There’s something about walking through a city’s cultural center that is nothing short of magical. The sweet sounds of an open-air performance on a breezy evening; the wonder of sprawling outdoor murals; the doors to galleries, museums, and theatres that beg to be opened; the spontaneous ticket purchases; and the joy of discovering it all.
If you’re craving a vacation where vibrant arts destinations are all within reach by foot or bicycle, you’ve come to the right place. As Florida’s Cultural Capital®, The Palm Beaches offer top-notch cultural destinations where visitors can spend days immersed in arts and culture without needing a vehicle.
We’ve selected five top picks for stunning walkable vacation ideas. Visit soon and enjoy every minute of car-free fun!
West Palm Beach and Palm Beach
A hip, buzzing waterfront downtown, cultural opportunities abound in pedestrian-friendly West Palm Beach. Home to bustling entertainment districts, exciting nightlife, and world-class shopping and dining, this colorful region offers an urban arts paradise. Start at the city’s legendary waterfront and walk west to Clematis Street to find the stellar regional theater Palm Beach Dramaworks, a dream for theater fans. Continue two blocks west down Clematis to catch an exhibition at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre, or duck into the adjacent four-floor Mandel Public Library of West Palm Beach for a literary oasis. From the library, stroll five minutes north on Dixie Highway to visit the Historical Society of Palm Beach County and the Richard and Pat Johnson Palm Beach County History Museum (located in the restored 1916 courthouse), then walk 15 minutes southwest to reach The Square, a mixed-use shopping and dining destination where frequent free live music performances on the lawn offer instant joy. Large-scale murals throughout downtown bring whimsy and creativity to many of the city’s blocks, and the celebrated Raymond F. Kravis Center for the Performing Arts (a four-minute walk west of The Square) offers hit Broadway tours and spectacular concerts.
And with a neighborhood where arts and culture continue in every direction, there is much, much more. A 20-minute walk southeast from The Square leads to the world-class Norton Museum of Art (home to one of the region’s leading collections of art) and the nearby Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, a two-acre sanctuary with galleries, monumental sculptures and tropical gardens. From there, stroll 17 minutes west through a shaded residential district to visit the Armory Art Center, or hop on a bicycle to explore the stylish shops of Antique Row (a 30-minute walk southeast along Dixie Highway). To the east of downtown, an invigorating 20-minute walk over the Royal Park Bridge to the island of Palm Beach leads to the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, where visitors can walk along the picturesque waterfront Lake Trail to Whitehall, Henry Flagler’s Gilded Age estate. On the stroll back, don’t miss the cultivated beauty of The Society of the Four Arts’ Botanical Gardens and Philip Hulitar Sculpture Garden (as well as renowned libraries, exhibitions and performances). A 10-minute walk south leads to the posh art galleries of Worth Avenue; a 40-minute walk north of downtown (or a 15-minute bike ride) along the Intracoastal Waterway leads to the charming galleries and international cuisine of Northwood Village.
Getting to and from downtown West Palm Beach is equally effortless; located just 2.5 miles northeast of Palm Beach International Airport, the destination boasts a popular stop for the luxurious inter-city passenger train Brightline. The BrightBike bike share program offers bicycles for rent at bike stations throughout downtown, and the accessible (and free!) downtown trolley offers a whimsical, fun-filled option for tired feet. A fleet of free electric Circuit Shuttles are also an eco-friendly option for hopping between downtown arts destinations.
A 10-minute Brightline jaunt down the coast from West Palm Beach, eastern Boca Raton is the new hot spot for cultural tourism. Long known for its upscale galleries, posh boutiques and fine dining, the neighborhood has also gained a much-deserved reputation for its arts and cultural offerings. From the Brightline station, walk two minutes west to pore over books in the beautiful Boca Raton Public Library, then stroll 10 minutes southeast to learn about the history of this sophisticated city at The Schmidt Boca Raton History Museum, easily spotted by its shining gold dome (located inside the city’s historic town hall). From there, walk five minutes northeast to enter the lush, Mediterranean Revival outdoor shopping district of Mizner Park, where unique shops and specialty cafes await. With twin streets lined with galleries and restaurants and a lush, European-style park between them, it’s easy to see why Mizner Park is home to many of the city’s best festivals and events. Snag tickets for a touring show at the theatrical venue Mizner Park Cultural Center (closest to the entrance of Mizner Park) or stroll five minutes north along the shops of Plaza Real to catch a rousing outdoor concert at the Mizner Park Amphitheater. Just steps from the amphitheater is the city’s cultural crowned jewel: the Boca Raton Museum of Art. Internationally recognized for its dynamic changing exhibitions, the museum is a permanent home to a superb collection of modern masters including works by Degas, Arman, Matisse, Modigliani and Picasso. The best part: without ever having to step foot in a vehicle, the Brightline station is an easy 10-minute walk back from the museum. Additional shops and galleries extend east and south from Mizner Park, too; leave time to explore in both directions to fully experience downtown Boca Raton.
