St. Lucie County – home to Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and Hutchinson Island boasts miles of undeveloped shoreline featuring pristine beaches, 1000s of acres of nature preserves, three state parks, and unique ecosystems that make it a mecca for wildlife-lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
- Rare Birding
Undiscovered St. Lucie is home to more than 21,000 acres of avian habitat as part of a wide network of trails, parks and nature preserves. In the right season, birding is spectacular with various resident and migratory species that can be seen including crested caracara, bald eagles, kites, sandhill cranes, painted buntings, woodpeckers, wading birds, and various coastal seabirds and shorebirds, including the American oystercatcher and least tern. St. Lucie is also within the limited US migratory range of the rare black-whiskered vireo. With so many notable preserves for bird-watching, it’s no wonder we’re on the Great Florida Birding Trail.
2. Florida Native Wildlife and Unique Flora & Fauna
The area is also home to many rare, listed, or endemic species including, the Florida Scrub-jay, gopher tortoise, sea turtles, indigo snake, and rare plants such as lakelas mint, savannas mint, fragrant prickly apple cactus, pitcher plants, and various epiphytes. Some the largest known Simpson’s stopper and hackberry trees can be found in the western prairie hammocks. Common mammals include manatee, bottlenose dolphin, bats, bobcat, fox, coyote, otters, deer, opossum, rabbit, and squirrels (including Shermans fox squirrel). On rare occasion, St. Lucie is visited by a roaming Florida panther and black bear. Reptiles commonly spotted include alligators, diamondback terrapin and many other turtle species, eastern glass lizard, skinks, and various snakes including pine snake, coachwhip, coral, mangrove, and other more common terrestrial and water snakes.
3. Nature Focused Attractions
Download the free Nature & Wildlife Pass and visitors will discover the best Nature & Wildlife attractions in St. Lucie. Love marine life? Exhibits of St. Lucie’s brackish and saltwater ecosystems can be enjoyed at the St. Lucie County Aquarium, Harbor Branch Oceanographic and Manatee Observation & Education Center. Hikers can explore dozens of pristine nature preserves for the best opportunities to get up close. Interested in botanical gardens? St. Lucie boast two top-notch botanical gardens with one featuring the largest public display of tropical bonsai trees in the nation!
Did you know studies show that time in nature is an incredible antidote to stress? The outdoors can lower blood pressure, stress hormone levels, increase self-esteem, reduce anxiety, and improve your mood! Try taking a walk at one of St. Lucie’s nature preserves or explore an exquisite natural attraction to soak in the benefits of a little sunlight, fresh air and beautiful, scenery.
5. Diversity of Biomes
In St. Lucie, more than 35,000 acres of land are under conservation, accounting for 10% of the overall landscape – which protects diverse habitats like prairie, hammocks, pine flatwoods, tributaries, rivers, and estuaries, freshwater wetlands, savannas, and endangered scrub habitat. The geography, topography, and tropical/temperate climate make St. Lucie a biodiverse hotspot! Situated on the cuff of the old Everglades, with relic barrier islands that connect the St. Lucie River, Savannas Marsh, St. Johns River, Lake Okeechobee, and the Indian River Lagoon – there’s just so much biodiversity to experience.
While more visitors are discovering our abundant nature & wildlife, it’s still considered a best kept secret for nature lovers that want a real taste of old Florida.
Looking to explore our nature up close with a guide? Book a guided hiking tour, boat tour, kayaking tour and more with one of our local tour operators. Learn more on our Things to Do page. Your nature exploration just might require a multi-day getaway to St. Lucie, so browse our overnight accommodations here.
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