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Nature lovers will love the many environmentally protected lands available for nature viewing and hiking seven days a week. Some even offer cycling, canoeing and kayaking opportunities. The Oxbow is but one example. At the Oxbow you have two miles of trails, a canoe dock with available tours, boardwalks, a nature center and observation towers. For more information on these beautiful natural areas and preserves, please visit St. Lucie County's Environmental Resource Division at www.stlucieco.gov/erd.
Experience the waterways with a nature cruise on the River Lilly River Cruise! This Eco Cruise explores the jungle-like backwaters of the "Real Florida" on the north fork of the St. Lucie River. Depending on the season, you may see nesting birds, river otters, alligators, dolphin and manatees.
If you can't get enough of nature, but could do without the walking and hiking; how about stopping by the Manatee Observation and Education Center in Ft. Pierce? While a manatee can be seen any time of the year, the winter months improve your odds. Being true nature lovers, the center does not keep the manatees in captivity. Instead they are drawn to the area by the warm waters generated by the nearby power plant. Even if you don't get to see a live manatee, you can learn more about them inside the center which offers visitors several exhibits and workshops for your enjoyment.
The center also offers boat tours of the picturesque Indian River Lagoon. Aside from learning about the birds, fish, dolphins and manatees that you may see on your 1 1/2 hour tour, you will also learn about the lagoon's ecology and its history, both cultural and natural.
You can also learn more about the Indian River Lagoon and its habitat at the St. Lucie County Marine Center which features the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit. The center opened in 2001. It boasts six living exhibits each featuring a unique marine ecosystem. Among the represented ecosystems are the Caribbean coral reef, Oculina coral reef, sea grass, mangroves, as well as the fish and organisms found in these habitats.
For history buffs, the Navy UDT-SEAL Museum honors the more than 130,000 American servicemen who made their homes in Ft. Pierce from 1943-1946 after the U.S. Navy created a Naval Amphibious Training Base for the Naval Combat Demolition Unit on sections of Hutchinson Island. This unit later became part of the Underwater Demolition Team, which later became known as the SEAL team. Photos of Navy officers training on South Beach and socializing at the old Fort Pierce Hotel are highlighted throughout the WWII exhibit. The Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, which opened in 1985 and was updated in 2003, features artifacts, uniforms, photographs and weapons from major military operations from World War II to Operation Desert Storm.
That's not all history buffs! Located along the Indian River Lagoon, the St. Lucie County Historical Museum features silver and gold from a fleet of 11 Spanish ships that sank during a 1715 hurricane. That and other sunken treasure helped the area earn the reputation as Florida's "Treasure Coast." The museum also features equipment from turn-of-the-century industries that help shape St. Lucie County, such as fishing, pineapple farming, cattle and citrus. Also on site you can find a 1907 settler's home and a general store.
Additionally, St. Lucie County has a rich Native American history from Seminole and Ais Indian tribes, some of which are displayed at the Historical Museum including artifacts from the 1838 Seminole War and an encampment featuring a thatched chickee, hand-carved canoe and patchwork clothing.
If it's the arts that interest you, Ft. Pierce also features the gravesite of Zora Neale Hurston (1901-1960), novelist, folklorist and journalist. Author of "Their Eyes Were Watching God" and "Mules and Men," Hurston is regarded as an influential part of the Harlem Renaissance movement. She moved to Fort Pierce in 1957 and lived in a modest home, while she worked as a substitute teacher and reporter for a local newspaper. Visitors can learn more about Hurston through the Zora Neale Hurston Dust Tracks Heritage Trail, a new outdoor display that features more than a dozen signs and kiosks with biographical information about Hurston and her life in Fort Pierce.
St. Lucie County's Cultural Affairs Department is currently in the process of creating a museum to honor Hurston and other African-American artists such as the Highwaymen, who first got their start in the Ft. Pierce area. These artists would travel the South selling their Florida landscape paintings out of the trunks of their cars. Some of their works, which are now sold for thousands of dollars, can be seen in the A.E. "Bean" Backus Gallery in Downtown Fort Pierce. The Highwayman, Backus and Hurston have all be inducted into the Florida Artist's Hall of Fame.
So you want to know the tee times? I did promise more info...It may be a hard decision given all your options. June's issue of Golf Digest magazine ranked Ft. Pierce the eighth best place in Florida for golfers to live! The area boasts 12 public and semi-private courses. PGA Golf Club and Village in Port St. Lucie is the first PGA facility open to the public and is the most advance golf and practice center in the country. This facility alone features a learning center, educational center, historical center and golf club along with 72 holes of golf! The 35-acre learning center, which Golf World says, "might be the best practice facility in the world" has driving ranges, putting greens, chipping areas and nine different types of bunkers. Other courses nearby include Ballentrae, Fairwinds, Gator Trace, Club Med Resort, Indian Hills and the Saints of Port St. Lucie, just to name a few. All of this provides you ample opportunities to tee up in this tropical paradise.
Golf isn't your thing? How about baseball? St. Lucie County is home to the Spring Training New York Mets! When spring training is over, you can catch the St. Lucie Mets battling other local teams at our spectacular recently renovated state of the art facility, Tradition Field located in nearby Port St. Lucie.
The Ft. Pierce City Marina and other local marinas offer various opportunities for boat charters. Whether it's fishing, diving for treasure--we actually have some--snorkeling or just sight seeing, there's a charter for you!
Finally, if all of that activity is just more than you can handle, you can just relax at one of the County's over 20 miles of unspoiled beaches. Although, it's nice to know there is so much to see and do, sometimes a little fun in the sun is all you need!