Lake Worth Beach
Downtown Lake Worth Beach offers a colorful, bohemian destination for arts and culture lovers. Just seven miles south of downtown West Palm Beach, this charming coastal city offers tree-lined downtown streets lined with eclectic boutiques, art galleries and cafes. Start by exploring the parallel downtown streets of Lake and Lucerne Avenues and stop into Mtn Space, the innovative artist-owned gallery on Lake Avenue with community-centric programming. Walk one block west to the Cultural Council for Palm Beach County to catch free ongoing exhibitions by Palm Beach County-based professional artists and unique shopping in the Roe Green Uniquely Palm Beach Store, featuring spectacular work by area artisans. Peek around the back of the building to see a sweeping Martin Luther King Jr. mural by renowned Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra (one of many vibrant murals that adorn this downtown!). Continue one block west along Lake Avenue and catch a mainstage play or musical at the historic Lake Worth Playhouse. Housed in the oldest surviving Art Deco building in Palm Beach County, the long-running community theater also offers cutting-edge theatrical programming in its black box-style second space, the Stonzek Theatre, which doubles as a movie theatre with a full slate of foreign and independent films. From there, walk seven minutes west and cross over to Lucerne Avenue to check out Hatch 1121 Arts Center, a flexible exhibition space operated by LULA Lake Worth Arts. Stroll seven minutes south and find the Benzaiten Center for Creative Arts: a nonprofit arts and educational organization dedicated to glassblowing and other exhilarating forms of fine craftsmanship. Located in a restored FEC Train Depot, the 14,500-square-foot permanent arts center boasts the largest hot glass shop in the state, as well as a fusing and flameworking studio, gallery and gift shop, welding and glass casting studios.
The spirited seaside city of Delray Beach has been dubbed the “Most Fun Small Town in America” by Rand McNally – and it’s not hard to see why. Located eight miles north of downtown Boca Raton, this lively downtown offers the humming downtown main street of Atlantic Avenue, countless restaurants, beautiful beaches and plenty of walkable culture. Start two blocks north of Atlantic Avenue at the Spady Cultural Heritage Museum, a cultural center dedicated to discovering, collecting and sharing the Black history and heritage of The Palm Beaches. Through the museum, take an illuminating walking tour of the West Settlers Historic District or book a bus tour to learn about early settlers and significant historical events that shaped the city. From there, walk 10 minutes east along Atlantic Avenue to stop into the lovely Delray Beach Public Library, then continue one block south to the nonprofit Delray Beach Children’s Garden, an unparalleled natural paradise for families with young children. Return to Atlantic Avenue and walk six minutes north along Swinton Avenue to soak up additional city history at the Delray Beach Historical Society, then walk one block east to explore the Pineapple Grove Arts District, a delightful enclave dotted with murals, sculptures, galleries and shops. There, catch a concert at the sizzling performance venue Arts Garage, attend a Art & Jazz on the Avenue event and discover Artists Alley, home to the remarkable arts incubator space Arts Warehouse. For theater fans, the historic community theater Delray Beach Playhouse is a quick six-minute electric shuttle ride away. A scenic 25-minute walk east on Atlantic Avenue to the beachside (then east on Ocean Boulevard) will lead to the Sandoway Discovery Center, an award-winning nature center located in a historic Florida home. Don’t miss the center’s daily shark feedings!
With its breathtaking natural beauty and laid-back funky fishing village scene, the northern municipality of Jupiter offers endless options for spending time near the water. And its arts options, too, are unique; for those who love to combine arts with pleasure, this is the town for you. Start at Harborside Place — a shopping and dining destination with frequent cultural events at its waterfront amphitheater — and walk 10 minutes north along U.S. 1 to the River Center, a fascinating environmental education center with saltwater and freshwater tanks and interactive exhibitions. From there, walk 15 minutes southeast along U.S. 1 and Indiantown Road to catch a hit stage performance at the Maltz Jupiter Theatre, the largest regional theater in the southeastern half of the United States. For a post-show bite, take a 15-minute stroll northwest along Ocean Boulevard (North Highway A1A) and dine at one of the idyllic tropical waterfront restaurants clustered along the strip. Dance and sway to live music from Palm Beach County-based musicians at any of the district’s popular open-air tiki bars. Here’s where the rest of the route gets temporarily tricky, since the U.S. 1 bridge across the water to the iconic Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum will be replaced starting in March 2023. The great news: when the bridge reopens with new sidewalks and bike lanes following a 20-month closure, pedestrians and cyclists will have a direct path from the theater and restaurants to Jupiter’s foremost historic destination, which offers climbing tours of the landmark 1860 lighthouse and a walk through 5,000 years of history in its waterfront exhibits. For now (during construction), the Lighthouse is a 25-minute bike ride northwest across the Alternate A1A bridge – but well worth it for the most spectacular view in The Palm Beaches. From the Lighthouse, a 30-minute walk (or 10-minute bike ride) northwest will lead to Tequesta’s Lighthouse ArtCenter Gallery and School of Art, a lively art center founded in 1964 that offers an art school, unique exhibitions and dynamic special events. Another option from Harbourside Place: take a 20-minute bike ride four miles south along scenic Ocean Boulevard to Loggerhead Marinelife Center, one of Florida’s most visited nonprofit scientific destinations focused on ocean and sea turtle conservation.
Looking for more arts and culture to explore in The Palm Beaches? Download our cultural travel guide today.
Linnea Bailey is a freelance writer based in South Florida. A former award-winning newspaper reporter, she now owns a public relations company in West Palm Beach. Linnea enjoys traveling, spending time with family and experiencing all the arts and cultural offerings The Palm Beaches have to offer.