All 38 Cities in Palm Beach County, Ranked From Worst to Best
Hello, Palm Beach County.
Photo by WPPilot via Wikipedia Commons
Palm Beach County is massive.
Housing more than a million people, it's the third most populous county in Florida. It spreads from the beautiful beaches of the east coast all the way to the shores of Lake Okeechobee.
And it has been keeping Botox in business since the '80s.
Join us now as we carefully examine the innards of this county and decide once and for all what's the best and what's the worst.
38. South Bay
Pro: It's near Lake Okeechobee, and there's a nice scenic trail and campground.
Con: The most happening place in tiny South Bay (population 3,859) is the not-so-tiny South Bay Correctional Institution (max capacity 1,948).
Bottom Line: If prisoners could vote, the mayoral candidates in this town would have to win over the prisoner demographic, which would be interesting.
They like golf, and they don't care who knows.
Photo via Wikipedia Commons
Pros: Odds are you have been to a party with more people than currently live in Golf (260 as of 2010), so your work commute resembles a zombieless free street in Walking Dead. If you find yourself in Golf, it's probably for something superfancy, because this pace is basically like living in a country club. And yes, it was founded by a golf course designer and has a golf course.
Cons: If you live in a city with 260 people, it makes it superhard to not run into everyone you went to high school with at Publix or, for that matter, to not date every person you went to high school with. Every day, you have to be reminded of the sport of golf, even if you hate it.
Bottom Line: They named a city after a sport; that's weird. Nobody lives in Football, Florida. Golf exists, so that's cool.
Pros: Manalapan is technically not a town. It's a stretch of plantation some obscure president gave one of his good-time buddies as a gift back in the 1800s. Besides its opulent homes, Manalapan is mostly known for an old 1950s murder mystery involving the disappearance of a circuit judge who was later found murdered along with his wife. Also, the 1981 neo-noir film Body Heat was filmed here.
Cons: Manalapan is named after a township in New Jersey, which we're convinced was done sarcastically.
Bottom Line: Manalapan definitely feels like a place found in dime-store crime pulps where the wealthy are murdered and nobody cares.
35. Briny Breezes
Pro: Briny Breezes is a coastal town of just over 400. Tiny and consisting of mostly elderly snowbirds, it's perfect for anyone looking for a simpler life or a solid location for a witness protection program.
Con: This town is too small and too old to offer anything but shuffleboard. And they're even strict about their shuffleboard! On the town's website, there is a list of rules that declare "No one shall play in bare feet, open-toed shoes or topless apparel." Which is (1) a buzzkill, and (2) begs the question: Is topless shuffleboard a thing?
Bottom Line: Until they legalize topless shuffleboard, there's no reason to step foot in Briny.
Pro: Like the TV show?
Cons: No. Not like the TV show.
Bottom Line: If only it was like the TV show.
33. Mangonia Park
Pro: Another good example of Palm Beach small-town living. Just over 1,000 residents and around one square mile, it's a great place for those who just want to slow things down.
Con: When the residents of Mangonia Park decided to incorporate, they petioned the State of Florida and asked for the name "Magnolia Park." The State of Florida wrote back with good news and bad news. Good news: The town could incorporate! Bad news: The name "Magnolia Park" was already taken, so the town would be stuck with "Mangonia Park." Things were off to a bad start from the very beginning.
Bottom Line: It's so small it could fit into most overhead compartments. If you like towns the size of a high school, it's for you.
Pro: Halfway between West Palm Beach and Boca, this town of around 2,000 is a close-knit community. Each month, the mayor writes a letter to his people and posts it on the town website. No one's told him about social media yet.
Con: Hypoluxo has small-town charm, but it will never offer the culture or nightlife scenes of its neighbors Boca and West Palm.
Bottom Line: Hey, if small-town charm and communicative mayors are your thing, you might just like settling down in Hypoluxo.
31. Highland Beach
Pros: Beach living with the 1 percenters.
Cons: If you don't have a trust fund or fake boobs, good luck getting in.
Bottom Line: Palm Beach has indiscriminate spreads of beachfront clogged with prefab McMansions like Broward has indiscriminate spreads of chain-store-choked suburban sprawl. Case in point: Highland Beach.
