Think you know Florida’s Great Outdoors? Think again. Did you know The Palm Beaches hosts one of the largest remaining cypress swamps in the area? It’s also home to one of the world’s most densely-populated sea turtle nesting beaches. Whether you love kayaking on winding waterways, hiking through coastal hammocks or strolling around lush botanical gardens, Florida’s wild side is sure to inspire. Check out this go-to list for everything eco in The Palm Beaches.
Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge, Boynton Beach
Pick up a backpack, throw on your hiking boots and venture into wild Florida. Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 145,000 acres of federally protected Everglades ecosystems including prairies, tree islands and a stunning 400-acre cypress swamp. The refuge offers plenty of eco-friendly activities, including responsible fishing, canoe & kayak trails, horseback riding, and hiking. Look out for wildlife like birds, deer and alligators—and don’t forget your camera!
Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Juno Beach
Located adjacent to one of the world’s most densely populated sea turtle nesting beaches, Loggerhead Marinelife Center is a sea turtle hospital and ocean conservation center lets you get up close and personal with rehabilitating sea turtle patients. If you’re lucky, you might just catch a sea turtle release! Discover South Florida’s precious ecosystems by signing up for a beach walk, guided hike or science talk. Make a day of it and hike the nearby Juno Dunes Natural Area, or walk over to the beach for some R&R.
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary, Jupiter
Dedicated to protecting Florida’s wildlife, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary provides rehabilitative care to nearly 5,000 injured wild animals each year. The sanctuary’s non-releasable animals serve as ambassadors—including deer, foxes, endangered Florida panthers, otters and bears. Look out for these guys as you trek through pine flatwoods, oak hammocks and cypress wetland trails.
Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Boca Raton
Dive deep into Florida’s coastal ecosystems at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center. Visit with rehabilitating sea turtle patients or explore exhibits highlighting ocean conservation, sustainability and more. Go “under the sea” and enjoy four giant saltwater aquariums, each representing various marine habitats. Don’t miss the center’s butterfly garden or boardwalk and nature trails to round out your day.
Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society, West Palm Beach
Walk on the wild side at Palm Beach Zoo! With over 500 animals, you’ll “fawn” over lovable species from around the world. Consider adding an up-close animal experience to your visit—the zoo is home to North America’s only up-close koala encounter. The Lorikeet Loft is also not-to-miss—you’ll have a blast feeding these curious little parrots (and snagging the perfect selfie!)
Loxahatchee River Center, Jupiter
As Florida’s first federally designated wild and scenic river, the Loxahatchee River has a rich cultural and environmental history. That means the Loxahatchee River Center is a great place to learn about this unique part of The Palm Beaches. Take a boat tour for a firsthand look at the river’s diverse wildlife, or enjoy a naturalist-led kayak tour of Pine Glades Natural Area. If you’re a landlubber, the center has plenty of aquariums and interactive exhibits—many of which highlight the Loxahatchee River watershed.
Sandoway Discovery Center, Delray Beach
Situated across the street from the Atlantic, Sandoway Discovery Center is the place to channel your curiosity. Learn more about Florida’s coastal ecosystems through shark and stingray feedings, and make learning fun with hands-on exhibits like the nocturnal room or invertebrate touch tank. You can also check out Southeast Florida’s largest private shell collection. Don’t forget to head to the observation deck for a gorgeous view of the glittering ocean, or stroll through the center’s native plant and butterfly garden.
Mounts Botanical Garden, West Palm Beach
Seeking inspiration and tranquility in nature? Find it at Mounts Botanical Garden. This lush oasis is located in the heart of West Palm Beach and boasts 35 unique gardens, including a tropical rainforest, desert and more. Be sure to trek across the Great Lawn and wander through the Stickworks masterpiece “Cutting Corners,” composed entirely of willow, by renowned artist Patrick Dougherty.
We hope you are inspired to visit the lush, natural sights of The Palm Beaches, Florida’s Cultural Capital! Get to know us more by taking a close look at our cultural destination online (or download the PDF guide).