On the edge of the Miami Metropolitan Area, Royal Palm Beach is a village with lots of great things just minutes away.
Here the cityscape meets the great expanse of the Everglades. Still, if you want the beach, you can get to the Atlantic in under 20 minutes.
Even closer are prime rural attractions like Lion Country Safari and the Panther Ridge Conservation Center.
Within a ten-minute radius are golf courses, waterparks, a world-famous equestrian facility, an upscale mall, fantastic public parks, and the enormous grounds for the South Florida Fair.
A special place for me is the Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area, where you can discover the habitats that were here before South Florida was developed.
1. Royal Palm Beach Commons Park
The village’s premier public park is on the shores of a meandering 19-acre lake, and is absolutely packed with amenities.
Most of the park’s north side is taken up by a disc golf course, and golf training center. This has a driving range, 18-hole putting green, and chipping area.
On the water to the south I spent an hour or so strolling along the paved trails. There are scenic footbridges crossing the water at several points, as well as a canoe/kayak launch, and a whimsical splash pad for younger kids.
Also here when I stopped by was a bike share program, with around half a dozen bicycles available. Commons Park is the go-to venue for public events in the village. This includes the 4th of July festivities, as well as regular concerts accompanied by a selection of food trucks.
2. Calypso Bay Waterpark
Another sensational public facility in Royal Palm Beach is the city’s waterpark. I don’t think I’m going too far when I say that Calypso Bay Waterpark is like something from a resort.
Most impressive for me was the lazy river, some 900 feet long, and winding through tropical vegetation. There are also two waterslides atop a four-story tower.
The water playground is excellent too, with slides, fountains, and climbable features, all in a zero-depth pool.
You’ve also got a lap pool for some real exercise, and full concessions for pizza, hot dogs, nachos, chicken tenders, and ICEEs.
3. Panther Ridge Conservation Center
A couple of minutes out of Royal Palm Beach you can get up close to an amazing array of big cats.
Run by a non-profit organization Panther Ridge Conservation Center is less a zoo and more of a care facility, meeting the needs of endangered and threatened cat species.
The only way you can see the center is on a guided tour, and a range of experiences are available. I took the in-depth Head Keeper Tour, and got a complete insight into the cats’ and keepers’ day-to-day.
Among the magnificent residents when I came were jaguars, clouded leopards, cheetahs, ocelots, and servals.
4. Lion Country Safari
The largest drive-through safari in Florida is about ten minutes west of Royal Palm Beach. On more than 600 acres of beautiful South Florida nature you can see 900+ animals in semi-freedom.
The drive-through trail is long, at more than four miles. A few of the free-roaming animals at Lion Country Safari are blackbucks, impalas, zebras, ostriches, and giraffes. They can go where they please, and I saw plenty of them streaming across the road.
Less predictable species like African lions and chimpanzees are safely behind barriers, but you’ll still get a great view.
The attraction also features a 55-acre adventure park, with amusement rides, a waterpark, and yet more animal exhibits. Here you’ll see a beautiful assortment of tropical birds, reptiles, and domestic breeds.
5. Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area
At nearly 800 acres, Royal Palm Beach Pines Natural Area includes a variety of unspoiled natural habitats to discover.
There’s wet prairie, hydric hammock, dome swamp, mesic flatwoods, and several other habitats, all on the very edge of a sprawling metropolitan area.
With four different trails, this property is a wonderful local spot for a hike. If you have a permit you can also ride the two-mile equestrian trail.
I was thrilled most of all by the birdlife, with blue herons, sandhill cranes, and a few raptors like bald eagles visible from the boardwalk and observation platform.
The facility’s main entrance is located just behind the neighborhood of Saratoga Pines, and there’s another less used one on 40th Street nearby.
6. Palm Beach and West Palm Beach
The Atlantic shore is about 15 miles away, and pretty much a straight drive east along State Road 704. There are many reasons to make this short trip.
You’ve got sublime sandy beaches, sophisticated culture, world-class shopping at Worth Avenue, and truly international dining.
One spot I can’t stay away from in West Palm Beach is Northwood Village. This compact and walkable neighborhood brims with galleries, coffee shops, and eateries, from Caribbean to Peruvian fusion.
There’s Gilded Age opulence too at the 75-room mansion of oil industrialist Henry Flagler. Open as a museum, Whitehall is a Beaux-Arts treasure filled with painting, decorative arts, and exquisite architectural fittings.
In the same vein, the Norton Museum of Art is an exceptional contemporary art museum. The permanent collection is a who’s who, from Sigmar Polke to Damien Hirst, Anselm Kiefer, and Lorna Simpson.
7. Wellington International
On Royal Palm Beach’s south side, the city of Wellington is known as an international center for winter equestrian sports.
The state-of-the-art, 111-acre Wellington International complex here is home to the Winter Equestrian Festival (WEF).
This event runs for 13 weeks between January and March and is officially the largest horse show in the world.
