Fort Pierce town
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Fort Pierce is a sleepy town with not much to see. The town is modest and quite poor. There is a waterfront area at the east end of Orange Ave with lovely views of the Indian River and its pretty slate-blue hue. Here, a brick-paved square, benches, sculptures, and lamp posts make for a nice spot to hang out. I wouldn't feel safe here at night though. There is an Italian sandwich shop across the street from the river called Uncle Carlo's Gelato. It has fairly yummy panini sandwiches, gelato, and coffees, all in an attractive, clean setting. Orange Ave and Avenue A are the main drags of Fort Pierce, with clothing stores and restaurants. The buildings are historic but the area is plain. On Saturdays the area is humming because of the morning Farmers market. On Sundays most stores are closed. We also tried Importico's Bakery Cafe on Indian River Dr just south of Orange Ave but it wasn't that yummy. It's nice to sit at their sunny sidewalk tables though, and an instrumental duo called Together Ensemble plays here on fridays at noon. Both of these cafes are counter-service cafes, which is always handy when you have kids.
Walk north from the waterfront square past the boats in the marina and you come to the Manatee Observation Center. In December and January you can stand at the second-floor observation area and look down on the marina where manatee like to hang out. The fairly old center has a few modest tanks with fish and some lift-the-flap question and answer exhibits about manatees that kids enjoy, plus a gift shop with a sea theme.
While in Fort Pierce, you must go to the Heathcote Botanical Gardens, a tropical paradise with themed gardens and lovely flowers everywhere!
A great place to go in Fort Pierce is the Smithsonian Aquarium, a small but well-cared-for aquarium in a beautiful area fronting the lagoon, with a white sand beach, playground, and walking path past the bright turquoise waters filled with arching dolphins. Behind the aquarium is the St Lucie County History Museum, a fantastic, large museum where you will learn a ton of interesting things!
Fort Pierce is a handy place to stop if you want to go on a beautiful drive down Indian River Drive. Start at Orange Ave and then drive south on Indian River Drive. You will see mansions and sweet cottages with fig trees and plumeria in their yards on your right, and private wooden docks jutting out into the dreamy Indian River on your left. Palms sway in the breeze as you let the breeze blow in your windows, turn the stereo up, and enjoy a long, lazy weekend drive. Once you come to Walton Rd, you can use it to get back to the freeway. After 15 miles, you will come to Jensen Beach Blvd where you can stop for a drink at one of the bars or restaurants.
For a nice beach near Fort Pierce downtown, check out Pepper Park Beach.
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The main strip of Fort Pierce is Orange Ave where it meets the Indian River.
Exit Highway 95 at Orange Ave and head toward the ocean for five miles. There is plenty of free parking along the road.
Uncle Carlo's Cafe, 141 Melody Lane, Fort Pierce FL 34950, call (772) 672-4401.Importico's Bakery Cafe, 134 S. Indian River Dr, Fort Pierce FL 34950, call (772) 429-3435.
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Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.