St. Lucie County is on the south-east coast of Florida, United States.
From east to west, one can visualize St. Lucie County as:
- Hutchinson Islands: two long, thin barrier islands--Hutchinson Island and North Hutchinson Island--line almost the entire coast of Saint Lucie County. The county's only outlet to the sea is at Fort Pierce Inlet.
- The Indian River, part of the Intracoastal Waterway, separates the islands from the mainland. Properly speaking, it is not a river but a saltwater lagoon.
- The Coastal Strip between the Indian River and Florida Turnpike is characterized by sprawling subdivisions and bland big-box stores surrounding US-1, the county's main artery. Downtown Fort Pierce, on the Fort Pierce Inlet, is the county's only walkable downtown area.
- Inland Areas are sparsely populated and depend largely on agriculture. Citrus and cattle are important here, and several large natural areas have been set aside for conservation and the enjoyment of hardy nature-lovers.
- Avalon State Park is a Florida State Park, located on North Hutchinson Island, 4 miles north of Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, along A1A.
The nearest commercial airport is Palm Beach International and there is a Greyhound station in Fort Pierce, but it would take considerable ingenuity to get around without a personal car.
While Saint Lucie County does have a public transit system, visitors will almost certainly need their own car. Many roads have bicycle lands for experienced bicyclists, but the casual biker will find US-1 a terrifying experience.
- Arts and Culture
- Exodus Coffeehouse hosts concerts, poetry readings, film screenings, and similar small-scale events nearly every night. Most performers are local (talent varies) but the entertainment is often excellent.
- The Pineapple Playhouse offers community theatre and the odd arts event.
- Parks and Nature
- Savannas Preserve State Park protects 7000 acres near the Indian River and on the north fork of the Saint Lucie River. The park principally protects the largest freshwater marsh remaining in southeast Florida. Visitors can hike/bike 17 miles of trails (be aware: the trails flood seasonally), take kayak tours through the marsh, and participate in a variety of activities run by the park's Education Center. The park is excellent habitat for wading birds and several endangered species.
- Four species of sea turtle nest on Hutchinson Island, so Turtle Walks, in season, can be a spectacular sight. It is best to go with a group such as those offered by FPL through its Energy Encounter museum (see above). Be warned that it is both illegal and harmful to take a flashlight onto the beach. Turtles are easily distracted by bright lights and a flashlight may easily scare off a nesting adult or lead a hatchling away from the sea to its death.
- Bathtub Reef and the Indian River are great places to learn to snorkel. Both are protected waters with a great deal of sealife. Ask at the Oceanographic Center or St. Lucie County Aquarium (at the north and south ends of Hutchinson island, respectively, for tips on conditions and locations.
- 22 Fisherman's Wharf offers excellent and inexpensive seafood dishes. Also worth a try is its chocolate-dipped-key-lime-pie-on-a-stick, which is almost a meal in its own right. It is located on the north side of the causeway that links Fort Pierce to Hutchinson Island, but look carefully--the building is rather unassuming from the street.
- Archie's is an oasis of friendly, raucous dining amidst the sedate condos of Hutchinson Island. The food is tasty, but the crowds really show up for the open-air bar, live music, and weekend motorcycle meet-ups.