Looking for the best cheap or free things to do in Palm Beach County? As locals, we can help you out!
Back in 2020 at the height of the pandemic, we picked up and moved across the country to South Florida. With normal life a little chaotic, we decided to explore our new home in Palm Beach County and discover all of the great things to do in the area.
If you’re not super familiar with the area, Palm Beach County consists of cities like West Palm Beach, Jupiter, Palm Beach Gardens, Boca Raton, Delray Beach and Boynton Beach. It borders Broward County to the south where Fort Lauderdale and Hollywood Beach are located.
Cheap And Free Things To Do In Palm Beach County: West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is the biggest city in Palm Beach County with some of our favorite cheap and free things to do like visiting The Church of Bethesda-By-The Sea, the Manatee Lagoon, Hog Hammock Trail, and the Equestrian Winter Festival.
West Palm Beach is located in the middle of the county in between Riviera Beach and Lake Worth, and just west of the Palm Beach island. Downtown is a cute area with lots of shops and one of our favorite healthy restaurants.
1. The Church Of Bethesda-By-The Sea
The Church of Bethesda-By-The Sea is one of the most beautiful European style churches that we’ve seen in the United States and it is free to walk around and go inside, with free parking along the north and south sides of the church.
The church began being built in 1925 but the church origins started in 1889. The church is located on the Palm Beach island just east of downtown West Palm Beach, and it is right next door to the famous Breakers of Palm Beach.
2. Manatee Lagoon
During the winter months on especially cold days (at least cold for Florida), manatees come to this lagoon because of the warm waters produced by the power plant next door.
It is one of the best free things to do in Palm Beach County but you do have to get lucky with a cold and sunny day to have a chance to see any manatees.
The Lagoon is located in between Riviera Beach and West Palm Beach along the inlet, just south of where Peanut Island is located. They have free parking but it will fill fast if there are a lot of manatees out.
3. Peanut Island & Municipal Beach
If you are staying on the island in West Palm Beach you can easily access the beach but if you are driving you will have to pay to park here (keep reading for other close by beaches that have free parking). A lot of the beaches here are private for hotels or residences, but Municipal Beach is one of the public beach options on the island.
Peanut Island is a popular little island in the inlet in between North Palm Beach and West Palm Beach. To get to Peanut Island you can rent paddle boards and kayaks, or you can take the shuttle boat for $16 roundtrip. The island has beaches, snorkeling spots, trails, and a bunker used by JFK.
4. Equestrian Winter Festival
Every year this horse competition takes place a little southwest of West Palm Beach at the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center.
The event is one of the best free things to do in Palm Beach County and they even have extra special events on the weekends.
The Winter Festival is one of the largest events in the area and it is the longest running equestrian event in the world. The event is usually held between the months of January and April and it lasts for about 12 weeks.
5. Hog Hammock Trail
If you have bikes with you (you can also just hike), the Hog Hammock Trail is a fun trail with more of a forest landscape than typical tropical Florida. It is completely free and we loved going about an hour or so before sundown to see lots of animal activity.
The trail is 4.1 miles out and back, and it has an easy difficulty rating (pretty much all of the trails in Florida are completely flat with an easy difficulty).
You can find the AllTrails map and description here; we rode our bikes all the way out onto the Promontory Trail and it took us about 30 to 45 minutes with some stopping.
6. Sandi The Christmas Tree
Every year at Christmas time, Sandi The Christmas Tree is build in downtown West Palm Beach. Sandi is a 35 foot tall, 700 ton tree made out of sand and although parking is not free in this area, the tree and other festive activities are free.
Each year the tree is first lit by the beginning of December lasting through New Years Eve, and each night there is a music and light show that runs every 15 minutes from around 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm.
Other holiday activities here include more sand sculptures, themed mini golf, story time, movie night, a music show and Santa sightings.
7. Grassy Waters Preserve
This park is a great way to see the everglades without driving all the way down to Fort Lauderdale or Miami. It is free to walk out on the boardwalk that takes you over the everglades and only takes about 20 minutes to go down and back.
The Cypress Boardwalk Trail is only 0.9 miles down and back, and you can find the AllTrails map and description here. The park technically has a West Palm Beach address but it is straight west of Palm Beach Gardens.
