I love to travel, and I love almost every kind of travel that there is. While you will find me backpacking the Caucasus and staying in central Asian hostels, I also love a great luxury vacation! And without a doubt, one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to is Palm Beach.
From fabulous museums to five-star hotels, there are so many glamorous things to do in Palm Beach. Here are some of my favorites.
This list of the best things to do in Palm Beach is brought to you in collaboration with Hotels.com.
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How to Get to Palm Beach, Florida
The easiest way to get to Palm Beach is to fly into Palm Beach International Airport. And yes, you can fly your private jet here if you aren’t flying commercial like I did. So lowely for Palm Beach, I know.
You can then rent a car at the airport or get a taxi to your accommodations. Note that prices here for taxis and Uber are on the high side due to the long distances between points of interest. A taxi from the airport to hotels in Palm Beach can run from 30-35 dollars before tip.
Though if you rent a car and drive yourself, you may have to pay to park at your hotel. But Palm Beach is not a budget destination, and they let you know this as soon as you land.
If you would prefer to fly into Miami International Airport, you can rent a car in Miami and drive or you can take Tri-Rail into West Palm Beach.
You can also fly into Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport and rent a car or take Brightline Rail which goes between West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and Orlando.
You can also arrange for a private car to pick you up at any of these three airports and take you to your hotel.
How to Get Around Palm Beach
Palm Beach and Palm Beach County have long driving distances in between major attractions and points of interest. You might be shocked how much time you spend in the car after your arrival (unless you choose to spend all your time at your hotel, obviously).
Taxi prices here can be high because the drive between places is so long. However, if you plan on enjoying drinks with your dinner (or your brunch), a taxi or rideshare is the safest way to go. More than one celebrity has been caught imbibing too much in Palm Beach County and then getting on the road. Don’t join their ranks!
Where to Stay in Palm Beach
I’ll be honest and say that I stayed at the Four Seasons Palm Beach, and it’s still the nicest hotel I’ve ever stayed in. I spent a week in luxury at the Four Seasons, and I don’t regret it at all. Though caveat, I didn’t have to pay for the entire room, because I was there for a company retreat and the room was covered for half the week. I love luxury, but I also like a good kitschy beach motel.
When I go back to Palm Beach, though, I do think it’s one of those destinations where you want to stay at a nice resort hotel if possible. If not possible, you can still go for a nice lunch, brunch, or drinks as many have restaurants and day passes available to those not staying at their premises.
Some things to consider when you select your Palm Beach hotel is how close you want to be to the water, do you want amenities like a spa, or if you’d prefer to stay somewhere basic and spend all of your time out exploring.
Palm Beach versus West Palm Beach: What’s the Difference?
Anyone who watches the Real Housewives of New York knows that Tinsley Mortimer is very clear that Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are not the same and should not be confused. Of course, to those coming in for a week or weekend getaway, you won’t want to be stuck just in Palm Beach since some of the best activities here are in the greater Palm Beach area.
Hence this article covers many things to do in West Palm Beach as well as Lake Worth Beach, Delray Beach, Jupiter, and Boca Raton as well as a few other things to do in Palm Beach County.
The distinction is important when choosing where you want to stay since West Palm Beach is not on the Atlantic ocean but instead is across the Intracoastal waterway on the mainland. If you want to wake up to waves, you’ll need to stay in Palm Beach proper. So for your itinerary, I don’t think it matters if you stick to just Palm Beach or West Palm Beach. But for your accommodations, Palm Beach is more desirable.
The Best Things to Do in Palm Beach
If you are on your way to Palm Beach, congratulations! You’re heading to one of the most glamorous places on Earth! Pick some of these things to do in Palm Beach while you’re here, but make sure to set aside time to relax as well!
Enjoy Lunch (or Brunch!) at the Four Seasons
One of the best ways to spend your time here to by starting a late, relaxing morning with a brunch at the Four Seasons, or taking in a lunch here after getting up for morning activities. If you’re staying at the Four Seasons, you just need to stumble downstairs, but if you aren’t you can still come and enjoy the food and the view!
