Boca Raton’s weather, outdoor activities welcomes visitors seeking fun in sun

Posted Sept. 21, 2012


BOCA RATON, Fl­a. – Among the palm-lined avenues and slew of luxury cars, one will find a laid back place that most South Floridians simply call “Boca.”

However, it did not always look like this. In the 1920s, Boca, as it is known to residents, was a small agricultural village that sold its vegetable crops to buyers in the northern states. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Boca expanded rapidly, including the opening of Florida Atlantic University in 1962.

Today, Boca is home to 80,000 residents and welcomes tourists year-round looking to enjoy the warm weather and outdoor activities­.

The best way to get around town is by car. Visitors flying in to Palm Beach International Airport can rent a vehicle from a selection of car rental companies at the airport and drive 20 miles south to Boca Raton. Once visitors have their transportation sorted, the only thing left to worry about is what bathing suit to wear to the beach.


Whether it’s splashing in the water, soaking up the sun or just enjoying a breezy afternoon on the sand, the beaches in Boca Raton will not disappoint. Here are some local must-sees:

Spanish River Park

Spanish River Park offers beach access as well as a picnic area with tables, benches and grills. It also makes a great place for bird watching.

Red Reef Park

Like Spanish River Park, Red Reef Park has beach access and a picnic area for beach goers to enjoy. Visitors can soak in the relaxing atmosphere of this beach without worrying about crowds or their safety, since lifeguards are stationed year-round from 9 a.m. until      5 p.m. on all city beaches. Snorkeling is a popular activity offshore towards the south end of the park.

Family Friendly

Families visiting Boca Raton, especially those with young children, will find that there are dozens of outdoor activities to take advantage of. Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and Sugar Sand Park are two must-sees for those visiting for the first time.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center

The Gumbo Limbo Nature Center is a destination for those interested in education and conservation. The center covers 20 acres of protected barrier island and has various programs and events for families and children to enjoy. From July-mid September visitors can experience the sea turtle release and watch handlers maneuver turtle hatchlings from their nests into the ocean.

According to Dr. Kirt Rusenko, marine conservationist at the Center, about 15,000 K-12 students visit Gumbo Limbo each year.

“The children love seeing the fish, turtles, snakes and butterflies.  It is common to hear squeals of delight when they see something, especially if they did not expect it,” he said.

Rusenko adds that the center also features a marine science laboratory where guests can view ongoing research and interact with students and faculty.

“The variety offered generally peaks at least some interest from a large variety of people. Approximately half of the visitors are from out-of-state or international,” Rusekno said.

Sugar Sand Park

At this 132-acre park visitors will find playgrounds, the Children’s Science Explorium, and the Willow Theatre. The Children’s Science Explorium brings physical science into the hands of 5-12 year-olds. The Willow Theatre features musical performances, plays and cultural events. The theater is also available to rent for $100 for a three-hour minimum.


Here visitors will find go-karts, laser tag, bowling and more. Boomers is a great place for families to let loose and have some fun.

New Jersey native Brett Woltz used to visit his grandparents in Boca Raton when he was growing up and recalls the attractions at Boomers.

“My brother, sister, and I would go with my mom and grandma and ride the bumper boats, go-karts and play in the arcade. Even though I’m 24 now, I’d still love to go back and do all that stuff. It was a lot of fun,” he said.

A Super Pass of $34.99 provides guests with unlimited attractions for the day, but visitors should make sure to call ahead and ask about seasonal promotions.

Shopping, Food, and Entertainment

Boca Raton is known for its upscale shopping and dining experiences. Here are two of the must-sees for first time visitors looking for all that and more.

Boca Town Center

This shopping center features more than 200 stores, including Bloomingdale’s, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom’s. Visitors can also find a variety of places to eat such as Stir Crazy and Grand Lux Café.

Brittany Bowen, an Express store employee at the Center, notes the types of shoppers that enjoy the selection of high end shopping.

“I see a good mix of foreigners and locals,” Bowen said.  “The luxury shopping experience that Boca Town Center has draws people from all over.”

Mizner Park/Downtown Boca

Mizner Park is a must-see for first time visitors because of the variety of attractions it offers. Here visitors can enjoy restaurants, bars, movie theaters and art galleries, including the Boca Raton Museum of Art which houses national and international work.

At the north end of the park is the Mizner Park Amphitheater that holds up to 4,200 people. Past events and concerts have included The Boca Ballet, Selena Gomez, and Train.


  • Palm Beach International Airport, just 20 miles north of Boca Raton.
    Where: 1000 Turnage Blvd., West Palm Beach, Fla. 33406
    Contact: 561-471-7420.
  • Tri-Rail, a commuter railroad operating seven days a week, with stops from Miami to West Palm Beach.
    Contact: 800-TRI-RAIL (874-7245).

Spanish River Park

Where: 3001 N. State Road A1A, Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: 8 a.m.  until sundown, seven days per week.
Contact: 561-393-7815
Parking: $16 per vehicle Monday – Friday and $18 weekends

Red Reef Park

Where: 1400 N. State Road A1A, Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: 8 a.m. – 10 p.m. seven days per week.
Contact: 561-393-7974.
Admission: Free.
Parking: $16 per vehicle Monday – Friday; $18 on weekends.

Gumbo Limbo Nature Center

Where: 1801 N. Ocean Blvd., Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: Mondays – Saturdays 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sundays, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Closed New Year’s Day, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day. Admission: Suggested $5 donation per person.
Contact: 561-338-1473.
Parking: Park at Red Reef Park, $16 per vehicle Monday – Friday; $18 on weekends.

Sugar Sands Park

Where: 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: Mondays-Saturdays 8 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sundays 8 a.m. – sunset.
Admission: None.
Contact: 561-347-3900.
Parking: Free parking in Community Center parking lot.

Children’s Science Explorium

Where: 300 S. Military Trail Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: Mondays-Fridays 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Admission: The Children’s Science Explorium is free of charge. $5 donation suggested.
Contact: 561-347-3913.
Parking: Free parking in Community Center parking lot.

The Willow Theatre

Where: 300 S. Military Trail, Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: Tuesdays–Fridays: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 5 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Saturdays: 1 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Contact: 561-347-3948  or visit for map-directions for tickets and show times.
Parking: Free parking in Community Center parking lot.


Where: 3100 Airport Road, Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: Mondays-Thursdays 12 p.m. – 8 p.m.
Fridays 12 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Saturdays 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Sundays 11 a.m. -8 p.m.
Contact: 561-347-1888 or visit
Parking: Free.

Boca Town Center

Where: 6000 Glades Road, Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: Mondays-Saturdays 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sundays: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Contact: 561-368-6000.
Parking: Free parking and valet services available.

Mizner Park

Where: 590 Plaza Real, Boca Raton, Fla.
Hours: Mondays-Saturdays: 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sundays: 12 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Contact: 561-750-1668.
Parking: Free parking and valet services available.

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