While everyone else is swarming CityPlace — the urban center and major tourist attraction where you can park and spend the entire day exploring shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues — locals spend their time enjoying the hidden gems and quieter spots in West Palm Beach. After all, they know best when it comes to experiencing the best culture and under-the-radar scenes in this sun-drenched paradise.
Wondering where to start? Visit these amazing places to start feeling like a local in no time.
Ride the Trolley
Here’s the thing — even the locals go to CityPlace from time to time. But those in-the-know (and those with kids) take the trolley. Molly’s Trolleys is a free trolley that runs along three routes in downtown West Palm Beach. Kids love riding the red trolley, and adults love not having to stress out about finding parking. The trolley can also take you to the Palm Beach Outlets and the historic district via Clematis Street from Rosemary Avenue to Flagler Drive, where you can find boutiques, live music, and more — all just a quick walk from the great views at the docks.
Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens
This is one of the area’s loveliest secret gardens. When you visit, enjoy some of the gorgeous greenery, the historic 1920s home, and Ann’s sculptures, which are scattered throughout the gardens. In addition to the sculptures, you can tour the artist’s studio and the largest collection of rare plants in the state. Not only are the gardens beautiful, it’s also a peaceful spot that feels natural and untouched, even in the middle of this bustling city.
Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
Another family favorite, the Palm Beach Zoo is big enough to spend a few fun hours without being overwhelming. Plus, it’s still growing — so every time you go, it’s likely to be a little different.
One of the standouts at the zoo includes the Flamingo Experience, which lets visitors ages 5 and older mingle with Chilean flamingos. You can take them for a walk, feed them, and learn more about them from the keepers that take care of them every day. The zoo has more than 500 animals, including Mexican spider monkeys, Malayan tigers, koalas, and jaguars. Kids love the Interactive Play Fountain, and everyone enjoys riding the safari train, grabbing snacks in the Tropics Café, and checking out the food trucks during the Food Truck Safari events.
Who doesn’t love a good deal? Skip the touristy shops in favor of West Palm Beach’s Antique Row. This stretch of 50+ stores along South Dixie Highway offers everything from Art Deco pieces to mid-century collectibles and vintage designer duds. Locals follow this rule of thumb when choosing their shops: Look for the most cluttered ones — they always have the best pieces.
Hit the Beach
When you’re in any of the Palm Beaches, you have to plant your feet in the sand at least once. Where do locals go? The protected, stunning shoreline of Jupiter Island is usually at the top of their lists. The Anastasia limestone rock formation adds drama, while saltwater geysers offer a magnificent natural show.
Jupiter Island is also a favorite destination for anyone looking to snap some amazing beach photos. However, Delray Beach is a close second. Located midway between West Palm Beach and Fort Lauderdale, this eclectic beach town also has plenty of ice cream parlors and sidewalk cafes for when you need a break from the sun and surf.
Hidden Gem Eateries
Now that you have some ideas for what to do, it’s time to explore where you should eat. West Palm is known for its amazing restaurants. But when you want to avoid long waits and big crowds, head to one of the locals’ favorite eateries. A few options include:
The Blind Monk: Black-and-white movies, live jazz, and a delectable menu headed by Ben Lubin, a WPB native, all make The Blind Monk one of the area’s best kept secrets. Perfect for a romantic dinner or breakfast, the menu is built around small plates and tasty treats.
Meraki Juice Kitchen: When you’re looking for a heathy bite, Meraki Juice Kitchen is the place to go. This casual eatery has a bright inside dining room and a great patio. The menu is all about certified organic plant-based fare, with standouts like cold-pressed juices, acai bowls, and toasts.
Food Trucks: Sometimes you just want good food without the fuss. If you’re lucky enough to pick up grub at one of West Palm’s food trucks, you’ll be dining like a local in no time. Some of the best area food trucks include Churrasco Grill, with its South American cuisine, and Curbside Gourmet, with its homemade soups, salads, and sliders.
Feeling like a local yet? Check out our Facebook page for more tips, tricks, and inspiration to make your vacay the best one yet.