67,000 in the city and 700,000 visitors annually
On the southeast coast of Florida bordering Lake Worth.
West Palm Beach is in the eastern time zone.
Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit):
|January - March
|April - June
|July - September
|October - December
The Atlantic Gulf Stream approaches the Palm Beach County coast closer than anywhere in the nation, bringing warm waters from the south. Palm Beach County's moderate climate allows for outdoor activities throughout the year and very good flying weather. Summer temperatures are tempered by ocean breezes.
The most likely time for hurricanes to occur is from August-October. Hurricane alerts are issued within 36-48 hours of the arrival of a storm.
Most banks are open from 10 to 4 Monday through Friday. Many are open for several hours on Saturday. Most businesses in are open Monday through Saturday, from 9 or 10 AM to 6 or 9 PM. Many others, including shopping centers, are also open Sunday from noon to 5 or later.
Most museums in Palm Beach and West Palm Beach are open Tuesday through Sunday. A few are also open on Monday. Major attractions are open daily.
Customs and Duties:
Arriving in the United States:
Contact the U.S. Customs Service (inquiries, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229, 202/927-6724; complaints, Office of Regulations and Rulings, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229; registration of equipment, Resource Management, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, DC 20229, 202/927-0540).
The U.S. electrical standard is 110 volts/60 cycles AC. Visitors from other countries traveling with dual-voltage appliances will not need a converter, but they will need a plug adapter. The standard U.S. electrical outlet takes a plug of two flat pins set parallel to one another.
Dial 911 for police, fire department, or ambulance.
Hospital Emergency Rooms:
The following hospitals have 24-hour emergency rooms: Good Samaritan Hospital (Flagler Dr. and Palm Beach Lakes Blvd., West Palm Beach, 655-5511; 650-6240 physician referral), JFK Medical Center (5301 S. Congress Ave., Atlantis, 965-7300; 642-3628 physician referral), Columbia Medical Center (2201 45th St., West Palm Beach, 694-7124; 881-2661 physician referral), Palm Beach Regional Hospital (2829 10th Ave. N, Lake Worth, 967-7800), and St. Mary's Hospital (901 45th St., West Palm Beach, 844-6300; 881-2929 physician referral).
For the most favorable rates, change money through banks. Although fees charged for ATM transactions may be higher abroad than at home, Cirrus and Plus exchange rates are based on wholesale rates offered only by major banks. You won't do as well at exchange booths in airports or rail and bus stations, in hotels, in restaurants, or in stores, although you may find their hours more convenient. To avoid lines at airport exchange booths, get a bit of local currency before you leave home.
In general, U.S. banks will not cash a personal check unless you have an account at that bank (it doesn't have to be at that branch). Therefore, it is best to rely on credit cards, ATM machines, and traveler's checks to handle expenses while traveling.
The sales tax in Florida is 6%.
At restaurants, a 15% tip is standard for waiters; up to 20% may be expected at more expensive establishments.
Calling-card phones, are increasingly common. Grocery stores, newsstands, post offices, and other establishments sell the disposable phone cards, available in varying amounts from $5 and up. To activate the card, dial the code number and follow the instructions printed on the card.
The weather is best from November-May, but facilities are more crowded and prices somewhat higher. Summer brings heat and humidity which sometimes limits the time visitors wish to be outdoors away from air conditioning. Afternoon showers are warm, but frequent, in the month of June. No matter when you visit, bring insect repellent if you plan outdoor activities.
The country code for the United States is 1. The area code for The Palm Beaches is 561.
All U.S. telephone numbers consist of 10 digits:the three-digit area code, followed by a seven-digit local number. If you're calling a number from another area-code region, dial "1" then all 10 digits. If you are calling from a distance but within the same area code, dial "1" then the last seven digits. For calls within the same local calling area, just dial the seven-digit number. A map of U.S. area codes is printed in the front of most local telephone directories.
Arriving and Departing:
New Year's Day Jan. 1
Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 3rd Mon. in Jan.
