Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Palm Bay, FL

  • Published 2022/11/23

Palm Bay is the biggest and most populous city in Brevard County, Florida.

It’s situated on the mouth of Turkey Creek and Palm Bay, offering year-long sunshine and watersport activities.

It was the Ais people who first settled in the area due to its rich waters and diverse wildlife.

The first notable European to arrive in Palm Bay was John Tillman, who had a banana and orange plantation on the creek’s northern shore.

The city’s name was derived from the sabal palm trees lining the bay’s shores.

Today, the city is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts with its endless trails, pristine beaches, and world-class golf courses.

It’s also known for its nature sanctuaries that protect local flora and fauna.

Here are the best things to do in Palm Bay, Florida:

Go Kayaking at Turkey Creek Sanctuary

The waters of Turkey Creek Sanctuary

Stephen Lea, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Located on Port Malabar Boulevard Northeast, Turkey Creek Sanctuary is a 117-acre nature preserve along Turkey Creek.

It was in 1981 when the area was put under the protection of a voluntary management committee.

There’s a boardwalk and a jogging trail that goes through the lush forest, where you can spot birds, turtles, alligators, and other local wildlife.

A tortoise at Turkey Creek Sanctuary

Mike Herna /

The creek is filled with saltwater and freshwater fish and is accessible via canoe.

There’s also a boat launch where you can start a unique kayaking journey that takes you from freshwater to saltwater.

Inside the Turkey Creek Sanctuary is the Margaret Hames Nature Center which hosts environmental programs and camps.

Have a Picnic at Castaway Point Park

Located on Bay Boulevard is Castaway Point Park, which boasts two fishing ports and concrete walkways.

The park has scenic views of the Indian River Lagoon and is a favorite picnic spot among locals.

Bring your gear with you as the docks give you access to the lagoon, which is packed with groupers, pompano, and snappers.

You can even spot different types of sharks and on some occasions, native manatees and porpoises.

If you’re not into fishing, there are benches shaded under large trees off the concrete walkways, where you can just spend the afternoon people-watching or listening to the sound of waves hitting the shores.

As the Indians were the first settlers in the area, there are signages in Castaway Point Park that tell a bit about their history.

Discover Palm Bay’s Biodiversity at the Ais Trail Park

Located on Hickory Avenue, the Ais Trail Park is an 18-acre parcel of land where you can see different ecosystems in one place.

Named after the Ais people who first settled in the area, the park overlooks Turkey Creek and bounds a hardwood hammock, flatwoods, mangrove forests, and brackish waters.

A 0.6-mile trail will lead you to a mangrove shoreline and hardwood forest dotted with beautyberries and ferns.

Another short trail is lined with wild olives, blueberries, and native rosemary.

In the flatwoods are towering longleaf pines, cabbage palms, and palmettoes.

A wooden boardwalk gives you scenic views of the creek.

Exploring the Ais Trail Park is a great way to discover Palm Bay’s biodiversity.

Learn about Motorsports at Larsen Motorsports

Located on Palm Bay Road, Larsen Motorsports is an autobody shop and museum where you can see everything motorsport related.

It was founded by Chris and Elaine Larsen for the research and development of high-performance vehicles.

The shop provides hands-on experience and research internship to college students who want to be in the motorsport industry.

They have a multimillion-dollar facility where high-tech fabrication and jet turbine testing are done.

Larsen Motorsports’ STEM advocacy includes training students in engineering, aeronautics, business, and communication.

There are racing equipment, restored cars, and even NASA artifacts on display.

Knowledgeable tour guides will walk you through everything motorsport.

Do Horseback Riding at Pine Creek Ranch

Located on Valkaria Road, Pine Creek Ranch offers horseback riding lessons, guided trail rides, and pony parties.

The ranch is managed by Bruce Galbraith, who grew up breeding and training horses, so you’re in good hands.

Riding lessons are taught by Renee Simmons, who has decades of experience handling and riding horses.

