• Photo: Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

West Palm Beach

Long considered Palm Beach’s less privileged stepsister, West Palm Beach has come into its own over the past 35 years, and just in this millennium the $30 million Centennial Square waterfront complex at the eastern end of Clematis Street, with piers, a pavilion, and an amphitheater, has transformed West Palm into an attractive, easy-to-walk downtown area—not to mention there’s the Downtown Trolley that connects the shopping-and-entertainment mecca CityPlace with restaurant-and-lounge-lined Clematis Street. The recently opened Palm Beach Outlet Mall gives options to those looking for tony bargains. West Palm is especially well regarded for its arts scene, with unique museums and performance venues; a number of public art projects have appeared around the city. New attractions, such as the Manatee Lagoon, where the gentle sea creatures are visible up close in winter by the dozens, and a new stadium and sports complex for spring-training games, offer families many options while vacationing.

The city's outskirts, vast flat stretches with strip malls and car dealerships, may not inspire, but are worth driving through to reach attractions scattered around the southern and western reaches. Several sites are especially rewarding for children and other animal and nature lovers.

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