Florida : Safety by City
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- West Palm Beach
- Winter Park
West Palm Beach is located along the Eastern seaboard in South Florida.
WPB acts as the county seat for Florida’s largest county (in terms of land area) – Palm Beach County.
West Palm Beach is west of Palm Beach– home to the rich and famous, with only the Lake Worth Lagoon separating the two cities.
WPB is about 20 minutes north of Boca Raton, 45 minutes north of Fort Lauderdale, a couple of hours from Orlando (or the Gulf), and about 1.5 hours from downtown Miami.
This area in South Florida began to be settled in the mid-1880s.
WPB was incorporated in 1894, making it the oldest incorporated municipality in Florida.
WPB’s growth exploded in the Florida land boom of the 1920s.
WPB covers more than 58 square miles and has a 2021 population of 177,415 – making WPB the 17th most populated city in the Sunshine State.
West Palm Beach is home to several historic communities and districts, including El Cid, Grandview Heights, Flamingo Park, and Mango Promenade.
WPB’s area stretches from the beach to the shores of Lake Okeechobee.
The Port of Palm Beach offers cruises to the nearby Bahamas and other locations.
The city’s climate is considered to be tropical rainforest-like, with a mean annual temperature of approximately 64 degrees (F).
WPB’s rainy season is May through October – with 50% of the afternoon firing up thunderstorms.
Hurricanes are a potential threat during the city’s rainy season.
The rest of the year is considered West Palm Beach’s dry (and tourist) season, with an annual mean temperature of 80 degrees (F), although temps dropping to the forties is common for nighttime hours.
Since 1982, West Palm Beach has been hosting the SunFest Annual Music Festival, which draws crowds that exceeded ¼ million – pre-pandemic.
Previous artists performing included Earth Wind & Fire, Kool and the Gang, Bill Idol, Ray Charles, Santana, and Dizzy Gillespie, to name a few.
Warnings & Dangers in West Palm Beach
OVERALL RISK : MEDIUM
West Palm Beach is a moderate-sized city with pockets and neighborhoods of high crime rates but has recently enjoyed an incredible rebound from high crime rates in the 1990s. Overall, though, the city is safe for a modern urban area. The areas with the most crime tend to be localized to the city's center and the northern sections.
TRANSPORT & TAXIS RISK : MEDIUM
West Palm Beach offers a variety of methods of transit to see the sites of this beautiful city. The downtown area offers a free Trolley, stopping at locations throughout WPB. Mass Transit options include Palm Tran Buses, Tri-Rail, & Virgin Trains. Tri-Rail is a regional train system offering stops from West Palm to Miami International. National transportation services include Amtrak to many northern locations. Additionally, the city has rental bikes strategically located throughout the city, where you can rent or return the bicycle.
PICKPOCKETS RISK : MEDIUM
WPB is a diverse mix of cultures and people. With so much to take in visually, travelers can become easily distracted by new sights and sounds. To avoid being pickpocketed, be alert, make contact and walk quickly, with purpose.
NATURAL DISASTERS RISK : MEDIUM
Florida offers a higher risk than average of being hit by lightning. The Sunshine State has been known as the Lightning Capital of the United States. With only minimal risks for earthquakes, West Palm Beach is more likely than average to experience a tornado but is considered a very high-risk area for hurricanes – as the city is located in Hurricane Alley. But note, hurricanes primarily hit Florida in the rainy season – from May to November.
MUGGING RISK : MEDIUM
Like any city, the risk of mugging is higher than in suburban, rural, or countryside locations. The downtown and harbor areas are relatively safe if travelers stay focused on their surroundings and are aware of what is always going on. It is best to stay out of certain neighborhoods when traveling alone or at night – most of which are located to the north and west of downtown WPB.
TERRORISM RISK : LOW
Florida has experienced the same increase in terrorism felt across the country (and the world) recently. The Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office (PBSO) is the state agency responsible for responding to suspicious and terrorist threats and actions.
SCAMS RISK : MEDIUM
Travelers risk encountering a scam pretty much traveling anywhere in the world. The best strategy to avoid scams is to be vigilant and never believe an offer that sounds too good to be true will come to fruition. As needed, the PBSO issues scam warnings.
WOMEN TRAVELERS RISK : MEDIUM
Women travelers should always be vigilant and cautious when traveling alone or in a group. Most WPB – especially in the Clematis Street hip nightlife scene, is safe if women travel with purpose and caution. When traveling to new locations, research the area to better understand the dangers. Stay alert and trust your intuition.
TAP WATER RISK : LOW
The tap water in WPB is safe to drink.
Safest Places to Visit in West Palm Beach
With a large population of northeastern US transplants, WPB offers significant cultural events and options for Florida.
WPB has something for everyone from the Norton Museum to the Flagler Museum and the Palm Beach Zoo & Conservation Society.
The downtown scene happens on Clematis Street- from the Square (previously known as Rosemary Square) to the harbor – which hosts a yacht show annually.