Riders must be at least ten years old and over 225 lbs.

The guided trail rides are conducted by two wranglers who will take you through lush grassy tails, oak and pine hammocks, and a marsh.

Along the trails, you can spot bobcats, wild deer, hogs, tortoises, and more.

See Palm Bay’s biodiversity from a different perspective by taking a guided horseback riding trail tour with Pine Creek Ranch.

Explore Brevard’s Flatwood Forests at the Micco Scrub Sanctuary

One of the many nature preserves in Palm Bay is the Micco Scrub Sanctuary, located on Micco Road.

The sanctuary protects Brevard County’s remaining scrubby flatwoods and mesic flatwoods, home to important local wildlife.

Spanning over 1,300 acres, it has one of the most significant concentrations of indigenous plant and animal species in Florida.

With the seasonal marshes and dry flatwoods, the area is a natural habitat for wild deer, boar, and indigo snakes.

It’s also a good spot for birding, so make sure to bring a pair of binoculars.

Along the trails are wildflowers, mushrooms, and pine trees.

Aside from wildlife viewing, the Micco Scrub Sanctuary also has paved trails perfect for horseback riding or mountain biking.

Grab Breakfast at Dottie’s Restaurant

It’s always a good idea to fill up your tummy before going nature-tripping.

Located on Babcock Street, Dottie’s Restaurant is a go-to breakfast spot for locals and tourists.

The diner specializes in All-American cuisine, serving classic comfort food in a homey setting.

You can’t go wrong with their omelets—Greek, Mexican, and Spanish-style omelets are Dottie’s holy trinity.

Biscuits and gravy are also a crowd favorite, but the Eggs Benedict is not too far behind.

For meat lovers, the Country Fried Steak with Gravy is something you shouldn’t miss.

But what Dottie’s Restaurant patrons keep coming back for our great service and the home vibe.

Satisfy Your Japanese Food Cravings at NAOKI Japanese Cuisine

If you’re craving Japanese food after a long day of exploring the city, NAOKI Japanese Cuisine on Dixie Highway is the place to be.

Ease away your tiredness with a warm bowl of tonkotsu ramen made with rich broth and hand-pulled noodles.

A sushi chef born and raised in Tokyo will serve fresh, melt-in-your-mouth Spicy Tuna Sushi.

Classics like Japanese Curry and Chicken Cheese Katsu are also must-tries.

And if you’ve been looking for authentic Takoyaki, NAOKI Japanese Cuisine is where you can find it!

Eat Authentic Italian Dishes at Trattoria Bella Cucina Italiana

Located on Palm Bay Road, Trattoria Bella Cucina Italiana is the go-to restaurant for locals wanting to try authentic Italian Dishes.

The restaurant boasts home-style Italian cooking using fresh ingredients straight from Italy.

Start your meal with premium prosciutto served on top of the freshly baked flatbread.

The lasagna is something you shouldn’t miss, with layers of meat sauce and fresh cheese baked to perfection.

You should also try the Mushroom Truffle Pappardelle and the Braised Short Ribs.

Trattoria Bella Cucina Italiana has a wide selection of Italian wines that you can pair with your meal.

And to cap it all off, have a serving of authentic tiramisu.

Other Things to Do Nearby

Set Foot on the Juan Ponce de León Landing

Signage of Juan Ponce de León Landing

JennLShoots /

The Juan Ponce de León Landing is believed to be the real location of Juan Ponce de León’s first arrival in Florida.

Located along the Florida State Road, the 25-acre shoreline park is the possible vicinity of the historic landing in 1513.

Some historians believed that the Spanish voyager landed on St. Augustine in search of a fountain of youth, but Florida historian and retired US Airforce pilot Colonel Douglas T. Peck disputed these claims after extensive research.

Statue at Juan Ponce de León Landing

JennLShoots /

Ponce de León was the first European to reach Florida when he sailed to the Bahamas from Puerto Rico and spotted the peninsula.

