The Locals-Only Guide to Palm Beach
Let’s get one thing straight: Palm Beach isn’t hip. It isn’t the new Tulum, and it doesn’t have Miami’s clout as a happening winter getaway. It is, however, unabashedly iconic. After all, it has attracted attracted deep-pocketed A-listers for the last century, from Frank Sinatra to C.Z. Guest. Its essence was immortalized by some of the most influential figures of generations past, like Slim Aarons and Lilly Pulitzer.
Palm Beach is like a manicured time bubble where everything remains traditionally unchanged. The culture of preppy wardrobes, B&Ts (Bath & Tennis Clubs), G&Ts, and cocktail parties is alive and well in Palm Beach, particularly around the holidays. Each year, thousands of North Americans flock to Palm Beach to escape the cold winter months. Whether you’re with granny for the holidays or you just want to experience a taste of this golden age of American history, here are a few things you can do in Palm Beach that are slightly better suited to the younger generation. So pack your Jack Rogers, Lilly Pulitzers, and Brooks Brothers, and get ready to experience iconic Palm Beach.
We often start our local guides with restaurants, but in this case, we’re kicking off with Palm Beach’s activity of choice (and what it’s best at): shopping.
To play the part, you have to look the part, and that includes a preppy wardrobe to rival the great Lilly Pulitzer. Kick off your Palm Beach excursion with a visit to the Stubbs & Wootton store off Worth Avenue, and grab a pair of Palm Beach Collection handmade slippers.
Stubbs & Wootton | 1 Via Parigi
This quaint, beachy boutique in one of Worth Avenue’s most charming alleyways is held by Tomas Maier, purveyor of laid-back beach-chic attire in Palm Beach and beyond. Drop by to take a glance at the ready-to-wear beach attire, the Diptyque-collab candles, or his curated collection of books and jewelry.
Tomas Maier | 38 Via Mizner
Roberta Freymann is a globetrotting purveyor of beautiful worldly textiles for the home and closet. From bedding to backpacks and beach cover-ups, everything in her store is covered in her colorful unique prints.
Roberta Roller Rabbit | 150 Worth Ave.
Finally, if you’re a décor aficionado like we are, a trip to West Palm Beach’s Antique Row is a must. Lined with some of the best décor and antique shops in the United States, Antique Row is a veritable treasure trove of some of the most collectible pieces of midcentury furniture and beyond. Do not miss the shops of Lars Bolander, C.Bell, Galere, Objects 20c, Mecox, Circa Who, and the Antiques & Design Center. Expect a lot of rattan, lucite, brass, and Palm Beach pastels.
West Palm Beach Antique Row | South Dixie Highway, between Southern Boulevard and Dyer Road
Without a doubt Palm Beach’s most iconic institution, The Breakers makes you experience the town at its most quintessential. Perhaps the most striking feature of The Breakers, other than its lavishly grandiose architecture, is its ability to have remained virtually unchanged since oil tycoon Henry Flagler built the resort in 1896 (save for a 1926 renovation modeled after Italian Renaissance palaces). Venetian chandeliers, tapestries, and hand-painted ceilings come in sight in the lobby after a cruise down the dramatic palm-lined drive flanked with two award-winning golf courses. One thing is certain, what The Breakers lacks in goût-du-jour, it makes up for in grandeur.
The Breakers | 1 S. County Road
If you’re unafraid of wildly bright colors and patterns, The Colony might be the place for you. Refurbished in 2014 by veteran designer Carleton Vanery (The Greenbrier, The Breakers) The Colony is now outfitted with precisely 285 fabrics in shades of salmon pink and emerald green. At least you’ll be able to say you embraced Palm Beach to its fullest.
The Colony Hotel | 155 Hammon Ave.
Another Palm Beach landmark that recently reinvented itself is the Ritz-Carlton, now called Eau Palm Beach Resort & Spa. Regular Palm Beacher Jonathan Adler was chosen as the interior designer, while the spokesmodel of Eau Resort is none other than nonagenarian fashion icon Iris Apfel. Expect many colorful, quirky, happy, chic accents.
Eau Resort & Spa | 100 S. Ocean Blvd.
If modern is more your speed, the Tideline is really your only option. Luckily, Kimpton Hotels do modern well, with a vast, spa-like beachfront property where no luxury is spared. While a short drive from the Worth Avenue action, the Tideline is beachfront and offers everything you may need for complete relaxation.
Tideline Ocean Resort & Spa | 2842 S. Ocean Blvd.
Because Palm Beach can get a little overwhelming, grab a bite at this unfussy institution. Open since 1938, Green’s Pharmacy is a Palm Beach landmark. The diner located inside the local pharmacy is the luncheonette where John F. Kennedy (and many locals) enjoyed burgers and milkshakes.
Green's Pharmacy | 151 N. County Road
Located inside The Brazilian Court Hotel, Café Boulud is the place to go if you’re looking for something a little more refined. Treat yourself to a leisurely lunch in the courtyard on a sunny afternoon, or enjoy the soulful live music in the lounge on a Friday night.
Café Boulud | 301 Australian Ave.
One of the Palm Beach cuisine that’s most au goût du jour, Buccan serves a unfussy fare that includes innovative tapas like short-rib empañadas and steak tartare grilled bread with black truffle and crispy egg yolk. Yum.
For lunch, the restaurant's sandwich shop offers some of the best in Palm Beach. Grab a sandwich for lunch and head to the beach.
Buccan | 350 S. County Road
Speaking of quintessential Florida tuna melts, another place that does them well is Brandon’s on the Beach at the Tideline Resort & Spa. Surprisingly one of the few places that offers beachfront dining, Brendon’s is a popular spot for leisurely lunches. You might even get to enjoy one of the restaurant's cozy beach chairs after lunch on a quiet day.
Brandon’s on the Beach | 2842 S. Ocean Blvd.
Let’s not kid ourselves. If you’re visiting Palm Beach in the winter, you probably want to catch a few sun rays. Head down to beaches and enjoy some sun and fun!
In addition to being famous for antiques, Palm Beach is home to some of the most impressive art galleries outside of major cities. Walk along Worth Avenue and you’ll spot more than a few galleries exhibiting the likes of Damien Hirst, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and more. DTR Modern Galleries is a favorite.
DTR Modern Galleries | 440 S. County Road
Worth Avenue is one the prettiest shopping precincts on the East Coast (in my humble opinion) and home of some serious retailers: Chanel, Hermès, Van Cleef & Arpels, and Salvatore Ferragamo. If you’re visiting during Christmas, don’t miss the giant Worth Avenue Christmas tree. It lights up every evening at sunset. The area's boutiques are all decked out as well. It’s a pretty sight.
Worth Avenue | Palm Beach
Do you have any favorite spots in Palm Beach? Share them with us in the comments below!