President's Day 3rd Mon. in Feb.
Memorial Day last Mon. in May
Independence Day July 4
Labor Day 1st Mon. in Sept.
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thurs. in Nov.
Christmas Eve and Christmas Day Dec. 24 and 25
New Year's Eve Dec. 31.
Smoking Each year smoking laws become stricter. Under the Florida Clean Air Act, smoking is prohibited in most public areas, in restaurants and bars, and increasingly, within 50 feet of the entrance to public buildings. Hotels are also offering more nonsmoking rooms.
Palm Beach International Airport (PBIA) is the major airport serving Palm Beach County. It is located 3 miles southwest of the West Palm Beach central Business District and is easily accessible from I-95. PBIA is one of the largest medium hub airports in the United States with a total of 24 airlines serving the airport. About 205 flights arrive and depart daily from PBIA with more than 5.8 million passengers going through the airport each year.
In addition, PBIA offers many other services including Customs Port of Entry, Immigration, private aircraft maintenance, air cargo and international air. For general airport information, call 471-7420 More Info
There are also three local executive airports serving the Palm Beaches.
Boca Raton Airport - A 5,200-foot runway in South Palm Beach County with easy access to I-95.
Lantana Airport - A 3,500-foot runway in Central Palm Beach County.
North County Airport - A 4,300-foot runway in the northwest section of Palm Beach County.
Flying time to Palm Beach is 2 3/4 hours from New York City and 2 3/4 hours from Chicago.
Transfers Between the Airport and Town:
Route 10 of Tri-Rail Commuter Bus Service ( 800/874-7245) runs from the airport to Tri-Rail's nearby Palm Beach airport station daily.
CoTran Route 4-S operates from the airport to downtown West Palm Beach every two hours at 35 minutes after the hour from 7:35 until 5:35.
Taxi and Airport shuttle are the most reliable ways to travel from the airport to one's destination in the Palm Beaches.
A car is essential for traveling around the vast area. Public transportation outside the city center is limited. Amtrak and Greyhound offer service in and out of West Palm Beach, and Tri-Rail, the local commuter line, stops near towns and airports between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. The Tri-Rail tracks parallel Interstate highway 95, which takes the train considerably east or west (depending on the destination) of the city centers.
A shuttle bus system is necessary to transport riders from the train to the populated areas.
I-95 runs north-south, linking West Palm Beach with Miami and Fort Lauderdale to the south, and with Daytona, Jacksonville, and the rest of the Atlantic coast to the north. To get to central Palm Beach, exit at Southern Boulevard or Okeechobee Boulevard. Florida's Turnpike runs from Miami through the far western part of West Palm Beach before angling northwest to Orlando.
Interstate 95 is a six lane, busy highway that always seems to be undergoing major construction. An alternate route is the Florida Turnpike which runs west of the population centers. The advantage of this toll road, is that it is far less crowded and is usually less cluttered by construction. Route 1 was the main (two lane) highway in the early days. It is slow going now on Route 1, though it has been widened. Route A1A runs along the ocean, but has limited access and a strict 30 mph sped limit in most places.
Palm Beach Transportation 689-4222 provides taxi and limousine service from PBIA. Reserve at least a day in advance for a limousine. Wheelchair-accessible vehicles are available.
Tri-County Commuter Rail Authority (Tri-Rail) serves Palm Beach, Dade and Broward counties with north and south bound train service seven days a week. The trains make 18 stops between Mangonia Park and Miami. Tri-Rail stations are served by dedicated shuttle buses, interconnecting county transit buses or Metrorail.
Tri-Rail is an enjoyable way to travel to many popular attractions and destinations in all three counties.
