Rich in pioneering history, inundated with great wealth, and steeped in Hollywood-style glamor, Palm Beach draws curious visitors and new residents alike. The name is recognized the world over as a destination for wealthy vacationers, royalty, and celebrities. In addition to having excellent cultural events throughout the year, Palm Beach County also has the largest number of golf courses in the United States: 147. Everywhere you look, you'll find courses designed by prestigious trophy winners such as Arnold Palmer.
Once an uninhabitable swampland, the area would have remained a challenging wasteland except for the vision and determination of a man with lots and lots of money, railroad baron Henry Flagler. Whitehall, now the Flagler Museum, set the standard for other members of Henry Flagler's social and financial standing who followed him south. Constructed in the popular Beaux Arts architectural style in 1902 on six acres, Whitehall was a 55-room, 60,000 square foot vacation house. Open now to public tours, it offers a glimpse how the American millionaires of the period made a dramatic statement to the world. At the age of 72, Mr. Flagler certainly made one with this $4 million gift to his new bride and third wife, complete with European works of art, Roman sculptures, enormous ballroom with gilded mirrors, and gold china service and porcelain.
When the wealthy came south to Florida's warmer climate at the turn of the century, they had money to spend, of course. Their legacies of wealthy lifestyles have maintained our fascination with the Palm Beach aura and what the city it is today: a great place to visit or live. Worth Avenue has become a distinctive shopping destination with exclusive European shops and first class restaurants. Although changes have occurred over the years, you'll find over 200 specialty stores such as
When it comes to dining, there are many excellent places to choose from. Charming cafes, delightful coffee houses, and quaint bistros can be found throughout the city and around famous Worth Avenue. You'll find great ocean view dining and fresh seafood at
West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach was created for workers who built the fabulous mansions and hotels for Henry Flagler at the turn of the century. Today, it's historic downtown district offers fine entertainment, shopping, and great restaurants. Many of its early homes are now charming bed and breakfasts. Interstate highway I-95 runs north and south through it as the major travel artery. Private yachts glide down the beautiful Intracoastal Waterway, mooring at marinas for overnight docking or extended visits. The Port of Palm Beach is home to the
To the north of Palm Beach are the communities of Palm Beach Gardens, Wellington, Riviera Beach, and Jupiter. Diving and fishing charters are available, as well as tour boats along the Palm Beach coast and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Palm Beach's glamorous season provides a variety of exciting diversions, from lavish theatrical productions to leisure sports such as polo or croquet. From December to April, avid fans spend an amusing afternoon at the
South of the city are the trendy towns of Lake Worth, Boynton Beach and Boca Raton, each with their own charming historic districts and enchanting 1920s bed and breakfast inns.
The city of Palm Beach has drawn visitors for over a hundred years. Its lure hasn't diminished one iota. As one of the most beautiful cities on Florida's east coast, it offers a myriad of activities, attractions, grand hotels and quaint historic inns, all in a most agreeable environment and setting. It is truly a paradise for everyone to enjoy on all levels.
Before Florida became a territory of the United States in 1821, the country was mostly inhabited by many indigenous peoples, especially the Seminole Indians. Few white settlers had succeeded in taming the harshness of the land. Those who did were either cattle ranchers or farmers.
Men of vision and determination such as Henry Flagler saw a golden opportunity to develop the east coast of Florida. After visiting the area, he became enamored with its temperate climate and saw that hotels and a good transportation system would lure winter visitors. In 1893 he purchased 140 acres on the Atlantic Ocean of what was then called Palm Beach, named because of the many cabbage palms that grew along the beach.
In 1894, Henry Flagler opened his first Palm Beach resort, The Royal Poinciana, on Lake Worth. At the time, it was the only oceanfront hotel south of Daytona Beach. Two years later, he built the Port of Palm Beach, consisting of a pier 1000 feet long to accommodate steamships traveling to Nassau, Havana, and Key West.
By the turn of the century, Palm Beach was celebrated as the winter vacation grounds for the wealthy. The Royal Poinciana resort was enlarged to twice its size. In 1900, the foundation for the Flagler estate, Whitehall, was laid, opening in 1902.
Between 1920 and 1927, the population of Palm Beach increased four fold. The community saw new schools, an increase in farming, sugar businesses, hotels, theaters, and services. Hurricanes in 1926 and 1928 brought considerable property damage. To make matters worse, the stock market crashed in 1929, reducing property values in half. It took many years to regain the loss.
