Palm Beach with Tweens: A Perfect Family Day

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Palm Beach with Tweens: A Family Vacation

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Leave it to tweens to know the latest in communication, music, movies and celebrities – and to use the latest in electronic devices to keep up. According to a 2010 study by the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, kids ages 7-18 spend an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes a day (outside of school!) using some form of electronic media. Those may be discouraging statistics, but rest assured, Palm Beach family travel doesn't have to include "I'm sooooo bored!" texts to friends – or any texts at all. Keep the kids active with the following list of things to do, and Palm Beach with tweens can be fun for everyone.


Morning


Besides the near-constant need to text, tweens have a near-constant need to eat (blame it on that years-long growth spurt). So, before beginning a perfect day in Palm Beach with tweens, feed those hungry mouths. A good place for breakfast and a bit of local history, Howley's Diner offers "can't-finish-it-all" servings of everyone's favorites: omelets, pancakes, French toast, grits and Eggs Benedict. Open seven days a week starting at 7AM, this refurbished 60-year-old restaurant features retro decor, waitresses with attitude and an interesting mix of local celebrities and late-night revelers. The kids will love it!

Howley's Diner, 4700 S Dixie Hwy, West Palm Beach, FL 33405; 561-833-5691; Sun-Thu 7AM-2AM, Fri 7AM-5AM, Sat 7AM-4AM

Allow your breakfast to digest as you head toward the water. Yes, mom said no to swimming after meals, but this aquatic excursion does not involve strokes; it involves the Palm Beach Diva Duck. A sightseeing bus boat on wheels, this U.S. Coast Guard-inspected vehicle allows for Palm Beach family travel on land and sea. And, everyone wears a life vest (feel better, Mom?). The 75-minute narrated tour begins at City Place shopping complex on Okeechobee Boulevard at Rosemary Avenue, winds through Palm Beach, West Palm Beach and the Lake Worth Lagoon wildlife area, and then finally swooshes into the Intracoastal Waterway.

Insider Tip: Tour times are determined by the tide, and this is a popular attraction, so it is advisable to check the online schedule and call to reserve your tickets well in advance. Usually only one to three tours are offered daily. The Diva Duck can sail in light rain, but tours are rescheduled and purchased tickets honored if there is inclement weather. Also be sure to check their website for coupons and discounted tickets.

Diva Duck, City Place, 600 S Rosemary Ave, West Palm Beach, FL 33401; 877-844-4188, 800-979-3370; Adults $25, Seniors (over 65) $22, Youth (5-15 years) $15, Children (under 5) $5

After "ducking around," how about a lighthouse climb? The 150-year-old Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse is next on your list of fun things to do in Palm Beach with tweens. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and situated on U.S. Coast Guard property, this burnt red-painted brick lighthouse features 105 serpentine steps – a lofty challenge tweens will either rush to meet in order to prove themselves, or at the very least, begrudgingly accept to keep from appearing wimpy. They'll be especially inclined to climb if you tell them about the surprise waiting at the top: a 360-degree view of the ocean and surrounding communities.

Be sure to explore the other restored buildings in the vicinity of the lighthouse as well, including a local pioneer homestead, World War II barracks and an exhibit hall with a gift shop and educational displays. Also, be advised that flip-flops are not permitted on the lighthouse climb, and climbers must be at least 48 inches tall.

Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum, 500 Captain Armour's Way, Jupiter, FL 33469; 561-747-8380; Tue-Sun 10AM-5PM (last lighthouse tour 4PM); Adults $7, Children (ages 6-18) $5, Children (ages 5 and under) Free

Afternoon


By now, the tweens need feeding again, the adults are ready for a rest and all parties are anticipating more fun in the sun. Continue your Palm Beach family travel adventures with a terrific compromise: Rapids Water Park in Riviera Beach. The Rapids, as it's locally known, is an aquatic amusement park and beach in one, with wild rides and slides (Tubin' Tornadoes, Ragin' Rapids and Body Blasters to name a few), as well as calmer waters (the Tadpool and Lazy River). Mom and dad can claim some shade and beach chairs while the tweens tube through tunnels and plunge down steep water chutes. Younger children will enjoy playing in the sand and wading pools, too. The food here is not fancy, just the classic beach snacks: burgers, hot dogs, chicken, nachos, ice cream and sno-cones.

Insider Tip:Check the website for discount coupons. Also, keep in mind that many rides have height and/or weight restrictions.

Rapids Water Park, 6566 N Military Trl, Riviera Beach, FL 33407; 561-842-8756; June 1 through Labor Day weekend open daily 10AM-5PM, After Labor Day weekend-Mid October open weekends 10AM-5PM, Late March-Mid April open daily 10AM-5PM, Late April-Late May open weekends 10AM-5PM (call to verify; dates change each year); Mon-Fri $32.95 per person (plus tax), Sat-Sun $35.95 per person (plus tax), Children 2 and under are free, Group rates are available; Parking $10 per car

Evening


After having your fill of fun and sun, get back on the road and get ready for some evening entertainment, a game at Jupiter's Roger Dean Stadium. You'll find plenty of fun things to do at this Palm Beach sporting venue, whether it's watching a Florida Marlins or St. Louis Cardinals spring training game, catching a match-up featuring the Jupiter Hammerheads or Palm Beach Cardinals, or donning foam fingers and indulging in cotton candy.

The intimate size of the stadium (it accommodates 7,000 fans) ensures a great view from nearly every section, comfortable seating and time for meet-and-greets with the players themselves. There are online specials for tickets, concessions and souvenirs in conjunction with daily fan-friendly themes. The stadium also hosts concerts, pregame fireworks and Team One Baseball (a retired major league alumni players' league).

The Hammmerheads and Palm Beach Cardinals generally use the stadium from April through the first week of September, while the Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals work out from March through mid-April. Afternoon games typically start at 1:05PM and evening games at 7:05PM. The stadium is conveniently located in the heart of Abacoa's shopping, dining and residential district.

Jupiter's Roger Dean Stadium, 4751 Main St, Jupiter, FL 33458; 561-775-1818; Times and prices vary according to event

If you could keep your tweens from supping on sodas, hot dogs and ice cream at the game, head across the street to JJ Muggs Stadium Grill for a real dinner and some quality entertainment. Sit outside and enjoy live music from the park (regular concerts range from swing to jazz to rock and roll), or if you get really lucky, a view of the monthly classic car show. If you opt to eat indoors, you'll find there are big, comfortable booths, a game room and televisions tuned to sports. The menu is typical of what you would find at most sports bars in Palm Beach, but with tweens to please this is a definite plus. Kid-friendly finger foods include wings, burgers, sandwiches, cheese steaks and pizza, while parent-pleasing plates feature entree-size salads, sushi-grade seared tuna, chicken egg rolls, fish and steak. Prices are generally in the $6-$20 range, and you don't have to worry if the game goes into extra innings – the restaurant is open until midnight Sunday through Thursday, and until 2AM Friday and Saturday.

Insider Tip: Kids eat free on Mondays, and there are plenty of specials on the website.

JJ Muggs Stadium Grill, 1203 Town Center Dr, Abacoa/Jupiter, FL 33458; 561-630-9669; Open daily 11AM-2AM

By now, those tweens of yours should be satisfied and exhausted. They probably haven't even looked at their iPad, iPhone, MP3 or EVO, let alone texted "I'm soooooooooooo bored!" to their friends. There are many other things to do in Palm Beach during family travel excursions that didn't make it to this list. Do a bit of planning on your own and you'll be able to keep the tweens entertained for at least a few more days!
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