Heading out to West Palm Beach in Florida comes with the promise of sand, sunshine, and poolside drinks with little umbrellas. After a day of soaking up the sun from your resort, you’ll probably want to head out to explore the area. There’s plenty to do in West Palm Beach, but there are some precautions to take if you’re not from Florida.
You need a bigger safety net if you’re going to drive in Florida
Before heading out on your daily adventures, make sure you’ve got sufficient insurance with your rental car. Don’t rely on your existing insurance because it might not be enough. Florida is a no-fault state, which means if you’re involved in an accident, you’ll need to file a claim with your own insurance company to cover the damages. In a no-fault state, you can’t sue the person who caused the crash unless it results in serious bodily injury.
Once you get the right coverage, you’re ready to go on the following adventures:
1. McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary
Rated #1 out of 59 things to do in West Palm Beach by Trip Advisor, McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary is a 501(c)3 non-profit wildlife rescue facility. This animal sanctuary takes in injured and orphaned wildlife, including unwanted exotic pets.
The sanctuary sits on eight lush acres and is surrounded by a botanical garden in the palmetto and pine forest in West Palm Beach. The sanctuary is home to more than 200 animals including white tigers, African lions, black leopards, ligers, and lynx.
Through a reservation, visitors can see the big animals from just four feet away, and can participate in hands-on experiences with parrots, kinkajous, alligators, snakes, and other animals.
2. The Norton Museum of Art (and sculpture gardens)
Another non-profit organization, the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens displays the founder’s granite and brick sculptures and exhibits the work of other artists.
Ann Norton spent fifteen years creating monumental sculptures in a dense garden full of more than 250 rare palm species and unusual tropical plant species.
Inside the studio are Norton’s large works in bronze, stone, and wood. Norton favored the cedar used by the Northwest natives to make totem poles. She told the New York Times in 1978, “I use everything – the cracks in the wood, the knots, and the gnarls. I like my work to flow together with nature.”
The Norton Museum of Art has a distinguished collection of 19th and 20th-century masterpieces, and beautiful Chinese jade and bronze artifacts.
3. Clematis Street in downtown West Palm Beach
If you’re looking for some history, Clematis Street is the historical heart of downtown West Palm Beach. The Comeau Building, built in 1925, and the Harvey building, built in 1927, are two of the most prominent and historic buildings on the street.
Downtown is filled with boutiques, art galleries, night clubs, delicious restaurants, antique shops, and several historical landmarks. Thursday nights from 6-9 P.M. feature “Clematis By Night” with live music performed by local bands, food, drink, and plenty of socializing.
CityPlace is a hub of shopping, dining, and entertainment just down the way from Clematis Street. CityPlace shops have old-world architecture and fountains that will make you feel like you’re walking through a traditional European town.
5. Antique Row
If you’re an antique lover, it’s impossible not to seek out the antique shops on your vacation. Amazingly, West Palm Beach is home to more than 50 antique and specialty shops all on one street dubbed “Antique Row.”
The antiques you’ll find here aren’t just random knick-knacks from people’s attics and garages. Many of the stores have antiques dating back to the 17th century, fine art, and period furnishings. You’ll be busy for a while!
6. South Florida Science Center and Aquarium
This is the place to go if you’ve got kids, or you’re just a kid at heart. This aquarium is South Florida’s largest freshwater and saltwater aquarium, providing a hands-on learning experience with over 50 exhibits. There’s a digital planetarium and an 18-hole mini golf course. It’s the perfect place to learn about aquatic life and the stars.
7. Palm Beach Outlets
It’s not a vacation unless you do some shopping! The Palm Beach Outlets have more than 100 stores and include popular brands like Banana Republic, J. Crew, Kenneth Cole, and Nike.
These are just several adventures you can take in West Palm Beach. Tourist brochures tend to list only the most popular attractions, so ask the locals for recommendations based on your interests.