See Gilded Age Opulence at the Flagler Museum
Outside of lounging on the beach and dining like the rich and famous, the Flagler Museum is the most important thing to do in Palm Beach and a true can’t-miss. The art collection at the Flagler Museum is world-class, but it’s not the only draw for those coming to this gorgeous Palm Beach art museum.
Located in the former home (read: mansion) of Henry Morrison Flagler, the residence, known as Whitehall, is so grand that the New York Herald wrote that it was “more wonderful than any palace in Europe, grander and more magnificent than any other private dwelling in the world.”
Now for the price of your ticket, you can see art from the Gilded Age and beyond, as well as experience what the period’s architecture is like up close.
Make sure to take a spin around the gift shop if you’re looking for Palm Beach souvenirs.
Snap a Picture of the Giant Kapok Tree at the Royal Poinciana Chapel
If you will be going to the Flagler Museum, the nearby Giang Kapok Tree is nearly two hundred years old. Protected on the grounds of the Royal Poinciana Chapel, you can also see it if you will be running or walking on Lake Trail.
Of course, you can also take a spiritual moment here, as the gardens around the tree were created to be a peaceful place for worship, personal meditation, and celebration, as well as hosting events held by the chapel.
See the Glamor of the Breakers Hotel
While I loved my time at the Four Seasons, The Breakers Hotel is on my personal must-stay list the next time I want to live it up in Palm Beach. This historic hotel is a Palm Beach Luxury Resort as well as one of the most popular photography spots in Palm Beach.
The hotel dates back to the 1890s, but the current building was constructed in the 1920s after the first two iterations both turned down. The hotel was founded by Henry Flagler (yes, he’s pretty important around here!), and if you loved Whitehall you will adore the Breakers. It’s grand, opulent, and overwhelming while still elegant. It’s everything that Palm Beach aspires to be.
Go for a Lounge or a Swim at the Area’s Best Beaches
Palm Beach has some amazing beaches. No one will fault you for getting up and flopping on the nearest beach lounger at your hotel, but there are many beaches in the area that are worth visiting if you want to look further afield.
Delray Beach is considered a hidden gem by locals, as is Juno Beach. Dubois Park in Jupiter is lined with palm trees, while John D. MacArthur Beach State Park in West Palm Beach has a boardwalk and nature center. There are so many spots for some fun in the sun that it’s hard to narrow down the county’s best beaches to just a few!
One thing to keep in mind with the beaches that are right on the Atlantic Ocean: the waves can be rough, even when they are small! If you are used to the rolling waves of the Gulf of Mexico, you might be in for a shock. I lost my top in some waves that weren’t more than twelve inches tall!
Go on an Everglades Airboat Tour at Everglades National Park
One of the most popular things to do in all of south Florida, an Everglades tour on an airboat is an absolute must while you’re here.
Many hotels in Palm Beach can get you signed up for an Everglades tour that includes pickup, so speak with your accommodations if you are interested. If you’ve rented a car for your trip, there are guided tours like this one which has the option of meeting the tour at the park.
Visit the Church of Bethesda By the Sea
This historic building is an Episcopal Church. Reminiscent of Westminster Abbey in London, there really are very few Episcopal churches in the United States that are as magnificent as the Church of Bethesda By the Sea.
Visitors can come and visit the church and gardens during the day, but please be respectful and dress appropriately.
Try Your Hand at Snorkeling
If you are coming to Palm Beach to go snorkeling, there are some excellent spots in Palm Beach county. None of the most famous snorkeling here is in Palm Beach, but there are just too many great spots to list them all individually below. This guide is a great overview of the best snorkeling in the area.
Go Scuba Diving
Snorkeling’s big brother, those who are certified to go scuba diving can enjoy the same snorkeling spots or you can go further out. Here’s a list of Palm Beach county’s best scuba diving locations.