30. Lake Clarke Shores
Pros: Lake Clarke Shores is like stepping back into a '50s movie where everyone inexplicably gathers together to water-ski in nonrevealing bathing suits. Lakes are cool -- who doesn't like a lake, right?
Cons: Lakes are bleeping terrifying, I ain't swimming in a lake! Nope. This town uses its own personal police force, like in the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or a movie about a town you do not want to get a flat tire in. It seems like every road or place in this town is named after a body of water or something you find near a cabin. Who the hell is Clarke, and why does he get his own lake named after him?
Bottom Line: I'm scared of Lake Clarke Shores. You go first.
Photo by Refugee561 via Wikipedia Commons
29. Belle Glade
Pro: This sleepy little city on the southeastern shore of Lake Okeechobee with a population just under 20,000 is one of the greatest football cities in America. Glades Central High School is basically a factory for the NFL, churning out an insane number of NFL players despite having an enrollment of around 1,000. In this town, you know where everyone is on Friday night.
Con: There may be a reason so many kids from Belle Glade fight their way out of the city via football. Crippled by poverty and crime, Belle Glades can hardly be considered flourishing. It's largely a sugar farming city.
Bottom Line: The city serves as a shocking juxtaposition to Palm Beach. But the number of professional athletes this city churns out is a testament to the work ethic of its people.
Pro: Pahokee is only technically in Palm Beach, but it feels more like North Florida. Sitting on the shore of Lake Okeechobee, it advertises itself as Palm Beach County's "Other" Coast. It's great for folks who just don't fit in around the east coast. It's also another great Palm Beach County football town, producing a list of notable NFL alumni.
Con: Struggles with violent crime have held back this city from becoming somewhere people want to visit.
Bottom Line: Pahokee isn't just Palm Beach County's "other" coast, it's basically the opposite of almost everything in Palm Beach County. It has that heartland vibe but not much else.
27. Glen Ridge
Pro: The entire 100-acre town of Glen Ridge is a bird sanctuary. So if you love birds or are a bird, we think you'll like it there.
Con: Birds aside, there is something creepy about Glen Ridge. "They don't go anywhere else," longtime resident Gary Elkins told the Palm Beach Post, referring to the residents of Glen Ridge. "They live there until they die, and then their house comes up for sale." At some point during that process, we assume a virgin is sacrificed.
Bottom Line: Unless you're a bird nerd, there just ain't much to Glen Ridge. It's a little too tiny, quaint, and idealistic. And any fan of Hitchcock knows birds are not to be trusted.
Pro: Tequesta Brewing Co. is a fine Florida brewer, pumping out some of the Sunshine State's best beer. And with just north of 5,000 residents, there's plenty of beer for everyone!
Con: Once the buzz wears off, you'll look around and realize that there just ain't much to do. This will make you want more beer, possibly leading to an unhealthy cycle.
Bottom Line: Tequesta! Come for the beer, stay for the beer! Hey, who has more beer? Are you gonna finish that beer?
Pro: Cool name! Underwater cities! Mermaids! Lost civilizations!
Con: You could take all the upper-middle-class people you'll find at a Friends' fan convention, a Keith Urban concert, and the medieval literature PhD programs at all the Ivy League schools, put them all together in a room, and Atlantis would still be more vanilla.
Bottom Line: A walled-off city of rich(ish) people.
Excuse me, sir. Do you have a moment to talk about Jesus?
Photo by Robek via Wikipedia Commons
24. Loxahatchee Groves
Pro: Loxahatchee Groves is right next to Lion Country Safari, which is located in the unincorporated area of Loxahatchee. Lion Country Safari is an awesome drive-through safari that's perfect for any occasion. Birthday? Let your little dude feed a giraffe from the comfort of his car seat. Prom? Drive your Hummer limousine past a rhino while you pass the flask. First date? If it's going well, llamas will watch you make out. If it's going horribly, just kick that scrub out your passenger door when you get to the lions.
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Con: There's a reason they put a bunch of wild animals near Loxahatchee Groves. It's full of wide open spaces. Wide. Open. Spaces.
Bottom Line: You won't have to get out of your car in Loxahatchee Groves. And you really shouldn't. There ain't much to do, and a roaming lion might tear off your scalp.
