Located in southern central Florida, along the east coast, are the cities of Stuart, Port St. Lucie, and Ft. Pierce. There are many free things to do in Stuart and surrounding areas! These towns are located near the coast and have plenty of beautiful beaches to visit. Port St. Lucie is farther inland, near I-95 south. There is just SO much to do in this area it was hard to pick just a few! See the top choices below (as well as some extras) and a map of locations.
1. Port St. Lucie Botanical Garden – Suggested Donation $5
This is a 21 Acre botanical garden in PSL with a 2 acre lake! Although not completely free, this spot has a garden for everyone! There is a bamboo garden, butterfly garden, cactus garden, orchid garden, and too many more to mention. The gardens is side-walked for easy access.
2. St. Lucie County Aquarium – $4.25 Adults, $3.25 Under 18
There is a small aquarium in Ft. Pierce. You can get a joint ticket to the aquarium and the history center right behind it for $7.25 adults and $4.25 kids! It was a entertaining way to spend an afternoon. The aquarium has a touch tank, a bunch of displays of small creatures, and a gift shop.
3. St. Lucie County Regional History Center -Under $5
The History Center was much larger than we expected! It is a series of rooms in chronological order with many artifacts and information about Florida’s treasure coast. It was a minimal cost, and you can get a joint ticket to both the aquarium and the history center! They also had a scavenger hunt for the kids.
4. Bathtub Beach & Tiger Shores Beach – FREE
These are two great beaches right along the southern tip of Hutchinson island. Tiger Shores in a little farther North, is less crowded, and is better for fishing ( in some people’s opinions). Bathtub beach is a popular spot for both locals and tourists. There is a reef just offshore, which creates a “bathtub” of calm water by the sand. Parking fills up quick, arrive early during weekends and holidays!
5. Manatee observation center ($1) & Bakus Gallery ($5 Adults, Under 18- FREE)
The manatee observation center and the Bakus gallery are right across the street from each other, only a few minutes south of the downtown area of Ft. Pierce! For $1 we figured we couldn’t go wrong with the manatee center. Inside was a small aquarium, and a touch tank where my daughter was able to hold a sea urchin and a sea star! Outside they have an observation deck for manatees (didn’t see any). At the Bakus gallery across the street its $5 for adults, and free for under $18 and for military. This gallery boasts the largest display of Florida landscape painter A.E. Bakus.
6. Downtown Stuart: Heritage Museum & Rock’n Riverwalk – FREE
This area is downtown Stuart is great for walking around and getting some culture! There is the Stuart Heritage Museum – a FREE museum to visit 7 days a week 10-3. The heritage museum is an old general store, converted to a museum collection of old maps of Florida. There are several small art galleries and shops in the area, and on Sundays there is the “Rock’n Riverwalk” with a free outdoor concert from 1-4pm.
6. Heathcote botanical garden – $8 adults, $3 Age 6-12
While on the pricier side for our locations, this is spot is worth it! Beautiful botanical garden with themed garden rooms – a butterfly room, children’s garden, bonsai gallery, herb garden, and more! And its pet friendly! Open Tuesday through Sunday, definitely save this trip for a nice day in the winter. They also feature events throughout the year, including the “garden of lights” around the holidays.
7. Spruce Bluff Preserve– FREE
This is a small preserve with some great history! It has two trails, both fairly flat and packed. The trails are well marked, and there are boardwalks along the way! One of the trails leads to an Indian Burial Ground – the Ais Indian Burail Ground. Bonus… this park is dog friendly!
8. Pepper Beach – FREE
Below is the access to Pepper Beach, you’ll find this beach along A1A in Ft. Pierce. The beach is right behind the National Navy Seal Museum (an amazing museum, by the way – but not free). This beach is a popular spot for divers and there is a reef just offshore! You can also snorkel here. Up by the parking area you’ll find restrooms and a playground for the kids.
There are other free places, that I haven’t checked out yet!! … Harbour branch- another marine animal education center, Fish House Art Gallery – 9 working art galleries, St. Lucie Inlet Preserve (accessible only by boat!), and Lake Indrio Preserve. To Find more in the area, visit our page on Vero Beach.