In addition to providing a commuter rail system, Tri-Rail offers service to all three county airports and supplies service to many special events, such as the Superbowl and the Coconut Grove Art Festival. With numerous festivals and sporting events throughout South Florida, Tri-Rail offers safe, comfortable and economical transportation to many of these events. For details, schedule information and rates, call 1-800-TRI-RAIL
Palm Tran, a countywide bus system, runs from Boca Raton to Palm Beach Gardens and into the Western Communities and the Glades. The pink and aqua colored buses provide residents and visitors with an affordable mode of transportation. For more information on specific routes and time schedules, call Palm Tran at 233-4BUS in the north county and 930-4BUS in the south county.
Palm Tran's downtown Shuttle Loop System offers free transportation between office buildings, restaurants, businesses and parking facilities located within downtown West Palm Beach. The shuttle runs Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. along Clematis Street. Palm Tran makes numerous stops in downtown West Palm Beach with a vehicle scheduled to stop every 10 minutes.
The Downtown Transfer Facility (Banyan Blvd. and Clearlake Dr., West Palm Beach), off Australian Avenue at the west entrance to downtown, links the downtown shuttle, Amtrak, Tri-Rail (the commuter line of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties), CoTran (the county bus system), Greyhound, and taxis.
For more information, call the Downtown Development Authority at 833-8873.
The Greyhound terminal in West Palm Beach is located in the Seaboard Train Station at 201 South Tamarind Avenue. The station provides convenient access to passengers and easy connection with other modes of travel, including Amtrak, local public transit and Tri-Rail.
Greyhound offers approximately 25 schedules a day to destinations such as Orlando, New York City, Atlanta and other cities nationwide.
For schedule and route information, contact Greyhound at (800) 231-2222, or click here for More Info
Amtrak departs from the historic Seaboard Train Station at 201 S. Tamarind Avenue, in downtown West Palm Beach, to destinations throughout the United States. For further information, call 832-6169 or 1-800-USA-RAIL. More Info
CSX Freight Lines and FEC, provide daily service to the Palm Beaches. CSX Freight Lines and FEC were Palm Beach County's first method of mass transportation. FEC is Florida's East Coast Railroad system.
There are several major highways that provide direct access through the Palm Beaches. The Florida Turnpike, U.S. Highway 1, Military Trail, State Road 7 and I-95 are heavily traveled, especially during peak traffic hours morning and evening.
The Port of Palm Beach ranks fourth among Florida's deep water ports in container import and export activity. Docking facilities include 25 berths along 5,160 feet of bulkheading, two slips, four wharves and six Ro/Ro ramps. For more information, call 842-4201.
The city offers free trolley rides between Clematis Street and CityPlace. The three trolleys are encircled with brass rails. Each seats 26 passengers on two benches facing outward. The trolleys were designed without sides so that pedestrians can jump on and off without making the trolleys stop. In November, 2000, its first month of operation, ridership numbers recorded by drivers of the trolleys was: 31,730 passengers. The trolleys have continued to increase in popularity.
Palmtran ( 233-4287) buses require exact change. Service operates from 5:25 AM to 8:55 PM. Call for schedules, routes, and rates for multiple-ride punch cards.
U.S. 1 threads north-south along the coast, connecting most coastal communities, while the more scenic Route A1A ventures out onto the barrier islands. The interstate, I-95, runs parallel to U.S. 1 but a bit farther inland.
A four-lane route, Okeechobee Boulevard carries traffic from west of downtown West Palm Beach, near the Amtrak station in the airport district, directly to the Flagler Memorial Bridge and into Palm Beach.
The best way to get to Lake Okeechobee from West Palm is to drive west on Southern Boulevard from I-95 past the cutoff road to Lion Country Safari. From there the boulevard is designated U.S. 98/441.
Rules of the Road:
Speed limits are 70 mph on interstate highways and 55 mph within city limits. Child safety seats for children under age 5, seatbelts, and motorcycle helmets are all mandatory. Right turns on red lights are permitted unless a sign prohibits it. Rules are strict on not being in an intersection when the light turns red, and traffic tickets are freely given.
Palm Beach Transportation 689-4222 has a single number serving several cab companies.