Palm Beach County has a reputation for gorgeous waterfront properties, maintained by celebrities – but don’t let beauty fool you. These lovely towns, particularly those that populate the southern end of the county, are far more amiable and approachable than elitist. In fact, Jupiter, Riviera Beach, Loxahatchee, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, and Boca Raton make terrific, value-driven destinations for multi-generational families.
Where to Splash Around
Palm Beach County offers no shortage of beaches, parks, and other water-driven places to get your swimming, fishing, and boating done. You can do all three kid-friendly activities at Carlin Park in Jupiter. This 120-acre beach park offers amenities ranging from playgrounds to picnic shelters, as well as volleyball, tennis, and bocce courts. Lunch at the Lazy Loggerhead Café and stay for a show at the Seabreeze Amphitheater.
Singer Island, a barrier island that belongs to Riviera Beach, also offers a plethora of beaches: wide, soft, and ideal for everything from building sand castles to soaking in the sun. The seven miles of sand here not only stun the senses, but the waters offshore also rank among the best 50 best places to dive in the world. When the sun gets too hot for the wee ones, head for a casual lunch at Coconuts on the Beach at the Hilton Singer Island/Oceanfront Palm Beaches. Or stay later for a more glamorous dinner at Ketch, which proffers a well-stocked children’s menu.
Meanwhile, for tweens and teens who crave activity, the island’s John D. MacArthur Beach State Park is the perfect antidote. This nearly two-mile preserved natural habitat includes hiking trails, kayak rentals, stellar snorkeling, and an educational center with programming. Nearby, Peanut Island Park awaits – while there are no concessions, restrooms are available.
To get to Peanut Island, lease a watercraft at Blue Water Boat Rental, located at the Riviera Beach Marina Village. At the marina, you can book fishing trips at Right Hook Fishing Charters or create an adventure with Palm Breeze Charters. You can also look into the many offerings – including catamaran cruises and jet-ski rentals – at Visit Palm Beach.
For outfitters further south in the county, including fly-boarding lessons and fishing charters, try Flying Fish Watersports, situated at the Waterstone Resort & Marina Boca Raton, Curio Collection by Hilton. Conveniently close to Lake Boca, the Intracoastal Waterway, South Inlet Park (excellent for wave-jumping and sea life), and Red Reef Park (known for its boardwalk), Waterstone Resort & Marina provides premier waterfront accommodations and lunching for the whole family at the informal, tropically influenced Waterstone Rum Bar & Grill.
Rather stay dry while taking in the sights? Book a DivaDuck Tour. The amphibious vehicle leaves from CityPlace, a multi-faceted outdoor mall in West Palm Beach, and takes you to iconic locations around the Palm Beaches – including the Atlantic itself.
Where to Stimulate Their Minds
Lion Country Safari, a drive-through animal encounter and walk-through amusement park in Loxahatchee, is another kid-friendly attraction in the Palm Beaches. For those who appreciate encounters, the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society maintains exhibits that allow children to pet sloths, feed anteaters, and more. Likewise, the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center in Boca Raton and Loggerhead Marine Life Center in Jupiter are both educational centers that present interactive programming such as nighttime Turtle Walks.
If you prefer to mix nature with culture, stop into the Morikami Museum and Japanese Gardens in Delray Beach and tour the six gardens, inspired by history, botany, and architecture. The gardens complement the art inside, as well as the sushi and other Japanese fare served at the restaurant.
You can squeeze some more STEAM attractions in at the 132-acre Sugar Sand Park in Boca Raton, where the Children’s Science Explorium fascinates children ages 5–12 with everything from rocks to rockets, and the Willow Theatre produces shows suitable for families. The park is known for its nature trails, playgrounds, and a carousel.
Or spend the day at a different kind of park: the ballpark. South Florida is home to the Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium in Jupiter, where four minor league teams play during the year and two major league teams train in the spring.
In the evening, CityPlace, which hosts TGIFamily Fridays with activities and games every second Friday, provides several avenues for entertainment, from bowling in a sports bar atmosphere at Revolutions to the latest releases at the AMC CityPlace 20, which includes premium screens such as IMAX, PRIME, and D-BOX – and a bar. Take movie-watching one step further at Mizner Park, an upscale shopping-entertainment plaza in Boca Raton, where you can order a full-fledged meal for the entire team at the iPic Theater. If you’d rather enjoy the open-air views of the West Palm Beach Waterfront Park, “Screen on the Green” is a free, family-friendly movie cast on the lawn every second Friday of the month. Concessions are available, but you’ll need to bring the chairs and blankets.
Where to Satisfy Their Bellies
Rather than getting kids out the door first thing in the morning, begin the day with breakfast at the hotel. A made-to-order omelet at Waterstone Resort & Marina’s Boca Landing or a hearty dish at the Hilton West Palm Beach’s Manor, where the chef uses locally sourced materials for every meal, satiates every grumbling stomach.
For a quick, inexpensive, but satisfying lunch on the way to an activity, hit the authentic New York-style Zinger’s Deli in Boca Raton (try the “latke tots”). Similarly, the Surfside Diner in Palm Beach welcomes families for egg dishes, burgers, salads, and sandwiches with simple flair. If burgers, shakes, and donuts sound like just the thing for a family meal, stop into Relish and More in either Boca Raton or West Palm Beach – the options will impress the kids.
Naturally, you’ll want to dine al fresco in the Palm Beaches, and with energetic kids in tow, it’s easier too. Pizza Al Fresco in Palm Beach features an especially lovely outdoor setting. The menu provides numerous options for picky kids, ranging from one meatball to shoestring fries, and an excellent wine list for tired parents and grandparents.
Sampling seafood while watching the sun set over the water is a distinctly South Florida experience. You can find it – along with boats passing by, live music, and games on the televisions – at Two Georges Waterfront Restaurant, Lounge and Sports Bar in Boynton Beach. The kids may prefer the nachos or chicken fingers, but signatures here include pretzel-encrusted fish bites with mustard-dill sauce. Also in Boynton Beach, Banana Boat proves popular for brunch, but alsoserves up daily grilled mahi-mahi tacos and lightly fried coconut shrimp. Jetty’s Waterfront Restaurant in Jupiter leans more upscale, so for a more laid-back feel – and price point – try the well-known tiki bars like Square Grouper, Guanabanas, U-Tiki Beach, and Tiki 52 Bar and Conch Shack Restaurant.
Of course, many kids have expanded palates, so be sure to also look at the menus of the Little Moir’s collection of restaurants: Food Shack, Leftovers, and Maxi’s Lineup. This trio rocks blackboard specials with global twists that many children will love, but if they still aren’t satisfied, fear not – owner Mike Moir, the youngest of eight and a father in his own right, supplies a children’s menu at every location.
This kind of understanding – common in the family-friendly Palm Beaches – makes even first-time visitors feel right at home.
Make the most of your next family vacation and choose from our collection of hotels, from Boca Raton to West Palm Beach to Jupiter.