Located in Palm Beach County along the south-central portion of Florida’s Atlantic coast, Palm Beach has long been associated with glitz, glamour, and amazingly scenic beaches.
Though the population of Palm Beach is just about 10,000 residents, for much of the year, the city swells to nearly three times that number, as tourists flock to its exclusive resorts to play golf, relax, and dine in its world-class restaurants.
For families traveling on budgets, Palm Beach is probably not a good fit, but for those with high credit card limits and ample cash, it’s an unforgettable destination.
Below are 15 things to do in and around Palm Beach, Florida.
1. Flagler Museum
During its heyday in the early part of the 20th century, the general consensus was that Palm Beach rivaled the traditional overseas beach destinations of the uber-wealthy like Monaco and the French Riviera.
The Flagler Museum on Whitehall Way in Palm Beach is on the grounds of the historic Whitehall Mansion, which was a wealthy local man’s estate often referred to as the grandest private dwelling in the world.
The museum features art, cultural, and historical exhibits, and offers an especially fascinating insight into the lives of the well-heeled in years past.
Guided tours are available in multiple languages, and the museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday.
2. Loxahatchee Paddling Trail
The Loxahatchee was one of the first rivers in the state to be listed as a National Wild and Scenic River. It’s known as a place of great natural diversity that includes cypress swamps, ponds, and large tracts of unspoiled forests nearby.
Much of the Loxahatchee Paddling Trail flows through land that was once owned by an old fur trapper who worked the area around the turn of the 20th century. His rustic cabin is a popular attraction that lies in Jonathon Dickinson State Park at the trail’s end.
The paddling trail begins near Palm Beach, and guided excursions are available from a number of tour providers.
3. The Breakers Palm Beach Seafood Bar
Though nearly all vacationers flock to Florida for its balmy weather, abundant sun, and stunning beaches, some also come to be pampered at exclusive resorts. The Breakers Palm Beach is one such place.
The Breakers Seafood Bar offers visitors unobstructed views of the Atlantic Ocean, and a full menu of fresh, local seafood that’s top-notch even by Florida seafood standards.
Featuring fresh oysters, stone crabs, and an array of recently caught fish, the restaurant is the perfect venue for a romantic evening.
Lunch and dinner are served daily from 11 AM until 11 PM, and as you might expect, there is a dress code, so leave the cut-off jeans and flip-flops for another night.
4. International Polo Club
Polo is a sport that’s almost exclusively reserved for the highest echelons of the well-to-do, and the International Polo Club in Palm Beach is one of the sport’s most famous and impressive venues.
The polo season generally lasts from January until early April. Matches are open to the public, with a variety of ticket options ranging from surprisingly affordable to downright prohibitive.
Polo matches are much more than just sporting events; in fact, they are usually all-day affairs that feature cocktails, socializing, tailgating, and plenty of great food, including catered champagne brunches for those looking to immerse themselves in polo culture.
5. Society of the Four Arts
For its wide scope and sheer variety of activities and events, there’s no beating the Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach.
The Society hosts year-round art exhibits, guest speakers, artist’s workshops, and a variety of live entertainment productions; it’s been around for more than eight decades.
Located in Four Arts Plaza, it includes several distinct areas, like a library, education center, outdoor sculpture gardens, and a concert hall.
The Society of the Four Arts is a wonderful community resource that’s often overlooked by travelers, but for lovers of art, culture, and entertainment, it’s a real gem.
6. The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum
The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum is located on North Dixie Highway in nearby West Palm Beach. For lovers of Florida culture and history, it’s one of those places that deserves an hour or two.
The museum is operated by the county’s historical society and has been open to the public for more than a decade.
Housed in the city’s old courthouse that’s more than a century old, it’s full of interesting exhibits, artifacts, and memorabilia that touch on the discovery and settlement eras, as well as the Native American cultures that lived nearby for generations before the first non-native settlers arrived.
7. Mounts Botanical Garden
South Florida’s tropical climate provides the perfect growing conditions for a variety of plants, flowers, and trees of both native and exotic species.
Located on North Military Trail in West Palm Beach, Mounts Botanical Garden is the region’s oldest and largest public cultivated garden and features a number of distinct sections with their own unique themes.
