Get out and Explore Palm Beach County

By Kristopher Neild, Travel Expert

The Palm Beach County area has many of the staples one expects when visiting a new area. There is a city zoo, great museums and cultural activities. There are also miles of spectacular coastline, wildlife and world class golf courses. 

If you are coming with the family (depending on the season), you will want to make sure and check out the Palm Beach Zoo. This half-day attraction will fascinate both the young and old. The sheer volume of active animals and learning exhibits will keep the minds and cameras active. 

If you are the typical Florida traveler, you will want to know where to go for fun in the sun. Lake Worth has an excellent public beach and pool where you can avoid parking hassles and the pretentious crowd. 

Another big area draw is Roger Dean Stadium. During February and March, professional baseball teams come to the area to train and play exhibition games in preparation of the regular season. This is a great time to meet players, collect autographs and get some great pictures. Later on in the year, the stadium is home to two minor league ball clubs. 

Don't forget the area is great for wildlife consumption. Grab your camera and backpack and head to one of the many parks and hiking trails in the area. 

10. Henry Morrison Flagler Museum
Photo courtesy of Flagler Museum

Occupying the mansion that Standard Oil founder Henry Flagler built for his wife in 1902, this museum recreates the luxury of the early 20th century. The Beaux-Art style structure was saved from the wrecking ball in 1959 and restored to its original magnificence by Flagler's granddaughter. Today, its many rooms feature ornate architecture, regal furnishings, and a wealth of art. Displays on the railroad that ran along Florida's east coast (and which was funded and conceived of by Flagler) provide a glimpse of the state's early move towards tourism and agriculture. The rail car that Flagler traveled in has also been restored and is available for browsing. The museum is fully wheelchair accessible with the addition of a new elevator.

9. Norton Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of Norton Museum of Art

The Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach has grown to become one of Florida's top cultural centers. The Museum has amassed a great collection of works including pieces by Matisse, Monet and Picasso. The directors ensure that the top traveling exhibits make a stop in West Palm, and the locals show their approval by coming out in droves. Opt for the guided tour, or explore the space by yourself. Come on Thursdays for "Norton after Dark", where music is combined with exhibits in the courtyard. There is a restaurant on-site where guests can quell their hunger while simultaneously breaking up their day.

8. Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens

Ralph Norton, who founded the Norton Museum of Art, shared the home that houses this sculpture garden with his second wife, whose works are on display. Ann Norton's sculptures are scattered throughout the house and gardens, which were created both to showcase the art and to provide a haven for local birds. The monolithic outdoor pieces are largely crafted of brick and have a substantial, almost primitive quality. They come upon you in the landscape as discoveries, set among a collection of palms that surpasses 300 specimens. The pieces are mostly bronze, stone and wood, with some standing as high as 12 feet tall.

7. Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society

From its early beginnings, when a few farm animals were the only attraction, this zoo has grown to include hundreds of specimens and 23 acres of habitat. Among the residents you'll see are black bears, jaguars, macaws, emus, wild turkeys, tigers, monkeys, panthers, kangaroos, sloths, pythons, alligators and tortoises. The Florida exhibit showcases the state's native creatures and plants, and a special habitat for North American river otters allows visitors to peek in on their antics and activities. Unlike other city zoos, Palm Beach Zoo is at most a half day attraction; no need to worry about kids getting bored or sunburned.

6. Roger Dean Stadium
Photo courtesy of bob in swamp

A few miles up the road from Palm Beach lives Roger Dean Stadium. The complex is the Spring Training home of the St. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins during the Feb/March months. Later on, it turns into the full-time home of the Palm Beach Cardinals, and the Jupiter Hammerheads (minor league baseball). In the spring, baseball fans from all over the country head to Florida in hopes to grab their favorite players autographs, and see them in game action from close vantage points. If you are visiting during the later spring and summer months, heading to Roger Dean can be great for taking in some minor league action with the family. If you check the schedule, you can time your visit to coincide with guest appearance and ticket deals that will make it even more the worthwhile.

5. Mounts Botanical Garden

Spread across this garden's 14 acres is a wealth of plants that thrive in South Florida's temperate climes. Specimens from six continents illustrate how diverse the growing conditions are in the region, and visitors can wander among plants that have differing needs and uses. Displays on vegetation native to Florida are available for browsing, and visitors often find inspiration for their own gardens in the living exhibits. Throughout the year, special events are held, and the plant sales, in which visitors can buy nursery plants and decorative garden accessories, are legendary. Master Gardeners are on-hand to answer questions you may have, and a great bookstore offers volumes of information on plants and gardening.

4. Loggerhead Marinelife Center of Juno Beach

The goal of this small museum is the preservation of the marine environment and the creatures that populate it, especially sea turtles. In the museum, interactive displays educate visitors on the local environment, while nature trails take the efforts outdoors to the landscape itself. The area around the center is a popular breeding ground for loggerheads, leatherbacks, and green turtles, and during the height of the season, the museum sponsors guided walks on the beach to see them. Reservations may be made for these excursions beginning May 1, so plan ahead, because spaces go quickly. If you are someone who enjoys the environment/nature and adventure, visiting this attraction will surely please you.

3. Jonathan Dickinson State Park
Photo courtesy of bob in swamp

If outdoor activities get your blood pumping, this expansive park provides more than enough diversions to occupy your time. Over 11,000 acres of land guarantee plenty of space for the multitude of visitors who come to hike, camp, bike, and picnic in the rugged surroundings. Since the Loxahatchee River flows through the park, there's also ample opportunity for water sports, namely canoeing along the river banks and fishing in both fresh and salt water venues. Nature trails, boat rentals, and tours of the Loxahatchee are also available. Sometimes you don't want to spend your entire vacation being pampered and waited on. Florida's parks make a great respite for nature lovers on break.

2. Kravis Center for Performing Arts
Photo courtesy of Kravis Center for Performing Arts

The Kravis Center for Performing Arts offers its version of Broadway theater (such hits as "Jersey Boys", "Catch Me If You Can", "Mary Poppins", "Peter Pan", "The Brand New Kid", concerts (the National Symphony of Cuba, the St. Lawrence String Quartet) and a number of community-related programs, including a summer arts camp.While a place for serious performance, it also has a much lighter side. The Family Fare program welcomes children to the world of theatre with dance, comedy and music. There's also a music and arts program for children with special needs. Check the schedule before you come to town, as big name acts are known to swing through. Could be the perfect icing to add to the top of your trip.

1. The Breakers
Photo courtesy of The Breakers

This circa-1926 Palm Beach landmark is a tribute to Henry Morrison Flagler – the man who helped develop much of Palm Beach – by his heirs. Constructed in Italian Renaissance style, the opulent hotel features handpainted ceilings, Flemish tapestries, Venetian chandeliers and a king's ransom of artwork and furnishings. Guests are plied by restaurants, pools, tennis courts, golf courses, a health club and spa. A concierge, children's programs and business center are also available. Air-conditioned rooms are beautifully appointed and include cable TV, minibar, hair dryer, safe, Internet access and modem connection. Six miles from the airport. Meeting space to accommodate 1500. 572 rooms, including 57 suites.