8. Lion Country Safari
One of the more expensive activities on our list in West Palm Beach, Lion Country Safari is a drive thru and walk through zoo with kid rides and a mini water park. You get to see a lot of animals right outside your car but your windows must stay up and the lions and monkeys do not roam free around your car.
The least busy time to go is during the summer, early in the morning and on a weekday. Normal ticket prices are $30-39 (plus fees and tax) but they do have a “Summer Savings Pass” that includes unlimited visits in the summer to Lion Country Safari, Zoo Miami and Miami Seaquarium for $60 (plus tax).
The Safari park is located in Loxahatchee, about 40 minutes west of West Palm Beach. There are some stores and restaurants nearby in Wellington, but we’d suggest bringing your own healthy and allergy friendly food to the park.
9. Mounts Botanical Garden
This garden is right next to the West Palm Beach airport and although it is not the best garden we’ve ever seen, it is a nice little piece of nature right in the middle of the city. The cost is $12 but sometimes you can find a coupon in the brochure section at hotels.
The garden is 16 acres and has over 6,000 species of plants. You shouldn’t need much more than an hour to explore the garden and they do have a self guided tour you can download from your phone.
Cheap And Free Things To Do In Palm Beach County: Jupiter
Jupiter is one of the most popular cities in Palm Beach County and one of the best places to go to the beach with completely free parking. It is the northernmost city in the county, in between Tequesta, Juno Beach and Palm Beach Gardens.
It used to be an old fishing town but it has turned into a popular and beautiful tourist destination. Our favorite area to spend time outside is the Jupiter Inlet and Jetty where you can watch the boats go in and out, watch people fish or lay out at the beach.
10. Snorkeling At Cato’s Bridge
Cato’s Bridge is kind of a secret local spot under a bridge in Jupiter, but the water is generally crystal clear blue and the sea life is pretty abundant here.
This is one of our favorite free things to do in Palm Beach County, but you do need to have your own snorkeling equipment here (TUSA is our favorite mask).
You want to be there to snorkel at high tide but you do have to go early because it can get very busy and there’s not a lot of parking right at the bridge (there is more parking a little further west on S Beach Rd). The current can be a bit stronger here so it is best for confident swimmers and a good idea to use flippers.
11. Loggerhead Marinelife Center
The Loggerhead center for sea turtle rehabilitation and conservation is free to visit but they also have paid tour options and a gift shop to support them. Currently they do not have turtle patients but they keep things updated on their website.
The center is located in Juno Beach, in between the towns of Jupiter and North Palm Beach. It is right across the street from the beach and about 2 minutes away from the Juno Beach Pier and the Dog Beach.
12. Sea Turtle Hunting
At night from May to October, sea turtles go up onto the beach to lay eggs and then return back to the water. Just north of the Juno Beach Pier you can park along the road for free at night and head out onto the beach to see if you can spot any turtles.
A few things to know: you can’t touch or walk towards the turtles (if they come near you that’s okay), you can’t have any bright lights (it disrupts their process of laying eggs) so you must use a red flashlight to search and you have to be patient to maybe or maybe not see any turtles.
13. Free Beaches in Jupiter
Jupiter and Juno Beach are filled with great beaches that all have free parking. The Jetty is one of our favorites to go to and watch the boats go in and out (there are also little inlet beaches here with no waves for kids or those that don’t like rough waters).
You can also walk across the bridge to DuBois Park and see the DuBois Pioneer Home that was built in 1898. It gets pretty busy during the weekends especially during the Winter and Spring seasons and they will close off the parking once it gets full.
We also love to go to the Dog Beach just up from the Juno Beach Pier to watch the dogs play and for the powerful beach shower they have here. There is free street parking all along Ocean Boulevard or you can park at Ocean Cay Park where they have an open grass field, sand volleyball courts, bathrooms, showers and pavilions.
Blowing Rocks Preserve is another cool place to watch the water crash against the rocks but they are only open between 9:00 am and 4:30 pm.
Coral Cove Park is just south of the preserve so you could walk up to Blowing Rocks but we don’t recommend getting in the water here because of the higher number of bull sharks.
