15 Best Things to Do in Riviera Beach (FL)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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A place for tropical recreation, Riviera Beach is a coastal city just north of West Palm Beach. Right on the Lake Worth Lagoon, the Riviera Beach here is a launchpad for endless water activities.

There are outfitters and charter companies here for anything from paddleboarding to angling. You can also catch a shuttle to Peanut Island, a picture-book tropical paradise just a few hundred feet away.

Something about Riviera Beach that means a lot to me is the wildlife encounters available. Without leaving the city you can spot manatees in winter, or go snorkeling surrounded by astonishing marine life.

The city also has one of the best municipal beaches on Florida’s Atlantic shore, as well as a water park as good as any in the state.

1. Peanut Island Park

Peanut IslandSource: flickr
Peanut Island

Just 300 feet from the shore there’s an 80-acre island in the Lake Worth Lagoon. Peanut Island is actually man made, and was created in the 1910s when the Port of Palm Beach was dredged.

The island is protected as a park belonging to Palm Beach County. If you don’t have your own boat, the simplest way to get there is via the Peanut Island Shuttle Boat, departing from the Riviera Beach Marina.

When you arrive you’ll set foot on a tropical paradise bathed by crystalline waters. There’s a paved trail leading around the shore, flanked by palms, banyans and mangroves.

The waters are perfect for snorkeling, thanks in part to a man-made reef. You may see rays, small sharks, manatees, and a brilliant assortment of tropical fish. 

One interesting fact I picked up about this place is there’s a secret blast shelter built for JFK. He was a regular in this part of Florida, spending his winters in Palm Beach.

2. Riviera Municipal Beach

On Singer Island the long row of high-rise condos and exclusive resorts is broken up by the city’s public beach access. 

Greeting you at Riviera Municipal Beach is a large plaza and grassy area, bordered by restaurants and stores. From here the trails lead you across the dunes and coastal hammocks to a spacious expanse of Atlantic shoreline.

You can rent umbrellas and lounge chairs, and this is one of the best beaches around for shelling. The park’s many amenities include picnic tables, shaded seating areas, volleyball courts and tennis courts. 

From here you can also make your way to Singer Island’s southeastern corner. Part of Palm Beach Shores, this is officially the easternmost point in Florida.

3. Manatee Lagoon

Riviera Beach is one of the best places to see manatees from the shore of the Lake Worth Lagoon. This adorable species seeks out warmer waters during the winter months.

So power stations, with their warm outflows, are perfect spots for manatees to congregate at this time of year. 

In Riviera Beach, Manatee Lagoon is by the outflow of the Florida Power & Light Company’s Next Generation Clean Energy Center. 

As well as an observation deck, this free 16,000-square-foot facility has interactive exhibits devoted to a Florida icon. 

For a guaranteed sighting, I’d visit mid-November through March. On a sunny day the waters have perfect clarity, and you could lose all track of time watching the manatees hanging out.

4. Ocean Reef Park

Ocean Reef ParkSource: Barry Fuller / Facebook
Ocean Reef Park

With more than 700 feet of sandy shorefront, Ocean Reef Park is another fabulous place to relax at the beach. 

Set within Riviera Beach’s limits on Singer island, this property is managed by Palm Beach County.

One thing I should point out about this spot is that the beach drops off quite quickly. With powerful Atlantic waves in the mix, this is a fun but challenging place for more accomplished swimmers. 

The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset. Amenities here include a playground and covered picnic areas with built-in barbecue grills.

And for those who’ve spent the day on the beach, there are restrooms and showers available to wash away the sand and salt before heading home.

5. Rapids Water Park

One of the top water parks in South Florida is right here in Riviera Beach. On the scene for more than 40 years, Rapids Water Park has more than 40 rides on 30 acres.

I always make a beeline for the craziest rides at a place like this. I have to say, Black Thunder with its dark vortex, and Brain Drain, with a 70 ft vertical drop, will not disappoint.

These are just two of many choices for thrillseekers. You’ve also got the four-person raft ride, Big Thunder, and the looping, seven-story drop of Pirates Plunge.

Rapids Water Park isn’t just about wild thrills. Smaller visitors can play at Splish Splash Lagoon and Barefootin Bay.

6. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park and Nature Center

John D. MacArthur Beach State ParkSource: Thomas Barrat / shutterstock
John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

North of Singer Island is a breathtaking stretch of coastline set aside for nature. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is made up of almost 500 acres of tropical hammocks, mangroves and sandy shoreline.

This is the only state park in Palm Beach County, protecting rare plants, and providing a nesting ground for sea turtles.

One of my favorite elements here is the 1,600-foot boardwalk, crossing the estuarine system on the lagoon side. This leads you through the woods to the beach, with a lot to see as you go.

There’s 1.6 miles of beach for relaxing, swimming, surfing and boogie boarding. Away from the Atlantic waves, you can spend an unforgettable time exploring the estuary in a kayak.  

7. Riviera Beach Marina Village

This multifaceted development cropped up at the Riviera Beach Marina in the 2010s. If you’re in town for water-based recreation, be it paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing charters, diving, cruises, or nature tours, this should be your first port of call.

Marina Village is also the departure point for the shuttle boat to Peanut Island, which I’ll talk about later. So whatever you get up to I think there’s a good chance you’ll be passing through this place at some point.

At the end of a day on the water you can unwind at the oceanfront Rafiki Tiki Restaurant, serving Caribbean and Floridian specialties.

Also here is a two-story event space, a little beach, and a children’s splash park with more than 40 water jets.

8. Watersports

Based at the kiosks at Riviera Beach Marina Village is a whole miscellany of companies ready to take you onto the Lake Worth Lagoon and beyond. 