Get Your Adrenaline Going with Water Sports
Honestly, I had no idea how many different water sports there are (check this insanely long list). In Palm Beach, you can parasail, kayak, kit surf, and more. While I don’t think every sport is available here, Palm Beach has no shortage of fun outdoor activities for every type of traveler, from families looking for kid-friendly things to do to couples looking for adventure or romance.
Get Out on a Boat (or a Yacht)
It’s no fun to be stuck on land when you can be out on the open water! You can charter a private boat or go on a group boat tour. If you’re lucky (or very wealthy) you can opt for a yacht instead!
Stroll Worth Avenue
By this point, you need to do some real Palm Beach sightseeing! There are so many charming spots in Palm Beach, but a visit to Worth Avenue is a must for everyone! Don’t miss charming side streets like Via Mizner and make sure to climb to the top of the landmark Clock Tower.
Have a Spa Day and Get a Massage
I’d be lying if I said the day I spent at the Four Seasons spa wasn’t one of the best days of my life. However, many hotels here have resort services like spas, and there are private companies you can book as well. If you have come to Palm Beach to be pampered (and if you’re here, you should be pampered!), then make sure to reserve some special treatments for yourself. You deserve it!
Get up for Sunrise
While I’m usually a sunset person (being up for sunrise is a bit torturous for me), in Palm Beach it’s all about the sunrise! Because the sun rises over the water and sets over West Palm Beach, you’ll get much better photos if you get up early for those magical east Florida sunrises. At least once. And yes, it counts if you’re “still up.”
See the Boardwalk at Phipps Ocean Park
You might associate Boardwalks with Atlantic City and Santa Monica, but there’s a Palm Beach boardwalk right at Phipps Ocean Park. If you’re looking for some fun nightlife options but don’t want to go to West Palm Beach, look no further!
Enjoy a Palm Beach Golf Course (or two)
Any town full of rich people is bound to have a few golf courses, and Palm Beach is no exception. If golf is your thing (and more luck to you), make sure to bring your clubs down with you!
Find the Most Instagrammable Places in Palm Beach & Palm Beach County
Some of my favorite places to photograph in Palm Beach and Palm Beach County aren’t famous, they’re just beautiful quiet corners of this amazing city. Keep your phone or camera with you, because you never know what Palm Beach photography locations you might discover all on your own!
Things to Do in West Palm Beach
Across the water to the west, the town of West Palm Beach is famous for its arts and culture scene, its beautiful art deco architecture, and its vibrant nightlife and live music scene. Here are the best things to do in West Palm Beach.
Get Instagrammable Ice Cream at Sloan’s Ice Cream Store
If you love delicious desserts with pictures you can stare at for days, head to Sloan’s Ice Cream Store. This Florida-based ice creamery makes handmade desserts that are as pretty as they are delicious. While there are a few locations throughout the county and some in California and abroad, the West Palm Beach location is their first shop!
Stroll through The Norton Museum of Art
Founded in 1941 by Ralph Hubbard Norton, the Norton Museum of Art has a collection of over 7,000 works concentrated mainly in European, American, Chinese art, and contemporary photography. It also has a beautiful garden to experience while here.
Check out Clematis Street & Downtown West Palm Beach
This is the place to go in West Palm Beach at night! You can enjoy cocktails, live music, nightclubs, and dancing. If you want to relax by day and party by night, this is where to go!
Of course, you can come down and admire the architecture here during the day as well! Many guided tours of the area will start here or nearby, so you can learn all about the area’s history.
Rosemary Square (Harriet Himmel Theater, Cityplace)
Next to Clematis Street, Rosemary Square is one of the most famous (and most Instagrammed) places in West Palm Beach. Here you’ll find the historic Harriet Himmel Theater, CityPlace, and an absolutely dreamy fountain.
The Palm Beach Zoo
Its name might be confusing, but test the Palm Beach Zoo is actually located in West Palm Beach. This is a great kid-friendly activity if you’re looking for something to do in West Palm Beach for kids.
