West Palm Beach in Florida makes a fantastic holiday destination for those in the area, and on a trip here visitors will find interesting museums, lush tropical gardens, and impressive entertainment venues.
A visit to the vibrant downtown area of West Palm Beach is definitely not to be missed, if only for the array of delicious dining options on offer, coupled with some of the best shopping in the region.
For animal lovers, West Palm Beach truly delivers, and you will find animal sanctuaries, zoos, botanical gardens, and aquariums dotted all over the area.
If you like the arts, then expect to find galleries galore, as well as sculpture gardens, antique shopping arcades, and much more.
Once you have stocked up on antique souvenirs, you can also check out the best of the local agricultural produce at the farmer’s market.
1. Palm Beach Zoo
The Palm Beach Zoo sprawls over 23 acres and is set in tropical gardens that mimic many of the animals’ natural habitats.
The zoo has more than 700 animals on show and also features an aquarium and a replica of a swamp.
Other attractions in the zoo include a reptile house, a tiger exhibit, and a koala and wallaby area.
For younger visitors, there are other fun exhibits such as an interactive play fountain and an old-fashioned carousel, as well as a safari train to take visitors around the zoo.
There are also daily shows that help to showcase some of the animals further in the form of the Wild Things Show and the Wings Over Water Bird Show.
2. Norton Museum of Art
Founded in 1941, the Norton Museum of Art is known for being one of the major cultural sites in all of Florida, and is even famous on the international arts scene thanks to its collections of Chinese and European art.
The museum features works from the 19th and 20th centuries and has paintings and sculptures from a number of leading American artists such as Pollock and Hopper, as well as wider collections that include pieces by Matisse, Monet, and Picasso.
In addition to the permanent collections here, visitors can also enjoy special rotating exhibits throughout the year as well as lecture evenings, guided tours, and art programs.
3. Flagler Museum
The Flagler Museum was built in 1902 and was the former home of Henry Flagler who was the co-founder of Standard Oil.
This extravagant mansion house features two floors and stretches over an impressive 100,000 square feet.
It is known for being decorated in a flamboyant style that features everything from influences of a Swiss chalet, to touches that are reminiscent of Louis XIV. There are also paintings and works of art from some of the most talented artists in the West Palm Beach area and beyond, and visitors will notice touches of Spanish and French decorative styles, especially around the central courtyard.
The Flagler Museum is a National Historic Landmark and is known for being one of the most opulent estates in the Florida area, so visitors shouldn’t miss the chance to check out this amazing feat of architecture.
4. Mounts Botanical Garden
Mounts Botanical Garden is famous for being the oldest and largest garden in West Palm Beach that is open to the public, and visitors here will find over two thousand plants that originate from six continents.
The botanical garden is set up in a series of distinct areas according to the species of plants on show, and there are herb gardens, citrus gardens, fruit gardens, and palm gardens, to name but a few.
There are more than twenty different gardens here as well as other features such as butterfly gardens, and each section has signage to fill visitors in on the diversity and history of the plants on show.
5. Downtown West Palm Beach
Downtown West Palm Beach is a shopping and dining paradise in the Palm Beach area, so come here if you are looking for some serious retail therapy followed by a delicious meal.
Some of West Palm Beach’s more happening eateries are located here and there are also a range of entertainment options such as bars, live music events, and clubs located in the area.
Depending on when you visit, you can also expect to find a range of rotating events throughout the year such as music festivals and even outdoor movie nights that take place under the stars.
6. Rapids Water Park
Rapids Water Park is an ideal place to come as the weather heats up, and is perfect if you want to splash around and cool down on a trip to West Palm Beach.
Rapids Water Park has a wave pool that features waves that can reach up to six feet in height, or if you are looking for something more relaxing then there is a lazy river where you can tube along at a slower pace.
There are also thirty-five different water slide attractions at Rapids Water Park and there are dedicated areas for younger visitors, as well as toddler pools so that guests of all ages can enjoy an afternoon in the sun.
7. Grassy Waters Nature Preserve
Grassy Waters Nature Preserve is an area of lush wetlands on the Florida area and stretches for over 30 miles over the West Palm Beach area.
The preserve is known for being one of the highlights of a trip to West Palm Beach, and there are tours of the grounds to educate visitors all about this amazing ecosystem.