Both parks are located on the island in Jupiter and the bridge you have to cross to get there is Cato’s Bridge. Both spots do have free but limited parking.
A few other good beach options in the area include Juno Beach Pier, Carlin Park and Dubois Park. Generally the water is very pretty but know that during summer the seaweed starts showing up and it is very smelly and everywhere.
14. Riverbend Park
Riverbend is a huge free park in northwest Jupiter with hiking trails, 1838 historical battlefields, horse trails, biking and bike rentals, kayaking and kayak rentals, a 1930 Sawmill, and plenty of picnicking areas.
The Loxahatchee River runs through the park with over 600 acres of tropical landscape. Aside from Bolay, Chipotle or Blaze Pizza, there aren’t a ton of healthy or allergy friendly choices close by so bringing your own food to have a picnic might be a great idea.
There are a lot of trails that criss cross and aren’t necessarily the clearest on where to go, but it is really easy to just wander around. The Riverbend Loop trail is one of the only ones listed on AllTrails but you can check it out to see the area.
15. Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse & Museum
The lighthouse is the symbol that represents the town of Jupiter and it is a top attraction in this town. Along with visiting the museum and getting some great views of the inlet, you can also go inside of the 1860 lighthouse all the way up to the top.
The cost to visit the lighthouse is $12 but they do have some discounts for veterans, active military, seniors and children. It is located on the north side of the inlet just below S Beach Rd and Cato’s Bridge.
16. Juno Dunes Natural Area
Juno Dunes is located just across the street from the beach and is a beautiful, free nature spot to explore. The Loggerhead Marinelife Center, Juno Beach Pier and Dog Beach are within a one to two minutes drive from the park.
There are miles of trails, an observation deck, a boardwalk, boat docks and kayak access at the park. There isn’t a ton of shade here so be sure to wear some healthy, nontoxic sunscreen.
The AllTrails site only gives one trail option for this area but there are multiple trails you can take. We took the southern part of the loop all the way towards the inlet up to the overlook and boat docks and then returned the same way.
17. Holiday Boat Parade
This is a fun, free parade to watch in early December where decorated boats cruise the inlet and compete for the best decorated award. Each boat is owned and decorated by individuals or companies, and the first boat continuously sets of fireworks as it makes its way up the inlet.
Some good viewing locations for the parade include North Palm Beach Country Club, Harbourside Place, Jupiter Riverwalk, Sawfish Bay Park, Inlet Village, and Lagoon Bridge. Trying to find parking can be pretty difficult so it’s best to go early, and bring chairs because there is no seating.
18. Busch Wildlife Sanctuary
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary is a free little zoo in northwest Jupiter with only injured or rehabilitated animals. Their mission is to rescue, rehab, release and educate.
They have over a dozen permanent residents (animals too injured to return to the wild) and they also have a number of weekly presentations and activities.
They are currently in the process of building and moving to a bigger location, but they remain open Monday through Saturday. The Sanctuary has over 6 acres of trails and boardwalks which should take about an hour or two to explore.
19. Jupiter Dunes Golf Club
Jupiter Dunes Golf Club is a fun little par 3 course across the street from the beach, just south of the Jetty in Jupiter. As long as it’s not super packed with people, the 18 hole course should only take about two and a half hours to play.
Prices depend on the season and time of day but during the summer you can find tee times for under $40. You can get a slightly cheaper price if you walk and carry your bag instead of riding in a cart.
Cheap And Free Things To Do In Palm Beach County: Boca Raton, Delray & Boynton Beach
The closer you get to Fort Lauderdale and Miami, the more expensive things start to get but there are still some things you can do on the cheaper side. In order of direction it goes Boynton Beach, Delray Beach and Boca Raton as the furthest south in the county.
Of these three we like Boca Raton the best because it is a very nice, clean and well manicured area. The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center, Spanish River Park and Red Reef Park are the best things to do by the beach.
20. Beaches in Boca, Delray & Boynton
Starting in Delray Beach and going south, none of the beaches have free parking. Hourly parking is usually between $1.50 to $3.00 an hour and daily rates at parks are usually between $15 and $25.