World War II brought the military into place along Florida's coastline to watch for enemy submarines and U-boats. During the 1950s, veterans from the war began moving into the area. This began a new era in the development of Palm Beach and neighboring communities.
Today, a revitalization program for the downtown district is underway. Mansions built by industrial magnates in the 1920s are museums. Whitehall is a magnificent example of the opulence of the era.
Many of the smaller neighborhood homes are now charming bed and breakfasts. Grand hotels cater to both the business and pleasure traveler. Worth Avenue is once again an exclusive shopping boulevard, lined with restaurants, art galleries, antique stores and boutiques. During the summer months, the town is more affordable. Seasonal rates at hotels and inns attract many who might not otherwise come during the winter.
Palm Beach is still the winter vacation-land of many, whether wealthy or not so wealthy. Visitors flock to this historic city all year long. The price of real estate is skyrocketing again. Renovations of historic homes are encouraged with grants and recognition.
Families and yuppies fit right in. Palm Beach appeals to everyone. For sure, the swaying palms, warm ocean breezes, and tropical waters haven't changed one bit.
Sports enthusiasts will find tropical paradise in Palm Beach, but the many shops, restaurants and cultural attractions offer something for everyone.
Flagler Museum One of the most interesting landmarks that offers a great tour is the 1902 Henry Flagler Whitehall estate, the Flagler Museum is not far from the Royal Poinciana Playhouse. Watch a performance, then grab a bite at Cafe L'Europe. The offices of Palm Beach Society Magazine are also located Downtown. Visitors come here to check out the art displays located in the lobby. The shopping in this area can't be beat. Discover the treasures at Christian DuPont Antiques.
Lake Worth Beach South of Palm Beach, you'll find Lake Worth Beach, popular for its selection of restaurants like John G's that overlook the harbor. The nearby Lake Worth Playhouse produces fun, high quality community theater, while the Movies of Lake Worth presents the latest Hollywood releases. Visit and pick up some treats at the famed Hoffman's Chocolate Factory.
Boca Raton Museum of Art The large Town Center at Boca Raton offers guests hundreds of stores and restaurants, while the boutiques, small cafes and the Boca Raton Museum of Art at Mizner Park offer a more low-key appeal. Try the fresh seafood dishes at Carmen's Restaurant and Lounge. Discover some of the city's most beautiful plants and animals at the nearby Gumbo Limbo Nature Center.
Mangrove Nature Park Since ecology is a major attraction in the area, you may want to take a stroll along the boardwalk in Boynton Beach's Mangrove Nature Park. Dine at Pearl's Restaurant. Browse the stores at the Boynton Beach Mall, then head to nearby Delray Beach, where you'll find art at Old School Square and Delray Affair.
Loggerhead Park North of Palm Beach are Burt Reynolds Park and Loggerhead Park, where people come to fish, sail and surf. Have a bite to eat at the Queen Mary British Pub, then take a ferry to Peanut Island, the site of a Cold War bomb shelter, or fish with the Blue Heron Fleet.
Sometimes a guide can make all the difference in appreciating and understanding a city you've never been to. In Palm Beach and in neighboring communities, tours are both entertaining and educational, and there are many to choose from.
Bus Tours Diva Duck Amphibious Tours ( +1 561 844 4188/ http://www.divaduck.com/ ) Midnight Sun Tours ( +1 561 588 4446/ http://www.midnightcoaches.com/ ) Hectors Tours Charter Bus ( +1 561 588 7234 ) Palm Beach Tours & Transportation ( +1 561 655 5515 )
Adventure Tours Billie Swamp Safari ( +1 863 983 6101/ http://www.seminoletribe.com/safari/ ) Loxahatchee Everglades Tours ( +1 800 683 5873/ http://www.evergladesairboattours.com/fishing.html ) Wakodahatchee Wetlands ( +1 561 493 6000/ http://www.pbcgov.com/waterutilities/wakodahatchee/ ) Lion Country Safari Tours ( +1 561 793 1084 )
Fishing Tours Blue Heron Fleet Captain Steve's Fishing Charters ( +1 561 236 2387 ) Mad Son Fishing Charters ( +1 561 324 3454 )
Trolley Tours Molly's Trolleys ( +1 561 838 9511/ http://www.mollystrolleys.com/ ) Singer Island Trolley ( +1 561 841 7900 )
Air Tours Sapphire Aviation ( +1 561 687 7967 )
Boat Tours Palm Beach Water Taxi ( +1 561 683 8294/ http://watertaxi.homestead.com/ ) Fast Break Sailing Charters Diva Duck Amphibious Tours ( +1 561 844 4188/ http://www.divaduck.com/ ) Crown Cruise Lines ( + 1 800 841 7447 ) Atlas Cruises and Tours ( +1 561 687 3301 ) Marvelous Tours ( +1 905 707 5666 )
Kayak Tours Adventure Times Kayaks ( +1 561 881 7218 )
Short of being a guest at one of the lavish mansions on the Intracoastal Waterway, you'll find a variety of accommodations in the Palm Beach area that will suit your needs and budget. You can stay at historic bed and breakfasts and inns or luxurious suites at exclusive resorts with outstanding amenities. Attention to detail and service is the norm here and many accommodations are close to shopping along famous Worth Avenue and other local attractions.