Aside from guided tours, visitors can also hike around the trails over the wetlands that sprawl for several miles and offer stunning views and a glimpse at some of the local plant and wildlife.
For those who are keen to learn even more about the area, there is a visitor’s center and educational programs that run throughout the year.
8. Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
Located in the former home of the famous sculptor Ann Weaver Norton, the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens feature over 100 of her works, and are one of West Palm Beach’s most historic and well known attractions.
Ann Weaver Norton created these sculptures from 1905 until 1982 and these amazing works are dotted around the property including inside the original house, around the scenic gardens, and inside the artist’s studio.
The property is covered in educational signage about each work so that visitors can learn more about the artist’s vision, and there are art programs for both adults and children.
9. West Palm Beach Green Market
If you are looking for the best in local produce then the West Palm Beach Green Market is the ideal place to find it.
The market sells only the freshest and most delicious produce from the area including a range of delicious seasonal fruit and vegetables, as well as meats, cheeses, and freshly homemade baked goods.
All the sellers here come from the Southern Florida region and this is a great way to support local artisanal businesses with a farm-to-table dining philosophy.
Visitors will also find a wide range of other products on offer such as homemade arts and crafts items that make great souvenirs of a trip to West Palm Beach.
10. McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary
McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary is not a zoo, but rather a working wildlife sanctuary which takes in and helps hundreds of injured or homeless animals from the South Florida area every year.
Visitors to the sanctuary can take a guided tour of the site where they can experience the work of this great facility, and can even visit some of the animals up close and help in their care, such as with feeding or bathing.
Friendly guides who work at the sanctuary will explain how the animals are rescued and treated, and visitors can tour the clinic, the recovery rooms, and the rehabilitation center.
All proceeds from the tours of the sanctuary go towards the care and upkeep of the animals here.
11. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts is the place to visit for those who want to take in some of the culture and entertainment in the West Palm Beach area.
Known for showcasing some of the best performances from famous acts, the Kravis Center has shows throughout the year, and some of the biggest names in the United States have performed here in the past.
Depending on when you are in town, make sure to check out the local listings to find out who is performing, but due to the high caliber of talent here, you are unlikely to be disappointed.
12. Antique Row
Antique Row is a must-see stop on a trip to West Palm Beach and is a delightful neighborhood that features over 50 charming shops that sell a wide range of antiques, period collector’s pieces, art works, and vintage furnishings as well as contemporary household items.
Aside from the antiques on offer here, this is also a picturesque area to walk around, and there are a variety of eateries and coffee shops for visitors to frequent as they explore the area on foot.
For those who like period furnishings, this is one of the most comprehensive and unique shopping destinations in all of the South Florida area.
13. South Florida Center and Aquarium
The South Florida Center and Aquarium is one of the most delightful entertainment and educational attractions in South Florida, and has an 8,000 gallon salt water tank that features marine life and exotic species from the region.
The emphasis here is on an interactive experience to educate visitors on aquatic life in Florida, and to that end there are 50 hands-on attractions where guests can get up close to the different species here.
Aside from both fresh water and salt water tanks there is also a planetarium that plays feature films on life under the sea, and there is also an exhibit hall that has interactive installations for guests to enjoy.
As if that wasn’t enough, there is even an Everglades exhibit for those who want to know all about the amazing and complex ecosystem of the Everglades.
14. Okeeheelee Park
Okeeheelee Park spans an impressive 900 acres and has two lakes on the site, which offer visitors the chance to go boating, fishing, or even waterskiing.
Aside from water sports, there are also a range of other activities that visitors can enjoy including a 27 hole golf course, basketball courts, tennis courts, and baseball fields.
If you prefer, there are also walking or biking trails that cover the area, and a BMX biking area.
In the north of the park, you will also find the Okeeheelee Nature Center which has trails, a diverse butterfly garden, and viewing platforms for bird watching.
15. Peanut Island
If you are looking for over 80 acres of lush tropical parkland then Peanut Island is definitely the place for you.
Located just off West Palm Beach, this island, so named because it resembles a peanut, is lined with sandy beaches and visitors come here to swim in the tropical turquoise waters which are full of diverse aquatic life.
Snorkeling is obviously a popular activity at Peanut Island, and you can also camp here if you apply for a permit in advance.