10 Unique Things to Do in and around West Palm Beach

by Paul Joseph  |  Published November 15, 2021

With its beautiful public beaches, top-rated museums, and districts filled with restaurants, shops and bars, West Palm Beach is one of the jewels in South Florida’s crown.

The scenic environs of Rosemary Square by day (Photo:Thesquarewestpalm.com)

The Sunshine State is dotted with idyllic beach towns and cities, and among the most desirable is West Palm Beach. Separated from neighbouring Palm Beach by the Lake Worth Lagoon, its upscale neighbourhoods are a delight to wander around, while culture here is in abundance too. Meanwhile the famous Florida Everglades comprise one of the world’s largest wetlands. Digging through the reeds, we’ve picked out 10 of the most unique things to see and do while you’re in West Palm Beach.

Enjoy a Mediterranean-themed retail & entertainment centre

Boredom is a foreign word at Rosemary Square, where shops, dining, and live entertainment create a constant buzz both day and night. Old-world architecture, eye-catching fountains and sidewalk cafes lend the complex a distinctively Mediterranean look and feel, while European delicacies can be purchased from gourmet marketplaces and cheese shops. On weekends, local bands perform in the open-air plaza and there are also regular comedy and cinema nights.

700 South Rosemary Avenue Suite 200 / Mon-Thurs 10am-9pm Fri-Sat 10am-10pm Sun 12pm-6pm

Explore a world class arts museum

First opened in the early 1940s, the Norton Museum of Art has grown to become an internationally renowned cultural venue thanks to its hugely impressive collection of European, Chinese, and American art. Highlights include masterpieces of 19th- and 20th-century paintings and sculptures and a world class assortment of Chinese jade and bronze artefacts. There’s also a pretty courtyard, a restaurant, and a sculpture garden for visitors to enjoy. Free tours of the museum are available throughout the week.

1450 S Dixie Highway / Mon-Tues, Thurs & Sat 10am-5pm Fri 10am-10pm Sun 11am-5pm Closed Weds

The modern exterior of the Norton Museum of Art (Photo: Norton Museum of Art)

Pick up some trinkets along an antique-laden avenue

If you’re keen to find a souvenir to take away from your time in West Palm Beach, Antique Row does what it says on the tin. Part of West Palm Beach’s bustling Art & Design District, the area is littered with exceptional antiques shops and stalls selling items dating as far back as the 17th century, along with fine and decorative arts, period deco, modern furnishings, and more. What’s more, it’s also known as something of a foodie hot spot, with several acclaimed eateries to be found here.

Discover an array of exotic wildlife

Situated 20 miles north of West Palm Beach, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary offers visitors a one-of-a-kind opportunity to learn about Florida’s unique wildlife and natural environments. Combining a conventional nature centre with a wildlife hospital, it features several nature trails that lead visitors through pine flatwoods, oak hammocks, and cypress wetlands, with plenty of wildlife habitats exhibiting a variety of native animals – from eagles to panthers, crocodiles, foxes, snakes, bears, and more – as you go.

2500 Jupiter Park Drive, Jupiter / Mon-Sat 10am-4.30pm Closed Sun

A big cat poses for a photo at Busch Wildlife Sanctuary (Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife via Flickr / CC BY-ND 2.0)

Attend a fun-packed arts and music festival

Founded in 1982, SunFest has helped fans celebrate art, music and friendship for almost 40 years, growing to become Florida’s largest waterfront music and art festival. Held annually along Flagler Drive and the Intracoastal, the event attracts more than 100,000 visitors to experience the sunshine and late spring in South Florida with new and old friends. With over 50 performers, 100 artists that expand three blocks of the Art District, tons of art installations and food vendors, there’s something for everyone.

 Downtown West Palm Beach / April-May each year

Packed crowds at SunFest (Photo: SunFest)

Immerse yourself in science and sealife 

Drawing on the rich marine life that can be found in the abundant waters around Florida, the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium is widely considered to be one of the region’s finest educational facilities. Designed to spark the imaginations of kids of all ages, it features a huge array of displays, exhibits and other attractions, including a huge 10000-gallon aquarium, a full-dome digital planetarium, and even a mini-golf course, while an open-air amphitheatre stages regular live science shows and cultural performances.

4801 Dreher Trail North / Mon-Fri 9am-5pm Sat-Sun 10am-6pm

Children get hands-on with an exhibit at the South Florida Science Center and Aquarium (Photo: South Florida Science Center and Aquarium)

Join a guided food tour

West Palm Beach has a vibrant culinary scene and one of the best ways to discover it is by joining an organised food tour. West Palm Beach Food Tours are an acclaimed local company that run several themed and fully-guided tours, each designed to tell the story of a specific area’s people and history through its distinctive food culture. Among the tours on offer are downtown tours, historic neighbourhood tours, combined cooking classes and market tours, and Happy Hour tours. Along the way guests can sample local dishes and delicacies while being regaled with stories and facts by expert, friendly and knowledgeable guides.

Guests raise a toast during a West Palm Beach food tour (Photo: West Palm Beach Food Tours)

Embark on a thrilling airboat ride in the Everglades

Of all the excursions one can embark on from West Palm Beach, there’s nothing quite like a trip into the iconic Everglades. Just 45 minutes from the city’s downtown is the 1.5-million-acre wetlands reserve’s northeastern boundaries, known as the Loxahatchee Preserve. From here, those keen to explore the vast areas of wildlife, sawgrass marshes and Prairies in truly adventurous fashion can do so by boarding a private  airboat ride that takes you into the heart of the Everglades. Run and operated by renowned local company Airboat Rides West Palm Beach, abundant wildlife spotting opportunities are almost guaranteed the American Alligator, as well as the chance to learn about the Everglades’ importance as a water supply to the region’s human inhabitants.

Patriotically-dressed passengers aboard a West Palm Beach airboat (Photo: Airboat Rides West Palm Beach)

Get a taste of the local beer scene on a brewery tour

Founded in 2016, Damn Good Beer Bus is much more than just a designated driver. They provide all-inclusive, guided brewery tours where guests will have VIP access at three local craft beer producers and enjoy a house made flight, go behind-the-scenes for a production tour, and enjoy just the right amount of education. Your local, friendly beer guide will double as your driver, transporting everyone safely and comfortably in a comfortable minibus. In addition to public and private tours, the company offer charter and transportation services ranging from brewery hopping to weddings, and everything in between.

Guests are shown around a beer production plant during a brewery tour (Photo: Damn Good Beer Bus)

Soak up the beauty of a botanical garden

Another place to head for respite from the hustle and bustle of the city centre, or the throngs of sun-seekers that line the beaches on hot days, Mounts Botanical Garden provides the ideal antidote. A beautiful, tranquil oasis spread across some 14 acres, visitors can enjoy the sensory pleasures of over 2,000 species of tropical and subtropical plants from around the world, along with exotic trees, tropical fruit, herbs, citrus and palms. A butterfly garden, rose garden, and reflection pond add to the visual and olfactory delights.

531 North Military Trail / Tues-Weds & Fri-Sun 9pm-3pm Closed Mon & Thurs

Eye-catching statues seen through the foilage at Mounts Botanical Gardens (Photo: Mounts Botanical Gardens)