St. Lucie County is located on the east coast of Florida, along the Atlantic Ocean. It is part of the Treasure Coast region and is named after Saint Lucy of Syracuse. The county was established in 1905 and has a rich history shaped by Native American settlements, Spanish exploration, British occupation, and American colonization.
Before European contact, the area was inhabited by the Ais and Jeaga tribes. Spanish explorers, including Juan Ponce de León and Pedro Menéndez de Avilés, arrived in the 16th century and encountered the indigenous populations. However, Spanish settlement did not take hold in the region.
In the 18th century, the area came under British control during the time of British Florida. The British established Fort Pierce, named after the War Minister, Benjamin Pierce. The fort served as a strategic outpost during the American Revolutionary War, providing support for loyalists. However, after the war, Spain regained control of Florida through the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
The early 19th century saw increased American migration into the region. In 1837, a U.S. Army post called Fort Capron was established near present-day Fort Pierce as part of the Second Seminole War. The post was abandoned in 1842, but it marked the beginning of permanent American settlement.
In 1844, St. Lucie County was created as part of Mosquito County, which encompassed a large portion of central and southern Florida. The county was named after St. Lucy, the patron saint of blind people, and its county seat was established in the town of St. Lucie, which was later renamed Fort Pierce.
The late 19th and early 20th centuries brought significant changes to the region. The arrival of the railroad in the late 1800s facilitated transportation and contributed to the growth of settlements along the coast. Agriculture, particularly the citrus industry, became an important economic driver in St. Lucie County.
In the 20th century, the county experienced further development and population growth. During World War II, Fort Pierce was home to the U.S. Navy's Naval Amphibious Training Base, where thousands of sailors received training for beach landings. The base contributed to the local economy and brought significant changes to the area.
Over the years, St. Lucie County has continued to evolve and expand. Today, it is known for its beautiful beaches, recreational opportunities, and natural landscapes. The county's economy is diverse, with sectors such as agriculture, tourism, healthcare, and technology playing significant roles.
St. Lucie County is also home to various cultural and historical attractions. The A.E. Backus Museum and Gallery in Fort Pierce celebrates the work of Florida landscape artist A.E. Backus. The St. Lucie County Regional History Center provides insights into the region's past through exhibits and artifacts. The Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, Savannas Preserve State Park, and the Heathcote Botanical Gardens are among the natural treasures within the county.
Overall, St. Lucie County's history is a blend of Native American heritage, Spanish exploration, British influence, and American colonization. The county has grown from its early days as a strategic outpost to become a vibrant and diverse community on Florida's Treasure Coast.
Top Tourist Attractions
- St. Lucie County Aquarium and Regional History Center: Located in Fort Pierce, this combined facility houses both an aquarium and a regional history center. Visitors can learn about the county's marine life and ecosystems, as well as its cultural and historical heritage.
- Fort Pierce Inlet State Park: This beautiful state park is located on North Hutchinson Island and offers stunning beaches, nature trails, and picnic areas. It is a popular spot for swimming, fishing, boating, and wildlife viewing.
- National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum: Situated in Fort Pierce, this museum honors the history and achievements of the U.S. Navy SEALs. It showcases artifacts, exhibits, and interactive displays that provide insight into the SEALs' training, missions, and equipment.
- Heathcote Botanical Gardens: Located in Fort Pierce, these gardens feature a diverse collection of tropical plants, including orchids, bromeliads, and bonsai trees. Visitors can explore themed gardens, enjoy peaceful walking paths, and attend educational programs.
- A.E. Backus Museum and Gallery: This art museum in Fort Pierce is dedicated to the works of Florida landscape artist A.E. Backus. It features a collection of his vibrant and expressive paintings, as well as rotating exhibits by other regional artists.
- Fort Pierce Farmers Market: Held every Saturday in downtown Fort Pierce, this bustling market offers a wide array of fresh produce, locally made crafts, gourmet food items, live music, and a lively atmosphere. It's a great place to experience the local culture and flavors.
- Sunrise Theatre: Located in downtown Fort Pierce, this historic theater hosts a variety of performances, including Broadway shows, concerts, comedy acts, and film screenings. The beautifully restored venue offers an intimate and memorable entertainment experience.
