Treasure Coast is a region on the east coast of Florida. It has beautiful beaches and many opportunities to see nature, and have fun. It is comprised of Indian River County, St. Lucie County, and Martin County.
- 1 Port St. Lucie — A sprawling tropical city; the hotspot and largest city of the Treasure Coast.
- 2 Fort Pierce — Fort Pierce is the largest county seat in the area with its Spanish colonial buildings and the ever popular Sunrise Theatre; sister city of San Francisco, California
- 3 Hobe Sound — This town is closest to the Jonathan Dickinson State Park.
- 4 Jensen Beach — Small town adding to the charm of the region, with a booming downtown area and great spots for boating. The town is shown in the banner above.
- 5 Palm City — Largest town in Martin County, home to a large area known as Martin Downs, with an equestrian center and a golf course.
- 6 Stuart — A beautiful city with neat architecture in the thriving downtown.
- 7 Sebastian — Home of Pelican Island, this small town will charm you with all of its friendly residents, except for the "six old grouches!"
- 8 Fellsmere — home of the annual Frog Leg Festival
- 9 Vero Beach — Original spring training home of the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The Treasure Coast is a booming coastal area that grew from a swamp of nothingness to a resort oasis of 600,000 for many hotels, the PGA, the St. Lucie Mets, and many beautiful natural habitats and preserves. The self-proclaimed capital of the region is Port St. Lucie, which is the Florida home of the New York Mets and the PGA. In the suburban cities of the region are historic downtown regions and boating ramps giving access to the Atlantic.
The Treasure Coast consists of two metropolitan areas, the Port St. Lucie MSA (St. Lucie and Martin Counties) and the Sebastian-Vero Beach MSA (Indian River County). The climate on the Treasure Coast retains a relatively warm climate throughout the year, about 60 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter to about 80-90 degrees Fahrenheit in the summertime.
You can't visit the Treasure Coast without the opportunity to find sunken treasure from the 1715 loss of 11 ships in a Spanish treasure fleet during a hurricane in the area. Treasure has been found off the coast of Port St. Lucie, Fort Pierce, Sebastian, and Vero Beach. Much treasure has not yet been recovered, so who knows what can be down at the ocean floor for you to dig up!
Due to the close location to the Miami metropolitan area, it is good to know at least some Spanish, just to get you through Miami if you plan to go there. Also, the Treasure Coast is a region built from scratch in the South, so Southern accents may be quite common, and it may be useful to know some of the Southern jargon.
It's not uncommon to hear these Southern slang words, even if some people don't speak with a Southern drawl/twang (word: definition):
- Y'all: you all, all of you
- Buggy: shopping cart
- Yankee: Northerner
- Pocketbook: purse, checkbook, wallet
- Hit the road: leave
- Spigot: faucet
The closest Amtrak station is in West Palm Beach; within the next few years this region will get one. The Florida East Coast Railroad has plans to remake its historical passenger line and allow Amtrak trains; the FEC's main line hasn't heard the rumbling wheels of passenger trains since the 1970s by the consolidation of passenger lines to form Amtrak. The proposed stations are to be located in Fort Pierce, Stuart, and Vero Beach.
- West Palm Beach, 209 South Tamarind Avenue, West Palm Beach, toll-free: . Two routes going two directions. They'll take you from Miami to Orlando or Jacksonville. The station itself is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Okeechobee, 801 N Parrott Avenue, Okeechobee. As of 2015, Okeechobee is just a stop without a ticket booth or waiting area.
- Orlando, 1400 Sligh Boulevard, Orlando. Amtrak service and local commuter trains served at this station
- Sanford, 600 S Persimmon Avenue. Served by Auto Train with service to Lorton, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, DC.
The Treasure Coast is served by Interstate 95, the Florida Turnpike, and U.S. Highway 1. Popular alternative routes include US A1A along Hutchinson Island, the barrier island bordering the ocean, and Indian River Drive, which runs the length of the Indian River Lagoon.
I-95 reaches the Treasure Coast from Bridge Road in Hobe Sound to Fellsmere Road in Fellsmere.
