West Palm Beach is brimming with arts and cultural pursuits, downtown dining, shopping, and nightlife, plus a slew of outdoor activities that make the most of the warm, sunny weather. From stages to gardens and art to antiques, this walkable waterfront city is the perfect spot to unwind for a few days.
Here are three fun-filled itineraries that will ensure you experience West Palm Beach’s greatest charms.
Downtown West Palm Beach is an urban district bustling with arts, entertainment, restaurants, and bars. Snap a pic of vibrant outdoor murals for your Instagram feed, and then stop to take in the views of the Lake Worth Lagoon, and the boats pulling out of the dock at Downtown Waterfront Commons.
Make time to explore the Flagler Waterfront and the waterways atop a paddleboard, kayak, or jet ski – or hop aboard a catamaran during a sunset sail with Visit Palm Beach. The company also offers daily snorkel trips (and, for landlubbers, bicycle tours).
Once you’re back on land, wander through CityPlace, an indoor/outdoor complex featuring 70 shops and an open-air plaza that hosts live musical and cultural events throughout the year. Do a little experiential shopping at the impressive Restoration Hardware, before dining on the leafy terrace at the store’s signature restaurant, RH Rooftop, with its gorgeous city views. You can also opt for small plates at the nearby City Wine Cellar Bar & Grill.
If you’re visiting on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday, pop into the Culture Lab, a cultural center and experiential art space featuring a variety of art installations and educational programs. Just a few blocks away, discover more eye candy in the Antique Row Art & Design District, a charming enclave of 40 shops featuring vintage treasures from the 17th to 20th centuries, art deco and modern furnishings, plus a few art galleries and award-winning restaurants.
When night falls, take in a performance at the Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts. From Broadway-style productions and cinematic ballets to more intimate shows featuring comedians, poets, and one-person bands, the Kravis Center offers a robust calendar of events throughout the year.
For Arts and Culture Hounds
Start your day in the art-centric Northwood Village, a revitalized bohemian district that’s earning a reputation as the cultural hub of West Palm Beach. If it’s the second Saturday of the month, sign up for the guided Northwood Village Art Walk, which takes you to the neighborhood’s galleries for a behind-the-scenes look at the artists and locals who brought this area to life. Peruse chic boutiques that specialize in upcycling and, when lunchtime rolls around, choose from restaurants offering everything from Latino to Italian cuisine. Come back in the evening for live tunes at Café Centro, a restaurant that morphs into a lounge and piano bar at night.
Alternatively, you could start your day with a walking tour of West Palm’s ritzy neighbor, Palm Beach, with local historian Debbie Hudzik of Lotus Trips. Hudzik tells fascinating stories about famous residents past and present during the tour, which includes stops at the Whitehall Mansion, legendary land and railway developer Henry Flagler’s 75-room home. You’ll also sneak a peek at photo exhibitions at the Paramount Theatre and explore the famous Worth Avenue Shopping District, known as the East Coast version of Rodeo Drive.
After the walking tour, it’s time to relax. One great way to do that is with a live performance at the Coral Sky Amphitheatre. This 20,000-seat amphitheater has a westward-facing perch that makes it ideal for catching South Florida’s glorious sunsets –and the option of lawn seating makes the experience even more relaxing. From the comedy of Kevin Hart to the relaxing sounds of the Dave Matthews Band, the events calendar consistently features fan favorites.
If a different form of art is more your thing, make reservations at Emko, a combination of two distinct spaces: The Culinary Gallery, featuring a restaurant, a bakery, an organic juice bar, and a gourmet market, and the Artists Independent Republic Gallery, a progressive art space featuring emerging artists from a variety of disciplines. Sip a cocktail while strolling through the gallery and sculptural gardens, then sit down for dinner at Jereve. The onsite restaurant has a menu that’s cleverly broken up into what you know (field greens, burgers), what you like (market fish, rib-eye), and, finally, what you should try (duck confit, bao taco trio).
The next day, spend time exploring the Norton Museum of Art, home to works by famous painters such as Degas, Picasso, and more. While the museum itself is closed through February 2019, when it will unveil a major expansion, in the meantime the Norton, as the locals call it, is partnering with the Grandview Public Market to continue several of its programs. The line-up includes Curators’ Conversations featuring sneak peeks of exhibitions to come in 2019, and Family Art Pop-Up, a kid-centered program filled with hands-on workshops for kids ages 5–12.
The perfect follow-up to anything related to the Norton Museum of Art is a visit to the historic home and interactive artist studio at the Ann Norton Sculpture Garden. Discover lush landscaping featuring a collection of more than 250 rare palms and nine distinct sculptures at this architectural gem listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The garden closes July through September each year, but is otherwise open Wednesdays through Sundays.
For Fun in the Sun
Visiting the West Palm Beach area without spending considerable time on its shores would be like visiting New York City without at least catching a glimpse of the Empire State Building. You simply can’t say you’ve been here until you’ve swum the turquoise waters.
Begin your weekend with a visit to your choice of almost 30 tropical beach parks along 47 miles of beachfront. Families will love the calm waters at Carlin Park in Jupiter and Red Reef Park in Boca Raton. For peace and quiet, visit John D. MacArthur Beach State Park or try to spot manatees at Loggerhead Park in Juno Beach. You can also swim alongside sea turtles and colorful tropical fish on the Phil Foster Park Snorkel Trail.
The shoreline near West Palm is home to some of the densest loggerhead turtle nesting beaches in the world. Follow up a trip to the beach with a visit to the Loggerhead Marinelife Center for up-close interactions with endangered sea turtles. See unique aquariums and join the staff on guided paddleboard, snorkel, or diving excursions into the sea turtle’s natural habitat. If you’re visiting between April and October, sign up for a specialty tour to see these gentle giants nest.
With weather perfect for playing year-round, golf is another popular pastime. Wake up early on day two of your stay and play a round on one of the breathtaking courses. Choose from more than 160 courses, including the iconic Breakers Ocean Course and the Jack Nicklaus–designed Champion Course, which features the Bear Trap, one of the most challenging three-hole stretches in golf.
Spend the afternoon water kayaking, snorkeling, or enjoying other water activities offered by Pura Vida Divers if you’re in the West Palm Beach/North Palm Beach area, or Flying Fish Watersports if you’re in the Boca Raton/South Palm Beach area.
Got kids? You’ll have to squeeze in a stop at Lion Country Safari, a drive-through safari that will allow your little ones to enjoy the company of almost 1,000 animals. It also includes animal-feeding experiences, rides, a water sprayground, and food and shopping options.
How to Get Around
Explore on foot, take advantage of the SkyBike bike-sharing program available 24/7, or hop on the free trolley. It’s easy to get around, whether you’re looking to discover downtown or embark on a daytrip to nearby Fort Lauderdale and Miami on the new Brightline high-speed rail service.
Start planning your perfect itinerary by booking a West Palm Beach escape at Travel.Hilton.com/wpb-boca