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Why Go to West Palm Beach

Home to America's rich and famous (Donald Trump, Jimmy Buffett, Howard Stern and James Patterson, to name a few) for nearly a century, West Palm Beach provides the most luxurious version of the relaxing Floridian lifestyle. Or so people think. Its actually Palm Beach – the coastal neighborhood adjacent to West Palm – that serves as the spot where these moguls and celebrities choose to build their waterfront winter homes. Its younger sister, West Palm, was originally an off-shoot. Now the latter is a vacation spot in its own right, offering travelers an array of away-from-the-shore attractions and hotel options for all budgets. You might only be able to distinguish between the two areas by crossing the Intracoastal Waterway and looking at the housing prices.

While the rest of the country battles snowstorms, residents of West Palm Beach relax by the water and soak up Florida's year-round sunshine. And despite the area's tradition of catering to glamorous, designer-decorated clientele, Palm Beach's shores and West Palm's historical neighborhoods appeal to many types. In fact, the famous clientele is part of the city's allure.

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West Palm Beach Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

To avoid the hottest temperatures and biggest crowds, the best times to visit West Palm Beach are at the end of spring (April to May) and the beginning of fall (September to October). You'll be greeted by temperatures that fluctuate between the mid-60s and high 80s while avoiding peak airfare and hotel rates. Families will flood the area when school is out during the summer, and in winter, older part-time residents (or "snowbirds") will resettle in the area to escape the North's cooler temperatures. Keep in mind, though, that Florida's hurricane season comes in the fall, so weather could be an issue at this time.

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What You Need to Know

  • This is not a beach town Though West Palm's name implies a prime position along the ocean, you won't actually find a beach here. For those looking to dip their toes in the sand, try heading east to Palm Beach, north to Juno Beach or south to Lake Worth.
  • Expect to drive While the city does feature an easy-to-navigate bus system called Palm Tran, the most convenient way to get around West Palm and to the surrounding areas is to rent a car.
  • Get active outdoors West Palm Beach offers some of the best outdoor activities in Florida – think biking and paddleboarding in Okeeheelee Park, canoeing and hiking in Grassy Waters Preserve and golfing at West Palm Beach Golf Course. There's also plenty of top-notch scuba diving, polo and fishing in West Palm's neighboring cities.

How to Save Money in West Palm Beach

  • Avoid Florida's peak season Like other Florida cities, West Palm's crowds and prices swell substantially during the winter. To bypass the inundation of tourists and part-time Northern residents and avoid peak season hotel and airfare rates, try visiting in Florida's shoulder seasons (after Easter and before Thanksgiving).
  • Ride the West Palm Beach Trolley While a car is a must for getting to neighboring cities and attractions like Lion Country Safari and McCarthy's Wildlife Sanctuary, the West Palm Beach Trolley offers a convenient and free option for getting to and from the Kravis Center, CityPlace and Clematis Street.
  • Take advantage of free activities With such a heavy emphasis on getting outdoors, visitors can expect to find tons of free activities throughout Palm Beach County. During the day, wander protected areas like Okeeheelee Park or explore the Intracoastal Waterway by boat. And at night, hit up one of the area beaches during the beginning of turtle nesting season (March to August) to try catching a glimpse of a turtle laying eggs.

What to Eat

West Palm Beach's restaurant options give its Intracoastal Waterway neighbor a legitimate run for its money – especially since you'll end the meal here with more money in your pocket. With such close proximity to the water, West Palm cuisine relies heavily on fresh seafood like grouper and shrimp, two of the area's most popular items. For a true taste of West Palm's seafood scene, try grabbing a bite at a local favorite like Tin Fish on Clematis Street or Bimini Twist in the Golden Lakes neighborhood.

In addition to the area's variety of seafood joints, ethnic restaurants are a crowd favorite. Italian, Mexican and Greek are especially popular here. For authentic Greek fare, try Agora Mediterranean Kitchen, which serves up Greek and Mediterranean classics like dolma (stuffed grape leaves), hummus (a chickpea dip served with pita) and baklava (a sweet layered pastry with nuts). When craving Mexican, locals flock to Rocco's Tacos and Tequila Bar on Clematis Street. And for a taste of Italy, try CityPlace's Il Bellagio, where you can savor Italian specialties like pasta e fagioli (a Tuscan white bean and pasta soup) and linguine vongole (linguine with clams in a white wine or tomato sauce). You'll also find top-notch Cuban throughout the region thanks to the state's proximity to Cuba.

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Getting Around West Palm Beach

The best way to get around West Palm Beach is by car. Whether you rent one at Palm Beach International Airport (PBI) or use your own, a car is necessary to enjoy most of West Palm's sites. However, for select attractions, the city's Palm Tran buses and West Palm Beach Trolley lines are a viable option. Taxis are available as well but can be costly if traveling long distances.

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