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 what to do. Here are the things I love to pencil in.
My Top Picks in West Palm Beach, Florida
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. You have to see it for yourself; the glitz and glamour that 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. It also has a wide selection of restaurants to choose from, including Cheesecake Factory and Copper Blues Rock Pub & Kitchen.
Though technically in Palm Beach Gardens (we consider it all West Palm Beach), this is where you will find 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.
#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 places to grab a bite as well as Grease Burger Bar, for delicious gourmet burgers 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; come hungry!
#3 Visit Historic Flagler Museum/Whitehall
Standard Oil tycoon Henry Flagler’s gilded age estate located in Palm Beach (across the bridge from West Palm Beach) is 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. It commemorates 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. My favorite parts of the museum are the elegantly decorated drawing room and the wrought iron looking ceiling in the breakfast room, modeled after Warwick Castle. Flagler Museum has a fantastic afternoon tea service available in the Cafe des Beaux-Arts. The high tea runs 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 Famous Clematis Street
Clematis Street, in the heart of downtown West Palm Beach, is a stylish street to people watch and where people come to be seen in West Palm Beach. 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 Opulent Breakers Hotel
The Palm Beach icon (again, across the bridge), and another of Henry Flagler’s legacy properties, the Breakers Hotel is a five-star luxury oceanfront resort. It has a most magnificent drive leading to the entrance, lined with lush palm trees and beckoning the affluent. The Breakers will leave you feeling like you have just driven onto a movie set in Hollywood. Valet park your car for free when you spend $25 inside the hotel and get your ticket stamped. I suggest 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. The desserts we ordered were Creme Brûlée and Key Lime Pie. Each was a tasty treat! 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 painted explorers) and gardens. The Lily Pulitzer store offers a specially 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.
West Palm Beach Enriches Your Soul
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 in the Sunshine State.
What activity would you most like to do from my list?