South of the city, throughout several historic neighborhoods, antique lovers will find a treasure trove in the Art & Design District of WPB.
Head north to Northwood, a hip, bohemian neighborhood experiencing recent revitalization, offering Art Night Out and some fantastic culinary options.
Shopping lovers, check out the Palm Beach Outlets, a stop at the West Palm Beach Trolley.
Garden and nature lovers have many choices in WPB, including The Four Arts Botanical Gardens and the Ann Norton Sculpture Gardens, among others.
For a ritzier experience, cross the bridge to Worth Avenue in Palm Beach, only minutes from downtown by foot.
Saturday mornings, head out to the famous West Palm Beach Green Market – in the heart of downtown by the harbor that has been ranked the best in American by USA Today.
Animal lovers can get up close to manatees at Manatee Lagoon or explore the conservation center at Panther Ridge.
Nearby Lion Country Safari and the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge are always popular.
Check out the International Polo Club in Palm Beach during the cooler months.
Places to Avoid in West Palm Beach
Like most cities, WPB suffers from above-average crime rates.
When walking at night in The Square or downtown, travel in groups as there is safety in numbers.
The rougher neighborhoods that should be avoided tend to crowd the northern and northwestern sections of the city – by the Tri-Rail, which shares a track with the commercial trains through Florida.
The northern sections of WPB tend to have more crime as it neighbors Riviera Beach, one of Florida’s most crime-ridden cities.
Safety Tips for Traveling to West Palm Beach
- Although tempting, it is smart to walk without headphones. It is essential to stay alert and focused on the sounds & sights of your location.
- If you are driving to West Palm Beach, take the time to have the car checked before you begin your West Palm Beach adventure. Keep the car’s gas tank half-full and choose well-lit parking lots.
- West Palm Beach offers a variety of hotels, motels, and resorts/spas run by well-known operators. Choose the one you deem trustworthy to ensure you get what you expect.
- West Palm Beach’s climate can be hot, and the sun is brutal and tropical. In the summer months, travel with water and stop in the shade for a rest when needed. This makes great beach weather but tough weather for outdoor sports that are not water-related. For example, tennis can only be played outdoor in the summer before 10 am or after 7 pm.
- When entering an elevator, glance to see if it is occupied and appears safe. Walk to the elevator controls, choose your floor destination. If an unsavory character gets on while riding to your destination, get off at the next floor if feeling unsafe.
- PBSO department offers a variety of crime prevention suggestions for travelers, shopping, children, and vehicles. The online website of PBSO offers threat assessment guidelines online.
- Florida drivers can be aggressive. Interstate 95 can be treacherous for unprepared drivers.
- The nearby beaches (Lake Worth & Palm Beach etc.) offer clean, warm ocean waters and, when windy, great windsurfing. Pay attention to weather reports and ocean conditions because Florida can have some wicked rip currents – strong water currents moving from the shore. If a thunderstorm rolls in, seek shelter immediately due to the threat of lightning.
- Don’t overburden yourself with packages. This is distracting and opens you up to the potential crime.
- Be certain your family and friends know your itinerary. Check in regularly so loved ones know you are okay.
So... How Safe Is West Palm Beach Really?
WPB, for a city, is a relatively safe city if you choose to be proactive and cautious when traveling by car, foot, or bike.
When traveling at night, be certain you know where you are going and the safest way to get to that location.
With a bit of vigilance, WPB offers amazing cultural activities, an outdoor lifestyle, and, during the dry season, some of the most delightful weather in the lower 48 states.
Stay alert and prepared, and have a blast in West Palm Beach.
How Does West Palm Beach Compare?
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- Visas - The United States Department of State's Consular Affairs Bureau manages the federal visa processes. They handle both new and visa renewal requests. As a government agency, the Department of Consular Affairs can take weeks or longer. There are private firms that, for a fee, can expedite your request.
- Currency - Florida’s business currency is the US Dollar; most merchants accept debit/credit cards. Travelers to West Palm Beach that need to exchange currency can choose a bank or financial institution or check out Palm Beach International Airport’s convenient location.
- Weather - WPB’s climate is considered tropical, with a high in July in the 90s and a low in the winter of about 56. WPB receives 63 inches of rain each year, which is near twice the rainfall average for all United States locations. The average number of days of precipitation is 140. Conversely, West Palm Beach has 238 sunny days, which exceeds the national average of 205.
- Airports - The airport that services the greater West Palm Beach area is Palm Beach International (PBI)and is located just outside of the city proper. Within an hour of West Palm Beach, travelers can also use the Fort Lauderdale or Miami Airports.
- Travel Insurance - Travelers insurance offers travelers the opportunity to purchase insurance coverage while traveling – domestically or internationally. This insurance offers coverage for a number of covered events, although each company may offer slightly different coverage options. Travel insurance may include cancellation for flights or even an illness.
West Palm Beach Weather Averages (Temperatures)
Average High/Low Temperature
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