West Palm Beach has a longer history than its neighbors. On November 5, 1894, the Town of West Palm Beach was incorporated in Dade County, making it the first incorporated area in South Florida. When Palm Beach County was established in 1909, West Palm Beach became the county seat.
A hurricane and the Depression took their toll on the area in the late 1920s and early 1930s, but an influx of service members that came with the building of Palm Beach Air Force Base helped the city recover. Today, its population numbers over 110,000, making it the 20th largest city in Florida.
With its larger population comes bigger events and a wider variety of things to do. Sunfest, held in West Palm Beach in April or May each year, is Florida’s largest waterfront music festival. The Kravis Center for the Performing Arts downtown provides Broadway-quality entertainment to audiences and performing arts education to students.
For animal lovers, the Palm Beach Zoo houses over 550 animals, many of which are endangered. McCarthy’s Wildlife Sanctuary brings visitors up close and personal with a wide range of rescued animals over eight acres surrounded by botanical gardens. For a free animal encounter, you can visit Manatee Lagoon, a museum and manatee viewing deck provided by Florida Power and Light.
Those who appreciate art can enjoy over 7,600 works at the Norton Museum of Art, ranging from Chinese and European work to contemporary pieces and photography. Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens brings the art outside with two acres of large pieces by this mid- to late-century sculptor.
Historic Clematis Street in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach is a great place to walk and take in the sights. Be sure to stop into one of the many restaurants or bars along the way for a bite to eat or a drink. Over the holidays, the area is decorated for Christmas, including Sandy the Tree at the end of the street.
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