10 Things to Do in Palm Beach, Florida
Palm Beach may be known for its glitz and glamour, but you don't have to be rich or famous to enjoy everything the seaside community has to offer. Separated from the mainland by Lake Worth Lagoon, beautiful Palm Beach is one of many tourist towns that make up the iconic Palm Beaches along Florida's eastern coast. Though more than a century has passed since Palm Beach made its Gilded Age debut, you can still find a familiar air of opulence at the legendary resorts, ornate mansions, and historic landmarks that first put the town on the map as a winter getaway for the wealthy. Add in fabulous shopping, one-of-a-kind museums, an arsenal of chic restaurants, and access to breathtaking beaches—and you've got yourself a vacation. Here are our favorite things to when visiting Palm Beach, Florida.
Walk Down Memory Lane
History is everywhere you look in Palm Beach. Coincidentally, it can also be found in many places you eat. At Green's Pharmacy & Luncheonette, continue an 80-plus-year tradition by stopping in for a hearty breakfast or traditional soda fountain counter lunch. Rumor has it that even former U.S. President John F. Kennedy was a regular here. It's one of a dwindling number of places in the country where you can still order an egg cream or malted shake. For a true throwback, grab a liverwurst sandwich or tri-salad platter (egg, chicken, and tuna). While it's a mere toddler compared to Green's, Sprinkles Ice Cream is another Palm Beach treasure to add to your must-visit list. Celebrities like Brook Shields, Michael Jackson, and Martha Stewart have all been savoring a scoop in the colorful ice cream shop.
Tour the Iconic Hotels
The Breakers is as quintessentially Palm Beach as they come. Built by railroad tycoon Henry Flagler, who is largely credited with developing Florida's east coast, The Breakers opened as The Palm Beach Inn in 1896 and was renamed in 1901. You can drop a grand (and then some) to stay for the night; or you can opt for a meal at the Seafood Bar (among the restaurant's open-to-the-public restaurants) and still get all the same gorgeous views of the water. Other historic hotels to check out are The Brazilian Court, The Chesterfield, and The Colony, Palm Beach's pinkest hotel.
Bike the Lake Trail
To get a full tour of town, rent a bike and go for a ride on the 5.5-mile Lake Trail. Along the way, you'll get a closer look at some of Palm Beach's ritziest homes, as well as great views of West Palm Beach's skyline. When you make it to Country Club Road, you'll have the unique experience of navigating a narrow road cut directly into a 200-foot-tall mound made of rock and coquina shell. The unlikely attraction is also known as Coral Cut or Witch's Wall thanks to a peculiar metal gate-covered window carved right into the coral face.
Indulge in Retail Therapy
Up there with the Fifth Avenues and Rodeo Drives of the world, Worth Avenue is the place to flash some plastic in Palm Springs. The immaculate palm-tree lined street is a mecca for high fashion and designer digs. From Gucci and Chanel to Hermes, Tiffany & Co., and Louis Vuitton, the district's 250-plus boutiques account for nearly every major brand. Be sure to stop into Kassalty's, which offers designer linens, lingerie, and sweaters reminiscent of the 1920, when the shop (Worth Avenue's oldest) first opened. And since haute couture isn't in most folks' budgets, Worth Avenue has plenty more to discover by way of secret garden patios, fun sculptures, and a rare books store. Find more shopping and unmatched whimsy at Royal Poinciana Plaza, a recently revitalized entertainment district known for its lush courtyards, family- and dog-friendly walkways, and hip collection of shops and restaurants.
See a Game of Polo
The world's premier polo destination, drive the 30 minutes inland to catch a match at the International Polo Club Palm Beach. Polo season is big from January to April, so if you're visiting in winter or early spring, you'll want to snag tickets to a match. If you go, don't forget to dress to impress. After all, this is a sport where champagne sipping is customary for fans.
Visit an Outdoor Museum
Most people know about the Norton Museum of Art in West Palm Beach, but the real star of the show is its 37,200-square-foot outdoor extension that's best described as a museum in a garden. The atypical gallery space, known as the Norton Museum Sculpture Garden, blends fine art with the beauty of nature for an experience unlike any other. Lush greenery in variety of shades and textures create a living backdrop for abstract and figure-focused sculptures. Pops of color abound in blooming flowers like Bird of Paradise and Heliconia, while native plants and trees attract birds and butterflies.
Take a Boat to Peanut Island
Go offshore to this 80-acre county park, which was once a Coast Guard station and President John F. Kennedy's presidential bunker. Water taxi rides will only set you back around $12-$15, and once you arrive, there's plenty to see and do. Snorkeling is first-rate off Peanut Island, thanks to crystal-clear turquoise waters that make it easy to spot colorful reef dwellers like parrotfish and angelfish, plus starfish and even manta rays on occasion. The best spots are a small reef on the beach's eastern shore facing the inlet and a marked snorkeling lagoon on the southern shore. If you haven't got your sea legs about you just yet, see Peanut Island from a 12.5-mile paved trail that runs the perimeter of the island.
Visit the Flagler Museum
No person is more important to Palm Beach's development than Standard Oil Co-founder Henry Morrison Flagler. Get a behind-the-scenes look at the winter home he built as a wedding present for his wife in 1902 . Whitehall, now open to the public as the Henry Morrison Flagler Museum, features 75 rooms and 100,000 square feet. The mansion was built by the same architectural firm that designed the New York Public Library and is home to more than a few surprises. One of them is Flagler's private railcar, displayed inside the home, which has been restored to its original 1886 appearance.
Go to the Beach
Spend a day relaxing in the sugar-white sand of one of Palm Beach's three public beaches. At Municipal Beach, also known as Midtown Beach, you can snap a pic at the iconic Worth Avenue Clock Tower, then spend a day splashing in the serene sea. Find more sandy shores at Phipps Ocean Park and Kreusler Park. At Phipps, be sure to check out the Little Red Schoolhouse, which dates to 1886 and was the first school building in southeast Florida.
Wine and Dine
Michelin-starred chefs and award-winning restaurants are the norm in Palm Beach. At Café Boulud, find upscale French cuisine from Chef Daniel Boulud in an elegant environment fit for a celebration or special night out. Seasonally rotating Voyage menus show off the best of a selected country based on Boulud's most recent travels. Head to Ta-boo on Worth Avenue for the giant, seafood-filled Worth Avenue Salad at lunch, or reserve a dinner table to dine on specials like the Mahogany Rotisserie Duck and Lemon Sole Francaise. The lively, string-lit courtyard and wood-fired pies at Pizza Al Fresco are perfect any time of day, and the party never stops at the Palm Beach pop-up version of New York socialite hotspot Swifty's at The Colony.