West Palm Beach Green Market
From Belgrade, Serbia to Singapore, to Sulphur, Oklahoma, I just love green markets! The market in West Palm Beach is one of the most famous (and largest) green markets in the USA.
South Florida Science Center
Another great kid-friendly activity, a visit to the South Florida Science Center is fun for all ages! A perfect way to spend the morning or afternoon with kids in West Palm Beach.
If you’re as enthralled with these gentle giants of the water as I am, you’ll love a visit to Manatee Lagoon. Here they educate visitors on manatee conservation and their habitat in Lake Worth Lagoon.
McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary
Another great opportunity to get up close and personal with wildlife, McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary is a popular thing to do in West Palm Beach.
While it’s a bit too Tiger King for my taste since many groups claim that it’s not really a sanctuary (and there are some really great animal opportunities on the list by really responsible organizations), I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that it’s here and people seem to like it.
Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
Boasting one of the most Instagrammable places in West Palm Beach, the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens is home to monumental sculptures and lush gardens. It combines all of the best elements of the Palm Beach County art museum scene: great art, interesting architecture, and interesting plant life.
The home is considered modest by Palm Beach county standards, but I assure you that it’s more than enough room for most people to live in. Though it does seem smaller due to the large nature of the statues here.
Mounts Botanical Garden
I fell in love with visiting botanical gardens while living in the Balkans, and now I never miss them. Mounts Botanical Garden features tropical and subtropical plants endemic to Florida and from around the world.
West Palm Beach Antique Row
If you love antique shops, you will adore West Palm Beach. With forty of them situated on Anqitue Row, you will be hard-pressed to visit them all unless you’re in town for more than a quick getaway.
Palm Beach Opera
While I’m more often found at European opera houses than American ones, a visit to the Palm Beach Opera is a great way to make a sophisticated Palm Beach getaway even fancier. Check their website for upcoming performances to see if they’ll be on when you’re in town.
If the opera isn’t your thing, there are still great live events to attend at the Kravis Center year-round, from live music performances to the theater to film festivals and lecture series. Check their calendar for what will be happening while you’re in town.
Things to Do in Lake Worth Beach
Some of my best memories from Palm Beach county are actually from exploring Lake Worth Beach. The town’s new official name, it was formerly called just Lake Worth. The name was changed in 2019, so don’t worry if you come across information that hasn’t been fully updated yet.
Kavasutra Kava Bar
Before I got to Florida, I had never heard of Kava. And to be honest, I still have never seen a dedicated kava bar anywhere else, though I know they exist.
What is kava? Well, here’s a description straight from the horse’s mouth:
Kava is a root from the South Pacific Islands. It has been used traditionally for over 3,000 years for celebration, conflict resolution, and for recreational fun. At Kavasutra Kava Bar, the root of the kava plant is mixed with water and strained out using an ancient, yet effective method.
We only use the highest grade of kava root, creating the most desirable and smooth kava In the world. We make the kava every day fresh in-house. Instead of a glass or a drink or kava, you would order a shell of kava—as kava is served in half coconut shells in the South Pacific. Kava is served in liquid form and, in tradition, nobody shells alone.
What does it feel like drinking kava? Gentle and relaxing without being overpowering. I loved it. Think of the feeling you get sipping a cool drink under a palm tree looking out on the ocean. It’s that feeling in drink form.
The Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. Building
My favorite picture that I took in Lake Worth Beach is this picture of a red convertible parked in front of the Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. building. This gorgeous white building serves as the headquarters of the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County.
Come by to snap a pic or two of the beautiful 1940s theater-turned-museum-turned-council headquarters.
Grab a Drink and Enjoy the Lake Worth Beach Nightlife
Lake Worth Beach is a fun town with art, architecture, and culture, but it also has some fun nightlife. So head into any bar with good drinks special and unwind!
