Your West Palm Beach Travel Guide
To many travelers, West Palm Beach is known as the home of world elites and renowned fashion brands. And while there is no shortage of luxury in this tropical city there is also plenty of nature, history, and culture that can all be experienced without adding anything else to your student loans!
If you’re traveling on a budget your best option is typically going to be AirBnB, but in the West Palm area they tend to fill up quickly and vary in quality. So if you’re looking for a bit more of a reliable place to lay your head check out the Palm Beach Garden’s Best Western or the Boca Raton Plaza Hotel and Suites. The Plaza Hotel, in particular, is a great lesser-known spot in the area with some tasteful luxury touches without the luxury price-tag.
If you’re willing to splurge a little on your hotel then consider Crane’s Beach House Boutique Hotel. Though a bit pricier, this option will totally transform your experience with your own unique studio or suite. It’s within walking distance of the beach, boasts a beautiful garden, and has two private saltwater pools. If you’re looking for a tropical escape in West Palm Beach this is the place, and it’s still far cheaper than any luxury chain in the area.
Traversing the City
While many cities have robust public transport systems, West Palm Beach is not among them. For you to really enjoy your stay you’re going to need your own set of wheels or Uber on hand. Ultimately whichever options works best is up to you, but don’t plan on taking buses or trains to get around. One of my favorite options when traveling is a fairly new app called Turo, it’s essentially the AirBnB of cars. I’ve had the opportunity to rent some fantastic vehicles for the same price (or often cheaper) than Enterprise or other standard car rental chains.
Hit the Beach!
Whichever beach you visit during your stay you’ll not be disappointed. But not all beaches are created equal, and there are three must-see beaches that will make your experience better than ever.
Coral Cove Park: This beach is not only perfect for tanning on the sand or swimming in the surf, it’s also perfect for snorkeling among the sea life which includes tropical fish, stingrays, and turtles!
Ocean Reef: This is one of the less crowded beaches and definitely a favorite. It has more foliage than the other beaches and a long boardwalk that leads over the dunes from your car to the sand. It won’t be abandoned by any means but the spot is mostly unknown to tourists (until now…).
Juno Beach: Located on this beach is the famous Juno Beach Pier, known for its beautiful sunrise views and great fishing! The beach is free but the pier costs $1 to enter for observation and $4 for fishing. If you’re a photographer there are few ways to better spend $1.
Ocean Cay Park: This beach is one of the only ones in the area to allow dogs, it also has lifeguards and several volleyball courts if you’re looking for a more family (be it K9 or human) oriented beach excursion.
Trails, Gardens, and History
West Palm Beach is a beautiful city but it’s also situated in a beautiful ecosystem that you just have to experience!
The Grassy Waters Everglades Preserve is a 23 square mile nature preserve that grants visitors unprecedented access to nature. From kayaking past sleeping alligators in the wetlands to walking or biking one of the many trails, this is a must-see for any nature lover or explorer. And best of all it’s free public access! Though you’ll have to check the events page for pricing and timing of the kayak adventures.
The Apoxee and Owahee Trail Loop is another free access park perfect for short hikes. It’s dog-friendly (bring a leash) and boats a host of Florida wetlands wildlife in their natural habitat. Pelicans, egrets, alligators, and even bobcats call this piece of land home.
There are few things that sound better than throwing up your eno between some palm trees and enjoying the sound of ocean waves breaking against the shore. At Peanut Island Park you can do just that. This 79-acre island is located at the mouth of the Lake Worth Inlet and has beaches, snorkeling, prime hammock spots, and even President John F. Kennedy’s emergency nuclear bunker! The island is free to enjoy but does require a boat to reach, either your own or a charter. The JFK Bunker is operated by the Palm Beach Maritime Museum also located on the island. Entrance to the museum doesn’t have a set price, but a donation of $2 is requested. Guided museum tours range from $10 to $30.
The Flagler Museum’s Whitehall Mansion was the breathtaking winter home of business tycoon Henry Flagler. When it was built the home was the most lavish in the world – challenging even the royal estates of Europe in opulence and design. At $18 per person you get to tour the gilded halls crafted from rosewood, marble, and gold – and ornately decorated with priceless items such as a bronze clock from the 1900 Paris Exhibition and woodwork from Florence. In 1903 Whitehall hosted the Bal Poudré, which was described at the time by the New York Herald as “one of the most sumptuous social affairs ever attempted…” An afternoon trip to Whitehall will prove to be an experience you’ll likely never forget (especially if you use it as an escape from the afternoon heat). It’s also pretty great for your Instagram; let’s be honest.
The Botanical Garden of Palm Beach County presents you with 23 beautiful gardens that illustrate the artistic and sustainable options possible when working with nature as opposed to against it. Admission is $15 per person and well worth the price for the passionate gardener or someone looking to learn about sustainable solutions in outdoor design.
What’s a tropical vacation without a little shopping? And it just so happens I know the perfect place.
City Place is a Venetian mall in West Palm Beach that offers high-end shopping and dining as well as mid-range alternatives. There are a few big box stores such as H&M but many more small stores that range from luxury chains to private boutique shops. There is also world-class dining that can suit anyone’s palate and live musical performances. If you’re looking to splurge or window shop there is nowhere better.
West Palm Beach has a wide variety of venues that can’t be found anywhere else, I’ve compiled a few of the best for your trip right here!
Subculture Coffee Roasters: Founded only a few years ago by a local duo this café blends culture with coffee to create a great community venue that is diverse and inclusive. The coffee served is everything you would expect from a chic hipster coffee shop. Ditch the Starbucks, go local.
Darbster: One of the more creative restaurants in West Palm Beach this bistro serves unique dishes that are both health-conscious and delicious. Organic and 100% vegetarian Darbster is perfect for the health-focused traveler who wants a great meal (and great snapchat pic).
TooJays: Founded in 1981 in an attempt to bring authentic New York deli fare to South Florida the restaurant now has 30 locations! And once you step foot inside you’ll know why! The only downside to this deli is honestly that you can’t eat four meals at once, whether you try their skillet breakfast or chow down on their pastrami burger you’re going to be happy (and full) when all is said and done.
Table 472 is the most expensive option on this list but a definite must for the traveling foodie. With a menu that is constantly changing (but quality that never does), they specialize in Latin-fusion that will leave you dying for more.
Hope you liked this West Palm Beach travel guide! The city is a beautiful place with a unique culture and tropical allure. It seems pricey at first but hopefully, this guide can help you put together the perfect trip at a budget that works great for you!
If you’re headed further down the Florida coast, check out the Art Deco Architecture in Miami.