Our favorite beach to go to down this way is Deerfield Beach because it feels a lot like a California beach town with the pier, shops, restaurants and beach activities. It is technically in Broward County but it is just south of Boca Raton.
Some other good beaches to visit in these areas are Gulfstream Park Beach, Delray Public Beach, Atlantic Dunes Park, Spanish River Park, Red Reef Park, and South Inlet Park.
21. Red Reef Park Executive Golf Course
Red Reef Park Executive Golf Course is a fun little 9 hole course in between the ocean and the inlet in Boca Raton. Prices depend on the season but during the summer you can find tee times for as low as $15.
They do offer club rentals if you don’t have any golf clubs with you and the fairly short holes only range from 64 to 227 yards. When booking your tee time you can select just 9 holes or play twice with 18 holes.
22. Morikami Museum And Japanese Gardens
Morikami is a huge outdoor natural area with a long history of Japanese culture in the area. They have a mile long path through various gardens, the Yamato-Kan museum, a Bonsai Tree exhibit, a cafe, Japanese Tea Ceremonies, rotating exhibits, and a museum store.
The admission cost is $15 with discounts for seniors, military, college students and children, and sometimes you can find coupons to Morikami in the brochure section at hotels. The Gardens are located inland in Delray Beach just north of Boca Raton.
23. John Prince Park
John Prince Park is technically in the city of Lakeworth but it is located just north of Boynton Beach. The area surrounding the park is not the nicest or safest but the park itself is nice and huge.
The park is a very popular place to spend the weekend and one of the best free things to do in Palm Beach County.
This huge county park has lots of things like campgrounds, ballfields, trails, a dog park, playgrounds, open fields and a golf center. You can see the Multiuse Trail from AllTrails here.
24. Pickup Futbol / Soccer
For a place to play free pickup soccer you can check out Pickup Futbol/Soccer Palm Beach County. They usually play in Boynton Beach, Lakeworth or Palm Springs but be sure to RSVP early because they only have enough room for 20 players.
This is the only open and free option for pickup, so this is one of my favorite free things to do in Palm Beach County. They are open to beginners so if you’re still learning soccer, you can still join this group.
Cheap And Free Things To Do In Palm Beach County: North Palm Beach & Palm Beach Gardens
Palm Beach Gardens is one of the top golf cities in the area because of the famous PGA National resort and golf courses. It is located west of Juno Beach and North Palm Beach, and south of Jupiter.
North Palm Beach is a smaller city with one of the nicest neighborhoods in the area and two great parks: Anchorage Park and John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. Our favorite thing to do in this area, at Phil Foster Park, is technically in Riviera Beach (just south of North Palm) but it honestly has some of the worlds best snorkeling.
25. Snorkeling At Phil Foster Park
One of the best free snorkeling things to do in Palm Beach County is at Phil Foster Park just south of North Palm Beach. It is completely free but you do need to bring your own snorkeling equipment.
The best experience is on a sunny day at high tide, if it’s rained recently the water won’t be as clear, but you must go early before parking fills and the police close it off.
After just three visits to this park we’ve seen all kinds of sea life like moray eels, starfish, pufferfish, grouper, yellow spotted stingray, roughtail stingray, barracuda, and tons of different fish species.
26. Snorkeling At Ocean Reef Park
Ocean Reef Park is our favorite beach to go to out on Singer Island and we love to snorkel here at high tide. It is surrounded by residences and hotels but you can park for free at the park which has pavilions, bathrooms, showers and a playground.
There are some rocky areas just off the beach where sea life loves to hang out when the tide is high. We’ve seen manatees, sea turtles, lots of fish and just missed seeing an octopus here. Everything is free but again you need to have your own snorkeling equipment.
27. See Iguanas At Anchorage Park
On warm sunny days you should be able to find plenty of iguanas around Palm Beach County but a sure place to find them is at Anchorage Park and it is free to visit. It is located in North Palm Beach along one of the inland inlet rivers.
The park also has a playground, tennis courts, a dog park, a baseball field, sand volleyball, an open field and boat docks. The trees along the south side of the park are generally where the iguanas live but they will come down to the grass or sidewalk when it is hot and sunny.
