45 Fun Facts You Didn’t Know About Palm Beach County

by Amy Woods Nov 2015

Both longtime and newly transplanted Palm Beach County residents can learn a bit of trivia about the richly rooted region where they live by noting some frivolous and fun factoids. From animals to ghosts to minerals, the area abounds with little-known nuggets of information. Here’s to impressing your friends on trivia night.

1. Beaching it

Beachgoers can enjoy Palm Beach County’s nearly 50-mile shoreline year-round. Offshore, divers and snorkelers will find more than 20 teeming reefs in waters warmed by the Gulf Stream.

2. Start swinging

In excess of 160 golf courses and 1,000 tennis courts—both public and private—are available for cluband racket-wielding locals to get their respective game on.

3. A day at the park

Palm Beach County operates 81 parks that offer more than 8,000 acres of land for exploration by bicycle, boat, foot or horse. Other amenities include athletic facilities, campsites and interpretive centers.

4. The arts

More than 200 cultural organizations bring joy to 4 million audience members annually by staging 42,000 concerts, exhibitions, festivals and performances—all with an estimated economic impact of $250 million.

5. Distinguished demographics

Palm Beach became Florida’s 47th county in 1909. Home to 1.3 million residents, the county boasts 38 municipalities, from the tiny town of Cloud Lake (population 135) to the cosmopolitan city of West Palm Beach (population 100,000-plus.)

6. Tropical envy

The average winter temperature in Palm Beach County is 74 degrees, which makes snow next to impossible. The last time white flakes fell in South Florida was 1977.

7. Sugar rush

Who leads the nation in the production of sugar? Palm Beach County does. Eighteen percent of the sweet stuff is grown on 400,000 acres of cane fields, whose soil is called “black gold” because of its fertility.

8. Pickin’ and grinnin’

Palm Beach County residents from way back will remember the abundance of U-Pick farms west of town, where they could fill their baskets with luscious strawberries until their fingers turned red. Six farms remain, including one in Jupiter.

9. Technological breakthrough

The birth of the modern-day PC took place in 1981 in Boca Raton. Called the Acorn, the computer became the standard-bearer for the industry and was named “Machine of the Year” by Time magazine.

10. Street smarts

Many of the streets in downtown West Palm Beach bear the names of different types of flora. Clematis, Datura, Evernia, Sapodilla and Tamarind are all species of plants and trees. 

11. Environmental oasis

John D. MacArthur Beach State Park—the only state park in Palm Beach County—offers 438 acres of old-Florida land, 1.6 miles of undeveloped beach and four natural habitats: dune, estuary, hammock and reef.

12. Beauty and bravado

Contestants in the Miss South Florida Fair Scholarship Pageant, which takes place in West Palm Beach, have exhibited everything from baton twirling to magic acts to power lifting in the quest for the four-pointed crystal crown.

13. Did you know?

The Breakers in Palm Beach, where the former guest registry reads like a who’s who of early 20th-century America, is still owned and operated by descendants of Henry Flagler, who built the resort in 1896.

14. Ghost stories

Rumor has it a spirit named Joseph haunts the Riddle House at the South Florida Fairgrounds’ Yesteryear Village. Disbelievers can find out for themselves by taking a nighttime walking tour of the old Edwardian structure.

15. Money talks

If the fact that Florida leads the nation in home sales paid in cash isn’t impressive enough, consider the fact that Palm Beach County also led the state in property deals done entirely with stacks of greenbacks.

16. Wicket watch

The National Croquet Center in West Palm Beach is the world’s largest croquet facility, with four acres of lawns and a 19,000-square-foot clubhouse that can accommodate as many as 600 players and their mallets.

17. Treasure trove

The history of shipwrecks off Palm Beach County dates to the 1890s and continues to lure treasure hunters in search of gold from sunken Spanish galleons, earning the Atlantic Ocean shoreline the nickname “Gold Coast.”

18. Business is booming 

Companies with corporate headquarters in Palm Beach County number in the 50s; dozens of which are national, such as Bankrate in North Palm Beach, NCCI in Boca Raton and the Oxbow Group in West Palm Beach.

19. Need a job? 

The Palm Beach County School District dominates as the largest employer with an estimated 22,000 paid staff members. The No. 1 corporate employer is Florida Crystals with 1,900 workers on its payroll.

20. A long climb 

One hundred and five cast-iron stairs spiral counterclockwise to the top of the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse, where those who made the steep climb can peek in on the impressive Fresnel lens—reported to be the only one in Florida.

21. A shining beacon 

The beacon cast by the Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse can be seen 24 miles away by sea and 50 miles away by air because of its 1,000-watt, 120-volt, quartz-iodine bulb that flashes 1.2 seconds before eclipsing for 6.6 seconds.

22. Horses, of course.

Equestrian Sport Productions and the Palm Beach International Equestrian Center annually produce the Winter Equestrian Festival, the largest competition of its kind in the world. From January th23. Wild things

23. Wild things

Lion Country Safari, an African-adventure theme park west of Wellington populated by mammals from the continent, is one of the oldest tourist attractions in the county, and it’s Florida’s only drive-thru animal experience.

