If you are taking a vacation to Florida, one location to consider is West Palm Beach. This city in South Florida is known for its arts and culture scenes, and it is a fantastic place for shopping and dining out. There are plenty of activities to keep you entertained during your stay, with different options to suit all tastes and interests. Regardless of how long you plan to stay in this city, you should plan which activities to enjoy so that you get the best out of the are during your visit. To help you decide which attractions to include in your itinerary, the following are the 20 best things to do in West Palm Beach for first-timers.
20. Play a Round of Golf
West Palm Beach is a popular spot for golf enthusiasts as it is home to more than 160 golf courses, including 40 public greens. According to US News, 11 of the top 35 courses in South Florida are in West Palm Beach. Each of the courses has something different to offer in terms of challenges, and many have impressive views of the Everglades, the Atlantic Ocean, the Intercoastal Waterway, or Clear Lake.
19. Take a DivaDuck Amphibious Tour
An interesting and fun activity to enjoy during your visit is a DivaDuck Amphibious Tour. Travelers board a colorful amphibious vehicle to embark on a 75-minute tour that combines both land and water. You will travel through some of the most famous and interesting districts in the city, before taking to the waterways to view West Palm Beach from a different perspective. This is a unique attraction, and any kids in your traveling party will love the adventurous element of the tour.
18. Go to the Grassy Waters Nature Preserve
More than 30 square miles of West Palm Beach is part of the Grassy Waters Nature Preserve. Not only is this a regional attraction, but it is also a utility for the city. The reserve is the primary freshwater supply for the city and the surrounding islands. Visitors can tour the reserve to learn more about eh wetlands and to see the wildlife that lives there. There are also interactive, educational opportunities at the visitor’s center, where visitors can learn about the area’s history. The trails that run throughout the wetlands are free to enter.
17. Enjoy a Meal at Kitchen
Although there are many outstanding restaurants to try in West Palm Beach, one of the best is Kitchen. Chef Matthew Byrne is at the helm at this upscale restaurant, and he aims to deliver fine dining in a relaxed environment. The menu consists of American dishes with an innovative approach that are made using the finest ingredients and interesting cookery techniques. There is a refined ambiance in this restaurant, thanks to modern furniture and trendy décor. Kitchen has received rave reviews from former diners.
16. See the Work of Emerging Artists at ArtHouse 429
There are multiple places that you can enjoy art in West Palm Beach, but one of the newer additions to the art scene is ArtHouse 429. Vacation Idea says that this unique and modern art gallery in Northwood Village has become an important contributor to the art district as it showcases the work of emerging artists, and acts as a platform for them to launch their art.
15. Visit the Antique Row Art & Design District
West Palm Beach is known for its arts scene, so you should spend some time in the Antique Row Art & Design District says Discover the Palm Beaches. Along Antique Row, there are more than 50 specialty and antique shops. There are also multiple small art galleries to explore in this area of the city.
14. Learn About Local History at The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum
For history buffs, one of the best attractions for learning about the local history is The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum. This cultural history museum has been open to the public since 2008, and it is set within the historic 1916 Courthouse building. The museum covers the history of people, places, and events in the history of Palm Beach County. There are many interactive exhibits, and the artifacts on display reflect both pre-Columbian and post-colonization cultural groups. Another topic covered by this museum is the natural history and ecology of the region.
13. Have Some Family Fun at the Rapids Water Park
Open since 1979, Rapids Water Park is one of the top attractions for families in West Palm Beach. There is something for people of all ages to enjoy at this water park, as there are big water slides for thrill-seekers along with some smaller slides and water activities for younger children, such as Barefootin Bay where there are interactive water experiences.
12. Take a Walk Through the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
This attraction is located in the grounds of the former home of Ann Weaver Norton. There are more than 100 sculptures that were created by this artist between 1905 and 1982. It is open to the public, who can peruse through the home, gardens, and studio to see the sculptures. By each sculpture, there is information about the piece, including the materials used and the date of conception. On-site, there is also interpretive education so that visitors can learn more about the iconic artist.
11. Admire the Big Cats at Panther Ridge
Planetware recommends a trip to Panther Ridge to see the big cats. Although it is one the outskirts of West Palm Beach, visitors say they feel as though they have been transported into the heart of Africa. The attraction was founded by Judy Berens in the 1990s, and Berens still runs Panther Ridge. During the 1990s, there was a trend for keeping big cats as domestic animals. Many people then realized that they could not care for them. Berens opened this sanctuary as a refuge for the cats and continues to accept injured big cats. It is now home to panthers, leopards, mountain lions, jaguars, and cheetahs. There are also some smaller species, such as ocelots.
