Fun in the Sun: Best Outdoor Activities in Palm Beach/West Palm Beach

By Kristopher Neild, Travel Expert

The Palm Beach/West Palm Beach area is home to many wonderful outdoor activities, so there are always bountiful options to lotion up and explore. Florida is known for its beaches and golf courses - and they are included here - but so are many more "outside the box" ideas. For a day in the park, Okeeheelee Park is perfect for the whole family. There are miles of biking and walking trails, a fitness loop with gym equipment and several picnic areas with playground equipment to keep the kid in everyone entertained. Okeeheelee Park is also home to a driving range, three 9-hole golf courses as well as a disc golf walking course.

 

For the sunny days where you just want to be in the water, snorkeling around Peanut Island or kayaking the Loxahatchee are both great experiences. With kayak rentals along the Loxahatchee River, there is nothing standing between you and a few hours on the water. Be prepared to get a little workout in with the kayaking, especially if paddling upstream on the way back. Whether you’re taking a trip to this vacation hot spot or a local looking to fill a Saturday, this list is sure to lead you to a grand adventure. 

10. PGA National Golf Course
Photo courtesy of PGA National

The PGA National Resort and Spa is located close to a number of famous scenic spots. Among these are the Playmobil Fun Park, Roger Dean Stadium, Moroso Speedway, Rapids Water Park, North Palm Beach Country Club and the Gardens Mall. The Palm Beach International Airport is within 17 kilometers away. All 379 accommodations at the PGA National Resort and Spa come in rooms, suites and cottages. All units are outfitted with LCD televisions, wireless Internet connections, MP3 clock radios, honor bars, balconies and dual-line phones. Bathrooms have hair dryers and designer toiletries. Kitchens, dining sets and separate living areas can be found in suites and cottages. The PGA National Resort and Spa features a host of leisure amenities. These include five master-designed golf courses, a 40,000-square-foot European Spa, nine swimming pools, whirlpools and various sports courts. This resort also provides meeting/event facilities, a grand ballroom, a 24-hour front desk, a restaurant and a bar.

9. Paddle Boarding Palm Beach
Photo courtesy of Palm Beach Paddle Boarding

Paddle Boarding Palm Beach (PBPB) is a great launching point for an exciting adventure on the water, either on a board or in a kayak. Out of Riviera Beach and open seven days a week, PBPB has quality equipment and lots of activities to get the most bang for your buck. The three-hour guided eco tour is an affordable way to explore the MacArthur Beach State Park on the north end of Singer Island. For a relaxing Friday night venture- for everyone one from beginners to experienced, signup for the 1.5 hour Sunset Paddle Experience tour and enjoy the sights as the sun goes down. PBPB also has a couples' kayak tour that ends in a picnic and Peanut Island Snorkel Adventure.

8. Delray Beach
Photo courtesy of Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority

Visit Delray Beach once and you'll see that the area has so much to offer that it's already time to plan your next trip. The beaches are incredible as is the downtown, shopping and nightlife scene. Window shop on Atlantic Avenue and then head over to the Pineapple Grove art district and take in the murals, public art, and weekly fresh market. If you'd like to venture away from the downtown area and enjoy all nature has to offer, then West Delray Regional Park is your spot from sunrise to sundown. There are over 300 acres of open land and water along with bike trails, tent camping and an archery club (permit required). This park is unique because it has a runway and car track for radio-controlled planes and automobiles, as well as a boat lake if your hobby is in the water. Explore Delray and see for yourself why it was named the Most Fun Small Town in 2012 USA Today.

7. Grassy Waters Preserve
Photo courtesy of Grassy Waters Preserve

The Grassy Waters Preserve is a 23 square mile wetlands ecosystem that is home to a variety of native wildlife and is loved by nature enthusiasts all over the area. This protected area is popular because it is home to several trails that are open to the public seven days a week free of charge and because of the guided canoe and hiking programs. Keep an eye out for white tailed deer, otter, bobcat, several bird migrating birds, and alligator. In order to protect the natural wildlife as well as your pets, please leave your furry creatures at home. If you're interested in fishing then you'll enjoy the catch and release fishing allowed on the north side of the reserve at Gator Lake. The water reserve is also where the freshwater supply for the City of West Palm Beach comes from so it's very important to pack out any trash that you may bring in with you.