Diving and snorkeling at the Blue Heron Bridge is just the tip of the iceberg in Riviera Beach. To navigate these waters on your own, you can rent kayaks and paddleboards. If a self-guided trip feels too daunting, there’s also a variety of tours. 

This could be an in-depth paddleboarding lesson, yoga at sunset, a kayak tour of Peanut Island’s mangroves. I have wonderful memories of a snorkeling adventure, spotting manatees and rays in the lagoon off Peanut Island. 

If you want a bit more exhilaration, you can try wakeboarding, rent a waverunner, or see for miles on a parasailing trip.

9. Blue Heron Bridge Diving

Blue Heron Bridge DivingSource: Joni Hanebutt / shutterstock
Blue Heron Bridge Diving

Linking the mainland with Singer Island, Riviera Beach’s Blue Heron Bridge has become an unlikely diving hub.

Flourishing in the shallow waters under this structure is an incredible diversity of marine life. The bridge’s pilings attracted wildlife as soon as they were built. 

This has since been compounded by an 800-foot man-made reef that you access from Phil Foster Park. It’s all a magnet for octopuses, squid, rays, starfish, grouper, angelfish, and more than I could possibly list here.

Experienced scuba divers love this spot. Still, you don’t need more than a snorkeling mask and flippers to discover the snorkel trail. 

This is never deeper than 10 feet, and the perfect water clarity ensures an astonishing if unconventional wildlife experience. 

10. Fishing Charters

Among the many marine-oriented businesses at Riviera Beach Marina Village and along Broadway are fishing charter companies. In fact, Riviera Beach is a sweet spot for anglers. 

This has a lot to do with the Gulf Stream, which brings a seam of warm water to the otherwise frigid Atlantic. It also stirs up the seabed, releasing nutrients and creating busy ecosystems just off the coast of Riviera Beach.

The stretch of shore between West Palm Beach and Fort Pierce is known as Sailfish Alley. November through February, anglers flock to these waters in search of Florida’s state fish.

Earlier in the year, from around July to November, is the best time for wahoo tuna trolling. Although I don’t think you need to pick a specific time, as this species is caught all year in Florida’s waters.

11. The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches

Not one but two Major League Baseball teams stage their annual spring training in this part of Florida. 

At this time of year, the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros are based at the massive, cutting edge complex at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches.

This opened in 2017, and the anchor is a 7,858-capacity stadium. Head here for Grapefruit League baseball from around late February to late March. 

A game here is a fine way to see some of the game’s biggest stars in a smaller, more laidback setting. Something I really appreciate about this ballpark is the wraparound concourse. This way you can see the action in the shade, while chatting with a group of friends.

12. Barracuda Bay Aquatic Center

If you want a more economical, and quieter, alternative to Rapids Waterpark, Riviera Beach has a decent public facility.

The best thing about this place, in my eyes, is the fantastic interactive water playground. This is simply awesome, with a large zero-depth area, and a jumble of slides, sprays and climbing equipment.

Also at the center is a lap pool, and two larger slides for bigger kids. There are swimming classes for everyone aged 6 months and up, as well as water aerobics, while the center is a no-brainer for birthdays.

13. Winding Waters Natural Area

There’s restored nature on the island side of Riviera Beach, at this 550-acre nature area. This landscape was previously cleared for agriculture, although I doubt you would know it today.

Now there’s a tapestry of habitats, from wet prairie to hydric hammock, depression marsh, mesic flatwoods and dome swamp.

Winding Waters Natural Area shines for its birdlife. The Wetlands Trail here skirts the marshlands for almost five miles, and is an excellent vantage point for spotting wading birds.

You may see roseate spoonbills, wood storks, green herons, and anhingas. This is South Florida after all, so alligators are usually around too.

14. Dyer Park

At the north end of Winding Waters is a more developed park, offering a variety of outdoor recreation.

What caught me by surprise at Dyer Park is something you don’t see often in South Florida. In a word, that is hills. This property is on a rolling landscape, which makes it a hotspot for mountain biking.

As it happens, there are more than seven miles of single-track trails here. One crosses the hilly terrain in the heart of the park, and the other traces the perimeter. 

 Also at Dyer Park are multipose fields, picnic areas, canoe/kayak launches, and facilities for basketball, baseball, softball, and flying RC aircraft.

15. The Gardens Mall

The Gardens MallSource: The Gardens Mall / Facebook
The Gardens Mall

One of Florida’s premier high-end malls is a stone’s throw from Riviera Beach in Palm Beach Gardens.

The directory at Gardens Mall is pretty much a roll-call of exclusive luxury brands. I’m talking, Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Jimmy Choo, Gucci, and Hugo Boss.

The anchors when I took a peek were Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, and Sears. 

And although the ambience is elevated, there’s a lot of mid-market stores like American Eagle, Forever 21, Kay Jewelers, Vans, Nike and Bath & Body Works.

The dining scene is also surprisingly versatile, ranging from food-court regulars like Chipotle and Chick-fil-A to full-service like P.F. Chang’s China Bistro.

15 Best Things to Do in Riviera Beach (FL):

  • Peanut Island Park
  • Riviera Municipal Beach
  • Manatee Lagoon
  • Ocean Reef Park
  • Rapids Water Park
  • John D. MacArthur Beach State Park and Nature Center
  • Riviera Beach Marina Village
  • Watersports
  • Blue Heron Bridge Diving
  • Fishing Charters
  • The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches
  • Barracuda Bay Aquatic Center
  • Winding Waters Natural Area
  • Dyer Park
  • The Gardens Mall