4 Hours in Florida’s Palm Beaches
Dubbed "America's first resort destination," there is something for everyone in Florida's famous Palm Beaches
May 11, 2021
The Palm Beaches in sunny Florida encompasses 39 cities and towns plus 47 miles of Atlantic coastline and numerous waterways of Palm Beach County. Packaging the destination into one brand boosts name recognition for what is a family-friendly, year-round spot at all price points.
Convenient for road trips, yet easily accessible by air, train or boat, The Palm Beaches is rich with natural assets. It’s also drawing attention from corporations around the country that are flocking to south Florida from bigger cities in the Northeast and West Coast. Favorable tax policies and economic incentives coupled with unending natural spaces (not to mention beauty) are leading to some major tech and financial-firm relocations. On top of that, the region has greater workforce diversity, which is especially valuable, and employees enjoy higher quality of life.
Aerial View From Blue Heron Bridge
Meetings and events have always found the destination to be a big draw, especially when trying to increase attendance. With a flourishing of the area around the Palm Beach County Convention Center , which has 350,000 square feet of meeting space, there is even more to see and do.
PBC Convention Center
Whether you are here for work, a meeting, a family road trip or a long-planned snowbird vacation, spend a few hours exploring The Palm Beaches. It’s helpful to have a car to get around the area, but ridesharing services are also readily available. Mix and match your favorite activities to create the ideal visit for an afternoon, a weekend or longer.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum
North of West Palm Beach, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum offers spectacular views, especially if you climb the 105 steps to the top. Land-based visitors can explore the history museum detailing the lives of Native Americans of the region as well as early settlers to south Florida.
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse Museum
This mixed-use development in West Palm Beach showcases Mediterranean style with red-tiled roofs, flower pot-lined windows, and elegant architecture. Residential living and a variety of shops fill the area including more than 100,000 square feet of interior design retail space on the way.
Water fountains, plants and trees add to the charm. After some window shopping (several Internet-brands are opening pop-up shops in the area, too), stop into Pura Vida for a healthy salad or grain bowl. Grab a smoothie to go as you stroll alongside the largest concentration of public art installed by a private company in the county. Conversation-starting murals and sculptures are the handiwork of local artists, many from underrepresented communities.
Next, walk toward Historic Clematis Street and West Palm’s waterfront for more window shopping and to check out the fleet of yachts parked at the dock. Swing by Johan’s Joe Swedish Coffee House and Café for an iced Löfberg’s coffee and delectable Scandinavian pastries (heartier salads and open-faced sandwiches on the menu may draw you back for breakfast or a snack later). This is where locals hang out with laptops or peruse the latest news with a cold brew in the sidewalk café. If you don’t want to walk, there’s a free trolley that takes you all around downtown West Palm Beach.
Art Museums Galore
To keep the creative juices flowing, the Norton Museum of Art is only a few blocks away from Rosemary Square and downtown West Palm Beach. In addition to modern art and photography, its 7,000+ piece collection includes European, American and Chinese art. Rotating exhibits keep locals and regular visitors highly engaged, and virtual visits are an entertaining way to follow along long after you’ve left.
The Boca Raton Museum of Art, south of West Palm Beach, is highly acclaimed as well and worth drive. It has a permanent collection as well as traveling exhibits that change seasonally. Creative types can enjoy more than 100 weekly classes in its art studio.
Mounts Botanical Garden
Near West Palm Beach International Airport, this oasis of serenity boasts 2,000 species of tropical and sub-tropical plants plus a garden maze. Many of the plants and flowers here are native to Florida. Beautiful fountains and interactive exhibits fill the 14-acre gardens, which include a butterfly garden, rose and fragrance garden, O’Keefe rain garden and herb garden among others. There is outdoor function space for special events, and regular tours are available.
Located across the intercoastal waterway from West Palm Beach, this island is home to lavish shopping plus iconic hotels like The Breakers and The Chesterfield (part of Small Luxury Hotels of the World ). Save time to walk Worth Avenue and explore the alleyways with small art galleries, fashion boutiques and high-end dining. If museums are your thing, the Flagler Museum is a must-visit. The former estate of Henry Flagler, and now a National Historic Landmark, the museum houses art and antiques that tell much of the area’s history.
Lion Country Safari
A family favorite is the Lion Country Safari, which is different from a traditional animal park in that you never leave your car. Vehicles drive through the animal’s natural habitat as they roam freely around the pathway giving visitors a true sense of what it’s like to be on safari. There are giraffes, lions, hippos, elephants and zebra wandering across 55 acres of open land. This is the state’s only drive-through safari, and many visitors plan their family road trips around an afternoon here. There’s also an animal feeding experience and amusement park.
Enjoy the great outdoors
Beyond exceptional golf (The Palm Beaches is known as “Florida’s Golf Capital” with more than 150 courses in the county) and fun on the sand, there is lots to see and explore. Sporty types will appreciate the plethora of recreational options in the area including watersports, tennis, croquet (the National Croquet Center is located here and is the world’s largest facility dedicated to the sport) and biking paths. You can even follow a dedicated snorkeling trail that winds beneath the surface of the third largest barrier reef system in the world at Phil Foster Park.
Happy Hours Everywhere
Reward yourself after a day well-spent with local craft beer along the Ale Trail of the Palm Beaches. From Jupiter in the north to Boca Raton in the south, 19 breweries are making a variety of beer styles worth sampling. Download the trail’s savings pass to check in at each brewery and rack up rewards.
If you’re looking for tasty wine, Fern Street Wine Bar & Kitchen in West Palm Beach serves tasty charcuterie and cheese boards with a long list of international wines. Its menu sources regional and organic ingredients as much as possible and prepares food from an exhibition kitchen including a wood-fire oven brought over from Modena, Italy. It has an outdoor patio and indoor dining room that doubles as a local art gallery.
At The Ben, an Autograph Collection Hotel, in West Palm Beach, the rooftop pool and bar has tasty cocktails with beautiful views of the surrounding area. And whenever it rains, it’s always happy hour at the lobby-level Proper Grit bar at The Ben, which offers specials to those that tipple in the drizzle. In south Florida, the rain never lasts too long.