Striking it rich with vacation memories along Florida's historic Atlantic coastline
Welcome to Florida's Treasure Coast—a wonderful seaside stretch that's centrally located on the Sunshine State's Atlantic shoreline. Whether you're inspired by water sports, succulent seafood, one-of-a-kind museums, nesting sea turtles or birds (from egrets to ospreys to RV snowbirds), chances are you will meet your recreational match on the Treasure Coast.
The Indian River Lagoon runs perfectly parallel to the Treasure Coast. The lagoon is not a true river as its name suggests, but a shallow estuary that's effectively sheltered from the extremes of the ocean by a series of barrier islands.
Several vibrant cities and towns fall within the geographic range of the Treasure Coast and its scenic offshore islands. At its northernmost points in Melbourne Beach and Sebastian, surfing enthusiasts from all over the world visit Sebastian Inlet State Park for fast-breaking waves that never stop rolling. Park visitors can also scuba or snorkel, kayak, paddleboard and fish in the Indian River Lagoon, Intracoastal Waterway, St. Sebastian River or Atlantic Ocean. Consider making reservations for a ranger-guided eco tour of the lagoon, and don't forget to pack a pair of binoculars. While you're on and around the water, keep watch for bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, manatees and plenty of shorebirds. Pelican Island National Wildlife Refuge, America's first nationally designated refuge, is just offshore from Sebastian.
History buffs can learn about the origins of the local angling industry at Sebastian Fishing Museum. And at McLarty Treasure Museum, you can view a video about sunken ships, see examples of recovered coins, tools, pottery and ships' utensils, and visit the site where survivors of the wrecked 1715 Spanish plate fleet set up camp.
A little farther south on Vero Beach's sandy coastline, present-day treasure hunting with metal detectors is a popular hobby. The same fleet of Spanish ships that wrecked offshore in the early 1700s still yields bounties of gold and silver coins to lucky beachcombers. Vero Beach is known for its pleasing climate and lush landscapes of tropical palms, pine forests, ancient oaks and dazzling floral displays.
The next stop on our southward journey is Fort Pierce, an early Treasure Coast community built around citrus groves, pineapple fields and commercial fishing. During the mid-1800s, the local fort served as base camp for the U.S.
Today, the military heritage still stands proud in Fort Pierce at the Navy SEAL Museum—at the original beachfront training grounds of the first U.S. Navy Frogmen. Frogmen were predecessors of today's elite fighting force—the U.S. Navy SEALs. The museum's mission is to honor those who volunteered for Naval Combat Demolition Units and Underwater Demolition Teams that participated in local training exercises from 1943 through 1946. Frogmen and SEALS have served in every U.S. conflict since the Korean War. The museum portrays their stories through photos, artifacts, combat videos and real training crafts/vessels that once operated by air or sea.
After you learn about Navy Seals, you can explore sandy shores at Pepper Park, Avalon Beach or Fort Pierce Inlet State Park—just a few of Fort Pierce's numerous (and wildy beautiful) beachfront preserves.
As a Main Street City, Fort Pierce boasts a pedestrian-friendly revitalized downtown with the bustling City Marina, the restored Historic Sunrise Theater, Manatee Observation and Education Center, waterfront Saturday Farmer's Market, and the A.E. Bacchus Gallery and Museum—a tribute to a legendary Florida landscape artist. Other Fort Pierce gems include Heathcote Botanical Gardens (exceptional bonsai collection) and the Smithsonian Marine Ecosystems Exhibit, where fascinating aquariums take center stage.
The next link in the Treasure Coast chain is the sprawling city of Port St. Lucie, widely regarded for its carefully planned, all-inclusive communities that offer residents a full range of options in housing, education, business and recreation. Port St. Lucie is the spring training base of the New York Mets, home of the St. Lucie Mets minor league team, and the site of several exceptional golf courses, as well as the National PGA Learning Center.
Just south of Port St. Lucie, historic downtown Stuart on the St. Lucie River is a National Mainstreet City with a riverwalk, eclectic shops, restaurants, galleries and the restored Lyric Theater. Also in Stuart, Florida Oceanographic Society is a research and education facility that aims to inspire environmental awareness and care of Florida's coastline.
At the Society's Coastal Center (located between the Atlantic Ocean and Indian River Lagoon) you can browse through pavilions dedicated to sea turtles, reef rays and sea stars. The circa 1875 Gilbert's Bar House of Refuge once served as a U. S. Life-saving Service shelter for shipwrecked sailors. Today's museum features vintage lifesaving gear and displays about seafarers dating back several centuries. The newly reconstructed
Elliot Museum features diverse rotating exhibits of everything from classic cars, dugout canoes and Da Vinci machine replicas to promising Florida artists, designer chairs and hand-crafted quilts.
Hobe Sound is best known for outdoorsy opportunities—sandy beaches, grassy parks and top-rated golf courses, plus freshwater and saltwater fishing. At Johnathan Dickinson State Park on the federally designated "Wild and Scenic" Loxahatchee River, you can take a hike, pedal a bike, paddle a kayak, go fishing or board the Loxahatchee Queen II for a narrated tour of a 1930s trapper's camp.
At the southernmost tip of Florida's Treasure Coast in the scenic towns of Jupiter, Tequesta and Juno Beach.
For More Information:
Florida Department of Tourism