Exploring Florida always turns up new and beautiful places to explore, including places like Palm Beach County. We love making stops here on our road trips to Miami and the Florida Keys, but on its own there are tons of things to do. And despite being known for Mar-a-lago and the evil pumpkin man, Palm Beach is a wonderfully LGBTQ inclusive destination.
Our friend Joey runs the site Pride Journeys and actively seeks out both LGBTQ friendly destinations and gay-owned businesses. He put together this guide of fun things to do in Palm Beach County for us, taking into consideration awesome LGBTQ businesses and hot spots. Between our trips down the Florida coast and Joey’s time living in Palm Beach County, we’ve worked together to help YOU have a great, welcoming visit to this beautiful stretch of Florida coast.
What you'll find...
Best Things to Do in Palm Beach County, FL
- Art and Gardens in Delray Beach
- Best Things to do in West Palm Beach
- Things To Do in Jupiter, North Palm Beach County
- Beach Access Points in Palm Beach County
Best Things to Do in Palm Beach County, FL
On my recent visit to The Palm Beaches, I wanted to explore parts of the region I hadn’t had the chance to visit when I lived in the area a little of a decade ago. Palm Beach County encompassed dozens of cities and towns, each with its own unique charm and attractions. While most people think of Florida’s beaches as the main attraction in the Sunshine State, Palm Beach County stretches all the way to the Everglades in the west and has developed into one of the top agri-tourism destinations in the country.
Art and Gardens in Delray Beach
I began my trip in Delray Beach, the town I used to live in. One of Delray Beach’s hidden gems is Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens. Guests get to experience authentic Japanese culture and stroll through acres of lush trails transporting them to a different land. I didn’t even feel as if I was in Florida as I spent time at the reflection pond, the bamboo forest, or the old museum.
While in Delray Beach, head to the Pineapple Grove arts district, a stretch of downtown devoted to art galleries, cafes, and boutiques. Swing by City Oyster on Atlantic Avenue for lunch and try order the Lobster Roll. You will not be disappointed.
More Things to Do in Delray Beach
If you’re looking for more fun things to do in Palm Beach County in the Delray Beach area, check out these great options unique to the town. You’ll love this slice of Florida.:
- SUP on the Intracoastal Waterway at Knowles Park, parking and boat ramp; Google Maps link here
- Spady Museum for local and Civil Rights history, Tuesday – Saturday 11am – 4pm
- Farmers Market at Old School Square aka the Green Market, from 9am each Saturday
Best Things to do in West Palm Beach
From Delray Beach, head north on I-95 – or jump on the Tri-Rail to West Palm Beach and visit the Norton Museum of Art. During my visit, the museum was exhibiting Origin Stories: Photography of Africa and Its Diaspora, a collection that confronts the intertwined relationship between identity and colonialism in communities across the African continent. The museum also contains a permanent collection of Asian and European artwork.
After the museum, take a walk along Clematis street, the dining and entertainment hub of West Palm Beach or journey over to Palm Beach Island, where the world’s wealthiest people go to play during the winter months. Mansions and sprawling estates surround the island which includes many historic properties including the Flagler Museum, The Breakers and Mar-a-Lago, which was originally built for cereal company heiress Marjorie Merriweather Post.
Standup Paddle Boarding (SUP) to Peanut Island in West Palm Beach
How can you not get out on the water when you’re in West Palm Beach? One of the best things to do in Palm Beach County is actually to paddle out to Peanut Island. It’s a county park with trails, beaches, docks and even camping. You can only access Peanut Island by personal watercraft, so bring your SUP when you visit Palm Beach County so you can head out to Peanut Island. On a calm day, the turquoise waters are perfect for spotting manatees and sea stars. Launch from Phil Foster Park in the Intracoastal Waterway.
Not into paddle boarding? That’s okay, you can also get on the water in West Palm Beach with a sunset tour or catamaran cruise. Or you could go with a group or solo for some paddling on the Loxahatchee Wild and Scenic River, one of the best places for kayaking in South Florida.
More Fun Things To Do in Palm Beach
No trip to Palm Beach would be complete without a shopping spree or stroll along Worth Avenue. High-end boutiques such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Akris line the street. Even if you don’t want to shop, it is still a fun experience to window shop and watch the parade of exotic cars that drive up and down the avenue.
Beyond the shopping though, there is more. With lots of public beach access, great food and walkable neighborhoods, you’ll have fun just exploring. Some more great things to do in West Palm and Palm Beach include:
- Flagler Museum – amazing Gilded Age mansion, plan for afternoon tea service
- visit The Breakers – epic beachfront hotel, sister to the Ponce de Leon Hotel (now Flagler College) in St Augustine
- visit Manatee Lagoon Education Center – learn about the manatees you’ll see all around Palm Beach County
Where to Stay in West Palm Beach
There are many hotels located on Palm Beach, but they can get a bit pricey depending on the time of year you visit. A great option is the Hilton West Palm Beach, located across the street from Rosemary Square and within walking distance to many of the area’s main attractions. The luxurious property features a grand lobby, large fitness center and massive outdoor pool, perfect for a nice relaxing dip after a long day of sightseeing.
