Pristine beaches, a gorgeous Atlantic Ocean coastline, tons of culture and charm, and loads of great shopping options -- West Palm Beach has all of this and much more. It’s an accessible, laid-back place to get your sand-and-surf fix in, and it’s close enough to Miami and Fort Lauderdale that you could easily skip down for the weekend.
Here are some of our favorite things to see and do while weekending in West Palm.
What To Do In West Palm Beach
It doesn’t matter if you’re a sun worshipper, sports fan, or nature lover -- in West Palm Beach, there’s something for you. Here’s what to do on your adventure.
Get Out On The Water
Although “beach” is in the city’s name, there’s actually no beach in West Palm proper; you’ve got to cross the Intracoastal Waterway to access one. That said, our favorite spot in the area to enjoy the ocean is actually a short jog north on U.S. Route 1. Juno Beach is open to the public and boasts plenty of parking, a fishing pier, shower and bathroom facilities, and picnic areas. It’s got a laid-back vibe, and the water is just gorgeous. Make sure to heed any surf warnings before heading into the water, and also be on the lookout for jellyfish.
If you’re not content with a mere swim, consider renting water sports equipment. Sea kayaks, paddleboards, snorkel gear, and even WaveRunners can be rented at various shops throughout West Palm; Palm Beach Watersports has a great selection.
Finally, West Palm’s Downtown Waterfront Park is right on the Intracoastal Waterway and is well worth a stroll. It hosts special events throughout the year, including the Saturday-morning GreenMarket, at which nearly 100 vendors sell fresh produce. In December, the area is transformed into Holiday in Paradise. Tons of sand is trucked in for the event, and sculptors build a 35-foot holiday tree and other decorations.
Visit The Flagler
Just across the Intracoastal Waterway sits a marvelous Gilded Age mansion-turned-museum you won’t want to miss. The Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, a National Historic Landmark, was built by an oil, hotel, and railroad magnate in 1902 for his third wife. The couple spent their winters here until Flagler’s death in 1913.
It’s not an exaggeration to say that Flagler was a founding father of modern Florida, helping to develop and plan its communities, and his resplendent home certainly reflects that fact. The magnificent original finishes, including carved marble and hand-painted friezes, remain, as do the over-the-top furnishings.
Peruse The Norton Museum Of Art
The Norton Museum of Art is another West Palm Beach treasure founded by an industrialist who chose to winter in the area. Ralph Hubbard Norton decided to build a museum to house his extensive art collection, and the art deco building opened to the public in 1941.
European, American, Chinese, contemporary, and photographic art are the primary focuses of the Norton. The museum, along with its adjacent sculpture garden, is a beautiful spot to spend an afternoon if you need a break from the sun. There’s also a terrific restaurant, along with a coffee bar and museum shop, on-site.
Go Wild At The Palm Beach Zoo
Animal lovers will delight in the Palm Beach Zoo. Its residents include species native to south Florida -- including alligators, flamingos, bears, and panthers -- but also other big cats, monkeys, and exotic birds. Our favorites are the koalas, and the zoo even offers up-close-and-personal experience with them and several other animals, including sloths and Aldabra giant tortoises. The space is open, welcoming, and a great place to spend a half day.
Explore Clematis Street
Downtown West Palm Beach’s vibrant and historic heart is Clematis Street. It’s a thriving business and entertainment district with plenty of places to explore. Plan to spend a few hours wandering its many galleries, boutiques, and sidewalk cafes. You’re bound to come away with a fun souvenir of your visit, and you might even stumble upon one of the many special events the district routinely hosts, from street fairs to live performances and concerts.
Also, if you’re looking for nightlife, Clematis is the spot to visit, with its lively bars and pubs. Roxy’s, founded in 1933, has long been a late-night favorite of locals and visitors alike.
Stop By Rosemary Square
Established 20 years ago, Rosemary Square is a vibrant shopping, dining, and entertainment hub located in downtown West Palm Beach. There are tons of shops and cafes, and there's even an in-the-streets arts district where works by local and international artists are on display. This is also a great place to indulge in a little self-care; the on-site Anushka Spa offers a whole host of treatments guaranteed to help you unwind, decompress, and de-stress!
So you want to get sporty? You might be in luck, depending on when you’re visiting West Palm. That’s because every February, the boys of summer head down to Florida for spring training, and the nearby FITTEAM Ballpark hosts the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals.
Die-hard baseball fans know that the spring training games, with their smaller stadiums and better access, provide memories that truly last a lifetime. Tickets are generally cheaper than those for the regular season, and the players, fresh from their winter breaks, look forward to greeting their fans during the preseason.
Hit The Links
West Palm Beach is also known for its incredible golf courses -- there are more than 100 of them located in the area. The Breakers is Florida’s oldest and one of the state’s best known, and it was recently renovated by architect Rees Jones. The PGA National Estate Golf Course gets rave reviews for its mix of challenging and easier holes and for its attentive staff. And The Preserve at Ironhorse offers a one-day membership so that you can check out their stunning course -- as long as you call ahead.
Take Some Turtle Time
To meet some of the region’s most beloved inhabitants, take a quick drive north to Juno Beach and visit the Loggerhead Marinelife Center. This is where injured sea turtles are brought for treatment and care, with the hope that they can be released back into the wild. The center is a nonprofit that does terrific conservation, research, and education work on behalf of these gorgeous endangered creatures. You’ll learn all about the animals and see them up close as they convalesce. The center’s enthusiastic, passionate guides are friendly, approachable, and happy to answer any questions you might have.
Where To Eat In West Palm Beach
In West Palm, the focus is on fresh, local cuisine, which means fantastic produce and seafood, sometimes fished that very morning.
Batch on Clematis Street cooks up New Southern dishes; go there hungry, and be prepared to bring back leftovers! Head to Table 26 for an upscale evening out -- they’re known for their terrific steaks, seafood, and extensive cocktail menu. Rocco’s Tacos, the iconic Mexican chain, is beloved by locals and visitors looking for a quick, delicious bite. And if you’ve got hankering for fine French pastries to start your day, pick up coffee and croissants at Loic Bakery.
Where To Shop In West Palm Beach
While the aforementioned Clematis Street and Rosemary Square are great shopping stops, there are many other places where you can flex your purchasing power in West Palm.
The Royal Poinciana Plaza is an urban shopping oasis with lush landscaped gardens and high-end stores. The Palm Beach Outlets are a favorite place for bargain hunters to pick up designer brands, sometimes at a deep discount. And Antique Row, which includes 40 shops, offers treasure hunters an incredible array of art, jewelry, furniture, and collectibles from the 17th century to the 20th century.
Where To Stay In West Palm Beach
There are many fine hotels and resorts in West Palm Beach; some are chains such as Hilton or Marriott, and many offer top-of-the-line amenities. But for a more personal stay, consider the Grandview Gardens Bed & Breakfast. This Spanish-style villa is in the heart of town and will have you close to everything. The gardens are gorgeous, the pool is a plus, and it’s just a charming spot!
Keep in mind that West Palm is also a place where there are fantastic home-sharing options available, ranging from modest apartments to palatial mansions. If you want a private space with the ability to self-cater, check Airbnb and Vrbo for options that will fit your budget and vacation plan.
Pro Tip: If you want to extend your Florida vacation and tack on a quick jog to Miami or Fort Lauderdale, ditch the car and hop on the Brightline. The high-speed train will have you there in less than an hour -- with zero travel aggravation.