Summer guide: Best things to do in Palm Beach County and beyond

·8 min read

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The season for tourists and snow birds may be over, but that doesn't mean all of the fun has packed up and left. Summer is the perfect time to explore Palm Beach County and the many fun things to do here. Let this be your handy guide. From kids activities to fun local attractions, we have you covered!

This list will be updated throughout the summer — check back as we add more.

Hit the road to these best surfing spots north of Palm Beach County

Over the summer, one element that keeps South Florida pretty slow wave-wise is the Bahamas. The islands basically block most swells coming from the east and southeast (once in a blue moon a swell manages to sneak through one of the channels, but that's a story for another day).

So what's the key when hunting waves in the summer? Get north of the Bahamas. Here are a few surfing spots north of Palm Beach County worth checking out:

Surfing upcoast: Flat in South Florida? Time to hit the road and head north

Take a stroll through Palm Beach's beautiful parks, gardens

Cassia fistula blooms at Bradley Park in Palm Beach.
Cassia fistula blooms at Bradley Park in Palm Beach.

Palm Beach’s public gardens beckon residents and visitors to their tranquil paradises. Here, anyone can relax surrounded by lush tropical foliage and learn more about plants and history.

From Bradley Park to Four Arts: Enjoy Palm Beach’s public parks and gardens

Visit Norton Museum of Art

The Norton Museum of Art, in West Palm Beach, has set itself up as the place to be for the summer.

And it’s not just that all Saturdays through Sept. 5 are free admission for Palm Beach County residents. Or that there will be “Yappy Saturday” events in which area residents can bring along their canine companions to hang out on the museum grounds.

It’s also that the museum is staying true to its mission and opening three new exhibitions during the hot months, one of which focuses on the work of a major African-American painter active in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Enjoy art for free: Norton Museum of Art wants you to have an artsy summer

Norton Museum: 1450 S. Dixie Highway, West Palm Beach; 561-832-5196

Sunshine State roadside attractions that are still worth a visit

There are still a handful of old Florida attractions that have been around for decades, and a few interesting new ones pop up every now and then. We asked USA Today Network reporters from around the state to pick out attractions that are still worth a visit, even if you're not a tourist.

Experience old, weird Florida: Sunshine State roadside attractions that are still worth a visit

Enjoy Boca Raton Museum of Art

The Boca Raton Museum of Art also offers a summer respite with art exhibits and instruction in the heart of that city. Within its walls, visitors can escape to scenes as distant as Mount Rushmore or the Alps via the  "Art of the Hollywood Backdrop." The exhibit showcases rescued artist-rendered backgrounds used in decades past for  classic films including "North by Northwest" and "The Sound of Music."

Boca Raton Museum of Art: 501 Plaza Real, Boca Raton; 561-392-2500

Explore Palm Beach County parks

Amphitheaters. Equestrian centers. Fishing lakes. Golf courses. Artificial reefs. Water parks. Nature exhibits. Aquatic centers.

There’s a lot more going on in our county parks than you might realize.

The county runs 83 parks, from tiny playgrounds to thousand-acre behemoths (and then there are state parks, beach parks and parks run by individual cities.) All county parks have reopened, some with limited services. If you visit, please continue social distancing and wear a mask if you can’t social distance. For specific restricitions at each park, visit the county's Parks and Recreation website at https://discover.pbcgov.org/.

Of the parks maintained by the county, here’s a list of the top 10 parks you must visit:

Enjoy being outside: 10 best parks in Palm Beach County

Ride the waves at Rapids Water Park

The Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach reopens for the season on Saturday.
The Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach reopens for the season on Saturday.

With more than 40 thrill rides and water slides, Rapids Water Park boasts multiple reasons to visit. And now there's one more reason to consider a day trip to the popular water attraction.

The Riviera Beach park was named one of the top 10 best outdoor water parks in the country by USA Today.

Rapids Water Park: Voted one of the best water parks in the country by USA Today

Rapids Waterpark: 6566 N. Military Trail, West Palm Beach; 561-848-6272

Enjoy more water fun at Shark Park 561

If a lake is more your scene, check out Shark Park 561 within the county's Okeeheelee Park. The attraction opened in 2019 and offers a variety of activities including an inflatable floating obstacle course with monkey bars, climbing towers and slides. The venue also offers a cable park that tows wakeboarders — no boat necessary.

Shark Park 561 within Okeeheelee Park, 7715 Forest Hill Blvd, West Palm Beach; 561.323.3937

Take a safari in your car at Lion Country Safari

Providing an up-close look at exotic animals since 1967, and believed to be the first cage-less zoo in the United States, Lion Country Safari was a pioneer in the zoo world when it opened more than 50 years ago, introducing a new concept in zoology and tourism. It offered families a chance to experience of an African safari at a fraction of the cost and time.

