort Pierce’s location directly on U.S. Route 1 provides easy access to nearby towns and cities up and down the east Florida coast. For longer driving excursions, I-95 and the Florida Turnpike are conveniently located about 5 miles west of town.

Cost

The cost of living in the Fort Pierce area remains about the same as surrounding communities, but about 10 percent less than the national average. The rent for a typical one-bedroom apartment hovers around $611 per month. Expect to pay about $3 for a beer and $2 for a single ride on the bus. Area gas prices average about 2 percent higher than the national average.

Shopping

The downtown area of Fort Pierce holds a nice variety of boutiques, gift shops, galleries and other specialty shops, such as those geared toward fishing and boating. Given the blue-collar casual tone of the town, there are no real high-end retail establishments, but a few local favorites are worth noting. The first store in Fort Pierce and the oldest commercial building in St. Lucie County is the P.P. Cobb General Store, established in 1882 and still operating at the original location today. This local landmark near the city marina sells lots of unique Florida products as well as dine-in or takeout breakfast and lunch goodies, and is known for offering over 500 brands of beer from around the world. A downtown stalwart located on South 2nd Street, Rosslow’s has been at the same location for over 65 years. Offering women’s clothing and specialty gifts, this family-owned store remains a favorite of area residents and visitors alike. For the angling enthusiast stands another Fort Pierce landmark, White’s Tackle, which was established in 1925. Located on South U.S. Route 1, this store with a knowledgeable staff and large inventory of all things fishing continues to be the go-to place before that inshore or offshore fishing adventure. For everyday grocery runs, residents head to the Publix Market at the corner of U.S. Route 1 and Juanita Avenue. A bit farther out of town sits the Walmart Supercenter on Okeechobee Road, just east of I-95. The Downtown Fort Pierce Farmers' Market has run continuously since 1977, taking place every Saturday from 8 a.m. to noon. This event ranks as the #1 Farmer’s Market in all of Florida and in the top five nationally, thanks to the wide range of vendors and special events and the scenic waterfront location.

Parks

Some of the best free public beaches in the country are situated just outside of town, which for many are the ultimate playgrounds. Residents and visitors enjoy free entry at all city and county parks in the area, and all are kid-friendly and dog-friendly, but dogs must be kept on their leash. None are specifically exercise-centric, but some offer hiking and other physical pursuits. A favorite county park of the locals can be found on North Hutchinson Island, where Pepper Park Riverside and Pepper Park Beachside are situated adjacent to each other. On the riverside are trails, picnic areas, canoe and kayak access, and piers for fishing or sightseeing. The beachside park features nearshore reefs, which are popular with snorkelers and divers. With the Indian River waterfront serving as a backdrop for most of the city’s events, annual festivals are a huge draw for local residents and those lucky enough to be visiting at the time. Annual festivals include the Taste of the Sea & Sandy Shoes Seafood Festival, and for music lovers the Annual Hooked on Music Festival.

6 Neighborhoods in Fort Pierce, FL

  • Fort Pierce North

    Dotted with lakes and lined with canals, Fort Pierce North is known for its salty breezes and tall palm trees. Located about two miles north of Fort Pierce, this sun-splashed Florida neighborhood is minutes from amazing beaches that stretch along the Atlantic Ocean.

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  • Fort Pierce South

    Fort Pierce South is just four miles south of Downtown Fort Pierce and 11 miles north of Downtown Port St. Lucie on Florida's Atlantic Coast. With Indian River State College directly north of Fort Pierce South, students and those working at the college will appreciate this neighborhood. Look along Cortez Boulevard to live near the college.

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  • Lakewood Park

    A suburban neighborhood characterized by modest, single-family homes and dotted with a multitude of tiny ponds, the Lakewood Park neighborhood lures residents with a low cost of living and plenty of house rentals. Located about five miles north of Ft. Pierce and three miles west of Atlantic Ocean beaches, Lakewood Park also provides easy access to recreational activities and other amenities in a laid-back, congestion-free setting.

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  • Outer Fort Pierce

    Outer Fort Pierce encompasses a lot of undeveloped space. Nonetheless, it includes a few residential and business areas scattered throughout, with some notable spots, including the St. Lucie County International Airport, Fairwinds Golf Course and the Road Runner Travel Resort campsite, which owns 38 acres in the area.

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  • South Beach

    No part of South Beach sits far from the water, with the Indian River on the west side and the Atlantic Ocean on the east side. This waterfront locale provides the luxury of ocean beaches and waterside restaurants to grab a meal or drink.

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  • White City

    The suburban neighborhood of White City sits less than 6 miles south of Fort Pierce within the Port St. Lucie-Fort Pierce Metro Area of Florida's Treasure Coast. This neighborhood provides a peaceful home life away from the commotion of Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie, yet a short drive brings residents to the dining, shopping and entertainment venues of these cities.

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