Florida : Safety by City
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- Winter Park
Fort Pierce, Florida, holds a lot of history in a small town along The Treasure Island coast.
USA Today ranked it as one of the Most Idyllic and Historic Main Streets in America.
This isn’t a beach town that happens to have a city nearby, this is a city that just happens to be on the water.
It’s as diverse of a community as you’ll find within hundreds of miles, and it celebrates the culture with festivals all year long.
If you spend days lounging on the beach, you are going to miss out on a history lesson of a lifetime.
The inlet was carved out of the ocean by the founders of Crayola crayons.
That led to the Port of Fort Piece becoming an important name in the shipping game.
This is the city that birthed the Navy Seal Program.
This is a working-class community and you aren’t going to get the pomp and circumstance of many other Florida beaches, but you’ll get a town with its personality and a community trying to clean up what blight there is.
Warnings & Dangers in Fort Pierce
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
There's a medium overall risk in Fort Pierce. It's not the safest city as a whole, but that's mostly because of some poorer parts of town. The city is trying to grow into modern times while still embracing the old charm, and it hasn't quite figured out the balance yet.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : LOW
For public transportation, you"re going to have to use a countywide bus service that serves Fort Pierce, but also other cities in the county. It's not the best option if you just want to get around town. St. Lucie County regulates the taxi cabs and does have a strict approval process for certification. One of the big challenges of Fort Pierce is the lack of public transportation and the city is working to address it. There's low risk if you do take a ride, but I'd strongly recommend having a car here. This isn't one of the places where you won't be able to find a parking spot.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : LOW
There were four purses snatching in 2020. Larceny rates have dropped by half in the past 12 years, so you can see the effort to clean up the city is working. There's a low risk, but some neighborhoods might make you feel uncomfortable enough to cling to your belongings a little tighter.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Fort Pierce has a history with hurricanes. Even as recently as 2017, when Hurricane Irma hit Florida, most of the county and the Fort Pierce area were evacuated, yet still, two people died in the county. Hurricanes are no joke here. Severe thunderstorms and tornadoes are also possible. We're going to give this a solid medium risk.
MUGGING RISK : LOW
There's a low risk here with a chance of you being a victim at one in 1099.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
With the more remote location along the coast, there isn't a big chance of a terror attack here and any attack on a major city would spare the Fort Pierce area. There's a low risk.
SCAMS RISK : LOW
The Fort Pierce Police Department has a pamphlet to help you avoid being scammed. I found it amusing that the first bullet point was "Be aware of scams and frauds." There's a low risk of scams here as most reported ones are targeted at residents. However, my research shows panhandlers or just regular people on the street aren't afraid to approach you and ask for money, so there might be a scam element to that. Just say no, firmly, and keep walking.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women should go into this town with a medium risk in mind. There are parts you'll feel safe enough to walk through at night. There will be parts you wouldn't walk through at high noon. The beach and inlet area are developed with cute shops, tiki restaurants, and nightlife. It's a residential and natural area. I wouldn't recommend running in this area with earbuds in. Keep all your senses on point.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
In the 2020 annual water report, the Port Pierce Public Utilities said, "We are proud to report the water provided by FPUA meets the State of Florida and the United States Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulations." There's a low risk.
Safest Places to Visit in Fort Pierce
Edgartown feels like a visit back to Old Florida with historic homes and a charm that can’t be designed even by the best architect.
Throughout the year, some groups give walking tours, from ghost stories to history lessons.
There are fascinating stories behind this area.
If someone tells you to visit South Beach, they aren’t encouraging you to go to Miami.
South Beach is a waterfront neighborhood in Fort Pierce.
Once the sight of military training bases, now there’s an outdoor adventure waiting for you on the water and the Intracoastal waterway.
This is the original home of the U.S. Navy Seal program and there’s a museum dedicated to those men.
South Beach and the inlet area are where you can find fishing charters and scuba tours.
One of the ships from a Spanish fleet sank off the coast of Fort Pierce in 1715 and it was loaded with jewels and coins (hence the name Treasure Coast).
Even as recently as 2020, two men found $5000 worth of coins from the shipwreck on the beach.
It’s worth a shot, right?
One of my favorite parts of Fort Pierce is the Manatee Education Center and you can take a pontoon boat tour of Indian Lake and see manatees in the wild.
These gentle giants of the sea are friendly and amazing to view.
Especially if you are there in winter, the manatees can’t regulate body heat well, so they gather in shallow waters to stay warm and it’s a sight worth seeing.
Lincoln Park is where you go to get the heritage and essence of the local community.
Main Street was rated in the top 20 of Most Beautiful Main Streets in America by Reader’s Digest in 2018.
Placess to Avoid in Fort Pierce
The neighborhoods are very hit or miss when it comes to safety.
Even reading reviews from locals, you can get someone saying the city isn’t that bad to people saying it’s the “ghetto”.
Neither is true.
There are bad parts of the city and there are good parts.
It’s like a big city, but with fewer people in that respect.
30% of people live in poverty here.
The average salary is $35,000.
This isn’t a rich beach town.
These are working-class paycheck-to-paycheck people for the most part, but there are some upscale areas and the city keeps growing.
