Hidden Gems in South Florida

Posted at Thu, May 4, 2023 4:15 PM

The areas around Vero Beach and West Palm Beach are a visitor’s paradise. Between beaches, galleries, shopping and nightlife, you’re almost overloaded with options.

Instead of trying to hit all the hot spots, take a deep breath and a step back. Avoid the crowds. Seek out the hidden gems that offer a different perspective on this enchanting part of Florida. 

Here are a few suggestions:

Indian River Citrus Museum

Indian River Citrus Museum - Vero Beach FL - Website / Directions

Indian River citrus is considered some of the finest citrus in the world. The history of this delicious and prominent crop is showcased here. Displays include historic photographs, crate labels, artifacts and other memorabilia.

Open year-round. No admission fee, but donations are accepted.

Jungle Trail

Jungle Trail - Off CR 510, Wabasso, FL - Website / Directions

Originally a sandy road intended to help citrus growers on the barrier island north of Vero Beach get their product to market, Jungle Trail is now on the National Register. The sandy surface is ideal for walkers, joggers and wide-tire biking aficionados. Cars are allowed, but you’ll get a better view of the bird life, including herons, ospreys, egrets and pelicans, if you walk a bit. You’ll also find spots to launch a kayak or canoe.

Open year-round. Great for families. Parts are wheelchair accessible.

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens

Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens - West Palm Beach, FL - Website / Directions

A walk through this sculpture garden engulfs visitors in a world of palms, flowers and exotic plants. The artist’s work is displayed in conventional galleries inside her home, But outside, the monumental pieces peek through the lush foliage because Norton (May 2, 1905-February 2, 1982) wanted them to be a surprise for visitors. Norton, a children’s book author as well as a sculptor, was widely exhibited in New York, Florida and Europe during her lifetime.

Open November through June. Free for members. Suitable for families.

Bulk Candy Store

Bulk Candy Store - West Palm Beach, FL - Website / Directions

Let’s face it: we’re all kids at heart, and nowhere is that more true than in this family-run confectionery emporium. If it’s sweet or snacky – or you remember it from your childhood – you’ll probably find it here. Live tours and video presentations walk you through the history of candy and you can learn how your faves are made and packaged.

Open year-round. Bring the kids or they’ll never forgive you.

Raptis Rare Books

Raptis Rare Books - West Palm Beach, FL - Website / Directions

No beach reads here. Specializing in antiquarian, fine first editions and other rare and extraordinary books, Raptis is the place for collectors and shoppers looking for singular literary purchases. The store has helped build some of the finest private and public libraries in the country but can also round out your shelf of collectible sci-fi, history, architecture or other genres.

Located on tony Worth Avenue, Raptis should probably be a grownups-only stop.