24 Free (or Nearly Free) Things to Do in The Palm Beaches

Ideas for getting serious bang for no (or next-to-no) buck on your next South Florida vacation

Here’s a fun (and surprisingly easy) challenge for your next trip to The Palm Beaches: See how many little-to-no-cost activities you can pack into your itinerary. From free concerts to wildlife encounters to world-class museum exhibitions, you’ll be delighted by how much you can see and do here without ever needing to reach for your wallet. 

Start things off with our list of 24 free (or nearly free) attractions that just might be the highlight of your visit. 

1. Explore pristine natural areas.
More than 31,000 acres of The Palm Beaches’ most precious ecosystems are protected by the Department of Environmental Resources Management (ERM), and how lucky we are. These 25 spectacular natural areas are open from sunrise to sunset, with free admission 365 days a year. Paddle through the marsh at Winding Waters in West Palm Beach, fish from the pier at North Jupiter Flatwoods, or spot gopher tortoise and osprey at Rosemary Scrub in Boynton Beach—and that’s just skimming the surface.

2. Hop aboard the Downtown West Palm Beach Trolley.
Whether you need to get somewhere or just want to see the sights, the trolley is a scenic, no-cost way to explore West Palm Beach’s best attractions. Hop on the Yellow Line to scuttle between CityPlace, the lively Clematis District and the Waterfront, and hop off to visit shops, restaurants, galleries and other WPB must-sees. The trolley runs year-round from 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Sundays-Wednesdays and 11 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays. Find routes here.

3. Bike the Palm Beach Lake Trail. 
Running along the western edge of Palm Beach, this 5½-mile trail affords both dramatic vistas and intimate peeks into some of the island’s most palatial properties. Along the way, you’ll pass landmarks like the Flagler Museum and a giant kapok tree originally brought here from the Amazon, as well as the backyards of stunning private homes. Stop to snap a photo of Lake Worth Lagoon and the West Palm Beach skyline before reaching the trail’s terminus at the world-famous Sailfish Club, with its colorful sailboats and impressive yachts.

4. Follow the Underwater Snorkeling Trail at Phil Foster Park.
If you’ve already got the gear, then you just need to get to Phil Foster Park in Riviera Beach for a day of no-cost underwater adventure. Located beneath Blue Heron Bridge on a crystal-clear section of the Lake Worth Lagoon, this 800-foot artificial reef fosters an incredible variety of marine life, from sea turtles to manatees to tropical fish—all just a few feet from the shore.

5. Dance the night away at Clematis by Night on Thursdays.
Known as “the hot spot to chill” for 22 years, this free, weekly open-air concert series takes place in one of The Palm Beaches’ most vibrant and bustling areas, the Clematis Street Entertainment District in West Palm Beach. At the waterfront pavilion, you can catch live performances by the area’s top bands, all with sparkling, moonlit Lake Worth Lagoon and neon Clematis Street signage lighting up the night.

6. Meet sea turtles at Loggerhead Marinelife Center.
Beautiful Juno Beach is the preferred nesting ground for scores of sea turtles each year, and Loggerhead Marinelife Center serves to conserve their habit and help the public safely discover these beloved reptiles. At the heart of the center is a full-service veterinary hospital where you can visit rehabilitating sea turtles. There’s also an exhibit hall, nature trails, playgrounds and a guarded beach just beyond the center.

7. Go green at the West Palm Beach GreenMarket October through May.
If you happen to be visiting October through May, this frugal activity could keep you busy—and well-fed—for the better part of a Saturday. See the bounty of more than 90 vendors who gather each weekend at the waterfront Lake Pavilion to sell local produce, handmade crafts, exotic flowers and much more. There’s also live music, shaded seating areas and free kids’ activities. You probably won’t want to leave without buying something, so come out and snag amazing deals on tasty treats you can’t find anywhere else.

8. Go on only-in-the-Everglades adventures at Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge.
Encompassing nearly 144,000 acres of northern Everglades and cypress swamp, this prized refuge provides habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife such as the wood stork, snail kite, American alligator and Florida sandhill crane. At a cost of just $1 for pedestrians and $5 for cars, you can spend all day hiking, biking, birding, fishing and paddling through the famed “rivers of grass” in this rare and bewitchingly beautiful ecosystem.

9. Stroll botanical gardens at the Society of the Four Arts.
These lush demonstration gardens were first planted in 1938 to give early Palm Beach residents ideas for their own home gardens. Today, you can stroll through manicured grounds, tropical plants and artfully placed sculptures for a relaxing respite that’s about as Palm Beach as it gets.

10. Learn about our heritage at the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum.
A giant mosquito, interactive touchscreen displays and memorabilia from local sports stars like Jack Nicklaus are among the must-see exhibits at this museum, located inside a 1916 courthouse in downtown West Palm Beach. Two galleries, the People Gallery and Place Gallery, salute the individuals and environments that make The Palm Beaches such a special place.

11. Attend outdoor concerts at Old School Square October through January.
A hub of arts and culture in Delray Beach, historic Old School Square is home to museums, theaters and an open-air pavilion, which hosts a multitude of concerts and festivals throughout the year. On Fridays during fall and winter, bring your lawn chairs or spread out a blanket for free live music, great people watching and impossibly good vibes.