Things to Do in Delray Beach
Famous for shopping and beaches, Delray Beach is less well-known than Palm Beach, but it’s a great destination in its own right. USA Today once voted Delray Beach the “Most Fun Small Town in America.” With a population of over sixty-thousand, I wouldn’t say it’s a small town, but it does have great small-town charm!
Delray Municipal Beach
If you love the colorful lifeguard stands found in south Florida, then you need to head to Delray Municipal Beach where the pastel-colored lifeguard stands are quintessentially Floridian and perfect for great beach vacation pic!
Atlantic Avenue is the longest main street in Florida, so there’s quite a lot to see and do here. Highlighting what makes Delray Beach so fun, the Ave, as locals call it, juxtaposes urban hippy beach life with upscale shopping and resort life.
Pineapple Grove Arts District
Located just off Atlantic Avenue, Pineapple Grove Arts District is a can’t-miss. Featuring Artists Alley, renowned restaurants, and its famous entryway sign do not forget to spend some time here!
Morikami Museum & Japanese Gardens
Begun in 1904 by Japanese immigrants interested in creating better farming in southern Florida, today the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens is a place for all to come for peace, reflection, and healing.
The museum is modeled after a Japanese villa, while the gardens are sixteen acres of Japanese Gardens. This is the perfect place to come for a bit of tranquility and to learn about Japanese culture.
Things to Do in Jupiter
The town of Jupiter is the northernmost town in Palm Beach County, but that doesn’t mean you should skip it! The list of famous residents includes an entire roster of former PGA players, so if golf is your thing, you may want to come out to a golf course here. Though golf is not the only popular thing to do in Jupiter!
Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
I love visiting lighthouses! One of the most beautiful lighthouses on the US East Coast, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is simply iconic. Come to learn about the maritime history of the area as well as taking in the beautiful views.
Coral Cove Park
This is where to head if you want to do your own private mermaid photoshoot. The arches make the perfect backdrop for your Ariel aspirations. Just make sure to wear shoes that are strong enough to walk on the rocks!
Dubois Pioneer Home
Built at the end of the nineteenth century, the Dubois Pioneer Home, also referred to as the “house on the hill” was built on top of an ancient Native American mound. You can go on a docent-guided tour of one of the last remaining historic homesteads in Palm Beach County while also learning about the history of the Native Americans who were living here for the prior centuries.
More Things to Do in Palm Beach County
A few more great things to do in Palm Beach County.
Boca Raton Museum of Art (Boca Raton)
The southernmost city in Palm Beach County, Boca Raton is famous for retirement communities, beaches, and Florida Atlantic University, an HBCU. This means Boca Raton has an eclectic mix of history and culture.
Its namesake art museum is a great place to see this mix in action with interesting visiting exhibitions that aren’t always what you’d expect from a rich, sleepy beach town.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center (Boca Raton)
The mission of the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is “to inspire stewardship of coastal and marine ecosystems.” Operated by the city of Boca Raton, the nature center occupies twenty acres of the protected barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal.
Their main focus and educational efforts are aimed at studying and protecting local sea turtle populations. This is an animal experience in Palm Beach that I can get behind one hundred percent.
Lake Worth Lagoon (Multiple Cities)
Touching thirteen cities, there are too many fun things to see and do at the Lake Worth Lagoon to name. Look for opportunities to enjoy recreation and educational opportunities on the beautiful wonder.
Rapids Water Park (Riviera Beach)
Not that Palm Beach county lacks for opportunities to have fun in the water, but if you’re looking for a water-themed amusement park, Rapids Water Park is the place to be. A great place for family fun for travelers coming to Palm Beach with kids.
Peanut Island (Riviera Beach)
Located in the middle of Lake Worth Lagoon, Peanut Island is reachable from Riviera Beach. You can kayak or boat to the island on your own, or you can take the county ferry over.
Palm Beach Polo & Country Club (Wellington)
You may not go to polo matches in your day-to-day life, but why not see if you can attend one while in Palm Beach? Check their calendar for events happening during your stay.