24. Port report

The almost 900,000 tons of raw sugar produced in the Glades area of the county is shipped through the Port of Palm Beach and its two ramps, three slips, four wharves and pier-side rail box.

25. Hot property

The highest property-tax amount paid in Palm Beach County wasn’t by the owner of a mansion on the island but instead by Florida Power & Light, the Juno Beach utility company that, in 2014, shelled out $77.4 million.

26. See the light

The Jupiter Inlet Lighthouse cast its first beam in 1860. The 108-foot historic landmark has come a long way since it became electric in 1928 with a 1/3-horsepower motor. It was automated in 1987 with a photoelectric cell. 

27. Celebrity sightings

Palm Beach County is home to countless celebrities including Jimmy Buffett, Michael Jordan, Olivia Newton-John, Jack Nicklaus, Donald Trump and Tiger Woods. It also was the residence of choice for the late Gary Carter, Clarence Clemons and Lilly Pulitzer.

28. Floating fortunes

Between 50,000 and 60,000 attendees stopped by this year’s Palm Beach International Boat Show, which featured 500 vessels ranging in size from nine to 200 feet and a total worth of $1.2 billion.

29. Flagler tales

Henry Flagler was married three times to three different women: Mary Harkness, who died in 1881; Ida Alice Shourds, who was institutionalized in 1895; and Mary Lily Kenan, whom Flagler predeceased in 1913 while living in Palm Beach.

30. Wealthy residents

Billionaires love South Florida. Whether it’s the beaches, weather or zero state-income tax, the picture-perfect paradise of Palm Beach County lays claim to 18 of the state’s 42 wealthiest, according to Forbes.

31. Polo. Enough said.

The “sport of kings” is king in Wellington, where the International Polo Club Palm Beach and its first-rate facility set the global stage for high-goal players and their ponies, culminating with the U.S. Open Polo Championship.

32. Off the rails

Initially called Flagler’s Folly, the stretch of Florida East Coast Railway from Palm Beach to Key West linked the entire state via train, leading Henry Flagler to become known as the inventor of modern-day Florida.

33. A gilded mansion

Whitehall, the winter retreat Henry Flagler built in 1902, trumps any other mansion in Palm Beach with its 75 rooms and 100,000 square feet of Gilded-Age glory. The home was a wedding present for Flagler’s third wife.

34. Tapping the keg

No less than six microbreweries between Boca Raton and Tequesta are now bringing bold brands of beer to thirsty audiences with a taste for handcrafted hops made and sold locally.

35. Football factory

Twenty-plus athletes from Palm Beach County were on the field during the 2014 College National Championship game between Auburn and Florida State universities. Another seven participated in the 2013 Super Bowl game between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers.

36. World War II

Palm Beach County’s involvement in World War II occurred sooner than the rest of the country and long before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The military took advantage of ideal terrain and weather to train pilots and test planes.

37. Sweet salaries

According to Kelly Smallridge, president and CEO of the Business Development Board of Palm Beach County, local workers take home the highest average annual income in the state at $49,000.

38. Feeding frenzy

The South Florida Fair serves no less than 800 gallons of ice cream, 6,750 pieces of corn on the cob, 8,000 soft pretzels and 12,500 hamburgers to more than a half million visitors during the event’s 17-day run.

39. SOLD!

A nine-bedroom, 12-bathroom, 14,685-square-foot mansion on a bay-to-breakers lot in Manalapan—with a cabana-style swimming pool, private boat dock and separate guest house—broke county records this year when it sold for a whopping $22.1 million.

40. Water wars

Okeeheelee Park in West Palm Beach served as the site of the 2015 Water Ski National Championships, the largest such event in the United States. Nine hundred aquatic athletes performed jumps, slalom and tricks during five days of competition.

41. Eco-centers extraordinaire

Palm Beach County houses more than one dozen eco-centers, including Busch Wildlife Sanctuary in Jupiter, Grassy Waters Preserve in West Palm Beach and Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach.

42. Turtle nests

The sandy shores in Palm Beach County’s northern communities, specifically North Palm Beach, Juno Beach and Jupiter, have counted more than 16,000 turtle nests this season, which began March 1 and ended Oct. 31.

43. Signed, sealed, delivered

Hypoluxo is known as the home of the barefoot mailman, a historical reference to the commissioned U.S. postal carriers who treaded through 60 miles of sand between the town and Miami to deliver letters and packages.

44. Animal awareness

More than one dozen threatened and/or endangered species have habitats in parts of Palm Beach County. Among them are the bald eagle, eastern indigo snake, Florida panther, red-cockaded woodpecker and West Indian manatee.

45. ‘Come Fly With Me’

Palm Beach International Airport, which operates 12 airlines and oversees approximately 200 daily flights from three concourses, was voted third-best airport in the United States and sixth-best in the world last year by readers of Conde Nast Traveler.