Located in the Eastern part of Florida lies West Palm Beach, a gorgeous destination that is a ritzy tourist area as well as culturally overflowing with richness. This is the home to both snowbirds that head south around mid-November and big events such as Sunfest, National Horse Show, the Boat Show, the International Film Festival. West Palm offers so many great things to see and do that it is often hard to narrow down the choices.
My top five things to do in West Palm Beach are somewhat the same, as with any major Florida city with the exception that there is a special feel to WPB, one you have to experience for yourself. Think about attending an event at the chic Kravis Center, play a round of golf on one of the immaculate courses, or take in the South Florida fair early in the year, but see for yourself all the glitz and glamour this family-friendly landscape has waiting for you.
1. Open Your Wallet and Go Shopping– West Palm Beach is the home to high-end shopping, including both the CityPlace Mall and the newer Palm Beach Outlet shops, featuring a Nordstrom Rack, Sak’s Off Fifth and over 100 other stores. CityPlace is an eclectic mix of stores, my favorites being Apricot Lane and Life in Palm Beach, with a wide selection of restaurants to choose from, including Cheesecake Factory and Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen. Though technically Palm Beach Gardens, it is still the part we consider West Palm, it is home to the upscale Gardens Mall. This 1.4 million square foot world-class shopping megaplex features 160 stores with anchor stores Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Sear’s, and Sak’s Fifth Avenue. Shopping at this mall could literally take all day; but do not worry, great restaurants will help nourish you while you recharge. South of downtown is Antique Row, with over 40 stores to cater to collectors or browsers. Antique Row is often regarded as one of the best antique shopping neighborhoods in the country.
This photo of West Palm Beach is courtesy of TripAdvisor
2. Indulge in a Gourmet Meal– So much food, so little time. West Palm Beach is a culinary treat, with foods ranging from upscale comfort to dozens of ethnic varieties and about 50 sushi joints in between. ER Bradley’s Saloon is one of my favorite stops (make sure to check out the primo rides at the Valet parking) as well as Grease Burger Bar, for delicious gourmet burgers, a cool drink menu, and root beer on tap. There are so many restaurants here that my bucket list for eating my way around West Palm Beach covers two full pages, and that is only based on referrals. See for yourself; visit West Palm hungry!
3. Visit the Flagler Museum– Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler’s gilded age estate located in Palm Beach (technically Palm Beach, not West Palm Beach) was one of the most opulent palaces in the world for its time. Flagler’s rich influence and sense of style is apparent not only in St. Augustine, where the famed college sits, but at Whitehall as well. The National Historic Landmark is open to the public, as the Flagler Museum, to commemorate one of Florida’s most important Magnates who brought the East Coast Railway System to the state of Florida.
One can see the grandiose stylings from the outside of the building, lined with Doric columns, and in everything this man laid his hands on. The drawing room on the first floor is my favorite, decorated elegantly. Another favorite feature is the wrought iron looking ceiling in the breakfast room, modeled after Warwick Castle. The museum has a pristine afternoon tea service, served in the Cafe des Beaux-Arts that is available from November to late March, or during ‘season’ as we call it in Florida. Tea and museum admission to non-members is $40 per person.
4. Stroll Clematis Street– Clematis, the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, is a stylish street to people watch and be seen in the West Palm Beach neighborhood. A most interesting bunch of people are sure to raise a few eyebrows strolling around in the latest fashions or lack of clothing. This popular street is home to a gorgeous theatre that shows off-Broadway style shows as well as local productions. Boutique retailers and national brands offer designer threads, luxury bed linens, antiques and collectibles lining the street separated by nightspots, international restaurants, and trendy cafes. Many work lofts and luxury condos dot the canvas, as well as historic landmarks.
In the heart of Clematis is a fountain that is surrounded by appealing gardens. Flagler Drive at Intracoastal Waterway is where the street begins and is home to a fun filled sandcastle competition in December. The views of the Intracoastal Waterway are spectacular and the size of the yachts, impressive!
5. Tour the Breakers Hotel– The West Palm Beach icon, another of Henry Flagler’s legacy, the Breakers Hotel is a five star luxury oceanfront resort that has the most magnificent drive leading to the entrance, lined with palm trees and beckoning the well to do. It will leave you feeling like you have just driven onto a movie set in Hollywood. Valet park your car and spend $25 inside the hotel (get your card stamped) and the parking is free. I recommend ordering 2 desserts at the Seafood Bar, $25 total, and that should take care of the parking fee.
The Seafood Bar restaurant is nautical in theme and features two custom bars made of fish tanks full of colorful fish and eels. My friends and I shared the Creme Brûlée and the Key Lime Pie desserts- sensational! Even the little seashell tipped silver spoon and cloth linen napkins were memorable. Be sure to visit the Breaker’s boutiques and walk around to see the exquisite ballrooms, meeting rooms (adorned with explorers) and gardens. The Lily Pulitzer store offers a special printed scarf designed exclusively for the Breakers Hotel. Maybe you will get lucky and spot a celebrity on your visit. Unfortunately you will not get at a glimpse of the pool without a room card. This timeless classic is on my bucket list of hotels to stay at.
So have the pictures made you want to visit? Come on down, the weather is fine and Florida is always open for fun and adventure. If you like this post, check out my guides to other Florida cities Part 1 and Part 2 which may help you narrow down what specific city you might enjoy visiting.
What would your choice be from my top five in West Palm Beach?