23. Palm Beach Shores
Pro: Housing the southern tip of beautiful Singer Island, Palm Beach Shores is great for those who love a view of the water (or never taking off their sandals). Also, the town has a group of volunteers known as "The Turtle Patrol," who get up early and go record and mark turtle nests. They are emphatically turtley enough for the turtle club.
Con: Surrounded by water on three sides, Palm Beach Shores can get a bit claustrophobic for those who don't love the 24/7 beach life.
Bottom Line: Beach or die. Also, stay the hell out of the Turtle Patrol's way or else you'll become turtle soup, punk!
Pros: Haverhill is packed with Cubans and Jamaicans. The coffee and eats are tops. It's also located just minutes from downtown West Palm Beach and the Palm Beach International Airport, so you can get the hell out of Haverhill with a quickness if you'd like.
Cons: The town's website is currently alerting residents of the "heightened crime" in the area lately, that seems like a "con."
Bottom Line: Haverhill seems nice, if you're hungry.
21. Gulf Stream
Pro: This tiny town (only .8 square miles) is another of Palm Beach County's small but beautiful areas. Filled with great views of the Atlantic, it also has a designated state historic scenic highway on A1A, so you don't even have to get out of the car to enjoy its beauty.
Con: According to 2000 census data, Gulf Stream had the 11th-highest income in the United States. So, in short, yo broke ass ain't even afford to take a nap in Gulf Stream.
Bottom Line: Great if you're rich. If you're broke, just drive through the town. After all, it'll only take a few minutes.
20. South Palm Beach
Pro: Located on a barrier island sandwiched between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway, the Town of South Palm Beach is less than a mile long. There's even a statue of a sea turtle outside its town hall.
Con: Great for a vacation but not much else. The only person staying there year-round is that turtle statue outside town hall.
Bottom Line: Befriend someone in South Palm Beach. That way you can come and go as you please, rather than be stuck in this 24/7 beach town, doomed to forever have sand in your pants.
19. Cloud Lake
Pro: In a county full of small towns, this is officially the smallest. With around 150 residents and one billboard. At least they're first at something!
Con: If you don't already live in Cloud Lake, chances are you won't be moving there soon. People don't really move to Cloud Lake. They just wake up there one day.
Bottom Line: We're rooting for you, Cloud Lake! Even though you wouldn't even fill an elementary school cafeteria.
Juno Beach is doing its best to keep your lights on.
Photo by Dave Pape via Wikipedia Commons
18. Juno Beach
Pros: FPL's main headquarters is located in Juno Beach, so you know if there is ever a hurricane, who is getting their power back on first. "Beach" is in the name of this city; that's always a plus, right? For every 100 women in Juno Beach, there are 85 males. Juno Beach has more boobs than man parts, because I used math.
Cons: The average age of people living in Juno Beach is 65. Now I wish I didn't mention how many boobs are in Juno Beach.
Bottom Line: Juno Beach is full of old boobs and a ruthless power company. I would not be surprised if my taxes are being used to address these matters.
17. Palm Springs
Pro: Great Mexican restaurants, and you can tell people you're going to "Palm Springs" before you go.
Con: It's not Palm Springs, California.
Bottom Line: Do people still go to that Palm Springs anymore? Maybe this is the better one now.
16. North Palm Beach
Pro: Nice beaches and a family atmosphere.
Con: The family atmosphere can get a little too intense. This place has a village potluck every Friday, which means everyone has to cook things for others and then share, which means talk about extremely boring things like the kids and the weather. And after the meal, which the North Palm Beach newsletter describes as "enjoyable," people are encouraged to stay and play board games. Yes, actual board games, which may include "Wizard, Rummy Cube, Mah Jongg, etc."
Bottom Line: Nice place to raise a family if you want your family to live in a 1950s fantasy world that never existed outside of Leave It to Beaver.
Opening day at the International Polo Club in Wellington.
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
Pro: This is is the epicenter of the American polo scene. The International Polo Club is here. Several other polo fields are nearby. There's even a polo museum so you can learn about the history of the game. For those who cherish the "game of kings," there's no better place in the U.S. than Wellington, Florida.
Con: If you're not into polo, the most exciting time to be had is the free sample table at Trader Joe's.
Bottom Line: Great town to visit on your high horse.
