Palm Beach with Kids: A Perfect Family Day
Florida has always been a popular family travel destination because of its year-round sunny weather, immaculate beaches and abundance of theme parks. If you head to Palm Beach with kids, you'll find that it is no exception. Gilded Age architecture, laid-back beaches with nary a condo in sight, and an abundance of eco-adventure parks make Palm Beach one of the best family vacation spots. But as the second largest county in the state of Florida, it can be difficult deciding where to begin exploring. If you find yourself in need of some inspiration, here's a sample of things to do in Palm Beach with kids.
Start off your day with breakfast in the Southern part of the county, where pink and red coral reefs dot the coastline of Boca Raton. I've yet to meet a child who didn't light up at the mention of a meal at Playtown Café. Though the locally owned eatery features a kid- and adult-friendly menu crafted by a professional nutritionist, the greatest appeal isn't the dining area but the imaginative "town" play area that surrounds it. After eating, kids can decorate cookies at the "bakery," join story hour at the "library," dress up at the "boutique" or create watercolor masterpieces at the "art gallery." Best of all, parents can get a much-needed morning coffee break.
19575 South State Rd. 7
Boca Raton, FL 33498
Mon-Thu 9:30AM-6PM, Fri 9:30AM-9PM, Sat 10AM-6PM, Sun 10AM-4PM
Parents and caregivers free, Kids 2+ $10, Kids under 2 $8, Siblings $5
Though the kids will undoubtedly enjoy stretching their creative muscles, it's likely you came out to Palm Beach for one main reason – the beach. And Red Reef Park Beach offers one of the best options for a Palm Beach family vacation. There are palm trees dotting the skyline instead of building developments, it's rarely ever packed and it has some of the cleanest water on the coast. Coral reefs, and the colorful fish they attract, can be found right off the shore, so it's an ideal place to teach young kids to snorkel. If they get bored of the beach, you can walk over to the Gumbo Limbo Environmental Education Center and hike through the adjacent park, where impressive tropical birds can sometimes be spotted.
Red Reef Park Beach
1400 N. State Road A-1-A
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Beach permit and parking fee Mon-Fri $16, Sat-Sun $18
Gumbo Limbo Environmental Education Center
1400 N. State Road A-1-A
Boca Raton, FL 33432
Mon-Sat 9AM-4PM, Sun 12PM-4PM
If there's any stamina left after a morning of playtime and the beach, head up towards West Palm Beach. If time allows, you may want to take the scenic route A-1-A at least part of the way. Head west for the county's most popular attraction, Lion Country Safari, a 500-acre plot where elephants, lions, rhinos, zebras, giraffes and nearly 1,000 other animals roam freely. Developed in 1967 by a group of British and South African safari-lovers, it is the country's first "cageless zoo."
After purchasing tickets, you can travel through the park in your own car at slow speeds while listening to an audio tour on CD. If you get lucky, there will be a giraffe nudging up against your window, or a zebra crossing in front of the car. Once lunchtime rolls around, there's a cafeteria with a children's menu onsite, and a picnic area, which also doubles as a good naptime spot if you brought a blanket (and don't worry – no lions here). There is also a KOA campground onsite if you want to stay overnight.
Lion Country Safari
2003 Lion Country Safari Rd
Loxahatchee, FL 33409
Regular (10-64) $25.50, Senior (65+) $22.50, Child (3-9) $18.50, Toddler (0-2) free
Dining in Palm Beach with kids certainly doesn't have to mean settling for fried chicken fingers and smiley-face pancakes. Head to the Seafood Bar at The Breakers hotel for a taste of locally caught seafood and a stunning oceanfront view. The historic hotel was built by oil and railroad tycoon Henry Flagler in 1896, and the L-shaped aquarium bar filled with small fish and coral reefs is a good distraction while waiting for dishes to arrive. Food is prepared using organic vegetables from an onsite garden, and the children's menu offers popular dishes with a healthy twist, like baked crispy chicken nuggets and creamy mac and cheese made with wholewheat pasta. After dinner, stroll the property's expansive gardens and courtyard labyrinths, or visit the 6,160 square foot Family Entertainment Center, which includes children's movie theater, high-tech arcades and playrooms.
Seafood Bar at The Breakers
1 S County Rd
Palm Beach, FL 33480