The palm, citrus, and herb gardens are among the most popular, and there’s a seasonal butterfly garden that always a big hit, especially with children.
The gardens are connected by easily walkable and well-marked paths that include informative signs and seating areas.
8. The Spa at the Breakers
With nearly 20 private treatment rooms spread over more than 20,000 square feet, the Spa at the Breakers is an impressive facility that’s rich in Mediterranean art and architecture and is just a stone’s throw from the ocean.
The spa’s amenities include men’s and women’s changing rooms, steam baths and saunas, a beauty salon, massage therapy, and indoor and outdoor areas for relaxing and sunbathing.
The spa also features multilingual staff, and offers a variety of holistic skin and body treatments that use only the highest quality natural products.
All this doesn’t come cheaply, but previous guests agree that it was a memorable experience and well worth the money.
9. Book Exchange & Comic Shop
Especially for diehard beach-goers, good books are essential components to overall vacation bliss. Though these days e-books are all the rage, there are still those who prefer the feel of paper between their fingertips.
Featuring rows and rows of gently-used comics, non-fiction, and fiction books organized by genre, Book Exchange and Comic Shop is one of the Palm Beach area’s few remaining independent bookstores, and is a treasure trove for book lovers.
If you have a few books lying around that you’ve already read, take them along, because you may get valuable store credit by trading them in.
10. Manatee Lagoon Eco-Discovery Center
Manatees are often referred to as sea cows because, like their land-based relatives, they’re large, slow-moving, and eat grass.
During the winter months when the water temperature can get chillier than they prefer, many manatees head to the state’s inland rivers and waterways where the water’s often warmer; they congregate around the warm water discharges that flow from power generating facilities.
Manatee Lagoon Eco-Discovery Center is the perfect place for nature lovers to get a good look at these fascinating animals, and it’s free to visit. The center features several observation platforms, informative signs, and comfortable seating areas.
11. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is one of the area’s most popular public beaches and is located along a particularly idyllic stretch of coastline along Jack Nicklaus Drive in North Palm Beach.
Known for its pristine beaches, the park is more rural and less developed than many other public beaches in the area.
Just a short drive up the coast from Palm Beach, it’s the perfect escape destination for those looking to distance themselves from the crowds and commune with nature.
Park activities include fishing, hiking, and mountain biking, and there’s a visitor and nature center as well.
12. South Florida Science Center and Aquarium
The South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is located on Dreher Trail North in West Palm Beach and is an exhibit and activity-packed attraction that’s engaging, entertaining, and educational.
The science center features dozens of interactive exhibits that touch primarily on animals, the natural world, and habitat preservation. The aquarium section of the facility includes thousands of gallons of fresh and saltwater aquariums displaying a wide array of marine life.
There is also an onsite planetarium and a theater that features full-length films, many of which are geared toward kids.
13. Ragtops Automobile Museum
The Sunshine State abounds with retirees from all over the country; as a result, it is home to lots of classic cars and vintage automobile aficionados.
Ragtops Automobile Museum is located on Claremore Drive in West Palm Beach and includes an impressive collection of restored cars, as well as exhibits full of interesting and unique auto-related memorabilia from nearly every era.
In addition to their permanent collection, the museum often hosts special events and temporary exhibits on-loan from other museums and private collectors. Most guests agree that it’s not only a fun attraction but an educational one as well.
14. Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
Comprised of nearly 25 acres that are home to hundreds of species of local and exotic animals, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is a popular attraction for families traveling with animal-loving little ones.
The zoo is conveniently located in downtown West Palm Beach just a few minutes from Palm Beach. Though admission is moderately expensive, most guests agree that it was good value considering all they got to see and do.
The zoo’s staff host a number of special events throughout the year that include temporary animal exhibits, guest speakers, kid-friendly activities, and guided tours.
15. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum
Of the lower 48 states, Florida has the most miles of coastline. Not surprisingly, there are a large number of historic lighthouses on both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts.
The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is one of the Atlantic coast’s most historic and well-preserved lighthouses, and it has been restored to near-original condition and is open to the public.
Construction on the lighthouse was completed more than a century and a half ago, and it’s still possible to climb the 100-plus steps to its peak.
Guided lighthouse and museum tours are offered regularly, and most guests spend a few hours on site.