Okeeheelee Park: The Hidden Gem of West Palm Beach

Take a Break from the City in This Nearby Green Space

From food and drinks on Clematis Street to koalas and otters at the zoo, West Palm Beach is a travel destination with tons to see and do. But if you’re looking to get in touch with nature during your time in the Sunshine State, you’re in luck—because Okeeheelee Park is only a short distance outside of the city. 

West of the city, Okeeheelee Park is only about a thirty-minute drive from Downtown West Palm Beach. Whether you rent a car, drive your own, or catch a bus, it’s the perfect place to relax, take in the scenic Floridian landscape, and take part in some physical activity. In this guide, we’re going to tell you everything you need to know about Okeeheelee Park, including . . . 

  • Background information about the park
  • Things to do 
  • How to get there from the city

More about the Park

Overseen by the West Palm Beach County Parks Department, Okeeheelee Park spans nearly two thousand acres and features amenities like bike paths, horseback riding trails, picnic areas, and more. The name, Okeeheelee, is a Seminole word that means “pretty waters” or “quiet waters.”

The water at Okeeheelee isn’t just for admiring—the park is conducive to water activities like fishing, boating, and kayaking. Image courtesy of @samantha_salisbury_photography on Instagram. 

While the park’s land was purchased by the county in 1976, only about 10 percent of the area was in its natural state. This mandated in an extended period of reclamation, and as a result, the park did not open to the public until 1996. 

Open from sunrise to sunset, Okeeheelee makes for an easy day trip from West Palm Beach for anyone who’s craving some time in the fresh Florida air. If you’re looking for a little educational enrichment, check out the Okeeheelee Nature Center, which is home to hands-on exhibits, animal encounters, regularly-scheduled programs, and a gift shop. 

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Things to Do in Okeeheelee

Okeeheelee is as versatile as it is beautiful (well, almost, anyway—it’s a close call). The park is packed with outdoor activities, both on land and in the water. And if you pay attention, you might even see some wildlife during your visit. Whether you go for a leisurely stroll or engage in a competitive game of pickleball, Okeeheelee is guaranteed to keep you occupied. 

Okeeheelee’s water-skiing lakes, which can be found in the northern portion of the park, are host to profession-level water-skiing—ramps and all! Image courtesy of Okeeheelee Park

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Nature Trails in Okeeheelee Park

Tour Florida’s signature wetlands and pine flatwoods when you walk along the nature trails in Okeeheelee Park. The Nature Center’s two-and-a-half miles of trails are free to visitors and sample all different kinds of terrain, including some paved trails that are wheelchair-accessible. Take a casual walk around the premises or follow a path deep into the green-filled sanctuary—either way, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with Florida’s natural beauty. 

Remember that you’re a guest at Okeeheelee, which means you should be respectful of its full-time occupants. While you’re free to look at and photograph the animals (from a safe distance), the park asks that you do not feed them. Image courtesy of Okeeheelee Park

“The Okeeheelee Park Nature Center sits at the hub of 2-1/2 miles of nature trails in 90 acres of wildlife habitat. The center offers exhibits Thursday through Saturday... but you can walk the trails all week. Check with the park year-round for special programs. If you want to touch base with Palm Beach County's wild past, this is one of the best opportunities you'll have.” -Malcolm S. on TripAdvisor

Bike Paths in Okeeheelee Park

Okeeheelee has over four miles of bike paths, plus a BMX track. Cruise through the park on the intermediate and beginner trails, or hit the track to practice your tricks and stunts. Don’t have a bike? No problem! You can rent a bike from the park. Bikes are allowed on the paved walking trails, but riders are requested to be conscious of sharing the space with walkers and runners. 

The Okeeheelee BMX Track is ranked one of the top five tracks in the country and is the number-one track in the state of Florida. Image courtesy of Okeeheelee BMX

“What a great park! So much to do and see! From canoeing/kayaking to bike riding and tennis courts, etc., this place pretty much has it all! And if you don't have your own equipment, you can rent mostly everything for a reasonable price! Bring plenty of water and get outdoors! You will be glad you did!” -Prakash S. on TripAdvisor

Golfing in Okeeheelee Park

The Okeeheelee Golf Course has three nine-hole courses that are playable in multiple eighteen-hole combinations. With sprawling emerald greens, practice putting, a chipping area, and a driving range, the park’s public golf course just might be one of the best you’ve ever seen. You can even book a private lesson with an instructor! 

Golfers will love this pristinely-kept course, complete with a snack bar and pro shop. Image courtesy of Okeeheelee Golf Course

“We really enjoyed seeing all of the wildlife that resides in the Okeeheelee Park area. The tee boxes, fairways, and greens were well-maintained, and the course was very nice overall . . . We played the Eagle and Osprey courses. Online booking was quick and easy. Look for special low pricing on Tuesdays for all ages. Fees INCLUDE carts . . . We will definitely come back to this course next time we visit South Florida.” -Aggie L. on TripAdvisor

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Horseback Riding in Okeeheelee Park

Okeeheelee’s Jim Brandon Equestrian Center has nine miles of trails for roaming on horseback. There are also equestrian rings for competitive training and events, though these areas are available by reservation only. The parking lot by the Equestrian Center has ample space for horse trailers and other equipment. 

