Disney Who? Spots the Kiddos Will Dig in Palm Beach

By Kristopher Neild, Travel Expert

Many families choose to travel to the Palm Beach/West Palm Beach area because kids typically love the beach. It helps that the area is reasonably close to the Orlando theme parks as well. Don't let that tempt you to leave the area though, because as this list will attest to, there is plenty for the kids to do right here in Palm Beach County. 

Have you ever met a kid who doesn't like mini-golf? How about ice cream? The relatively new Lighthouse Cove is a South Florida-themed mini-golf adventure park with 36 amazingly laid out holes. Enjoy watching the kids hack their way through waterways and obstacles while sipping on a shake or a cold beer from the clubhouse. 

The area is also home to some great wildlife. While you can find plenty of the untamed variety while hiking through the various state parks and refuge areas, you can see more with the help from a guide at McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary. Tours need to be booked in advance online, as the center likes to keep groups small so that ultimate attention can be given to all individuals. The kids will be able to get up close and personal to some great animals, and ask all the questions their little heart's desire. 

10. Carlin Park
Photo courtesy of Wikimedia

At Carlin Park in Jupiter, there is so much more going on than just relaxing by the shoreline. Known for its expanse and free parking by locals, the beach park comes with a walking course and several pavilions. Taking a stroll on the walking course can easily turn into a full workout by stopping at the 20 exercise stations along the way. It's a lot easier to work up a sweat when cooling off in the ocean is only a few steps away. For families, there is a playground area and pavilions that can be used to host birthday parties and picnics, with relief from the sun. Carlin Park is also home to the Seabreeze Amphitheater so it's worth checking out the events going on there throughout the year.

9. 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.

8. Diva Duck Amphibious Tours
Photo courtesy of Diva Duck

The Diva Duck Amphibious Tour offers a unique experience as it's the only land and sea tour of its kind in the Palm Beach/West Palm Beach area. The voyage begins with a ride through the downtown and neighborhoods with lively narrations of the history throughout. It's a great opportunity to see the happening spots and make mental notes for what's on deck for dinner. The real treat begins when the Diva Duck enters the Intracoastal and the tour continues among the other boats. While taking in the homes of the rich and famous, be sure to keep an eye out for manatees and dolphins.

7. 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.

6. Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf
Photo courtesy of Jupiter Cove Adventure Golf

Lighthouse Cove Adventure Golf is the preeminent attraction for children and families in the Jupiter area. Test out your putting skills across 36 holes featuring a variety of obstacles and traps; this ain't your daddy's mini-golf course. The clubhouse serves up some delicious burgers, shakes and alcoholic drinks for those golfers of age. Spend an afternoon enjoying the smiles and laughter of your children as the embark on a South Florida-themed putting adventure. Competitors can keep score while the playful type can remain deep in thought, engineering the perfect hold-in-one shot. After golf, the beach is always close by, so have your swim trunks in tow to be prepared for a post-18 dip.

5. South Florida Science Center and Aquarium

Exposing children to scientific phenomena and sparking their interest in the natural world is this delightful museum's aim. Chock full of interactive exhibits, the facility teaches young people about dinosaurs, marine life, space, botany, electricity, geology, and light. An outdoor science trail, a planetarium, star shows, and aquariums also introduce kids (and parents) to the wonders of the universe, providing fodder for education and imagination. On weekend evenings, laser shows set to pop songs and classic rock tunes create a sensory feast for patrons of all ages. Additional fees required for the planetarium, laser show and galaxy golf.

4. 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. If you get a chance, be sure to check out the monkeys. They have a maze of ropes looped across multiple trees that they seem to quite enjoy.

3. Rapids Water Park
Photo courtesy of Rapids Water Park

Rapids Water Park is a top notch water slide-based attraction located in West Palm Beach. The park has copious water slides, rides and things thrill-seekers live for. You can ride a continuous wave on the FlowRider, or race your friends on the Rapids Racer. There are more than 15 total rides that kids and adults of all ages can enjoy. Be sure to check the website to find the height requirements for all rides in advance of your trip. Food and drink can be bought on site, which is important since you will be spending most of your day here.

2. 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.

1. Black Sparrow Pirate Adventure
Photo courtesy of Black Sparrow Pirates

To say that the Black Sparrow Pirate Adventure is a one-of-a-kind outing in South Florida would be an understatement. The exploration begins at the Riviera Beach Marina and starts with a quick lesson in piracy and pledge to remain true to the crew. Once outfitted in traditional pirate garb, the ship sets sail in the Intracoastal in search of buried treasure and enemies on the sea. The crew is animated and captures the attention of everyone, especially the children by providing games and surprises along the way. With space for up to 46 passengers, the ship is a great venue for birthday parties and private charters.