The festival has more than 70 divisions, with competitors of all ages, from 35 different countries, competing for more than $13 million in prize money.
Wellington International is an extraordinary facility, with close to 20 competition arenas, more than 400 permanent horse stalls, and close to 60 miles of equestrian trails on the grounds.
8. The Mall at Wellington Green
Appropriate for the location, there’s an upscale mall a few minutes from Royal Palm Beach in Wellington.
As well as plenty of midmarket stores like, The Mall at Wellington Green is flush with premium brands.
We’re talking Guess, Apple, Nordstrom, Anthropologie, and Abercrombie & Fitch. These sit side-by-side with the likes of H&M, Torrid, Macy’s, Forever 21, Claire’s, American Eagle, and Foot Locker.
I’m pleased to say the food court was going strong when I shopped here. A few counter-service options included Chick-fil-A, Popeyes, Tokyo San, and Kelly’s Cajun Grill.
9. Regal Royal Palm Beach
This 18-screen movie theater has all the amenities I think we’ve all come to expect today.
That means comfy power recliners, convenient TV trays, and stadium seating with a clear view for everyone.
For a premium experience, I’d try to see a movie at one of the RPX screens. These have extra-large screens, state-of-the-art sounds, and the latest digital projectors.
As well as new Hollywood movies, Regal Royal Palm Beach shows performances from the Met Op, as well as classic movies on the anniversary of their releases.
10. Mounts Botanical Garden
Florida has the perfect climate for tropical botanical gardens, and Mounts Botanical Garden in West Palm Beach is a fine example.
Just 20 minutes from Royal Palm Beach, this is the county’s largest and oldest botanical garden. There are more than 6,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants, trees, and flowers growing here.
I loved the giant cypresses in the O’Keeffe Rain Garden, as well as the Butterfly Garden, aflutter with zebra longwings, monarchs, cloudless sulphurs and more.
If you’re here with wee ones, I recommend purchasing a bag of feed for the koi and turtles, while the grounds were furnished with quirky LEGO creations on my tour.
11. Veterans Park
Easily missed, this public park is close to the village’s municipal departments, including the Village Hall and Royal Palm Beach Library.
Purely for passive recreation, Veterans Park is a stunning oasis among oaks, palms and pines. There’s a lovely formal garden here, with long pergolas, little wooden pavilions, hedges and immaculate lawns.
My favorite feature of all was the ornamental waterfall, while there’s a splash pad here for kids. At the north end of the park you can visit The Green Market & Bazaar on Saturday mornings, mid-October through April.
12. South Florida Fair
Taking place in January, the South Florida Fair has been a West Palm Beach tradition since 1912. In Royal Palm Beach you couldn’t be closer to the action, as the fairgrounds adjoin the city to the east.
The fair goes on for more than two weeks, and is celebrated for its amazing agriculture and livestock program, with 1,000+ exhibitors from all over South Florida.
Added to that you’ve got a whole village of vendors, amusement rides, and big-time live entertainment. What would a fair be without indulgent food? My personal favs are the turkey legs and the deep-fried oreos.
In fact, the 20,000 seat iThink Financial Amphitheatre here is a year-round live music venue for the region. Dave Matthews Band, Lana Del Rey, Phish, The Cure, and Santana are just a few of the major acts to have played this venue down the years.
13. Yesteryear Village
Another element of the South Florida Fairgrounds that is open all year is an outdoor historical museum. With an assortment of original and replica buildings, Yesteryear Village paints a picture of Old Florida.
You’ll see residences from several different eras, as well as a functioning general store, blacksmith shop, farm, and schoolhouse.
Each building sheds light on a different aspect of local life in Palm Beach County. The schoolhouse has original desks, there are preserved tools in the blacksmith shop, while there’s beautiful old furniture and period clothing in the houses.
There’s trick or treating at Halloween, and I love how the whole village is inhabited by costumed interpreters during the fair.
14. Okeeheelee Park
Another awesome public park within a few short miles of Royal Palm Beach is Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach.
I’d be making a big understatement to say that there’s a lot going on at these 1,700 acres. In brief, you’ve got a golf course, an equestrian center, a 90-acre nature center, a disc golf course, a dog park, miles of trails, and a BMX track.
Something extra special can be found in the watery northern section of the park. Shark Wake Park 561 has a cable for wakeboarding, water skiing, kneeboarding and much more.
Also here is Obstacle Island, a huge inflatable floating obstacle course, with slides, climbing tours, monkey bars, and all sorts of other challenges.
15. The Village Golf Club
Located on Country Club Drive in Royal Palm Beach, The Village Golf Club is an 18-hole, par 72 public course.
A favorite of locals and tourists alike, the course plays about 6,900 yards from the tips, and has even hosted a few PGA events.
I love the open layout of this parkland-style course. There’s a nice mix of sand and water hazards, as well as treed and open areas that I found both attractive and challenging.
For those who generally require a pre-round warm-up, there’s a full-size driving range too. Book tee times in advance, especially if you plan on playing during peak times.