Okeeheelee’s equestrian trails officially opened in 2015. The trails operate from sunrise to one hour before sunset. Image courtesy of PBC Parks

“Great open spaces for almost anything you can imagine. Ball fields, bike rentals, canoe and kayak rentals, BMX track, water skiing completions, golf, disc golf, equestrian activities to participate in or watch. Lots of parking. Picnic areas. A real asset to the area.” -Jholzman on TripAdvisor


Fishing in Okeeheelee Park

The pier at Okeeheelee is the ideal place to cast a line and appreciate the area’s abundance of natural beauty. With two freshwater fishing lakes, Okeeheelee offers visitors a generous supply of bass, sunfish, catfish, and more. Please note that bass must be released, but fishers can keep bluegill and redear sunfish that are eight inches or more, as well as up to six channel catfish. 

You need a freshwater fishing license to fish at Okeeheelee (excludes fishers under the age of sixteen and over the age of sixty-five). Image courtesy of the Boca Raton Observer

“We go canoeing and bass fishing at Okeeheelee all of the time. It's local, and the water is very clean. Lots of action—however, the bass tend to be 2 pounds or less. Bike riding, the dog park, and the Nature Center will keep you busy all day. Lots of pavilions for cooking and hanging out.” -Dave H. on TripAdvisor

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Kayaking in Okeeheelee Park

Rent kayaks, canoes, and pedal boats at Okeeheelee for a fun-filled day afloat on the Florida water. The lakes of designated launching points for non-motorized vessels so that you can safely enjoy the park and the waters for which it was named.

Keep an eye out for turtles, fish, and other wildlife that live in or near the lakes! Image courtesy of Warsh Gone Wild

“The Park is visible from I-95 and that encouraged us to explore further—amazingly, there were no entrance fees! We decided to take a chance on kayaking. Neither of us had any experience, and we were grateful for the Kayak-King WaterSports manager for his instructions . . . We intend to go back since we enjoyed ourselves so much. The park itself offers a variety of activities, both free and some with very reasonable charges. It is a must-see, must-do destination.” -Jacqualine A. on TripAdvisor

Sports in Okeeheelee Park 

In addition to its trails and lakes, Okeeheelee has a variety of fields, courts, and courses that can be used for a slew of sports, including:

  • Tennis
  • Baseball and Softball
  • Volleyball
  • Pickleball
  • Disc Golf 

Soak up some of that legendary Florida sun with a quick game of your favorite sport—or even a full-fledged tournament. Visitors of all ages will have a blast at the park’s state-of-the-art facilities. 

Okeeheelee also has picnic areas with tables and grills so that you can enjoy a post-game meal right in the park. Image courtesy of LarryJ99 on Flickr

“Okeeheelee has a lot to do: Bike riding, walk/run trail with distance markers and exercise spots, tennis/basketball courts, baseball/soccer fields, paddle boats & canoeing, nature center & nature trail, picnic areas for events, grills for cookouts, beautiful lake, dog park—I've done all of the above . . . Nothing like working out with a great view!” -Jennifer P. on TripAdvisor

Pooch Pines Dog Park 

Take your dog to Okeeheelee’s Pooch Pines Dog Park for some off-the-leash fun. This fenced-in portion of the park has a section for small dogs and one for big dogs. Your furry friend will love getting to play with other pups in this grassy space with shade, benches, fountains, and more. 

Leashed dogs are permitted in many parts of the park, but Pooch Pines is the only place where you can let them run freely. Images courtesy of Okeeheelee Dog Park on Facebook

“This is a terrific park. Lots of walkways, bikeways, areas for boating. Kayaks for rent. There is even a dog park, Pooch Pines, which is one of the largest in the area. My dog loves it! Not to mention the Nature Center and walkway around there. You'll find plenty to do here!” -Pat B. on TripAdvisor

Getting to Okeeheelee from the West Palm Beach

Okeeheelee Park is a little over twelve miles from West Palm Beach, making it a quick trip if you’ve got a car. It’ll take slightly longer to get there by bus, but it’s a fairly straightforward ride. However you choose to get there, Okeeheelee is well-worth the short journey from the city. 

If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city, a day at Okeeheelee Park might be just what you need. Image courtesy of BusinessYab

By Car

There are several entrances to Okeeheelee, but they’re all located on Forest Hill Boulevard. From West Palm Beach, you can take US-98/Southern Blvd or FL-882 W/Forest Hill Boulevard. The main entrance to the park is through the Nature Center, but you can also enter through Equestrian Center and the golf course. Don’t have a car but don’t want to take the bus? There are dozens of car rental companies in the West Palm Beach area that you can take advantage of. 

By Bus

You can use the Palm Tran bus system to take the bus from West Palm Beach to Okeeheelee (and, of course, vice versa). Bus lines 1 and 2 both connect to bus line 46, which runs to Forest Hill Boulevard where the park is located. Then, it’s about a fifteen-minute walk from the bus stop to the park. 

A Day at Okeeheelee Park Is Always Well-Spent 

While there’s no denying that West Palm Beach is a gorgeous city that’s flush with culture, everyone needs a break from the madness of metropolis every once in a while. Okeeheelee Park is a peaceful oasis that’s not only close by but is also loaded with things to do. Whether you hit the trails or take advantage of the lakes, you’re sure to enjoy the time that you spend in Florida’s great outdoors.

Albion Skeldon

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