The Ultimate Travel Guide to Palm Beach & West Palm Beach

Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, twin cities separated by the shimmering waters of Lake Worth Lagoon, offer a blend of high-end sophistication and laid-back beach vibes that beckon travelers from all corners of the globe. Nestled on the east coast of Florida, Palm Beach is synonymous with luxury and tranquility, renowned for its picturesque beaches and opulent lifestyle. 

Just across the lagoon, West Palm Beach presents a more energetic ambiance, with cultural venues, vibrant nightlife, and a variety of dining experiences that range from upscale eateries to the casual flair of the local cuisine. It is home to attractions such as the Palm Beach Zoo, enriching discoveries in a treasured natural setting.

Whether visitors are in search of relaxation or adventure, world-class golf courses, idyllic public beaches like Municipal Beach and Phipps Ocean Park, and a range of outdoor activities provide a comprehensive Floridian experience.

This guide will navigate through the illustrious areas of Palm Beach and the spirited scenes of West Palm Beach, offering insight into the best these coastal gems have to offer. It outlines the must-visit spots, from the sun-soaked beaches and lush state parks, to the cultural hotspots and gastronomic delights, ensuring that visitors can craft an unforgettable escape to one of Florida’s most desirable destinations.

Getting to Palm Beach & West Palm Beach

Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are well-connected destinations, catering to travelers with options ranging from convenient flights to a variety of local transportation methods that ensure a seamless arrival and travel experience within the area.

Arriving by Air

Travelers can fly directly into the region via Palm Beach International Airport (PBI), which is a primary entry point for those visiting both Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. Situated just a few miles west of downtown Palm Beach, PBI offers a range of services that cover major cities across the U.S.

Nearby airports include Miami International Airport (MIA) and Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL), both of which are approximately a one to two-hour drive away, depending on traffic. Those willing to travel further can also utilize Orlando International Airport (MCO) as an entryway, which stands as a viable option for international visitors.

Local Transportation Options

Once in the Palm Beach area, travelers have several transportation options to choose from:

  • Taxis & Rideshare Services: Conveniently available at PBI and throughout the Palm Beach/West Palm Beach areas.
  • Rental Cars: Agencies are accessible within the airport terminals and also in city locations.
  • Public Transportation: Palm Tran provides bus services throughout Palm Beach County with multiple routes and schedules tailored to commuters and tourists alike.
  • Trains: The Tri-Rail system connects Palm Beach County with Miami and Fort Lauderdale and offers an alternative to those looking to avoid road traffic.
  • Brightline: This high speed rail service provides all access to South Florida with connections to Orlando.

Transportation within the area is designed to be accessible and efficient, ensuring visitors can easily navigate between their points of interest.

Where to Stay

When traveling to Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, visitors have a diverse range of accommodations to choose from, fitting a variety of preferences and budgets. The area is well-known for its sumptuous luxury lodgings, charming boutique hotels, and budget-friendly options that don’t compromise on location or comfort.

Luxury Accommodations

The Breakers Palm Beach stands out as a historic, luxury resort offering opulent amenities and exceptional service. Guests can enjoy oceanfront views, a world-class spa, and a variety of dining options. For those seeking another level of exclusivity, Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa provides a modern twist on luxury with intuitive service and a private beach.

Four Seasons Palm Beach combines luxury with family-friendly amenities, ensuring a superb stay with its beachfront location, lavish accommodations, and five-star facilities. Both family travelers and business execs will find their needs surpassed.

Boutique Hotels

The Brazilian Court Hotel is a stellar example of a boutique hotel that merges luxury with a distinctly personalized experience. With its tranquil courtyards and classic Spanish Colonial architecture, this hotel is an oasis for guests seeking privacy and elegance.

Boutique accommodations like The Ben offer unique charm and are often set in historical or culturally vibrant areas, enhancing the stay with a feel of West Palm Beach’s local character. This includes smaller, yet luxurious properties with distinct personalities, often reflective of the area’s history.

Budget-Friendly Options

West Palm Beach provides travelers with more affordable hotel choices, balancing cost and comfort. The Hampton Inn Palm Beach Gardens is one such option, offering spacious rooms with essential amenities like microwaves and mini-fridges.

Budget-conscious travelers can also seek accommodations with vacation rental homes in areas like Flamingo Park, notable for its creative atmosphere and value offerings particularly suitable for young visitors or those looking to save without sacrificing the quintessential Palm Beach experience.