If you want to go here from or around Lorton, Virginia (or the Washington DC area), you can also take the Auto Train to Sanford and drive from there. (see above)
- Orlando International Airport, 1 Jeff Fuqua Boulevard, Orlando, ☏ . This airport is outside of the region, but is used to get into the region, serving almost all global US cities.
- Melbourne International Airport, 1 Air Terminal Pkwy, Melbourne, ☏ . Serves Atlanta, Charlotte, and Washington DC at Dulles.
- Palm Beach International Airport, 1000 Turnage Blvd, West Palm Beach, ☏ . Seasonal flights to and from Trenton, NJ, Toronto, and Boston.
- Miami International Airport, 2100 NW 42nd Ave, Miami, ☏ . Serves all over the United States, South America, and Heathrow Airport in London.
Most of these airports are outside of the region, but they are the closest commercial hubs. Airports in the region are general use airports, so bring your own plane! General airports in the region are:
- St. Lucie County International Airport
- Martin County at Witham Field
- Vero Beach Municipal Airport (VRB IATA)
- Sebastian Municipal Airport
In the Downtown district of most cities, everything is walking distance, but otherwise it is good to have a car. Public transportation is very limited, and most natives have their own vehicle. Visiting tourists and "snowbirds" from urban areas often express exasperation at the difference in distance between destinations on the Treasure Coast, and Florida in general. You pretty much need a car to get anywhere.
By bus/public transport
- For the big cities of St. Lucie County (Fort Pierce and Port St. Lucie), there is a bus service. The Treasure Coast Connector serves the southern and central Treasure Coast from the Treasure Coast Square Mall in Jensen Beach to Downtown Fort Pierce. The routes of the TCC include: US-1 from Jensen Beach to Fort Pierce, PSL City Hall to Tradition, a downtown "trolley" in Port St. Lucie, two routes in Fort Pierce, a route through St. Lucie West, and a new route from Fort Pierce to south Vero Beach.
- For Martin County (Stuart, Jensen Beach, Indiantown), there is a brand new bus service serving the major cities and communities of the county. The Marty transit system takes you from southern Port St. Lucie to south Stuart via the Treasure Coast Connector and two separate routes serving two cities; one route runs through Indiantown, and the other city route runs through Stuart, mostly in the downtown area.
- For Indian River County (Sebastian and Vero Beach), serving almost the entire county with major hubs at the Vero Beach Airport, the two local malls, and another hub at US-1 and Oslo Road, the GoLine Indian River Transit system takes you from the Vero Beach Airport throughout Indian River County, even serving the IRSC Main Campus in Fort Pierce. The best part is no fares.
There are connections between each transit system at: the main Indian River State College campus in Fort Pierce, South Point Plaza in Vero Beach, and the Treasure Coast Square Mall in Jensen Beach. The Treasure Coast Connector is the system that links the GoLine IRT to the "Marty", from Indian River to Martin counties.
In the region, everything is within driving range, from the city hospitals to the local malls. Major highways in the area include: I-95, Florida's Turnpike, US-1 and State Roads A1A, 60, and 70. The Turnpike's rough paralleling of I-95 ends in Fort Pierce, after which it diverts northwest, eventually crossing I-4 and ending at I-75 in Wildwood. I-95 continues up the region, not exactly on the East Coast of Florida, but through flatlands.
On most of the Treasure Coast, you can get from town to town via the Intracoastal Waterway. This waterway can also be used to reach Hutchinson Island, on the other side. From one end of the coast to the other (Stuart to Sebastian), it should be 2 hours at the most. There are many marinas along the coast if you plan to launch a boat.
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.
Stuart and Jensen Beach have downtown areas worth visiting. Downtown Stuart is centered around a giant sailfish statue and contains several beautiful buildings, great food and lots of fun shops, and holds great parades around Memorial Park for national holidays, while Jensen Beach features an artistic beachy downtown which was once an old college town and still retains the college town feel.
St. Lucie County
Fort Pierce's booming downtown is full of many beautiful Spanish colonial and Mediterranean revival style buildings, and its close location to the coast makes great views from the sidewalks.