The city that can't decide on a fucking nickname.
Photo by Ebyabe via Wikipedia Commons
14. Lake Park
Pros: Founded in 1923, Lake Park is known for having several nicknames, like "Kelsey City," "The Miracle City of Florida," "A New City in the Making," "The Courtesy City of Florida," and "The Gateway to the World's Winter Playground." But the town prefers to go by the moniker it gave itself: "The Jewel of the Palm Beaches," which is pretty fucking cocky if you ask us. But we dig that. It also has a nice marina on its east end, which touches the Intracoastal.
Cons: The entire town is made up of a total area of 2.3 square miles, so there isn't exactly a lot to do.
Bottom Line: If you're a boat kinda person, Lake Park is the town for you. Also if you're big on towns with a crapload of nicknames.
Every October, everyone in Lantana drinks so much beer and pretends they're German. It's awesome.
Photo by Monica McGivern
Pros: I freaking loved that song with "Smooth"! This place sounds awesome.
Cons: Shit. Lantana, not Santana. Right. My bad.
Bottom Line: This place is not the guy who sang that song with that Matchbox 20 guy. This is not that thing.
12. Palm Beach Gardens
Pros: A golfer's paradise, Palm Beach Gardens is the best place in Florida -- nay, AMERICA -- to hit the links.
Cons: When your town's biggest selling point is that it's the best place for golf, then you zzzzzzzzzzz......
Bottom Line: If there were ever a place to catch a glimpse of Tiger Woods and his missing tooth, this would be the place. Otherwise, meh.
Pros: The Cardinals play their spring ball here, and the beaches are consistently ranked among the best in the nation. There are waterways galore. Michael Jordan and Burt Reynolds live here!
Cons: According to the last census, 90.6 percent of the residents in Jupiter are white, so it's like you died and went to Caucasian Heaven.
Bottom Line: Pleasant. Pleasant and watery.
10. Riviera Beach
Pro: Although this rough sea dog of a beach burg doesn't look it -- it's better-known for its tiki hut at the marina (which is sadly now closed) -- Riviera Beach is actually a literary landmark. American novelist Frederick Exley is best-known for 1968's A Fan's Notes, a search-searching book about sagging ambition, booze-induced mental crack-ups, and father-and-son baggage, all scored to the tune of an obsession with pro football. The book became a cult hit. He even immortalized the place in his second book, Pages From a Cold Island.
Con: Complaints about political corruption are rampant, and the juxtaposition between the rich people on Singer Island and the poor neighborhoods off of U.S. 1 is kinda heartbreaking.
Bottom Line: Go to the tiki bar and crack one open -- a tribute to Exley.
Boynton Beach's art district is a hit with the youngsters.
Photo by Andrew Soria
9. Boynton Beach
Pro: This municipality includes a bit of everything -- on the east, beachfront with an inlet; in its center, more blue-collar living; on Congress Avenue, a mall and a SuperTarget; and in the west, big gated communities. Hurricanes, gang violence, and political corruption have all graced the city in the past decade. Which makes it a pretty interesting place to lay your head.
Con: You know, unless you're more into the whole peace-and-quiet thing.
Bottom Line: 561 living at its finest.
Photo by vagueonthehow via Flickr cc
8. Jupiter Inlet Colony
Pro: Jupiter Inlet Colony is a town of fewer than 400, and every single home is a stone's throw from the beach.
Con: This isn't so much a town as a large collection of white people. With a population percentage in the upper 90s of white folk, this place feels more like a brochure from the '80s than anything else.
Bottom Line: Pretty, tiny, and white. This is the Kristen Bell of towns.
7. Ocean Ridge
Pros: Ocean Ridge is beautiful. The entire community is dotted with beachside mansions that look more like palaces than actual homes. It's so exquisite that the ocean always looks turquoise and crystalline, even when the sun isn't out.
Cons: All the residents look like they're made of wax.
Bottom Line: If there were ever a place where actual Stepford Wives would exist, it's Ocean Ridge. That's just the vibe you get from spending a good few minutes here.
6. Palm Beach
Pro: Somewhere amid the private beaches and gated mansions are spots where nonmillionaires can go, like its public bike path, the famed surf break at Reef Road, or shopping mecca Worth Avenue (as long as you don't expect to be able to afford anything).