The most elegant place to stay is, of course, The Breakers on 140 oceanfront acres. With lush gardens, a spa and fitness center, tennis, and several PGA golf courses, this superlative five star resort by reputation and design symbolizes the epitome of a great Florida resort. They also have children's programs and activities, and several restaurants. You'll be treated like royalty here.
Not far from the Breakers Hotel, but near the historic downtown district within walking distance to world class shopping and restaurants is the luxurious Four Seasons Resort where you will be pampered and spoiled. Another is the tropical style Heart of Palm Beach with golf and tennis. The oldest inn is the 1922 Bradley House, a Mediterranean-style bed and breakfast close to the ocean.
Lodgings in the heart of Palm Beach's first historic district has Old World charm and modern amenities. The Palm Beach Historic Inn is a great choice. Also, the Brazilian Court Hotel is a five star hotel with a reputation for excellence. For beachfront accommodations, the Palm Beach Hawaiian Ocean Inn offers comfortably furnished suites with great ocean views. Also within walking distance to the beach and famous Worth Avenue shopping is the The Plaza Inn, a charming 50 room bed and breakfast.
West Palm Beach
West Palm Beach is as charming and delightful as its sister's city. Close to the airport, the spacious Sheraton West Palm Beach offers first class accommodations for business and pleasure travelers with many extras. Enjoy a two-course breakfast in the Hibiscus House Bed and Breakfast, a 1922 restored home, or the Royal Palm House Bed and Breakfast, a 1925 colonial home with a tropical garden and secluded swimming pool.
The Palm Beach International Airport sees receives over six million passengers each year. For travelers requiring comfortable accommodations in this area, but within a few minutes driving to downtown shopping, restaurants and attractions, the Crowne Plaza is a first rate hotel and offers numerous amenities. The nearby Hampton Inn provides a sumptuous breakfast bar and shuttle service into the historic district.
North of Palm Beach
In the North Palm Beach area, there are many hotels that provide five star accommodations. The Jupiter Beach Resort, a nine story hotel with three restaurants, is located right on the beach. It provides teleconference services for business travelers, and is close to attractions and shopping. The Waterford Hotel & Conference Center is another world class resort that offers luxurious suites, several restaurants, and many excellent amenities.
In Palm Beach Shores, the Marriott's Ocean Pointe is located on 24 acres with private beach, offering villas and suites. It is also close to a variety of highly rated local restaurants and attractions. Also located on the ocean is the acclaimed Sailfish Resort.
South of Palm Beach
Lake Worth, located at the southern end of Palm Beach, has many charming hotels and historic inns. The Sabal Palm House is close to the beach and offers their guests amenities that will make them feel at home. Also, the Mango Inn is a 1920's era private home will provide a memorable stay. Decorated in colorful Key West style, the Paradore of the Palm Beaches is a complex of several buildings and its close to downtown Lake Worth.
An historic hotel located on the Intracoastal Waterway is the Gulfstream Hotel, offering terrific water views. A 9 story hotel, and close to shopping and restaurants, it has an excellent restaurant with live entertainment. In the exclusive community of Manalapan, the Ritz-Carlton will make any visit a memorable one. It offers business center services, convention, and banquet facilities, as well as a 6000 square foot ballroom for major events.
Whether you stay near the airport, historic oceanfront Palm Beach, or the nearby communities such as Lake Worth or West Palm Beach, the choices of accommodations available are almost endless, from very exclusive and expensive resorts, to affordable and cozy bed and breakfasts. Wherever you decide to stay, it's sure to be a comfortable and pleasant visit, whether for business or pleasure. You'll want to come back again and again.