6. Peanut Island
Photo courtesy of Peanut Island

Peanut Island is small man-made island in the Lake Worth inlet, close to the separation point between Signer Island and Palm Beach. The island houses a park for camping, fishing, snorkeling and other recreational activities. The 79 acre land mass has a storied history, as it is where former president John F. Kennedy built his nuclear bunker during the Cold War. The bunker is still maintained, and walking tours are offered through the facility. The area around Peanut Island is a boaters' paradise, with many shallow areas and sand bars to anchor on. Every weekend you can see a party going on around the island.

5. Cycle the Lake Trail
Photo courtesy of Boston Public Library

Everyone knows that the beaches of Palm Beach are beautiful stretches of land to spend a lazy weekend but a trip to Palm Beach isn't complete without spending some time on the Lake Trail. Located along the Intracoastal Waterways, the paved Lake Trail is around 6 miles of gorgeous water views on one side and well-manicured lawns on the other. Parking can usually be found around the Flagler Museum or the Arts Plaza and then from there take off on foot or enjoy a leisurely bike ride. There are several stops with benches and water fountains along the way and the signs for the trail make it easy to follow it all the way to the end of the island. It's wide enough for bikers and walkers to share, just be courteous and share the path if you see people walking their pets.

4. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Photo courtesy of vladeb

Although many people are familiar with the southern Everglades (the wildlife and nature preserve southwest of Miami), not many realize that there's also a northern aspect to the preserve. This refuge represents the much-diminished northern Everglades, complete with wet prairies, sawgrass marshes, and swamps. Part of the refuge's function is to shelter wildlife, particularly birds, but it also works to maintain water levels for irrigation and emergency needs. In addition, it helps to prevent seawater from encroaching into freshwater reserves. A visitors' center, walking trails, observation platform, and canoe trails are available for education and recreation.

3. Okeeheelee Park
Photo courtesy of Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority

Located on 1700 acres to the west of West Palm Beach, Okeeheelee Park has something for the whole family to enjoy. Open from sunrise to sundown, with lighted tennis courts open until 9 PM, there is plenty of time to fit some outdoor activity into your schedule. Bring the bike and ride on more than 8 miles of bike trails or check out the full BMX track if you're feeling adventurous. If golf is more your thing, enjoy the driving range or one of the 3 9-hole public courses or skip the admission and play the 18-hole disc golf course (map online). This park if for animal lovers as well with a 111 acre Equestrian Center, a dog park, and an indoor nature center with an exhibit hall with live animals. Don't have the funds for a gym membership? Come enjoy the 1 mile loop that has 20 exercise stations along the way. The scenic views of ponds and greenery will only add to your motivation and enjoyment and are a free perk of exercising. Planning an outing for the whole family or celebrating a birthday? Consider calling ahead to rent out a picnic area by one of the many playgrounds in the park. If you are looking for some water fun, come rent a kayak or paddle-boat and explore at your own pace, or sign up for a water ski permit and enjoy one of five courses.

2. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park

Given Florida's rapid growth and tendency towards commercialization, it's unusual to catch glimpses of its undeveloped splendor. Thankfully, this park preserves a slice of the original, pristine beauty that first drew people to its shores. MacArthur Park features both upland and underwater acreage whose characteristics are detailed in the nature center's exhibits and videos. Trails through the landscape provide vistas of local flora and fauna, and beach frontage offers opportunities for swimming (no lifeguards on duty). Fishing is also available, and the area is ideal for quiet strolls along the water. The park is great for kids, so bring the whole family along.

1. McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary
Photo courtesy of McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary

The McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary in West Palm Beach is so much more than a typical zoo; it's a home and place of refuge to wildlife big and small. There are over 170 permanent residents that were rescued from harmful or illegal situations, and more than a dozen other animals at any given time that are sick or injured and in need of medical attention. The cost of caring for these animals is substantial and so the sanctuary offers educational tours with all proceeds going to the needs of the animals. Making reservations to attend a tour is a must as the groups are kept small in number to have a more pleasant time for both the visitors and the animals. By taking a tour at this amazing facility, you can gain an incredible life experience while simultaneously contributing to the betterment of another life.