Recently the park has been named one of the top 20 safari parks in the country. Chosen as one of the top 20 by zoo and travel experts, the drive-through park in Loxahatchee could soon find itself in the top 10 or even number one in USA Today's "10 Best" Reader's Choice contest.

In addition to allowing guests an up-close look at these incredible animals in a natural setting, the park also participates in many conservation and roughly 35 breeding programs (called Species Survival Plans) for threatened species, including rhinoceros, zebra, oryx, siamangs, and more.

More Lion Country Safari news: Florida's Lion Country Safari in running for top safari park in United States

Lion Country Safari: 2003 Lion Country Safari Road, Loxahatchee; 561-793-1084

Have an island adventure at Peanut Island

Peanut Island, the 80-acre tropical island located at the west end of the Palm Beach (Lake Worth) Inlet, is a get-there-by-only-boat county park, where long strings of boats raft up while hundreds of people socialize in the shallow off-shore water.

Sound fun? Here’s what to know before you go.

Taking a day trip to Peanut Island?: What to know before heading to the popular Florida spot

Find the perfect waterfront restaurant in Palm Beach County

Does everything taste better by the water? We think so.

We’ve made it easy to plan your next lunch or dinner (or even breakfast) with a feast for your eyes. Here’s a handy list of nearly 60 local restaurants with a water view.

Dining guide: Favorite waterfront restaurants in Palm Beach County

Hit one of Palm Beach County's beaches

Instructor Mary Glazier could not be more excited to see her first-time student, Victoria Adams,17, riding a wave during her very first lesson March 31, 2022.
Instructor Mary Glazier could not be more excited to see her first-time student, Victoria Adams,17, riding a wave during her very first lesson March 31, 2022.

We love our Palm Beach County beaches. And with summer here, it’s time to soak up some sun. With the county’s 45-mile long Atlantic shoreline, there are lots of beautiful beaches to choose.

Here we break down the main attractions and facts on each beach from Tequesta to Boca Raton.

Summer guide: Best beaches in Palm Beach County

Read a good book with Florida connection

Before heading to the beach with sunscreen and a favorite liquid refreshment, many grab that juicy crime novel to devour while waves lap at the shore.

Beach reads are fun, light, page-turning books that offer a perfect way to pass the time with toes in the sand.

It only makes sense that Florida authors pen some of the best beach reads found at bookstores, libraries and online.

Here are 11 novelists whose works have a connection to the Sunshine State, whether they wrote about Florida in their crime thrillers, have lived here or both:

‘Bad Monkey’ to ‘Sanibel Flats’: 11 Florida crime writers and their best beach reads

Cool off indoors at Delray Beach Market

Boasting 150,000 square feet of space and four levels, the $60 million Delray Beach market food hall is touted as Florida’s largest. With 60,000 of those square feet devoted to its hospitality vendors, the food hall is located at 33 SE Third Ave., just off downtown Delray’s Atlantic Avenue dining district.

Delray Beach Market: A guide to the mega food hall in downtown Delray Beach

Delray Beach Market: 33 SE 3rd Ave., Delray Beach; 561-562-7000

Free Kids Club at The Gardens Mall

The Gardens Mall is offering a free Kids Club this summer on the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
The Gardens Mall is offering a free Kids Club this summer on the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The Gardens Mall is hosting Kids Club, a lively schedule of free activities, this summer for children  three to ten years old. The Kids Club is held on the third Saturday of the month from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. now through Oct. 15. The next club activity is a carnival party with Jupiter Bounce on June 18.

For more information on the Kids Club and to register, please visit https://www.thegardensmall.com/news-style/events/

Gardens Mall: 3101 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-775-7750

Summer road trip to Martin County

If you feel the urge to travel outside Palm Beach County, we have the perfect day trip for you: Martin County.

Thanks to its petiteness (just over 500 square miles compared with Palm Beach’s 2,000), you can explore many of Martin's treasures in three hours of driving time and still make it home to sleep in your own bed.

Day trip to Martin County: Scenic routes, wild savannas, seaside restaurants

More summer guides:

Summer restaurant guide: Best new places to eat in Palm Beach County, plus critic's choice picks

Summer guide: What's hot in real estate right now in Palm Beach County

Summer guide: What's new with growth and development in Palm Beach County

Laura Lordi is the digital strategy editor for The Palm Beach Post. Contact Lordi at 561-542-6249 or llordi@pbpost.com. Instagram: @LauraDLordi

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This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Post: Things to do West Palm Beach for summer: Lion Country Safari, Rapids