12. Have up-close sea-cow sightings at Manatee Lagoon.
We Floridians have a thing for manatees. They’re our state marine mammal, and we proudly go to great lengths to protect them. Manatee Lagoon is one such place dedicated to the conservation of this endangered animal through public education and discovery. During the colder months, manatees are drawn to warm-water outflows from the neighboring Florida Power & Light Company Next Generation Clean Energy Center, making this one of the top places to watch manatees in the wild. Kids will love free activities like face painting and Junior Aqua Labs (pre-registration may be required, so check their website for more info).

13. Discover Pineapple Grove Arts District.
This eclectic Delray Beach ’hood boasts mural-lined streets practically made for selfies, colorful storefronts for window (or actual) shopping, art galleries and other cultural institutions, plus plenty of cafés and wine bars for when you’ve worked up a thirst. If it works with your visit, don’t miss First Friday Art Walks for great local art and free entertainment.

14. Explore family-friendly nature centers throughout The Palm Beaches.
Palm Beach County operates multiple nature centers that provide hours of free fun for kids and grown-ups alike. Daggerwing Nature Center in Boca Raton features a 3,000-square-foot exhibit hall with live animals and interactive exhibits, an elevated boardwalk through swampland and a butterfly garden where you can spot the center’s namesake Ruddy Daggerwing butterfly. Learn all about Boynton Beach’s wetlands (and the native wildlife that inhabits it) at the brand-new Green Cay Nature Center. Okeeheelee Nature Center in West Palm Beach offers 2½ miles of trails, hands-on exhibits and animal encounters featuring snakes and birds of prey.

15. Hear free concerts at CityPlace on Fridays and Saturdays.
The always-buzzing CityPlace offers shopping, dining, arts and cultural experiences galore. But on Friday and Saturday nights, visitors and locals alike gather in the open-air central plaza to hear free performances in just about every genre of music, from laid-back acoustic sets to upbeat world music to cover bands cranking out your favorite throwback tunes.

16. Travel to other worlds at Cornell Art Museum.
This contemporary art museum is a showplace for cutting-edge and thought-provoking artists in every medium. A nominal fee gets you in the door (it’s always free for veterans and kids under 12), where you can explore ever-rotating exhibitions featuring leading artists from around the region and the world.

17. Encounter wildlife at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
As a rescue and rehabilitation center for sick and injured sea turtles, Gumbo Limbo plays a vital role in protecting Boca Raton’s local ecosystem. You can visit these reptiles, as well as explore boardwalk trails, butterfly gardens and amazing outdoor aquariums featuring thousands of tropical fish, for a suggested donation of only $5 per person.

18. Listen to live music Saturdays at Harbourside Place.
Jupiter’s exquisite outdoor amphitheater at Harbourside Place has become a major hotspot in The Palm Beaches. Between the breezy waterfront atmosphere, the boats passing by and the free concerts on Saturdays, what’s not to love? The music calendar features a range of genres, from rock to country to Latin grooves that will have every member of the family on their feet.

19. Admire gallery exhibitions at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre. 
If you’re as hooked on Instagram as we are, then you’ll love learning about the relevant-as-ever craft of photography at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre. Browse striking images ranging from the historic to the ultra-modern in the 5,000-square-foot gallery, and sign up for workshops, lectures and children’s events centered around the enrichment of life through photography.

20. Go birdwatching at Wakodahatchee Wetlands.
Birders, bring your binoculars to spot as many as 178 species of birds at this western Delray Beach wetlands preserve that’s part of the Great Florida Birding Trail. As fun to visit as it is to pronounce, Wakodahatchee Wetlands also offers boardwalks with interpretive signage, gazebos and benches for simply soaking up a peaceful moment. 

21. See us through our artists at the Cultural Council of Palm Beach County. 
This free museum’s location inside the stunning, Streamline Moderne-style Robert M. Montgomery, Jr. building in downtown Lake Worth is reason enough to visit. But the rotating exhibitions and permanent collections, all showcasing art made in (or unique to) The Palm Beaches, will let you see our region through the lens of our talented artists. 

22. Shop Delray Beach Winter GreenMarket October through May.
Yet another great reason to visit Old School Square, the Winter GreenMarket has been a Saturday tradition in Delray Beach for over 20 years, with more than 65 vendors selling farm-to-fork produce, local fruits, artisan cheeses, jams, baked goods and more.

23. Spy swamp things at Grassy Waters Preserve.
You don’t have to leave West Palm Beach to experience the Everglades—you just have to go to Grassy Waters Preserve, a pristine wetland that’s part of the Greater Everglades watershed. This 23-square-mile park is home to a variety of native wildlife, from white ibis and great blue heron to bobcats. Activities at Grassy Waters Preserve include hiking, canoeing, kayaking and dipnetting, plus low- or no-fee guided tours, “swamp tromps” and kids’ programs (check their calendar to sign up in advance).

24. Have a day at the beach!
Of course, no list of free attractions in The Palm Beaches is complete without, well, beaches! No matter what kind of beach person you are, from sporty to relaxed to family-friendly to unspoiled and unpopulated, you’ll find your perfect tropical beach along our 47 miles of sun-kissed coastline.

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