Lion Country Safari (Loxahatchee)
The country’s first cageless zoo and the home to the largest zebra hood outside of Africa, Lion Country Safari is a popular attraction. I cannot verify if it’s an ethical animal experience today. I would do your own research before attending.
Loggerhead Marine Life Center (Juno Beach)
A conservation and rehabilitation center for loggerhead sea turtles, the Loggerhead Marine Life Center has guided tours available to guests where you can learn about sea turtles and visit the outdoor sea turtle hospital.
When is the Best Time to Visit Palm Beach?
I went in April, and the weather was perfect. We could swim, go on boats, tour the Everglades, and enjoy the local nightlife. It wasn’t too hot (like it gets in summer), and we avoided storms. This part of Florida is famous for thunderstorms in the afternoons in the summer!
If you go to Palm Beach in winter, some of these activities will not be available. However, as any good RHONY fan knows, Palm Beach is the place to be during the holidays. (Maybe that’s not a great thing for everyone…ahem…Luann).
5 Things to Bring to Palm Beach
While I’m sure you plan on doing a lot (A LOT) of shopping while you’re here, there are a few items that you do not want to leave home without! I accidentally forgot a hairbrush and leggings, and I had to order them online and shipped to the hotel. It wasn’t fun!
First, bring a guidebook. This is especially important if you will be going on a long road trip around Florida or you will be exploring the area for more than a quick weekend getaway. For road trips, I like Lonely Planet’s Florida & the South’s Best Road Trips but there’s also the dedicated Palm Beach: A Complete Guide to the Island and the DK Eyewitness Florida, both of which go more in-depth on the area.
Second, make sure to bring your cell phone. You will want to stay connected during your trip, plus it will serve as a navigation system should you rent a car and a go-to camera. I use an iPhone 12 Pro these days, but I have also used Samsung phones in the past.
Third, grab a camera. While it’s great to have a cell phone with you for quick pics, if you want to do more serious photography or take more videos, I find it nice to travel with a separate dedicated camera as well.
If I will be wrestling with my toddler on the trip, I’ll grab my Sony ZV-1, which is a powerful compact camera with great video capabilities as well. If it’s just me, I’ll take my Nikon (though if you’re buying a new camera I have my eye on this Sony).
Next, bring a waterproof bag (also knowns as a dry bag) so that you can safely bring your electronics to the beach. You don’t want to ruin your trip with a drowned cell phone or a wet camera, but you also don’t want to miss out on capturing all those great beach moments with your loved ones!
Finally, bring a backup charging bank for your phone. Even though my new phone has an awesome battery life, I would not want to be out on a boat or a tour for the day and end up with a dead phone. It’s a safety issue as well as an inconvenience.
More Florida Travel Resources
I’ve been to Florida five times (and my sixth trip is coming up soon!) I love the sun, the culture, and the arts scene, plus it doesn’t hurt that Florida is full of amazing hotels and beaches! Here are a few more Florida travel resources to help you plan your trip:
First, start with my guide to renting a car in Miami if you think you’ll be going on a South Florida road trip or if you’ll be flying into Miami to start your trip.
Here are great Florida travel quotes you can use for Instagram or to send to friends before, during, or after your trip!
Finally, this interview is a fun and irreverent history of Disney World for those adding Disney to your Florida itinerary!
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
Before you leave for Palm Beach make sure you have a valid Travel Insurance Policy because accidents happen on the road. I pay for World Nomads, and I happily recommend them. It’s especially important to get travel insurance whenever you are more than one hundred miles from home.
I’ve had friends whose phones were stolen, luggage was lost, and my sister even had her passport stolen at a hotel once. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!
I have been a paying customer of World Nomads for travel insurance for four years, and I happily recommend them. If you get sick, injured, or have your stuff stolen, you’ll be happy to have the ability to pay for your medical bills or replace what’s stolen or broken.
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