28. Golfing In Palm Beach Gardens & North Palm Beach
One of the most expensive things to do on our list, golfing or watching golf is one of the most popular activities in Palm Beach Gardens. Every year the Honda Classic Golf Tournament is played at PGA National in west Palm Beach Gardens, and the cheapest tickets you can find are for grounds tickets around $60.
Although you have to be a member or staying at the resort or nearby hotel, one of the cheapest courses to play inside of PGA National is the new 9 hole course The Staple at just under $65. Green fees at the other courses are quite high (above $300) but if you are staying at the resort you can find deals starting in the mid $200s per night including a round of golf.
Another popular course in the area is North Palm Country Club. Their average prices for weekday tee times are around $130, but during the summer you can get tee times between $45 to $75. They also have a healthy and allergy friendly restaurant at the country club called Farmer’s Table.
This is one location where you can watch the Holiday Boat Parade and they also do a 4th of July all day event with fireworks at the end of the night.
29. John D. MacArthur Beach State Park
The best park you can visit in the North Palm Beach area is John D. MacArthur Beach State Park. It’s a beautiful tropical spot that feels like a remote jungle even though you’re right there next to the city.
This is a state park so there is a $5 vehicle cost to enter. There’s also kayak rentals, a boardwalk, trails, a nature center, and a beach. The park is located out on Singer Island, just a little north of Ocean Reef Park.
A Few Other Cheap And Free Things To Do In Palm Beach County
These are a few other things to do in the area that we haven’t had the chance to do or might cost a little more like shopping or the Wildlife Sanctuary. We haven’t had the chance to visit but the Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is one of the most popular things to in the Boca Raton area and it is free to visit (they do have a suggested donation).
30. The Gardens GreenMarket
The Gardens GreenMarket is a farmers market held every Sunday from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm in the parking lot near the Palm Beach Gardens Police Department. It isn’t the largest farmers market but they have some good stuff like our favorite olive oil.
31. McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary
McCarthy’s is a sanctuary for over 170 animals but you can only visit it on a guided tour. The cost is $40 for adults and $30 for kids. The sanctuary is located a little northwest of downtown West Palm Beach, not too far from Grassy Waters Preserve and Hog Hammock Trail.
Abacoa is a cute residential area with hotels, a Main Street with shops and restaurants, golf courses and Baseball Spring training for the Miami Marlins and the St Louis Cardinals. It is located in south Jupiter just a little north of the Palm Beach Gardens mall.
33. Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society
The Palm Beach Zoo is home to over 190 species, many rare and endangered. Tickets are $25 but they have discounts for seniors, children and toddlers. It is located south of downtown West Palm Beach very close to the Palm Beach International Airport.
34. Gumbo Limbo Nature Center
The Gumbo Limbo Center is located in Boca Raton in between the ocean and the inlet. It is free to visit and they have free parking but they do suggest donations.
Some of the things you can do here include visiting the Butterfly Garden, the Boardwalk Trail, the Nature Center, the Outdoor Marine Aquariums and a Sea Turtle Rehabilitation Facility.
35. Shopping or Walking Around
For a little break from the outdoors, there are tons of nice places to shop, walk around or find a restaurant within Palm Beach County. Some of the most popular areas are The Gardens Mall, Abacoa, downtown West Palm Beach, Palm Beach Outlets, downtown Delray Beach, and the Town Center at Boca Raton.
What is Palm Beach County Known For?
Palm Beach County is best known for golf, fishing, the beach and the home or vacation spot of billionaires. Although there are plenty of pricey activities to participate in here, Palm Beach County still has loads of cheap and free things to do and it is one of the only counties in South Florida with a majority of free beach parking.
Is West Palm Beach Worth Visiting?
West Palm Beach is a lovely city in Palm Beach County and it is definitely worth a visit. It is one of the wealthiest cities in Florida so it is very well manicured, and there are lots of great outdoor and active things to do.
Some of our favorite things to do in West Palm Beach are visiting the Church of Bethesda-By-The Sea, the Manatee Lagoon, Grassy Waters Preserve and of course the beach.