The city is working through gentrification that doesn’t spoil the historical and cultural essence.
There are a lot of historic homes and places that need to be preserved.
This is a city that isn’t reliant on tourists.
The major industry here is shipping through the port.
This is a city where you need to use your gut and always stay on guard when traveling into different neighborhoods.
Staying in public hot spots and museums is the safest bet.
Safety Tips for Traveling to Fort Pierce
- One of the biggest safety challenges is the lack of lifeguards on the beaches of Fort Pierce consistently. Staffing shortages and lower wages than other nearby beaches are to blame. If you don’t see a lifeguard, you must check beach conditions on your mobile app before entering the water and proceed with extra caution. There won’t be anyone to rescue you if you get caught up with a rip current or water too deep/rough for your swimming level.
- Old Fort Park is the location of what used to be Fort Pierce, but the actual fort burned in a fire back in 1843. There is still a memorial and a mound there. That mound is a Native American burial ground, so treat it with proper respect as a final resting place.
- Download the See, Click, Fix app to be part of the solution to problems in Fort Pierce. This app allows you to quickly report anything from graffiti to sidewalk damage to a broken street light. Take pictures or videos if you can when you submit your information.
- Parking is free in downtown Fort Pierce, but some locations are time-limited. Be sure you’re parked in a lot that has enough time for your tourist activities.
- You do need a fishing license if you are going to be casting a line while you visit. You can get that ahead of time through the Florida Fish and Wildlife website. There is a separate license for freshwater and saltwater. Be sure you get the right one for your plans.
- It’s advised you get certified before you go scuba diving, but no Florida law requires it. The charter you use might require it, however. Also, when you book, ask if the price includes the dive equipment or if it is rented separately.
- Google “Fort Pierce Alligators” and you’ll see that several have been caught over the years in yards, pools, golf courses, and near downtown. For Floridians, living with alligators is a way of life, but out-of-state visitors always get a little creeped out by the idea. There are freshwater tours you can go on to see alligators in their natural habitat. Don’t worry about seeing them at the beach; they can’t survive in saltwater.
- Florida is the lighting capital of the United States. A storm doesn’t have to be overhead for it to be dangerous. If you can hear thunder, you could be struck by lighting (technically, not realistically). A few years ago on Clearwater Beach, eight people were struck by lightning during an approaching offshore storm. Don’t take the risk. Go inside and enjoy one of the many restaurants in Fort Pierce.
- If you want a hotel on the beach, book early. There are only three options there. There’s another grouping of hotels on the Indian River and then a larger group inland near I-95 and 20th Street.
- I bet you are still thinking about those two guys I told you about who found treasure on the beach from the 1715 shipwreck, right? Let’s get to the rules. You can use a metal detector on most public beaches from the dune line to the hide tide mark. Do NOT go into the water to find it, as that could get your treasure taken as state property. Before you use a metal detector in a state park, as a ranger if that’s okay. Each park has a different policy. You cannot ever use a metal detector in a state park. However, if you are legally looking for treasure in the right spot and you find it, the rule of “finders keepers” stands.
So... How Safe Is Fort Pierce Really?
What surprised me about this small town on the beach is that in the past decade there have been no less than seven homicides each year.
That’s twice the national average.
Most crime categories that impact tourists, such as theft, robberies, and assault, are all higher than the state and national average.
One review from a local sums it up well, “(This is an) area that is not as built up as southern Florida, relatively quiet with potential.
I think Fort Pierce will continue to grow and encourage the less desirable areas to improve.”
Here’s another review that touches on the good and bad, “I love that Fort Pierce is a big town but it has a “small-town” feel.
Everyone knows about everyone, we all go to the same “spots” and this town is a melting pot of diverse cultures.
However, I would love to see Fort Pierce become more of a welcoming area.
Welcoming, not just to tourists, but to the people that live here.
As people that live in the same community, we should build each other up, instead of tearing ourselves down through drugs, gun violence, and theft.”
It’s a town that is worth visiting.
You’ll learn a lot of history and won’t have to deal with massive crowds at every turn.
You’ll find more affordable dining options and some of the best scuba diving along the coast.
It’s just a little off the beaten path.
How Does Fort Pierce Compare?
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- Visas - The Visa is reviewed and approved at the airport or port of entry. You don't need anything else to get into Fort Pierce.
- Currency - You'll use the U.S. Dollar here, but if you want cash you should go inside the bank. Using an ATM can just draw too much attention from panhandlers. You really won't need cash anyway, as most places accept credit cards.
- Weather - Picture perfect. That's the weather. Winters bring highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s and they slowly go up to summer highs in the 90s and lows in the 70s. Maybe bring a jacket in winter and early spring. Summers are humid and stormy. Have a good weather app to keep track of storms that develop. Bring rain gear. The good news is there's rarely a rainout day. The storms move through pretty quickly.
- Airports - You've got the Palm Beach International Airport an hour south and the Melbourne Orlando International Airport an hour north. *Note: The Melbourne Orlando Airport isn't the same as the actual Orlando International Airport. That one is about two hours northwest of Fort Pierce.
- Travel Insurance - Weather is finicky and hard to predict around here, so get travel insurance for your trip.
Fort Pierce Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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