Palm Beach: Not Your Grandma’s City
Palm Beach, Florida, has it all: ritzy beachfront mansions, celebrity residents, year-round sunshine and more sand and swaying palm trees than you could imagine. It also has a bit of a sleepy reputation -- a result of the flocks of wealthy, snow-bird retirees who fly here looking to escape a dreary winter.
Younger travelers, for their part, often overlook Palm Beach, opting instead to fly a bit farther south to live it up in Miami. But there’s plenty of hip and happening places all over Palm Beach sure to please the most worldly jet-setter or trendy twenty-something, too. Here are our top picks to dine, shop and play in Palm Beach … and don’t worry, there’s not an early-bird special in sight.
Buccan is the place for foodies to have small plates and inventive cocktails in a trendy atmosphere. James Beard Award-nominated chef Clay Conley cooks up modern American cuisine with a touch of whimsy in dishes like short rib empanadas, squid ink orecchiette and a hot dog panini.
Palm Sugar features Asian-inspired comfort food, and the extensive menu stars the pillowy char siu pork buns, popular fish tacos and a range of upscale street food. Don’t miss their daily happy hour from 3-7 p.m. -- $5 dollar small plates and a range of affordable sake cocktails make this one of the best happy hours in town.
The Blind Monk is one of Palm Beach’s hidden gems. A few blocks off bustling Clematis Street, this small, dimly lit and intimate bar has a selection of tapas to go alongside its lengthy list of craft beer and wines-by-the-glass. Seating is limited, but the hip and laid-back vibe keeps the drinks flowing into the wee hours of the morning.
Worth Avenue is the Rodeo Drive of South Florida, and it’s common to see Rolls-Royces, Ferraris and Bentleys line up for valet parking. Just steps from the beach is 150 Worth, a gorgeous courtyard with high-end boutiques like Tory Burch, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Check out one of the newest additions, Kiosk, for an eclectic mix of clothing, accessories, books, lingerie and more … all designed to help “inspire your fashion lifestyle.”
City Place features more affordable shopping in a lively, open-air downtown district. Stores like Anthropologie, GAP, Tommy Bahama and Pottery Barn are scattered alongside bars, restaurants and a 20-screen IMAX-equipped movie theater. On weekends, there’s often live music in the main plaza … perfect to entertain any “I don’t like to shop” companions.
GreenMarket in downtown West Palm Beach is a food lover’s paradise. Every Saturday, this food, flower and farmers market is set up along the beautiful waterfront. Locals and visitors alike converge on the 75-plus stalls, eager to sample local specialties like tropical teas, jerk chicken skewers, panini-pressed Cuban sandwiches and just-made guacamole. You could fill up on the free samples alone!
A drive along South Ocean Boulevard lets you sneak a peek at how the upper crust lives. All along the miles and miles of scenic roadway are the multimillion-dollar mansions that celebrities like Donald Trump, Rod Stewart, and Venus and Serena Williams call home. Dare to daydream, and pick your favorite among the varied architectural styles.
Paddle Boarding Palm Beach adds a touch of adventure for adrenaline junkies looking to get a workout on the water. If you’re not familiar with this craze, it’s like surfing but without the waves. Instead, you stand on the full-length board, using a paddle to explore the peaceful Intracoastal Waterway and nearby Peanut Island. And it’s a great workout for your core. (Lessons, tours and board rentals are available daily.)
Grassy Waters Preserve covers 23 square miles of pristine Florida wetlands and offers lots of opportunities to get closer to nature. Walk the boardwalk or one of the hiking trails in search of wildlife like bobcats, alligators and an array of birds including bald eagles. Or come back during a full moon and sign up for a “Moonlight Paddle” to explore the wetlands at night by canoe.
Clematis Street is lined with dozens of lively restaurants and bars, making it the perfect spot for late-night bar-hopping. Some favorites include Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar for margaritas, O’Shea’s Irish Pub for a pint in their outdoor beer garden, and lots of spots for dancing, like Off the Hookah, Feelgoods and Respectable Street.