Where to Eat in West Palm Beach
Grab dinner at Table 26, one of West Palm Beach’s most popular LGBTQ-owned restaurants. My guest and I began our meal with the Squash Blossoms and Burrata & Tomato salad, a simple yet delicious selection that is always a favorite of mine. For dinner, we wanted to order something a little on the lighter side, so we opted for the Zucchini pasta prepared with roasted heirloom tomatoes, pine nuts, basil pesto and shaved parmesan. If you are in the mood to grab some cocktails, head to The Mad Hatter Lounge located in Lake Worth, a town known for its thriving LGBTQ culture. Lake Worth is also home to Compass, the area’s LGBTQ community center.
Even with wonderful LGTBQ places like Palm Beach County, Florida still faces struggles in equality and legislation, so supporting business that are both safe spaces and LGBTQ owned is extra important. Check out Florida HB-1557 to see what anti-LGBTQ legislation is on the table in 2022.
Things To Do in Jupiter, North Palm Beach County
After grabbing a morning coffee, head to Jupiter, about a 20-minute drive north from the hotel to the Busch Wildlife Sanctuary. The free attraction relies on donations to help maintain the property and support its animals. Last year alone, the sanctuary cared for over 6,000 animals who arrived to the facility, which was established to care for sick, injured and orphaned wild animals, while promoting wildlife and habitat conservation. All of the animals at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary are native to Florida.
Although it is easy to navigate West Palm Beach via public transportation, I would recommend renting a car if you really want to explore the destination and some of its most popular attractions including McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary. The guided tours are so informative, and guests learn the stories of each animal and how they arrived at the Sanctuary. Whereas Busch Sanctuary only cares for animals local to the region, McCarthy’s is home to a variety of animals from all corners of the globe including Amur leopards, Bengal Tigers, lions and even a snow leopard. Many of these animals were illegally owned and taken in by the sanctuary as they can’t be allowed into the wild.
All of the animals are well cared for and were quite friendly and playful. The jaguar was purring during our entire visit and the beautiful white tiger was rubbing up against the encloser seeking some attention from us. In addition to big cats, the sanctuary also houses exotic birds, lemurs, and a feisty fox.
Jump on the Love Street Outdoor Center PonTiki Cruise directly across from the picturesque Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, for a 30-minute or hour-long cruise around Jupiter inlet before heading back to your hotel for some R&R before dinner.
Visiting the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum
One of the best things to do in Palm Beach County, the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse and Museum is one of the prettiest lighthouses in Florida, right up their with the St Augustine Lighthouse and Ponce Inlet Lighthouse. Stop into the museum before heading up the hill to the lighthouse.
Before you climb the tower, take a minute to be in awe of the epic banyan tree at the base. The ficus/banyan tree is just as much a reason to visit the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse as the tower itself. Once at the top of the lighthouse though, the view is amazing.
Where to Eat in Jupiter, Palm Beach County
While in Jupiter, head to Lucky Shuck for lunch and grab a table with a view of the intracoastal waterway. The restaurant offers wonderful service, fresh and simple food, and a relaxed island time environment. I decided to try the Ceviche Trio, prepared three different ways and was so surprised at the differences between each of the preparations. For dessert – yes, I had dessert for lunch – try the Key Lime pie served with a coconut meringue and passion fruit glaze. It was one of the most delicious items I had on my entire visit.
Another fantastic lunch option in Jupiter is Papichulo Tacos. With outdoor dining, a fun atmosphere and great margaritas of every sort, it’s a great addition to your time in Palm Beach County, and is a great lunch stop on your way out of town.
Beach Access Points in Palm Beach County
It’s in the name: BEACH. Of course spending time on the beach is one of the best things to do in Palm Beach County. Here are our top picks for access to the beach from Delray Beach to Jupiter, starting at the southernmost point of Palm Beach County and heading north.
Beach Access in Delray Beach
- Red Reef Park
- Spanish River Beach
- Atlantic Dunes Park
- Anchor Park
- Delray Public Beach (by visitor center)
- North End Beach
Beach Access in the Palm Beaches
- Gulfstream Beach Park
- Oceanfront Beach Park
- Ocean Inlet Park
- Lake Worth and RG Kreusler Beach Parks
- Phipps Ocean Park
- Palm Beach from Gulfstream Rd to Royal Palm Way
- Sunset Ave Beach
- Peanut Island – beach on the Intracoastal accessible by boat
- Phil Foster Park – on Intracoastal, but great protected beach areas
- Ocean Reef Park
Beach Access in North Palm Beach County
- John D MacArthur Beach State Park
- Juno Beach
- Jupiter Beach
- Carlin Park
- Coral Cove Park
Between all of these beach access points, you’ll get some good beach time when you’re visiting Palm Beach County. Bring your gear and get set up each afternoon and you’ll want to never leave.
It takes a good week to explore the destination, especially if you want to visit numerous cities and attractions. One of my favorite times to visit Florida in general is the spring and fall, as the weather is divine.
Check out this great video capturing the mood and fun things to do in Palm Beach, Florida.
Are you ready to plan a trip to Palm Beach or add it to your Florida Atlantic Coast road trip? If you have any questions or additional ideas, please feel free to leave a comment or send us a note. We’re happy to help plan awesome vacations any time of year!