Port St. Lucie City Center is a soon-to-be downtown in PSL, and there is a civic center building, a small amphitheater, a parking garage and a bus service. Plans are going into effect to build office buildings and hotels on the empty blocks around the civic center. Also in Port St. Lucie is the The Town of Tradition, PSL's main shopping center, featuring the local Target, Kilwins, and the Taste of Little Italy Festival; and Tradition Field, the spring training home of the New York Mets, is close by: the stadium is in Port St. Lucie. St. Lucie West is one of the best known neighborhoods in PSL, home to many "strip malls" and a wide variety of restaurants and food choices to suit anyone's taste, from barbecue to pizza and everything in between.
Indian River County
Downtown Vero Beach is made up of varied businesses from eclectic shops like those in the Pueblo Arcade to Vero’s government buildings. Enjoy a quiet breakfast at one of the many cafes or treat yourself to lunch or dinner at one of the many ethnic restaurants. Most downtown buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Stuart Beach has facilities and good waves, and is a beautiful family beach. Bathtub Beach, enclosed in a reef, is a great place to find crabs and other small aquatic animals during low tide this; however, it does not have facilities. Jensen Beach, with more adventurous waters, is great and includes facilities.
You can stroll through the amazing park at the Oceanogaphic Center and learn about, and see, ocean creatures and plants
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.
Dive for sunken treasure. The Treasure Coast wouldn't be called such a place without the 1715 wreck off the middle of the coast. People have been hunting here since the 1900s, and much treasure has not yet been uncovered.
Mulligan's is a restaurant chain in Martin and Indian River counties, and further south in Lake Worth and Lauderdale by the Sea. Here, visitors can chow down on more than 50 dishes, including Mahi Mahi Sliders and any of their 7 lobster dishes; steak, ribs and jerk chicken are available as an alternative. They're also known for their Baja Fish Tacos or the BBOB, the "Best Burger on Beach." Their restaurants' opening hours are Su-Th 8AM-10PM, F Sa 8AM-midnight.
Another locally-favorite chain of restaurants is Duffy's, which started out further south in Palm Beach County, and found considerably large business on the Treasure Coast with the three restaurants in the region. They've expanded far along South Florida, even owning a location in Orlando. Duffy's Sports Grill offers almost 100 choices on its menu, including burgers, steak, ribs, wings, and seafood, and its opening hours are Su-Th 11AM-11PM; F Sa 11AM-midnight.
Just about every restaurant on the Treasure Coast has a bar or an extensive liquor selection, mostly wine and beer and well-known cocktails, such as martinis, daiquiris, and Bloody Marys. The best restaurants to visit for cocktails and alcohol would be a sports bar or a "pub".
Florida’s beaches are generally well maintained and guarded; they're reasonably safe. Nonetheless, rip currents and jellyfish can challenge even the best swimmer. Pay close attention to lifeguard instructions and warning signs. Never swim outside of marked zones. Wear shoes on the beach to protect your feet from glass and hot sand. When boating, monitor your weather radio frequently. Do not swim or operate a boat when under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Florida’s crime rate is slightly lower than the national average. Local authorities do an excellent job of patrolling the tourist areas. Use the same precautions that you would in any big city. Keep a close eye on your purse or backpack, especially when shopping or visiting attractions. Lock your car and stash valuables out of sight. Avoid walking alone at night in unfamiliar neighborhoods.
Although Florida’s roads are frequently upgraded, traffic tends to be quite heavy through tourist areas. Try to avoid driving during morning and evening rush hours. Allow extra time to reach your destination; stay in the right lane except when passing. The roads can be confusing, so use a good GPS system or plan your route carefully on a map before leaving. Toll roads are well-maintained and lightly trafficked, making them an excellent alternative to the interstates.
- I-95 and US-1 both lead south towards West Palm Beach, and Miami and north towards Jacksonville, the Space Coast, and St. Augustine.
- Orlando is a 2-hour drive north along the Florida Turnpike.
- The outer Gainesville area can also be reached by the Turnpike.
- The Tampa Bay can be reached from the Treasure Coast via State Road 60 from Vero Beach.
|Routes through Treasure Coast|
|Volusia County ← Space Coast ←||N S||→ Palm Beach County → Miami-Dade County|
|Volusia County ← Space Coast ←||N S||→ Palm Beach County → Miami-Dade County|
|Metro Orlando ← Osceola County ←||N S||→ Palm Beach County → Miami-Dade County|
|Tampa ← Polk County ←||W E||→ END|