Palm Beach County Isn't Just a Playground for the Well-To-Do...

By Kristopher Neild, Travel Expert

When vacationing to Palm Beach/West Palm Beach, you can get caught up participating in many activities and attractions that will put a hole in your wallet. You will undoubtedly have a great time engaging in these, but at what cost?. A way to combat the rising price of travel is to sprinkle in some free activities when planning your daily itineraries. 

This 10Best list contains the writer's favorite free activities in Palm/Beach West Palm Beach. To start, why not plan as many beach days as possible? Most beaches in the area are free. Who doesn't like swimming, lounging with a book or playing Kadima? At Delray Beach, you can do all of the previous and more. 

Many groups and families enjoy doing outdoor recreational type activities when on vacation. Tennis, disc golf, hiking, walking and biking can be done at the vast Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach. Plan a half day here to maximize the park's value. 

People watching, window shopping and soaking up the sounds and smells of the county need to be penciled in. At the weekly West Palm Beach Green Market, you can peruse the many vendors, breathe in the smells of fresh kettle corn and red cider donuts and listen to rockin' live music. 

10. West Palm Beach Trolley
Photo courtesy of Phillip Pessar

The West Palm Beach Trolley is a great resource for visitors, as well as locals, that want to explore downtown West Palm Beach without tons of walking between Clematis Street and City Place. There are two routes: the Yellow Line and the Green Line, and both are free of charge as well as handicap accessible. Grab the Yellow Line for travel between City Place and Clematis Street at the stop marker in front of Macy's on Rosemary Avenue- seven days a week starting at 11 AM and going until at least 9 PM. The Yellow Line stops on Clematis can be found in the center of each block from Rosemary Avenue to Flagler Drive, with trollies running until 11 PM Thursday until Saturday. The trolley is great because it makes it easy to catch a movie in City Place and then head to Clematis for drinks afterwards. Catch the Green Line if you are coming to West Palm Beach using the Tri-Rail and you'd like to check out the downtown area.

9. Atlantic Avenue
Photo courtesy of Delray Beach Downtown Development Authority

Atlantic Avenue is the heartbeat of Delray Beach and is a great place to spend the weekend. With free parking lots on the side streets, tons of window shopping opportunities as well as beautiful galleries to spy in on- all while leading to the Atlantic Ocean- Atlantic Avenue can definitely be enjoyed when you are on a budget. If you have the kids with you then you must check out the amazing park complex right by the Intracoastal Waterway. Kids love to watch the boats going under the draw bridge in this area too so pack a picnic and make an afternoon out of it. No matter what your budget is, you're sure to find great dining options in your price range. I recommend taking the Downtown Roundabout for a free ride around downtown if you aren't up for lots of walking around. Come on down to Atlantic Avenue, grab a bench, and enjoy people watching all of the others that had the same great idea as you.

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. Historical Society of Palm Beach County
Photo courtesy of Historical Society of Palm Beach

The Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County Museum is a historic treasure that can be found in the 1916 Courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach. Come explore the People Gallery and learn about the individuals that made Palm Beach County what it is today. It's here you'll learn about the Pre-Columbian residents, the Seminole Indians, early pioneers and then many men and women leaders that have helped the county since then. The Place Gallery, the second permanent exhibit, is where you can learn about the natural environment and what makes the area so unique. I particularly enjoy the story of the "Barefoot Mailman" who carried the mail from Palm Beach County to Miami from 1885- 1892. Come see his story, as well as the stories of so many others in this beautifully restored building free of charge; open Tuesday- Saturday from 10 AM- 5 PM.

6. West Palm Beach Green Market
Photo courtesy of West Palm Beach Green Market

The Greenmarket of West Palm Beach has been selling local produce and goods to the community since 1994. With over 90 vendors, it's no wonder why locals and visitors alike flock to the picturesque Clematis Street location every Saturday from October- May. With the market running from 9 AM- 1 PM, it isn't uncommon to come for a breakfast pastry or smoothie and then be tempted to stick around for lunch. The Greenmarket works to provide the community with locally grown crops and plants and so come with your reusable bags to get your produce for the week and consider taking home an herb pot for your kitchen or patio.

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. 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.

3. Palm Beach
Photo courtesy of badheartbull

Palm Beach is known for its opulence and beauty and so it's great to find adventures on the island that can be enjoyed by everyone, regardless of the budget. It's no secret that the beaches here are beautiful and a great way to spend the day but even if you are coming to the area for the beach, why not take a little time before to enjoy everything else the island has to offer. Park at the Society of the Four Arts and wander through the serene gardens and then step inside to see the exhibits. Afterwards, take your bike or head off on foot to the 6-mile Lake Trail that runs along the Intracoastal Waterways and starts right near the gardens. Both options are a great way to see Palm Beach at a much more leisurely pace than driving around and the Lake Trail is pet-friendly, unlike the beach. Before heading to the beach, window shop and people watch on the famous Worth Avenue. Once you are relaxing in your beach chair with the water hitting your feet, you'll definitely feel like you've seen all the island has to offer.

2. 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.

1. 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.