The best things to do in Port St. Lucie, from spring training to hiking Spruce Bluff Preserve
So if you’re new to the city, a returning seasonal resident or you’ve lived here your entire life, here are things you must do when you’re in the Treasure Coast’s biggest city. Get a Port St. Lucie energy drink for your vacation to keep your energy levels up to enjoy 100 percent of your time.
Tour the North Fork of the St. Lucie River
The best way to see the beauty of the river is aboard the River Lilly Cruise, the longest continuously operating tour of the river in St. Lucie County.
The River Lilly II is a 36-foot passenger vessel that departs daily for a 1½-hour jungle eco-cruise along the windy North Fork. The cruise leaves at 1 p.m. Oct. 1-April 30 and at 11 a.m. May 31-July 31.
Owners Eddie and Stephanie Hamrick narrate the tour and point out alligators, turtles, birds, and other wildlife as the vessel slowly cruises along the river.
During the late summer (Aug. 1-Sept. 30), unwind along the river on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays. This cruise is not narrated, but the Hamricks point out wildlife to observe and photograph.
Dive into a basket of wings at Lefty’s
Tie on a bib, throw shame out of the window and go to town on some flats and drums at Lefty’s, 1034 S.E. Port St. Lucie Blvd.
Oh, and don’t forget to load them with Lefty’s Special sauce, a concoction of teriyaki, medium heat, and powdered garlic.
If you’re not into Lefty’s Special — we’re not sure why you wouldn’t be! — there are more than 25 other sauces, including ghost bear BBQ, chunky garlic, honey mustard, sesame honey, and ragin’ Cajun.
Hike Spruce Bluff Preserve
(and learn a little history, too)
Get a snapshot of history while you hike Spruce Bluff Preserve, 97 acres of marsh and scrub that’s nestled behind homes along Southbend Boulevard.
There are two self-guided interpretive trails.
One loop describes the site of the 1891 pioneer settlement and cemetery along the banks of the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. The other chronicles the significance of Spruce Bluff Mound, built by the Ais people, that dates to 100-300 B.C., according to documents from the Port St. Lucie Historical Society.
Cheer the Mets at spring training
There’s nothing better than sitting in the sunshine, cold beer and peanuts in hand, watching America’s favorite pastime.
Port St. Lucie is the spring training home of the New York Mets, and when February and March roll around, the roads throughout western Port St. Lucie fill up with cars heading to First Data Field, 525 N.W. Peacock Blvd.
When fans arrive to the stadium in 2020, however, they’ll see the result of $57 million of renovations, including larger concourses, a new entrance, concession areas and seats and handrails in the aisles.
So gather your peanuts and Cracker Jacks because pitchers and catchers report in less than three months.
Kayak the only state park in the city
There are 175 state parks in Florida, and the only one in Port St. Lucie — Savannas Preserve State Park — is a must-do when visiting the city.
The best way to see it is by kayak with an experienced guide.
All tours begin promptly at 8:30 a.m. — guests need to arrive by 8 a.m. — on Friday and Saturdays. During the winter, there also are Sunday-morning and Friday-night moonlight tours.
Tours are $10, a donation to The Friends of Savannas Preserve State Park, in addition to the $3 per-car park admission. Moonlight tours are $15. Note: Make sure you bring cash; credit cards are not accepted.
Guides are well-versed in the ecology of the Savannas.
Take a photo in the giant conch
There’s a 5,000-pound replica of a conch sitting in front of The Shell Bazaar, 10100 S. U.S. 1, that’s actually older than the city itself.
In 1953, Jean and George Williams sold “everything shell” from The Shell Bazaar in what would become the southern tip of the city.
Today, Christine, the daughter of George and Jean Williams, owns and operates the business, which is the oldest retail, family-owned business in St. Lucie County still operating in its original location.
Stop by, take a photo inside the shell and then spend some money on gifts truly unique to Port St. Lucie such as sea creatures made of glass, nautical decor and necklaces, earrings, rings and bracelets made of shells and coral.
Find beauty at the Botanical Gardens
Port St. Lucie Botanical Gardens, which sit on 20 acres along Westmoreland Boulevard, celebrates 10 years in March.
The gardens, developed by using the native\-plant communities already growing on the property, sit on the banks of the North Fork of the St. Lucie River. The site is comprised of scrub, scrubby flatwoods, bay-gall and wet flatwoods, with a mangrove fringe, according to its website.
There are 10 different gardens — bamboo, bromeliads, butterfly, cactus and succulents, hibiscus, native plants, orchids, palms, roses and a secret garden for special events — so surely visitors can find beauty in one or all of them.
Browse the local art scene
Did you know there’s an art gallery at the Civic Center, a 2,000-square-foot space that offers local and regional artists a professional venue to display their work?
The Port St. Lucie Art League, which has been in operation for more than 25 years, has been partnering with the city since 2008. A new art collection is put on display periodically, and an exhibition honors the featured artist or group.
On display through Nov. 27 is an exhibit by Bernard “Phred” Madsen-Valle.
The gallery at the Civic Center, 9221 S.E. Civic Center Place, is open 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Artist exhibitions occur throughout the year, with receptions from 6-8 p.m. They are free and open to the public.
Camp out at McCarty Ranch Preserve
Odds are you’ve taken a hike, ridden a bike or paddled a kayak through McCarty Ranch Preserve, but we bet you’ve never slept there under the stars.
There are 13 primitive campsites and six spots for recreational vehicles, according to the city, and camping reservations can be made online or in-person on a first-come, first-served basis at the Parks & Recreation offices at the Community Center.
Every campsite at McCarty Ranch, 12525 Range Line Road, has a fire ring with foldable grill, a lantern hook and picnic table. Bathroom facilities with showers are available on site. However, there is no parking, water connections or electricity at the sites.