Con: There's a good chance that while enjoying the unique flavor of this ritzy beachside town, you'll run into Donald Trump and/or several geriatric gentlemen who look like Donald Sterling with a worse tan and younger mistress.
Bottom Line: Not a bad place to visit, but even better if you're an elderly capitalist with a bottle of Viagra.
5. Royal Palm Beach
Pro: If Leslie Knope walked into Royal Palm Beach, she'd probably have a heart attack and die. With a whopping 20 public parks, this place has more green space than Snoop Dogg's medicine cabinet. Royal Palm Beach has set a standard of ten acres of parkland per 1,000 residents and has been named Tree City USA by the National Arbor Day Foundation. Tack on some topnotch schools and it's hard not to want to raise your family here.
Con: Parks aside, Royal Palm Beach is a little vanilla. There ain't that much diversity, and the village lacks any real flavor. Those looking for a little more attitude won't find it here.
Bottom Line: With more fresh air than a Terry Gross convention, Royal Palm Beach will satisfy any lover of the outdoors.
4. Boca Raton
Pro: While Boca usually finds itself on the end of many punch lines about South Florida's elitist culture, there is much to love about this city. Boca has that one quality all great cities must possess: options. What are you into? Food? Yup, Boca is delicious. Music? From Mizner Park to Sunset Cove, Boca's got that too. Art? We'll drop you off at the Boca Raton Museum of Art.
Con: Unfortunately, there remains a hard plastic shell of snootiness surrounding this city named after a mouse's mouth. While Boca certainly has expanded, there are still barely enough parking spots for all those Lamborghinis. And as you walk its streets, you can't help but feel fat, poor, and an overall sense of just not being good enough. Boca is that friend who sits in front of you eating a salad while you dive teeth-first into an ice cream cone.
Bottom Line: While being rich helps, it's no longer a requirement. And even if you're on a budget, you can find your happy place in Boca.
3. West Palm Beach
Pro: Clematis has breathed fresh air into the lungs of the former geriatric sanctuary. West Palm Beach is now a city for the young as well as the ancient. No longer will waiters automatically start cutting your steak for you. Bye-bye, prune juice; hello, vodka tonics. Out with the adult diapers; in with the sexy lingerie!
Con: Yes, West Palm Beach now has a scene. An active one -- vibrant, even. But once you journey outside the confines of Clematis, you are bound to find yourself driving past retirement complex after retirement complex -- sprawling lots of early-bird specials and heated shuffleboard matches. West Palm Beach has formed a new identity, but its old identity is telling the new one to get the hell off its lawn.
Bottom Line: Once considered only a land of grandparents, West Palm Beach has developed a youthful side. It's still probably where your grandparents live, but once you're done having lunch with your MeMaw, the possibilities are endless.
Taken at the Summer Daze Music Festival in Lake Worth. It was, um, hot.
Photo by Michele Eve Sandberg
2. Lake Worth
Pro: Lake Worth is perhaps the epicenter of Palm Beach County's arts scene. The quirky city is a magnet for the artists and musicians of Palm Beach County, and thanks to venues like Propaganda, you can hear live music just about every day of the week. Tack on great food and a happening beach and you've got one hell of a city.
Con: Unfortunately, some of the places that made Lake Worth so special have been disappearing lately. Within the past year, the city has lost Coastars Coffee Bar and Bamboo Room, two awesome local businesses that provided a home for artists and locals alike. This trend of local talent evaporating is, to say the least, troubling. Lake Worth also has its own utility company, which makes electric rates high, and crime is a persistent annoyance.
Bottom Line: Lake Worth has that perfect mix of weird that makes a great city.
1. Delray Beach
Pro: Ah, the cleansing power of real estate dollars. Over the past decade, this once-shady beach town has gotten a face-lift, turning it into an East Coast Santa Monica. Every night of the week, the downtown strip is thrumming with lively restaurants, an active arts scene, trendy bars, and beautiful people.
Con: If there were a Miss Gentrification Contest, Delray would get the big bouquet of roses.
Bottom Line: Hard not to like this place. It's like Fort Lauderdale without the sunburn and vomit stains, Miami Beach without the coke bloat and parking authority gestapo. Delray, you've grown into quite a fine young city.
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