The Juan Ponce de León Landing has a marker and a statue of the Spanish conquistador commemorating the historic landing.

History marker of Juan Ponce de León Landing

JennLShoots /

Swim at Spessard Holland South Beach Park

Located just off Florida State Road is Spessard Holland South Beach Park.

It’s a white sand beach that boasts pristine waters and clear shorelines.

There’s a 30-meter dune boardwalk overlooking the ocean where you can spot seabirds hunting for food.

Lifeguards are stationed on the beach, and the waves are mild, so you can swim in peace and enjoy the crystal-clear waters.

There are outdoor showers and restrooms for everyone’s convenience.

If you’re not up for a dip, there are plenty of benches and picnic tables where you can just relax and listen to waves hitting the sandy shores.

Spessard Holland South Beach Park is perfect for a quick family getaway.

See Loggerhead Turtles at Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge

Welcome sign of Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge

Leonard J. DeFrancisci, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge is a sanctuary along the Florida State Road on the coast of Melbourne Beach.

It was established in 1991 to protect loggerhead sea turtles that nest in the area.

The refuge was named in honor of the late Dr. Archie Carr, Jr., for his contributions to sea turtle conservation.

It covers around 20 miles of beach and shoreline from Melbourne Beach to Wabasso Beach.

Aside from loggerheads, it also serves as a nesting place for a huge chunk of the green turtle population in North America.

It also hosts different species of birds, reptiles, and mammals, including brown pelicans, gopher tortoises, and manatees.

Drive to the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge and see newly hatched turtles crawling on the beach.

Try Surfing at Coconut Point Park

The Coconut Point Park is a community beach park along Florida State Road.

The 36.9-acre beach park is a favorite nesting place for sea turtles, and its shores are a popular beachcombing spot.

It’s also a go-to place for surfers looking for quality waves to ride.

If you prefer a relaxing walk by the beach, get your cameras ready, as shorebirds like Red Knots, Black-bellied Plovers, and Red-Throated Loons frequent the area.

There’s a long boardwalk that goes through a mangrove swamp.

Coconut Point Park is often praised for its accessibility, as one of the two dunes is equipped with a wheelchair ramp, toilets, and showers.

Drive Go Karts at Andretti Thrill Park

Located on South Babcock Street in Melbourne, Florida, Andretti Thrill Park is an amusement park that boasts thrilling rides and arcade games.

Established in 1999, the park is a go-to spot for families looking for a place that people of all ages can enjoy.

The most popular attraction is the Go Kart rides, where kids and kids at heart can fulfill their dreams of being racecar drivers.

There are three Go Kart attractions in the park: Rookie Row is for kids above the 40” height requirement, while adults can choose between Jr. Indy and F1 Speed Track depending on their height.

There’s also a Laser Tag attraction where you can pretend like a secret agent out to get the bad guys.

Feel like a kid again by trying the different attractions at Andretti Thrill Park.

Explore the Trails of Maritime Hammock Sanctuary

Just west of the Florida State Road on the barrier island is the Maritime Hammock Sanctuary.

It’s the first nature preserve in the country dedicated to the conservation of sea turtles.

It also protects the largest maritime hammock in Brevard County, including the local flora and fauna that can be found in it.

The sanctuary features two hiking trails that go through a lush hardwood forest as well as a boardwalk over wetland areas leading to a mangrove forest.

Part of the 150-acre preserve was once an exotic plant nursery, and many non-native species have escaped and spread throughout the area.

You may find asparagus fern and Madagascar periwinkle during your walk.

Final Thoughts

Palm Bay is every nature lover’s dream destination.

With year-long sunshine and beautiful beaches, you’ll feel like every day is a vacation.

Exploring its biodiversity is an experience one shouldn’t miss.

So if you’re already planning your next nature tripping, consider trying the best things to do in Palm Bay.

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