- Savannas Preserve State Park: This expansive park encompasses over 10,000 acres of diverse ecosystems, including wetlands, pine forests, and freshwater marshes. Visitors can enjoy hiking, birdwatching, kayaking, and camping while exploring the park's natural beauty.
- Navy SEAL Museum Memorial Wall: Adjacent to the National Navy UDT-SEAL Museum, this memorial wall pays tribute to fallen Navy SEALs. It is a solemn and reflective place to honor the sacrifices made by these brave individuals.
- Jensen Beach: While technically located in neighboring Martin County, Jensen Beach is just a short drive from St. Lucie County and is worth a visit. It offers beautiful beaches, fishing opportunities, and a charming downtown area with shops and restaurants.
These attractions showcase the natural beauty, history, and cultural offerings of St. Lucie County, providing visitors with a range of experiences to enjoy during their visit.
St. Lucie County experiences a warm and tropical climate, typical of the southeastern coastal region of Florida. Here are some key features of the county's climate:
- Temperatures: St. Lucie County has warm temperatures throughout the year. Summers are hot and humid, with average highs in the 90s Fahrenheit (32-35°C) and sometimes reaching the 100s°F (37-38°C). Winters are mild and pleasant, with average highs in the 70s to 80s°F (21-27°C) and cooler evenings.
- Rainfall: St. Lucie County receives a significant amount of rainfall, particularly during the summer months. The wettest period is typically from June to September, with frequent afternoon thunderstorms and occasional tropical storms or hurricanes. The annual precipitation ranges from about 50 to 60 inches (1,270 to 1,520 mm).
- Hurricane Season: St. Lucie County, like other coastal areas in Florida, is susceptible to hurricanes. The Atlantic hurricane season officially runs from June 1st to November 30th, with the peak activity occurring from August to October. It's important for residents and visitors to stay informed about hurricane preparedness and follow any evacuation orders or safety guidelines.
- Sunshine: St. Lucie County enjoys abundant sunshine throughout the year, which contributes to its appeal as a tourist destination. The area receives an average of around 230 to 250 sunny days per year, providing ample opportunities for outdoor activities and enjoyment of the beaches.
- Sea Breezes: Due to its coastal location, St. Lucie County benefits from refreshing sea breezes that can help moderate temperatures, particularly during the summer months. The ocean influence also provides a pleasant environment for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts.
It's worth noting that weather patterns can vary from year to year, and extreme events like heatwaves or cold fronts can occur occasionally. It is advisable to check local weather forecasts and be prepared for the prevailing climate conditions when visiting or residing in St. Lucie County.
It is part of the Treasure Coast region and is bordered by Indian River County to the north and Martin County to the south. Here are some key geographical features of St. Lucie County:
- Coastline: St. Lucie County boasts approximately 21 miles (34 kilometers) of coastline along the Atlantic Ocean. The beaches are a significant attraction, offering sandy shores, clear waters, and opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports.
- Indian River Lagoon: The western boundary of St. Lucie County is defined by the Indian River Lagoon, one of the most biologically diverse estuaries in North America. This large, shallow lagoon system provides habitats for various marine species, including dolphins, manatees, and a wide variety of fish and bird species.
- St. Lucie River: Running through the center of the county is the St. Lucie River, which serves as an important waterway for boating, fishing, and recreational activities. The river connects to the Indian River Lagoon and flows into the Atlantic Ocean through the St. Lucie Inlet.
- Barrier Islands: St. Lucie County includes several barrier islands along its coastline, including Hutchinson Island, North Hutchinson Island, and South Hutchinson Island. These islands provide protection from the ocean and form a buffer zone that helps preserve the mainland from storm surges and erosion.
- Natural Preserves and Parks: St. Lucie County is home to several natural preserves and parks that showcase its diverse ecosystems. Savannas Preserve State Park, for example, encompasses wetlands, pine flatwoods, and marshes, providing opportunities for hiking, birdwatching, and wildlife observation. Additionally, the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve State Park, located in the northern part of the county, offers expansive grasslands and stargazing opportunities.
- Agricultural Land: St. Lucie County has a significant agricultural presence, particularly in the western and central portions. The fertile soil and favorable climate support the cultivation of crops such as citrus fruits, vegetables, and sugarcane.
Overall, St. Lucie County features a blend of coastal beauty, waterways, and diverse natural landscapes. Its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, rivers, and lagoons make it an attractive destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.