One of our favorite organic and healthy restaurants, Pura Vida, is in downtown West Palm Beach, and we also love the not as healthy but allergy friendly Dominican/Puerto Rican restaurant La Casa Del Mofongo a little south of downtown.
Is Jupiter Worth Visiting?
It takes a little more time and effort to reach, but the laid back, old fishing village of Jupiter is worth visiting in our opinion. Jupiter is probably the calmest of the South Florida cities, and it has some beautiful clear blue water, especially during the winter and spring months.
Where To Stay In Palm Beach County?
📍 Palm Beach County covers a pretty large area and contains a number of great cities to stay in. The three prettiest and best cities to stay in are Jupiter, downtown West Palm Beach and Boca Raton, but Palm Beach Gardens, Boynton Beach and Delray Beach also have some nice areas.
📍 Generally the closer you are to the water, the nicer but more expensive the area. If you’re looking for something a little cheaper than an oceanfront hotel but still nice and safe, check areas like Abacoa, the Palm Beach Gardens mall, North Palm Beach, downtown Delray Beach and the majority of Jupiter or Boca Raton.
🚫📍 Some of the areas you’ll definitely want to avoid staying in are Riviera Beach, Lake Worth and some inland areas of Boynton Beach. These areas are not very nice or pretty, and there is a lot more crime in these areas.
From West Palm Beach, you can also easily hop on one of the trains down to Miami or Fort Lauderdale to spend the day. Starting sometime next year, you’ll also be able to get the train up to Orlando to easily visit Disney World and Universal Studios.
Does It Rain A Lot In Palm Beach County Florida?
Palm Beach County gets a decent amount of rain but it does depend on the season that you visit. Besides hurricanes, when it does rain it usually doesn’t last for very long so you should be able to continue with your activities if you do get caught in a storm.
☃️ Winter in South Florida is the most popular time to visit for the best weather but it is also the most expensive season. Temperatures are fairly steady in the 70s and it has the least average amount of rain for the entire year.
🌸 Spring is fairly similar to Winter in popularity and price, but the temperatures usually start to warm up a bit into the 80s. A lot of Northerners start returning home but spring breakers do come down through March and April, although cities further south like Fort Lauderdale and Miami get the worst of it.
😎 The cheapest seasons to visit South Florida are Summer and Fall but the weather is kind of all over the place during these months. On average it rains up to 14 days per month, temperatures don’t go lower than the 80s and 90s with humidity averaging 70% (July and August are the hottest) and hurricanes can happen anywhere from May to November.
Average rain days start going down by November and prices are still fairly cheap (except for Thanksgiving), but strong hurricanes can still happen at this time.
*⛈🚗 If you are driving in Florida and it does start raining, by law you must turn on your headlights. It is also a good idea to drive a little slower, drivers in Florida are already terrible and when it rains it’s really hard to see and it can flood pretty easily.
Where To Eat In Palm Beach County?
Palm Beach County is a pretty decent place to find organic, healthy or allergy friendly food that is tasty and delicious. You can check our post on Healthy & Allergy Friendly Restaurants Around the World for a full list of places in Palm Beach County, but these are a few of our favorites in the area:
➡️ Pura Vida ~ delicious local & organic food with options for all allergies and only use EVOO. Our favorite is the kids gluten free burrito, minus the cheese, plus avocado!
➡️ Bolay ~ 100% gluten free chipotle style bowls with options for all allergies.
➡️ La Casa Del Mofongo ~ not the healthiest but naturally allergy friendly Dominican/Puerto Rican mofongo that is delicious.
➡️ Christopher’s Kitchen ~ organic, 100% plant based, friendly for all allergies and only use organic olive oil.
➡️ Hog Snappers ~ very popular fish spot in Jupiter that is conscious and helpful about allergies.
Wrap Up: Cheap And Free Things To Do In Palm Beach County
Although it’s known as Florida’s billionaire hub, Palm Beach County still has tons of things you can do for free or fairly cheap on your next trip. Some of our favorites that we think you shouldn’t miss are the Manatee Lagoon (during winter), The Church of Bethesda-By-The Sea, Snorkeling at Phil Foster Park and visiting any of the beautiful parks around the county!