Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

10 Experiences You Have to Have in Palm Beach in the Winter

Student Work Insider Guides
by Marissa Pedersen Mar 16, 2016

1. Find creative art in the most unexpected of places.

Every February, you can see artists come from all over the world to paint any area that’s empty, including alleys and parking lot walls, in its Street Art festival. It’s amazing and terrifying at the same time to watch them hang from ladders painting 20 feet up. Half the fun is trying to figure out what they’re painting when they first start.

2. Eat on the site of Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffett’s “It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere” music video.

This is my favorite bar in my town of #JupiterFlorida #squaregroupertikibar

A photo posted by Diana Sweeten Jupiter, FL🌴 (@dianasweeten) on

Due to the warm, breezy weather year-round, a majority of the restaurants are open-air, or even sans walls. The lively Square Grouper is no exception. You’ll want to grab a table in the sand early to get a spot for the live music and a cold beer at night. Sitting underneath the palm trees and feeling the cool breeze from the water, you’ll think you’re on a tropical island as the music plays. Everyone is happy, laid-back, and always willing to make room for more at their table.

3. Swim enjoying the warmth of the Gulf Stream.

It’s hard to find many places in the United States where you can fully submerge in the water in December without feeling cold. The Gulf Stream flows right through the Palm Beach area, warming up the water to the point that you won’t need a wetsuit. It also has one of the most diverse variety of marine life in the world, making it a choice place to snorkel or scuba dive.

4. Food mixed with paddleboarding = win-win.

What’s better than paddleboarding in the warm waters of the Gulf Stream? Eating and drinking your way along the water while doing it. Blueline Paddle has friendly guides that lead you around the Gulf and give you an informative tour of the Jupiter area. You might feel unsteady when the large fishing boats pass by, but the staff gives helpful tips for staying afloat. You’ll want to head to Guanabanas after you’re done to rest your tired body in one of its tropical-colored wooden chairs overlooking the water. That cold strawberry margarita will taste so refreshing after a long day on the water.

5. Hang out with alligators in the Everglades.

The Everglades take up 1.5 million acres within Florida. Within an hour from Palm Beach, you can be in the wetlands, seeing birds, iguanas, and alligators. Waking up early to go at sunrise is worth the sleep deprivation. It’s a feeling like none other to see the sun come up as iguanas are just waking up from their bed in the bushes with birds all around them. Seeing your first alligator will make your heart beat fast until you realize it has no interest in coming after you. If you’re really lucky, you might see a Florida panther or endangered leatherback turtle.

6. Check out the Sandi Tree.

Instead of a traditional green tree, Downtown West Palm Beach creates a 35-foot “tree” made out of sand. Appropriately named “Sandi Tree,” it gets decorated with lights every holiday season and a huge tree-lighting ceremony takes place. The ceremony brings out everyone in the town, decked out in Christmas gear, and singing carols. There’s so much holiday spirit going on that you’ll probably forget you’re on the beach in 80-degree weather. Smaller sand castles can also be seen along the water, and music and light shows take place every night during the holiday season.

7. Get educated at the Loggerhead Marine Center.

Thousands of tourists flock to the beaches in the spring when the baby turtles hatch, but many don’t think beyond that. What about the hundreds that get injured due to fights with other turtles or harsh elements? The Loggerhead Marine Center works to rescue these turtles and nurse them back to life in its on-site hospital. Being able to walk right up to the little pools the recovering loggerheads are in and have them look you in the eye will have you rooting for their fast recovery.

8. Take in the Winter Equestrian Festival.

Some of the world’s greatest riders and their horses come to Palm Beach in the winter for this international festival. It is the largest and longest-running horse show in the world. When you need a break from watching the competition, you can participate in culinary tastings, or get cozy with a glass of Merlot at the wine bar.

9. Kick back and watch the Palm Beach Holiday Boat Parade.

Merry Christmas – #palmbeachboatparade #palmbeach #xmas #boating #flxmas #nosnow #saltlife #sfl

A photo posted by racepilot (@racepilot) on

This annual boat parade is an eagerly anticipated event for locals and tourists. Boat owners dress up their vessels in holiday lights, and then join a flotilla of other brightly colored boats to float along Delray Beach. You’ll want to bring your own chair to be right on the water when the boats start going by with holiday music blasting loudly from their speakers. The fireworks will make you feel like you’re at the 4th of July until you see Santa making his appearance.

10. Play golf at one of more than 160 world-class golf courses.

Five of Florida’s top courses are found at the PGA National Resort, making it a popular location for tournaments. If you really feel like challenging your skills, sign up to play on The Champion course. It’s home to the infamous Bear Trap, the hardest three-hole stretch on the entire PGA Tour. After spending all day walking around in the sun, you’ll want to come indoors to rest your tired, grass-stained feet at the iBAR. Happy hour is the best time to go, when it’s only $3 for a cold draft beer and you can order the Cuban nachos to satisfy that appetite you created while golfing.

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