Must-Visit Attractions

Palm Beach and West Palm Beach offer an array of must-visit attractions, from cultural landmarks to pristine beaches and world-class golf courses. Visitors can immerse themselves in the local history, enjoy outdoor leisure activities and experience the luxury and recreation synonymous with South Florida.

Cultural and Historical Spots

Henry Morrison Flagler Museum: Once Henry Flagler’s Gilded Age estate, this museum provides a historical glimpse into the life of the railroad tycoon and the early days of Palm Beach.

  • Location: Palm Beach, Florida
  • Highlight: Guided tours of the mansion, known as “Whitehall”.

Norton Museum of Art: Known for its impressive collection of American, European, and Chinese art, as well as contemporary exhibits and photography.

  • Location: West Palm Beach, Florida
  • Highlight: The museum’s sculpture garden is a tranquil urban escape.

Outdoor Activities and Beaches

Palm Beach Municipal Beach: A serene and clean beach offering visitors sunbathing, swimming, and a taste of the Palm Beach lifestyle.

  • Highlight: Close proximity to Worth Avenue for shopping and dining.

Juno Beach Park: Ideal for sea turtle spotting, Juno Beach Park is a perfect destination for nature lovers and those looking to relax by the ocean.

  • Highlight: The Juno Beach Pier offers fishing and stunning views.

Peanut Island Park: This unique spot is a go-to for snorkeling enthusiasts, offering clear waters and abundant marine life.

  • Travel Tip: Accessible only by boat, plan a day trip for a secluded island experience.

Golf Courses and Clubs

Golf Courses: Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are homes to numerous prestigious golf courses. They cater to players of all skill levels with lush, meticulously maintained greens.

  • Top Picks: The Breakers Ocean Course, the area’s oldest golf course, and the PGA National Resort, host to professional golf tournaments.

Private Clubs: Exclusive clubs are aplenty, offering top-notch facilities and courses designed by renowned golf architects.

Dining and Food Scene

The Palm Beaches boast a vibrant dining landscape that ranges from exquisite fine dining experiences to the freshest seafood offerings and a wealth of casual eateries that capture the essence of Floridian cuisine.

Fine Dining

In Palm Beach, the acclaimed Buccan stands as a beacon for upscale American fare with its innovative small plates that showcase local ingredients. Equally impressive, Echo offers an array of Pan-Asian specialties, while Imoto, an extension of Buccan, delights sushi enthusiasts with its fresh, artful creations.

Local Seafood Favorites

Seafood Bar at The Breakers offers diners panoramic ocean views that complement the exquisitely fresh seafood served. Staples like locally sourced fish and crab cakes make it a must-visit. Avocado Grill specializes in lighter fare with a focus on seafood and vibrant, farm-to-table vegetables. 

Casual Eats and Street Food

For a more laid-back meal, Pizza Al Fresco affords a relaxed outdoor dining experience right in the heart of downtown Palm Beach. It’s a perfect stop for families or groups seeking delicious pizza in a casual setting. Barbecue aficionados can head to Park Avenue BBQ & Grill in West Palm Beach to savor some of the best baby back ribs in the area, rounding out the Palm Beaches’ rich assortment of dining options.

Shopping in Style

Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are destinations synonymous with elegance, offering a plethora of shopping experiences from luxury brands to unique local boutiques and art galleries.

Luxury Shopping

For those with a penchant for high-end retail, Worth Avenue in Palm Beach is a must-visit. Likened to Beverly Hills’ Rodeo Drive, it is a kaleidoscope of luxury brands and signature stores. Within this opulent setting, shoppers find an array of designer fashion houses.

Mere steps away, The Royal Poinciana Plaza adds to the luxury retail scene with an exclusive collection of upscale shops and eateries, all gathered in a picturesque garden setting.

Boutiques and Markets

Complementing the high-end shopping are the areas’ unique boutiques and markets. Via Mizner, a Mediterranean-inspired shopping area, is known for its smaller, more intimate shops that carry a variety of specialty items and designer wear by brands like Lilly Pulitzer, a label that originated in Palm Beach and reflects the area’s colorful, coastal style.

Local Art and Galleries

Culturally rich, the area also boasts a vibrant arts scene. Art enthusiasts can explore a variety of galleries showcasing a range of styles and mediums. The local art scene is not only confined to galleries; it is famously integrated into the shopping experience, with many shops and boutiques showcasing local artists’ work, transforming each retail excursion into an immersive artistic journey.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Palm Beach and West Palm Beach offer an extensive range of nightlife options, from sophisticated bars and clubs to live music venues that cater to all tastes. Whether visitors are looking for a low-key evening or a night of energetic dancing, they can find it in these vibrant locales.