10. Go to Ragtops Automobile Museum
Car enthusiasts will love the Ragtops Automobile Museum. This is one of the biggest attractions in West Palm Beach, and it is a monument to the American Road. The exhibition consists of classic American cars, and there are many of them for sale. There also cars that have featured in movies and rare models that have not been produced since the early days of automobiles. An interesting section of the exhibition contains classic automobile memorabilia, such as antique toy cars, oil company emblems, and roadside signs.
9. Take a Stroll Around the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
The Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Park sits on the fringes of the Everglades, and it consists of mangroves, marshes, and other tropical landscapes. Visitors will see species such as the American alligator, the snail kite, and the wood stork. There are multiple boardwalks and hiking trails to explore at this attraction. Visitors can also paddle in a canoe on one of the water trails. This is one of the best activities for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
8. Get Close to the Sea Cows at Manatee Lagoon
The coast of Florida is famous for being the natural habitat of manatees, also known as sea cows. The idea for Manatee Lagoon developed when the manatees began congregating around the warm water outlet from the Florida Power & Light facility. Manatees are not shy, and they love people. If you sit on the dock, the manatees will swim right up to you and allow you to pet them. There is also a visitor center at Manatee Lagoon that has many hands-on exhibits.
7. See a Performance at the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts
If you would like to watch a performance during your stay in West Palm Beach, then the best venue is the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. It is considered a hub for culture and entertainment in the city, as well as being one of the premier community centers in the Southeast United States. This venue attracts many high-profile acts, and there is a diverse schedule of performances throughout the year. If you intend to watch a performance, you should check what is one and book your tickets in advance.
6. Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society covers 23 acres of shaded, tropical grounds, and it is home to more than 550 animals. In addition to seeing the animals, there is a Conservation Station, a Safari Train, an interactive play fountain, the Wildlife Carousel, and interactive presentations. An interesting new addition to this attraction is the John and Carole Moran Panther Prowl Habitat, which features a Florida panther called Sassy.
5. South Florida Science Center and Aquarium
A fun and interesting activity for all the family is a visit to the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium. It is the largest freshwater and saltwater aquarium in South Florida, and there are more than 50 educational exhibits to enjoy. An interesting feature is a digital planetarium. One of the most recent additions to the attraction is an 18-hole mini-golf course. There is plenty for children to enjoy at this attraction as many of the exhibits and activities are designed with them in mind.
4. See the Animals at McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary
Animal lovers will enjoy a trip to McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary. This attraction differs from similar attractions, such as Palm Beach Zoo and Lion Country Safari, as visitors get a closer look at the animals and there are many interactive opportunities with the smaller species living ais attraction. There are more than 170 animals living at this wildlife sanctuary, including tigers, lions, panthers, and lemurs. The mission is to rehabilitate abandoned or injured wild animals, which something that visitors appreciate and want to support.
3. Stroll Around Mounts Botanical Garden
Despite its location near the urban parts of West Palm Beach and close to the Palm Beach International Airport, Mounts Botanical Garden is an unexpected and beautiful oasis. There are 14 acres of gardens that feature tropical and subtropical plants from across the globe. The gardens include a reflection pond, a rose garden, a butterfly garden, a vegetable garden, a herb garden, shrubs, flowering trees, and fruit trees. Admission to the garden is free, although they recommend a donation. This activity is a good option if you want to spend some time in a peaceful environment.
2. Eat, Drink, and Shop in Downtown West Palm Beach
If you plan to go shopping while you are in West Palm Beach, then Downtown is the best area to enjoy some retail therapy. It is likely that you will spend a lot of your time in Downtown West Palm Beach during your visit, as this is also the best area for dining out. There are multiple eateries ranging from budget-friendly, casual venues, to pricey, fine-dining establishments. You will also find places that serve typical Floridian cuisine, and venues that serve globally-inspired dishes.
1. See the Art at Norton Museum of Art
According to Vacation Idea, the best thing to do in West Palm Beach for first-timers is to see the art at Norton Museum of Art. This city is known for its arts scene, and the Norton Art Museum is considered one of the top art destinations in Florida. It has a diverse and interesting collection of both local and international works. This museum showcases more than seven thousand pieces of art, and there is an emphasis on American, European, and Chinese artists. There are also special programs and events to attract more visitors throughout the year.
Written by Liz Flynn
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