Living in a diverse vacation destination like Palm Beach County, sometimes we feel like there is never a reason to leave. We’re surrounded with championship golf courses, unspoiled beaches, world-class sportfishing, nature trails, fine dining, laid back tiki bars, and chic boutiques. If you love to explore, however, you’ll also be delighted to hear that there are many easy weekend or day trips worth experiencing throughout the sunshine state of Florida (OUTSIDE of Palm Beach County!). With one trip for every month of the year, your wanderlust is sure to be satisfied!
January – Historic Redland Tropical Trail
Redland got its name for the same reason it’s worth visiting- sprawling strawberry fields. Located about an hour south of Miami, you haven’t known a true farm stand until you have visited this place. Robert is Here Fruit Stand is famous for the best tropical smoothies and key lime milkshakes in Florida. Redland is also home to Knaus Berry Farm, where from November through April (it’s closed the rest of the year) visitors flock from all over to pick their own strawberries, mangoes, and avocados. Not to mention- they bake the best cinnamon rolls in the entire world. Wine tasting tours are also offered at Schnebly Redland's Winery, which specializes fruit-based wines, check out Homestead’s NASCAR speedway, or take an airboat ride through an alligator farm.
February – Everglades National State Park
The Everglades is an expansive area of land in South Florida, which consists of 1.5 million acres of wetland. Plan ahead to decide which one of the three different areas of south Florida you choose to access the Everglades from. A wide range of activities include a short walk on the Anhinga Trail to spot abundant wildlife--turtles, herons and alligators, climbing atop Shark Valley's 65-foot observation tower, gliding over Florida Bay by tour boat or kayak, or watching the sunset over Flamingo, the southernmost point in mainland Florida. The best time to visit is from November to March. Wildlife viewing is best in winter too. If you can't drive the 38 miles to Flamingo, you can still get a nice taste of the Everglades on the trails at the Royal Palm Visitor Center, just four miles into the Park.
The primary reason tourists visit the Florida Keys is to snorkel or dive the coral reef, and John Pennekamp is one of the best locations to do so. Snorkel for the quick 2.5 hour tour, get your scuba certification near the famous Christ of the Abyss Statue, or head out on the Spirit of Pennekamp 65-foot glass bottom boat tour to view stunning reef life in the comfort of a dry boat.
April – Butterfly World
Housing over 20,000 butterflies, Butterfly World in Coconut Creek is the largest butterfly garden in the world. Waterfalls, botanical gardens, and exotic flowers accent butterflies and exotic birds in the 6 free-flight aviaries. You can even hand feed the lorikeet birds with little cups of nectar!
Not only is Islamorada’s swordfishery one of the best in the world, but Florida Keys locals at Bud N’ Mary’s marina, the Stanczyk family, basically invented daytime swordfishing. While May through November are the most consistent months, the fleet of charter fisherman in the keys catch swordfish year-round. Catching a swordfish is a huge “bucket list” fish in the fishing community. If you are up for a different type of fishing and want to try to catch the fish of a lifetime you should give swordfishing a try! Captain Nick Stanczyk is usually booked far in advance, but he has recently expanded his fleet. Call Bud N’ Mary’s ahead of time about pricing and availability at 305-644-2461.
June – The Dry Tortugas
A series of 70 islands between Key West and Cuba, Dry Tortugas ends with an isolated island and a structure you wouldn’t expect to see in such a secluded natural setting – a U.S. fort named after Thomas Jefferson. There is no road to Dry Tortugas, so you must charter a seaplane or take the ferry from Key West, and be prepared for anything since there are no convenience stores on the island. The hexagon-shaped fort was built in 1845 and offers historic tours, while the perimeter of the island is host to gorgeously unspoiled crystal blue water and marine life to swim and snorkel around.
July- Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is where rockets launch Florida’s gateway to space began. As the birthplace of America’s space program, daily tours are given by astronaut Barbara Morgan of the Space Shuttle Atlantis, and you can “blast off” on the Shuttle Launch Experience. You can go behind the gates to historic launch sites and working spaceflight facilities, witness the size and scale of the Saturn V moon rocket, and feel the emotion of the Apollo era with a captivating collection of experiences.
August – Devil’s Den
Florida’s pre-historic spring, “Devil’s Den” is only open to snorkelers and scuba divers, and consists of erie yet mystically beautiful natural wonder. Many fossils dating back to the Pleistocene Age were found in this mysterious cave, and ancient rock formations with stalactities date back 33 million years. On cold winter mornings you can see steam, like smoke, rising from the chimney opening. Thus, the early settlers gave the name Devil's Den. With crystal clear water, year round 72 degree water temperatures, and unique surroundings, prepare to be tempted to take one million photos.
September – Key West
Key West is best visited during the cooler months of the year, but the sunset views and experiences are spectacular year-round. There is literally nowhere on earth like Key West, and there’s no way to explain it unless you’ve been there. The last key in the chain of the islands known as the Florida Keys, Key West can be seen as a romantic tropical getaway, as the quirky home of Ernest Hemingway, or as what it really is – both! The street performers at Mallory Square sunsets are unforgettable. Do not miss the “cat man”! Historic tours are abundant, fishing charters, sailing charters, snorkeling, seafood, debauchery- you name it!
October – Haunted Tours of St. Augustine
Known as “The Ancient City” founded in 1585, St. Augustine is the oldest city in the United States. Ghost hunters flock to St. Augustine because they believe that many spirits who have lived and died here still haunt the cobblestone streets and historic buildings today. Take a trolley or walking tour to hear ghost stories about the old jail, Castillo de San Marcos (the fort), the Spanish Military Hospital, Huguenot Cemetery, Casablanca Inn, and the St. Augustine Lighthouse.
November – Catch a sports game in Miami
If you’re into sports and don’t mind braving the hustle and bustle of the city of Miami, you can hop on the Brightline from Jupiter and catch a sports game for just about any sport imaginable. The Miami Heat, Florida Panthers, Miami Dolphins, Miami Marlins, and Miami FC are all teams with a substantial following, but there are over 15 professional or semi-professional teams who call Miami home.
December – Edison and Ford Winter Estates
In 1885, Thomas Edison first visited Southwest Florida and purchased his estate in Fort Myers to build a vacation home. Edison and his wife, Mina, enjoyed their warm winter retreat from the cold, until Thomas Edison died and Mina deeded the estate to the City of Fort Myers. Nearly all of the furnishings in the Edison Main House and Guest House are original to the Edison family. In 1914, Henry Ford and his family visited Thomas Edison in Fort Myers and ended up purchasing the home adjacent to the Edison Estate. Besides the homes, you can explore Edison’s research laboratory and expansive garden.