Bars and Clubs

West Palm Beach is known for its variety of bars and clubs, each with its own unique atmosphere. Clematis Street is the heart of the nightlife scene, bustling with a mix scene of cocktail bars and energetic dance clubs. A notable club that stands out is Camelot, which offers a more intimate and less congested setting for guests preferring a quieter night with the influence of a yacht club vibe.

  • Bars and Clubs on Clematis Street:
    • Respectable Street: Known for live music and a vibrant crowd.
    • Roxy’s Pub: A staple in the area with a rooftop bar offering city views.

Live Music and Shows

For those who favor live performances, West Palm Beach comes alive at night with diverse offerings ranging from local bands to international acts. The city’s live music scene is dynamic with venues that suit every preference, from the avant-garde to mainstream genres.

  • Popular Live Music Venues:
    • Kravis Center for the Performing Arts: Hosts a variety of live shows, including well-known bands and theatrical performances.
    • Meyer Amphitheater: An outdoor venue featuring concerts and seasonal events.

Family-Friendly Recommendations

Palm Beach and West Palm Beach offer a variety of attractions catering to families, ensuring that visitors of all ages can enjoy their time while learning and exploring together. These destinations are rich in activities that combine fun and education in a comfortable and inviting setting.

Kid-Approved Attractions

Families visiting Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are greeted with numerous attractions that children are sure to love. The Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society is a favorite, where kids can come face-to-face with exotic wildlife and partake in interactive exhibits. The Zoo emphasizes conservation efforts, providing an educational aspect to the visit.

  • Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society: Offers an array of wildlife, with educational programs and close-up animal experiences.
  • Downtown West Palm Beach: Features Centennial Fountain, a popular spot for children to play in the water.

Educational Experiences

For those seeking a learning adventure, The Cox Science Center and Aquarium serves as an educational powerhouse offering hands-on exhibits on science and technology. Meanwhile, The Society of the Four Arts presents cultural programming suitable for all ages, including children’s story times that incorporate art, literature, and history.

Venue Experiences Offered
The Cox Science Center and Aquarium Interactive science displays, planetarium shows, and aquatic life.
The Society of the Four Arts Art exhibitions, gardens, and educational activities for children.

These family-friendly recommendations highlight the diverse options available to visitors, providing both entertaining and informative ways to spend time in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach.

Day Trips and Excursions

When visiting Palm Beach and West Palm Beach, travelers have the opportunity to embark on a variety of day trips and excursions. Nearby cities offer urban exploration, while natural parks and reserves provide a refreshing escape into Florida’s wild landscapes.

Explore Nearby Cities

  • Miami: Just over an hour’s drive south from Palm Beach, Miami is renowned for its vibrant nightlife, Art Deco Historic District in South Beach, and bustling cultural scenes. A day trip to Miami presents a stark contrast with the laid-back luxury of Palm Beach.

  • Fort Lauderdale: Often referred to as the “Venice of America” due to its expansive canal system, Fort Lauderdale is located about 50 minutes south of Palm Beach. The city offers serene beaches, a thriving arts community, and the Las Olas Arts and Entertainment District.
  • Orlando: About a two-and-a-half-hour drive northwest, Orlando is a must-visit for theme park enthusiasts. Home to Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort, it provides a day of entertainment and magical experiences for all ages.

Natural Parks and Reserves

  • Okeechobee: Approximately an hour’s drive from West Palm Beach lies Lake Okeechobee, Florida’s largest freshwater lake. It’s a paradise for anglers and bird watchers, offering stunning natural beauty and a variety of wildlife.

  • John D. MacArthur State Park: Situated in the northern part of Palm Beach, visitors can uncover an array of Floridian flora and fauna along the park’s trails and boardwalks. Its pristine beach also serves as a nesting ground for sea turtles.
  • Juno Beach Park: This northern Palm Beach locale is a great spot for family picnics, fishing off the pier, and sea turtle sightings, especially during nesting season. The park maintains a quieter atmosphere for those looking to escape tourist crowds.

Jerry Joyce

Jerry Joyce has been a Florida resident since 1988 and has lived in a variety of places in the South Florida area. Jerry is an avid boater & water sports enthusiast, beach aficionado, a lover of great food, muscle car fan and a theme park annual passholder for many years. Some of his favorite places in Florida include the Florida Keys, Walt Disney World, Cedar Key, the Loxahatchee River, St. Augustine and Ten Thousand islands.

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