Currently encompassing a populace of more than 108,000, Palm Bay stands as the county’s largest community, as well as the 22nd largest in the state.
Incorporated as a city on January 16, 1960, Palm Bay boasts an ideal location on Florida’s east central coast, approximately an hour’s drive from Orlando and between the major cities of Jacksonville and Miami. Residents enjoy the progressive lifestyle afforded to them in the flourishing city, with endless sites for recreation, an array of educational opportunities, accessibility to outstanding healthcare and a strong, stable economy. In 2005, the Miliken Institute Index ranked the Palm Bay metropolitan area as USA’s number one job creating metro area. Also, Inc. magazine’s recent “2006 Boontowns” study ranked the Palm Bay metropolitan area as “27th hottest city” for entrepreneurs nationally.
If you’re looking for a great way to spend the day in the family car, Palm Bay is proud to serve as the starting pint of the picturesque Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway. After all, Palm Bay was named after the tropical palms and stunning vistas of the bay at the mouth of Turkey Creek.
The Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway is one of eight corridors designated by the Florida Department of Transportation as Florida Scenic Highways. Starting at the Lagoon House on Ais Lookout Point in Palm Bay, this stretch of 166 miles of highway encompasses a loop of U.S. 1 and A1A that surrounds the legendary lagoon. The $1.1 million facility displays archaeological, historical, natural, cultural and recreational exhibits that represent the vast resources of the lagoon region, and it also houses a comprehensive library about the Indian River Lagoon.
The scenic highway meanders through state parks such as Sebastian Inlet State Park and the pristine beaches of Canaveral National Seashore. Other area parks, sanctuaries, and wildlife refuges are along the route, including the Archie Carr National Wildlife Refuge, which serves the largest concentration of nesting loggerhead and green sea turtles in the U.S. In fact, the lagoon itself is the most biologically diverse estuary in North America with more than 4,000 varieties of plants and animals calling it home. The numerous panoramic biking and hiking trails along with byways often provide up-close encounters with many of these species.
To experience Palm Bay’s eco-tourism, visit the Turkey Creek Sanctuary, home to a number of endangered plant and animal species. The sanctuary is equipped with a 4,000-foot boardwalk and a 1.5 mile jogging trail that meanders through this flourishing tropical setting. In addition, you may wish to canoe down the peaceful waters of the creek itself, encountering the aquatic wildlife face-to-face. Manatees flourish in the many waterways. Nature enthusiasts will delight at the chance to get “up close and personal” with these gentle creatures, especially around the numerous creeks, canals, docks and bridges. The lush vegetation is home to numerous varieties of wildlife, including an impressive assortment of birds. As many as 50 species of birds have been spotted here in one day. At the Margaret Hames Nature Center, you will find a quaint display of hands-on artifacts and teaching guides, a reference library, videos and more.
Outdoor recreational activities abound in Palm Bay, with an abundance of water sports on the Indian River Lagoon Coastline and the 72 miles of beach spanning the county; 21 parks, including the 200-acre Palm Bay Regional Park and the popular Hurricane Paintball Park; and more than 25 golf courses within reach, most notably The Majors Golf Club. And for those who enjoy recreation in a more relaxed setting, the Palm Bay Aquatic Center Water Park affords patrons with a great facility.
The City of Palm Bay offers, simply by its location, numerous activities for those that prefer to make their own fun. This includes excellent fishing in the countless freshwater creeks, streams, and marshes, including the nationally known Stick Marsh. If saltwater fishing is your choice, you’ll be hard pressed to find better locations than in the Indian River Lagoon and the Atlantic beach surf. In addition to superb fishing, Palm Bay offers sailing, water and jet skiing, and even parasailing as everyday enjoyments along its shores.
Palm Bay also boasts the Theater Company of Palm Bay, providing entertaining community theater productions and a number of fun events throughout the year. The Big Squeeze Juice Festival, officially named the “Juice Festival of Florida,” is held during the first week in April. The four-day festival features juice tasting, entertainment, arts and crafts, and more. Further annual events include the Palm Bay Freedom Fest, the Palm Bay Arts Festival and the Palm Bay holiday Parade, to name a few.
Area residents are served by a dozen public schools in the Brevard Public Schools District, as well as five private, charter and parochial institutions. Palm Bay is home to the Brevard Community College – Palm Bay campus, the most recent addition to the Brevard Community College system. Students can also access classes from the University of Central Florida at BCC – Palm Bay, along with upper level and graduate courses from both Webster University and Barry University.
The Palm Bay Community Hospital provides a 60-bed medical care facility for residents in the area, offering a wide spectrum of healthcare services. Local physicians and specialty groups, such as Health First Physicians, OMNI Healthcare, Osler medical and the Medical Association of Brevard, have also made Palm Bay their home base. And for the senior population, nursing care can be found through the Life Care Centers of America.
Businesses are also attracted to the extensive Palm Bay area. The diverse business environment is comprised of technology firms, service companies, healthcare systems and manufacturing companies. The community’s top employers include Harris Corp., Intersil, DRS Tactical, Health First, and Wuesthoff Health Systems. Businesses not only establish residence within Palm Bay because of its unique economic melting pot, but also because of the area’s strong workforce, boasting a low unemployment rate of 3.9% percent (2007), and the more than 1,300 acres of land available for both commercial and industrial use. This ever growing community continues to thrive, steadily increasing in both residential and economic facets.