Ritzy and historic, Palm Beach in Florida is a suitable vacation destination for travelers who want a beach, spa, or foodie getaway. While it's well-known for the Mar-a-Lago Club, there's a lot more within Palm Beach and the surrounding areas to keep visitors entertained. From wildlife spotting to waterfront biking, here are the eight best things to do in Palm Beach and nearby cities.
1. Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
Henry Morrison Flagler, one of the Standard Oil founders, was known for developing Florida’s east coast cities as tourist destinations. Inspired by European palaces, Flagler built Whitehall — a 75-room, 100,000-square-foot Gilded Age mansion — in 1902 for his third wife. The couple retreated here during the winter until Flagler’s death in 1913. The mansion subsequently served as a hotel, but Flagler’s daughter bought the property in 1959 and opened it as a museum. Today, visitors can tour the opulent, antique-filled property, which houses a library room, music room with an organ, drawing room with a piano (performances are held here often), and a courtyard with a marble fountain. It’s located on Lake Worth Lagoon in Palm Beach.
2. Worth Avenue
Palm Beach is a stellar shopping destination and its premier spot is Worth Avenue, which spans four blocks from Lake Worth to the Atlantic Ocean. Charming walkways (called “vias”) are located off the main avenue, offering European-inspired architecture (picture bougainvillea-covered archways and wrought-iron balconies) and more shops. Upmarket stores in this district include Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, and Tory Burch, as well as Lilly Pulitzer, which got its start in Palm Beach. Art galleries and restaurants with outdoor dining are also available here.
3. Lake Trail
Whether you tackle it on foot or bike, the roughly five-mile Lake Trail is a great way to see the city. The well-maintained path runs along Lake Worth and the western edge of Palm Beach, making for a particularly scenic journey as trail-goers pass gorgeous mansions, docked boats, and historic sites such as the Flagler Museum and Giant Kapok Tree. Visitors looking to learn a little history can book a bike tour with Leslie Diver of Island Living Tours.
4. Phipps Ocean Park
No trip to the Florida coast would be complete without some beach time, and Phipps Ocean Park is a favorite spot for its uncrowded atmosphere and facilities. The beautiful shell-covered beach is wide and has ample space for visitors to spread out. Public tennis courts, picnic tables, barbecue grills, and restrooms are also all available. Those planning on driving here should note that parking is $5/hour.
5. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
About a 30-minute drive from Palm Beach is the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Florida. The nonprofit organization is “dedicated to the protection and conservation of Florida’s wildlife and natural resources,” doing so through wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, as well as educational programs. Visitors can walk through nature trails or observe wildlife in enclosures, including local animals such as bears, bald eagles, Florida panthers, and alligators. Admission is donation-based, and there are several kid-specific opportunities.
6. Manatee Lagoon
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Connected to Palm Beach via a bridge is West Palm Beach, where travelers will find the family-friendly Manatee Lagoon. This educational center operates year-round, though it’s most popular during manatee season, which runs from November 15 to March 31 this year. In addition to public and private manatee lagoon tours, the center offers kid-friendly story time, puzzle-making and play time, and classes that mix art and science. Yoga classes for both adults and kids are provided indoors or outside on a terrace facing Lake Worth. Admission is free.
7. Rosemary Square
Formerly CityPlace, the Rosemary Square shopping center is situated in downtown West Palm Beach, near the Palm Beach County Convention Center. The indoor/outdoor mall has ample dining and shopping options, in addition to a movie theater, the Harriet Himmel Theater for performing arts, and the Improv Comedy Club and Dinner Theatre. You’ll also find fitness classes, a spa and salon offering various wellness treatments, and The Garden Shoppe, which hosts gardening, art, and meditation sessions.
8. Grandview Public Market
While there are tons of excellent restaurants throughout Palm Beach, such as seafood eatery PB Catch and The Circle at The Breakers Palm Beach, the Grandview Public Market in West Palm Beach is a casual food hall with a variety of cuisines on offer. Formerly a factory, the industrial-style space has an ice cream spot, coffee shop, and food stands serving Cuban and Greek fare, ramen, poke, pizza, and crepes. There’s also a boutique here for cute souvenirs and home goods. Indoor seating is available, as is outdoor seating on a large deck with a cover and cornhole.
Our Favorite Palm Beach Hotels
Our Top Pick for a Historic Hotel in Palm Beach: The Breakers Palm Beach
The Breakers, a historic property that was originally built in 1896, is the most famous hotel in Palm Beach. Spread across 140 acres, this expansive property provides guests with a private beach, five heated oceanfront pools, four whirlpools, an elegant spa, and numerous dining options that include The Circle, which is popular for its Sunday brunch. Trendy cocktail bars, an adjacent 18-hole golf course, a kids’ club, and free fitness classes add to its appeal.
Our Top Pick for a Spa Hotel in Palm Beach: Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa
Located in South Palm Beach, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa is a glamorous hotel with elegant interiors and a pretty beachfront. The main pool and an additional adults-only pool face the ocean and provide ample loungers for relaxing, but the highlight here is the huge spa. The swish, 42,000-square-foot space has an outdoor garden with swings over dipping pools and cabanas, plus there are 19 treatment rooms, a clothing-optional whirlpool, sauna and steam room facilities, and a make-your-own body scrub bar.
Our Top Pick for a Beach Hotel in Palm Beach: Four Seasons Resort, Palm Beach
Both romancing couples and vacationing families will find plenty to keep occupied at the Four Seasons Resort, Palm Beach. In addition to a beach with loungers, the hotel has two oceanfront pools, a full-service spa with a hot tub, a kids’ club, and fine-dining restaurants. The 210 rooms are elegant and feature marble bathrooms with separate walk-in showers and bathtubs.
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